Silver School Branch, Little Sugar River Watershed (SP14)
Silver School Branch, Little Sugar River Watershed (SP14)
Silver School Branch (880400)
6.14 Miles
0 - 6.14
Natural Community
Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results that use predicted flow and temperature based on landscape features and related assumptions. Ranges of flow and temperature associated with specific aquatic life communities (fish, macroinvertebrates) help biologists identify appropriate resource management goals. Wisconsin Natural Communities.
Cool-Cold Headwater
Year Last Monitored
This is the most recent date of monitoring data stored in SWIMS. Additional surveys for fish and habitat may be available subsequent to this date.
This river is impaired
Degraded Habitat
Sediment/Total Suspended Solids
Trout Water 
Trout Waters are represented by Class I, Class II or Class III waters. These classes have specific ecological characteristics and management actions associated with them. For more information regarding Trout Classifications, see the Fisheries Trout Class Webpages.
Outstanding or Exceptional 
Wisconsin has designated many of the state's highest quality waters as Outstanding Resource Waters (ORWs) or Exceptional Resource Waters (ERWs). Waters designated as ORW or ERW are surface waters which provide outstanding recreational opportunities, support valuable fisheries and wildlife habitat, have good water quality, and are not significantly impacted by human activities. ORW and ERW status identifies waters that the State of Wisconsin has determined warrant additional protection from the effects of pollution. These designations are intended to meet federal Clean Water Act obligations requiring Wisconsin to adopt an 'antidegradation' policy that is designed to prevent any lowering of water quality - especially in those waters having significant ecological or cultural value.
Impaired Water 
A water is polluted or 'impaired' if it does not support full use by humans, wildlife, fish and other aquatic life and it is shown that one or more of the pollutant criteria are not met.

Fish and Aquatic Life

Current Use
The use the water currently supports. This is not a designation or classification; it is based on the current condition of the water. Information in this column is not designed for, and should not be used for, regulatory purposes.
Streams capable of supporting a warm waterdependent forage fishery. Representative aquatic life communities associated with these waters generally require cool or warm temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that do not drop below 5 mg/L.
Attainable Use
The use that the investigator believes the water could achieve through managing "controllable" sources. Beaver dams, hydroelectric dams, low gradient streams, and naturally occurring low flows are generally not considered controllable. The attainable use may be the same as the current use or it may be higher.
Streams capable of supporting a cold water sport fishery, or serving as a spawning area for salmonids and other cold water fish species. Representative aquatic life communities, associated with these waters, generally require cold temperatures and concentrations of dissolved oxygen that remain above 6 mg/L. Since these waters are capable of supporting natural reproduction, a minimum dissolved oxygen concentration of 7 mg/L is required during times of active spawning and support of early life stages of newly-hatched fish.
Designated Use
This is the water classification legally recognized by NR102 and NR104, Wis. Adm. Code. The classification determines water quality criteria and effluent limits. Waters obtain designated uses through classification procedures.
Default FAL
Fish and Aquatic Life - Default Waters do not have a specific use designation subcategory but are considered fishable, swimmable waters.


Silver School Branch is located in northern Green County and is part of the Little Sugar River watershed. This fourmile
long stream flows to the south through predominantly agricultural land and drains into the Little Sugar River
southeast of Monticello. The lower three miles of Silver School Branch are currently listed on the 303 (d) list for
degraded habitat from sedimentation due to non-point source pollution. A fish survey from 1974 found one northern
pike and 10 other forage and minnow species, with creek chub and southern redbelly dace being the most common
seen, however, the stream has not been monitored in recent years. Silver School Branch is currently listed as a warm
water forage fishery, but is believed to have the potential to become a cold water fishery. However, current data is not
sufficient to determine overall potential of this stream. While mitigation of erosion and improvement in habitat of this
stream is desirable, further monitoring is required to determine the realistic potential for this stream.

Date  2005

Author   Aquatic Biologist


This small stream currently supports a warm water forage fishery, but could potentially be a cold water fishery. Most of its watershed is developed for agriculture (Surface Waters of Green Co.). Due to habitat degradation from nonpoint source pollution, the stream is listed as an impaired water on the state’s 303(d) list. The stream has not been monitored in recent years.

Date  2002

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Bush, D.M., R. Cornelius, D. Engle, and C.L. Brynildson. 1980. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Green County, 2nd Edition. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, Wisconsin.

