Fish and Aquatic Life
Bull Branch is a 3 mile long tributary to the Galena River. It derives much of its flow from mine discharges in the area. The stream is listed as an Impaired Water [on the 303(d) list] due to sedimentation caused by nonpoint source pollution. While this may have been a cause for impairment in the past, current data (2010) and an observation of land use practices suggest that the stream impairment may now be more related to high concentrations of heavy metals that are leaching from the historic mining in this area. Water chemistry data shows zinc concentrations near levels shown to cause toxicity in aquatic organisms. Bioassays show the waters of Bull Branch to inhibit growth and reproduction of test organisms at the base of the food chain.
Bull Branch may be able to sustain some level of cold water fishery if water quality is improved and physical impairments (perched culverts) are removed. However, the same groundwater that lends itself as a source of cool water to the system also contains the metals that limit its use.
While physical factors such as sedimentation and hydrologic modification are keeping certain fish species from inhabiting the stream, alleviating these issues is of questionable value until the metal toxicity can be mitigated. The description of Bull Branch on Wisconsin’s Impaired Waters list should be modified to include aquatic toxicity caused by heavy metals and hydrologic modification due to perched culverts on the stream, as major impairments.
Author James Amrhein
Bull Branch is a tributary to the Galena River in the southwest corner of Lafayette County. The stream is on the state’s official impaired waters (303d) list and is not supporting its full biological potential use most likely due to non-point pollution. In 1995 and 1996, the macroinvertebrate community of Bull Branch was sampled. Although the HBI indicated good water quality in the stream, there were very few mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies present. Nearly 70% of the sampled macroinvertebrates were midges, which indicates ecological disturbance and most likely high non-point pollution from agricultural sources (Gamman, 1983, Marshall, 1999). Additional monitoring on the stream could help to better characterize the problems.
Author Aquatic Biologist
Bull Branch receives a major portion of its flow volume from two mines located in its immediate drainage area. It is a very swift stream as one would expect upon noting its gradient. Although its temperature might suggest suitability for trout, only forage fishes are present. The bottom type is mostly gravel. Most of the land in the watershed is devoted to agricultural pursuits. Habitat for waterfowl and furbearers are limited. Public land is lacking but access to toe stream is possible from three town road crossings which is considered adequate for the resource at this time.
Bull Branch, T1N, R1E, Sections 32-14, Surface acres = 0.6, Miles = 0.6, Gradient =62.0 feet per mile, Total alkalinity = 334 mg/l, Volume of flow= 4.2cfs.
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.
Author Aquatic Biologist
Based on our 2014 TP assessments, we do not have TP data for this stream in SWIMS. Recommend adding the following impairment source category to the existing degraded habitat impairment listing (this is the closest match I can find in the drop-down menu): ï¿½hydrostructure impacts on fish passageï¿½
Author Aaron Larson
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.
Monitor Fish Community
AU 13836, poor fIBI, Station 10030382
Monitor Fish Community
The DNR should monitor the following streams to track the status of state endangered and threatened species and state species of concern: Bull Branch.
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
|WBIC||Official Waterbody Name||Station ID||Station Name||Earliest Fieldwork Date||Latest Fieldwork Date||View Station||View Data|
|936400||Bull Br||10030382||Bull Branch - Galena River to Bridge at Buncombe Rd.||1/1/2015||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|936400||Bull Br||333107||Bull Branch - Buncombe Rd. (Bi)||4/26/1979||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|936400||Bull Br||10030383||Bull Branch - 50 M upstream of Mine Air Shaft||Map||Data|
|936400||Bull Br||10030264||Bull Branch at Kennedy Road||6/22/2009||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
|936400||Bull Br||10030265||Bull Branch at CTH W||6/22/2009||1/1/2015||Map||Data|
Bull Br is located in the Galena River watershed which is 241.84 mi². Land use in the watershed is primarily agricultural (63.10%), grassland (26.40%) and a mix of forest (5.70%) and other uses (4.60%). This watershed has 572.33 stream miles, 65.18 lake acres and 681.01 wetland acres.
Nonpoint Source Characteristics
This watershed is ranked Not Ranked 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.However, all waters are affected by diffuse pollutant sources regardless of initial water quality. Applications for specific runoff projects under state or county grant programs may be pursued. For more information, go to surface water program grants.