The Little Eau Pleine River Watershed is located in the counties of Clark, Portage, Marathon and Wood. This watershed is one of many watersheds that drain into the Du Bay Flowage. The Little Eau Pleine River watershed is one of the largest watersheds taking up 264 square miles of the basin.
This watershed was ranked using the Nonpoint Source Priority Watershed Selection Criteria. Based on surface and ground water data, the overall ranking is low. A shallow groundwater table allows unused herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers to leach into the groundwater without it being filtered out in the soil profile. Water quality problems are intensified by high rates of surface run-off due to the silty soils. The Marathon County Soil Erosion Control Plan identified the townships of Day and Bergen as having high soil erosion rates. The Wood County Soil Erosion Control Plan also identified the Little Eau Pleine River Watershed townships of Auburndale and Milladore as priority areas for soil erosion control.
The Forest Transition Ecological Landscape 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.
The Mead Wildlife Area is 27,000 acres of mixed hardwoods and aspen uplands with open marshes that parallel the Little Eau Pleine River and is located in this watershed. The Mead Wildlife Area is located off county highway S and O, it is located about 45 minutes (30 miles) southwest of Wausau, 20 minutes (15 miles) east of Marshfield and 25 minutes (20 miles) northwest of Stevens Point. There are many ways to utilize this wildlife area by exploring more than 70 miles of recreational trails and waterways, hunting waterfowl, deer and small game, or trapping fur bearing animals. Access is restricted in some of the wildlife areas at certain times of the year, but there is plenty of area to discover all year round.
Confirm FCA: IW pre-2000 data
1179900 name Wisconsin River TMDL ID 622 Start Mile 0 End Mile 27.67
Watershed History Note
The Little Eau Pleine River runs through the George W. Mead Wildlife Area, which includes portions of Marathon, Portage and Wood counties. It covers over 33,000 acres and is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In the early 1900s the lowlands in the area were used for farming. They were drained by digging ditches and dredging and straightening a five mile (8 km) section of the Little Eau Pleine River. Farming failed, however, as the lowlands were too cold and acidic for farming.
In 1933, the area was to be the site of two reservoirs impounding the Big and Little Eau Pleine Rivers. Land was purchased by the Consolidated Water Power and Paper Company (now NewPage Corporation). The Big Eau Pleine River dam was built in 1936. The dam on the Little Eau Pleine River, which would have created the second largest lake in Wisconsin with 27,500 acres (111 km2), was not built due to opposition from conservationists and local residents. On April 10, 1959, Stanton W. Mead, President of Consolidated Paper Company, donated 20,000 acres (81 km2) to the State of Wisconsin for use as a state wildlife area. The Area is named for Stantons father, George W. Mead. The Visitor Center bears Stantons name. Then governor Gaylord Nelson attended the dedication. Additional land has been purchased or donated since the Areas inception.