This rather small stream flows south and meets the Little Sugar River east of Monticello. Its watershed is a long. shallow valley entirely developed for agriculture. The stream meanders through pasture for most of its length with a short section near its mouth being ditched for cropland drainage. Bank cover is poorly developed and erosion is usually heavy. Although the water is turbid. the flow maintains a sand and gravel bottom. Macrophytic vegetation and aquatic invertebrates are scarce.
The fishery is limited to forage species dominated by the southern redbelly dace. An occasional brown trout or northern pike may be found. A small patch of sedge meadow receives occasional visits from mallards and other waterfow] , but the stream's small size and heavily pastured watershed precludes its habitation by most wildlife. Public access consists of four road crossings.
Fish Species: Northern pike, stoneroller unspecified, common shiner, bigmouth shiner, southern redbelly dace, bluntnose minnow, fathead minnow, creek chub, white sucker, brook stickleback, fantail darter, Johnny darter, brown trout.
Surface Acres = 1.5. Length = 3.2 Miles. Gradient = 22 ft./mi.. Base Discharge = 2.3cu. ft./sec.

Date  1980

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Silver School Branch, Little Sugar River Watershed (SP14) Fish and Aquatic LifeSilver School Branch, Little Sugar River Watershed (SP14) RecreationSilver School Branch, Little Sugar River Watershed (SP14) Fish Consumption


Wisconsin has over 84,000 miles of streams, 15,000 lakes and milllions of acres of wetlands. Assessing the condition of this vast amount of water is challenging. The state's water monitoring program uses a media-based, cross-program approach to analyze water condition. An updated monitoring strategy (2015-2020) is now available. Compliance with Clean Water Act fishable, swimmable standards are located in the Executive Summary of Water Condition in 2018. See also the 'monitoring and projects' tab.



Restore Wetlands
Restore Wetlands

Management Goals

Wisconsin's Water Quality Standards provide qualitative and quantitative goals for waters that are protective of Fishable, Swimmable conditions [Learn more]. Waters that do not meet water quality standards are considered impaired and restoration actions are planned and carried out until the water is once again fishable and swimmable

Management goals can include creation or implementation of a Total Maximum Daily Load analysis, a Nine Key Element Plan, or other restoration work, education and outreach and more. If specific recommendations exist for this water, they will be displayed below online.


Monitoring the condition of a river, stream, or lake includes gathering physical, chemical, biological, and habitat data. Comprehensive studies often gather all these parameters in great detail, while lighter assessment events will involve sampling physical, chemical and biological data such as macroinvertebrates. Aquatic macroinvertebrates and fish communities integrate watershed or catchment condition, providing great insight into overall ecosystem health. Chemical and habitat parameters tell researchers more about human induced problems including contaminated runoff, point source dischargers, or habitat issues that foster or limit the potential of aquatic communities to thrive in a given area. Wisconsin's Water Monitoring Strategy was recenty updated.

Grants and Management Projects

Monitoring Projects

Watershed Characteristics

Silver School Br is located in the Little Sugar River watershed which is 133.02 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (46.80%), grassland (32.10%) and a mix of forest (13.90%) and other uses (7.00%). This watershed has 351.74 stream miles, 50.40 lake acres and 3,252.10 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Not Ranked for runoff impacts on streams, Not Ranked for runoff impacts on lakes and High for runoff impacts on groundwater and therefore has an overall rank of High. This value can be used in ranking the watershed or individual waterbodies for grant funding under state and county programs.This water is ranked High Stream for individual Rivers based on runoff problems and the likelihood of success from project implementation.

Natural Community

Silver School Branch is considered a Cool-Cold Headwater under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model resultsand DNR staff valiation processes that confirm or update predicted conditions based on flow and temperature modeling from historic and current landscape features and related variables. Predicated flow and temperatures for waters are associated predicated fish assemblages (communities). Biologists evaluate the model results against current survey data to determine if the modeled results are corect and whether biological indicators show water quaity degradation. This analysis is a core component of the state's resource management framework. Wisconsin's Riverine Natural Communities.

Cool (Cold-Transition) Headwaters are small, usually perennial streams with cold to cool summer temperatures. Coldwater fishes are common to uncommon (<10 per 100 m), transitional fishes are abundant to common, and warm water fishes are uncommon to absent. Headwater species are abundant to common, mainstem species are common to absent, and river species are absent.

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