The Upper Trempealeau River Watershed is approximately 112,348 acres is size and consists of 360 miles of streams and rivers, 210 acres of lakes, and 7,550 acres of wetlands. The watershed is dominated by forests and agriculture, but is ranked high for nonpoint issues affecting groundwater in the watershed.
This watershed is located in the Western Coulee and Ridges Ecological Landscape in southwestern and west central Wisconsin and is characterized by its highly eroded, driftless topography and relatively extensive forested landscape. Soils are silt loams (loess) and sandy loams over sandstone residuum over dolomite. Several large rivers including the Wisconsin, Mississippi, Chippewa, Kickapoo and Black flow through or border the Ecological Landscape.
Historical vegetation consisted of southern hardwood forests, oak savanna, scattered prairies, and floodplain forests and marshes along the major rivers. With Euro-American settlement, most of the land on ridgetops and valley bottoms was cleared of oak savanna, prairie, and level forest for agriculture. The steep slopes between valley bottom and ridgetop, unsuitable for raising crops, grew into oak-dominated forests after the ubiquitous presettlement wildfires were suppressed. Current vegetation is a mix of forest (40%), agriculture, and grassland with some wetlands in the river valleys. The primary forest cover is oak-hickory (51%) dominated by oak species and shagbark hickory. Maple-basswood forests (28%), dominated by sugar maple, basswood and red maple, are common in areas that were not subjected to repeated presettlement wildfires. Bottomland hardwoods (10%) are common in the valley bottoms of major rivers and are dominated by silver maple, ashes, elms, cottonwood, and red maple. Relict conifer forests including white pine, hemlock and yellow birch are a rarer natural community in the cooler, steep, north slope microclimates.
River and Stream QualityAll Waters in Watershed
This watershed has 13 trout streams with a combined stream mileage of 95.1 miles. All, or portions, of these streams are not meeting their full use potential because agricultural nonpoint source pollution is degrading the streams.
Date 1991 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.
Hire Aquatic Invasives (AIS) County Coordinator - Jackson
WDNR FH staff should conduct a fishery survey of Lowe Creek.
WDNR staff should continue to encourage communities to develop wellhead protection plans in the Watershed and the whole basin.
Protect Amo Creek Shorelands
A portion of the stream is degraded by livestock pasturing streambanks and runs wide and shallow providing limited trout habitat. Efforts should be made to reduce access to the stream and protect the shoreline.
Watershed History Note
The Upper Trempealeau watershed is the home of one of the most famous archaeological sites in the Midwest known as the Silver Mound quarry/workshop complex in Jackson County, Wisconsin. Although its name implies that it is a burial mound which contains precious metal, Silver Mound is neither. The mound is actually a large sandstone hill that contains layers of cemented silica, forming very hard, brittle rock. This rock, called "Hixton Silicified Sandstone," "Hixton Orthoquartzite," or "Sugar Quartz" was a very unique material used by Native Americans to chip stone tools.
The layers of bonded silica which form Hixton Orthoquartzite distinguish this rock from other sandstone. This rare process of cementing created material harder than flint. This stronger material holds sharp edges longer when used as tools such as knives and hide scrapers, requiring less re-sharpening. Although several other orthoquartzite quarry sites have been located in western Wisconsin in recent years, Silver Mound was the largest and most intensely used source of orthoquartzite in the Midwest.
Spear-tips made from this Hixton Orthoquartzite have been found as far away as Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Some of these points have been dated at nearly 12,000 years old, revealing that Silver Mound was one of the first places humans visited in Wisconsin.
Although this site has been investigated since the 1850's, few details are known about the original activities which took place here. Over the past century, the mound and its surrounding area have experienced some disturbances including futile small scale mining for silver, agricultural plowing, logging and erosion resulting from these activities. Fortunately, much of the mound remains relatively unaffected by modern activities, and evidence of past utilization is abundant, making this one of the best examples of pre-European quarrying and knapping in North America. Because of its importance and preserved condition, the site has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and efforts for continued preservation are ongoing.
Text, photos from: http://www.uwlax.edu/mvac/specificsites/SilverMound.htm