Braezels Branch, Lower East Branch Pecatonica Rivers Watershed (SP03)
Braezels Branch, Lower East Branch Pecatonica Rivers Watershed (SP03)
Braezels Branch (900700)
4.06 Miles
0 - 4.06
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, Coldwater
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
Green, Lafayette
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.


Braezel’s Branch Creek is a seven-mile stream in Green County that flows westward into Lafayette County where it converges with the Lower East Branch Pecatonica River. The lower four miles of the stream are on the 303(d) list because of habitat degradation and sedimentation from non-point source pollution. This stream currently supports a warm water forage fishery, but has the potential to support a cold-water fish community. A fish shocking survey conducted in 1990 showed the presence of tolerant and very tolerant warm water forage species. An additional fish survey conducted in 2002 at Hwy 81 found 25 brown trout ranging between 4.6-16.7 inches in length, as well as several other tolerant species. The CWIBI score was 20, rating the stream integrity as poor. Macroinvertebrate sampling conducted in 1990 at Hwy 81 indicated “very good” water quality although the streambank substrate was predominantly sand with little gravel or rock, and streambank erosion had reduced habitat. At an upstream segment, a WDNR aquatic biologist observed moderate levels of fine sediment (60% sand, 40% silt) with a width: depth ratio of 10:1.

According to WDNR habitat ratings, both observations rate the habitat as fair. In the judgement of WDNR staff, the downstream segment should have a higher percentage of fine sediments covering the substrate, which should negatively impact the downstream habitat rating. Past resource objectives were to improve wildlife habitat, to protect and restore wetlands, and to reduce bank erosion.

Date  2006

Author   Aquatic Biologist

Historical Description

Braezels Branch originates in Green County and flows westerly to the East Branch of the Pecatonica River. The major bottom type is sand. Although good volume of flow is maintained throughout the year, the principal fishery consists only of forage fishes. Waterfowl assets are very limited since marshland is lacking. Muskrats are common, especially near the mouth. Land in its watershed area within the county is classified as mostly agricultural. It is accessible within the county from a town road bridge.

Braezels Branch, T3N, R5E, Sections 36-12, Surface acres = 0.7, Miles = 1.0, Gradient = 0.0 feet per mile (within county): Total alkalinity = 282 mg/l, Volume of flow = 2.0 cfs.

From: Piening, Ronald; Poff, Ronald; Threinen, C.W., 1967. Lake and Stream Classification Project. Surface Water Resources of Lafayette County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Date  1967

Author   Surface Water Inventory Of Wisconsin

Spatial Notes

Former note for headwater section: This AU was formerly 4-7 mi

Date  2022

Author  Ashley Beranek

Braezels Branch, Lower East Branch Pecatonica Rivers Watershed (SP03) Fish and Aquatic LifeBraezels Branch, Lower East Branch Pecatonica Rivers Watershed (SP03) RecreationBraezels Branch, Lower East Branch Pecatonica Rivers Watershed (SP03) Fish Consumption

General Condition

Braezels Branch (Mile 4.06 to 5.87) was assessed during the 2018 listing cycle; new biological (macroinvertebrate Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) scores) sample data were clearly below the 2018 WisCALM listing thresholds for the Fish and Aquatic Life use. Total phosphorus sample data also clearly met thresholds. This water was meeting this designated use and was not considered impaired.

Date  2017

Author  Amanda Smith

General Condition

This stream originates in Green County and flows westward primarily through pastureland. It enters Lafayette County where it converges with the East Branch Pecatonica River. The warm water forage stream is on the state’s list of impaired waters, but has the potential to be a cool-cold water stream. A fish shocking survey conducted in 1990 showed the presence of tolerant and very tolerant warm water forage fish species. Macroinvertebrate sampling conducted that same year indicated very good water quality although the streambank substrate was predominantly sand and streambank erosion reduced habitat (Marshall, 1991). The objectives of the priority watershed project were to improve wildlife habitat, increase diversity of forage species, protect and restore wetlands and to reduce bank erosion.

Sampling in 2007 generally confirmed what was reported during the 1990's. Even though the stream is stocked routinely with brown, brook and rainbow trout, there does not appear to be much carry-over from year to year. Tolerant fish dominate the assemblage though no species is present in very high numbers. This is likely due to lack of habitat rather that water quality. The stream meanders through wet meadow and agricultural land. The HBI continues to indicate low organic loading and Gammarus pseudolimnaeus, an indicator of high groundwater flow, dominate the macroinvertebrate assemblage. The stream may be too cool to harbor a large variety of eurythermal species with a preference for warmer water, and devoid enough of habitat needed to accommodate cool/coldwater indicators and especially top level predators. Braezels Branch should remain on the list of impaired waters. If the department continues stocking the stream, regular surveys should be conducted to determine survivability of the trout.

Date  2010

Author  James Amrhein

Impaired Waters

Braezels Branch, from its mouth to unnamed stream (WBIC 5040486) (miles 0 to 4), was put on the impaired waters list in 1998 for total suspended solids and degraded habitat. A TMDL for this waterbody was approved by EPA in 2005.

Date  2010

Author  Ashley Beranek


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.



Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Collect chemical, physical, and/or biological water quality data to assess the current overall stream health. The data can inform management decisions and may be used to identify impaired waters for biennial lists.
TMDL (USEPA) Approved
Braezels Br TMDL Approved

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

Braezels Br is located in the Lower East Branch Pecatonica Rivers watershed which is 144.80 miĀ². Land use in the watershed is primarily grassland (44.90%), agricultural (35.10%) and a mix of forest (16%) and other uses (3.90%). This watershed has 370.96 stream miles, 107.68 lake acres and 2,029.49 wetland acres.

Nonpoint Source Characteristics

This watershed is ranked Not Available for runoff impacts on streams, Not Available 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

Braezels Branch is considered a Cool-Cold Headwater, Coldwater under the state's Natural Community Determinations.

Natural communities (stream and lake natural communities) represent model results and 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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