The Popple River watershed is approximately 138,724 acres in size and consists of 386 miles of streams and rivers, 251 acres of lakes, and 20,351 acres of wetlands. The watershed is dominated by agriculture and forest. The streams of the Popple River watershed characteristically have low flows and low gradients. Lack of groundwater recharge to surface water contributes to this condition. Historically many of the streams have been degraded due to point source discharges. Very few natural lakes exist in this watershed. There are few man-made ponds and impoundments also.
The Popple River Watershed is located in the Forest Transition Ecological Landscape which lies along the northern border of Wisconsin's Tension Zone, through the central and western part of the state, and supports both northern forests and agricultural areas. The central portion of the Forest Transition lies primarily on a glacial till plain deposited by glaciation between 25,000 and 790,000 years ago. The eastern and western portions are on moraines of the Wisconsin glaciation. The growing season in this part of the state is long enough that agriculture is viable, although climatic conditions are not as favorable as in southern Wisconsin. Soils are diverse, ranging from sandy loam to loam or shallow silt loam, and from poorly drained to well drained.
The historic vegetation of the Forest Transition was primarily northern hardwood forest. These northern hardwoods were dominated by sugar maple and hemlock, and contained some yellow birch, red pine and white pine. Currently, over 60% of this Ecological Landscape is non-forested. Forested areas consist primarily of northern hardwoods and aspen, with smaller amounts of oak and lowland hardwoods. The eastern portion of the Ecological Landscape differs from the rest of the area in that it remains primarily forested, and includes some ecologically significant areas. Throughout the Ecological Landscape, small areas of conifer swamp are found near the headwaters of streams, and associated with lakes in kettle depressions on moraines. Ground flora show characteristics of both northern and southern Wisconsin, as this Ecological Landscape lies along the Tension Zone.
Wildlife and Habitat
Numerous aquatic dependent species of concern have been documented in this watershed. Management decisions should consider potential affects to these species. Other species may be present but not yet documented.
River and Stream QualityAll Waters in Watershed
In 1992, the Abbotsford School District and the Wisconsin Academy supported a water quality assessment project of the Popple River watershed. High School biology students collected, identified, and analyzed aquatic insects using the Hilsenhoff Family Biotic Index (Henriksen). This type of work is encouraged by the DNR to familiarize more students with water quality monitoring techniques and to better understand the relationships between land management and water quality.
Date 1999 Watershed Trout StreamsWatershed Outstanding & Exceptional Resources
Lakes and Impoundments
Impaired WatersList of Impaired Waters
Monitoring & Projects
Projects including grants, restoration work and studies shown below have occurred in this watershed. Click the links below to read through the text. While these are not an exhaustive list of activities, they provide insight into the management activities happening in this watershed.
Citizen 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.
Confirm FCA: IW pre-2000 data
1676700 name Black R. (Below Medford) TMDL ID 582 Start Mile 132.67 End Mile 168.4
WDNR staff should continue to work with the following communities to take the appropriate steps to clean up contaminated wells.
Village of Dorchester
Village of Granton
WDNR staff should continue to encourage communities to develop wellhead protection plans in the Watershed and the whole basin.
The City of Owen and the Village of Withee should work together to eliminate the inflow and infiltration to their sewer collection system in order to eliminate the need for bypassing raw sewage during rainfall events.
Watershed History Note
In Clark County, running between the Villages of Withee and Curtiss, in the vicinity of Highway 29, is the Yellowstone Trail. The Yellowstone Trail was the first transcontinental automobile highway through the upper tier of states in the United States. It ran from Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts to Puget Sound in Washington State and was one of the earliest transcontinental automobile routes in the world. The Trail had significant social, political and economic effects on both the local communities and the nation during its short life from 1912 to 1930.
The Yellowstone Trail Association was formed in October 1912 and was active until 1930. The creation of the Yellowstone Trail was a grassroots effort, not a governmental effort, as was the Lincoln Highway. The Trail Association had small town chapters and state chapters to oversee routing. Local "routing committee men" went out into their counties to find the best roads available and then talk county governments into spending tax dollars on that route. Membership in the Trail Association was offered to delegates and towns all along the route. These people paid dues to have their towns advertised in Trail literature to draw tourists. They often headed local volunteer groups to mark the route with either yellow stones or the official yellow circle and black arrow of the Association. State or regional meetings were held.
With the eventual numbering of roads in the U.S., the need for names decreased and the need for colored markers to mark the named roads ceased. Then came the Great Depression. Merchants and towns could no longer afford to pay dues to a road association. State maps replaced the need for associations. The Yellowstone Trail and all other named trails lost their allure to other modern U.S Routes by 1930.
Today, there are areas where there are no signs that the trail ever existed, and there are other areas that have embraced the trail and are still trying to promote it. A new Yellowstone Trail Association was formed in October 2003 to increase public knowledge about the Trail, acquire information about the Trail and its historical context, preserve artifacts along the Trail, provide a medium of communication and support among members, promote heritage tourism and sponsor Trail-related events.
Visit the new Yellowstone Trail Association for more detailed history and information. Photo at right by T. Brandt Curtiss, Wisconsin