The Black Creek Watershed is located in Taylor and Marathon counties. The watershed received the highest watershed index score of all 20 watersheds in the Marathon County Animal Waste Management Plan. The ranking was based on livestock densities near surface waters; the high percentage of Nonpoint Source pollution (NPS) was contributed to animal wastes, soil types, topography, and the impact of wastes on water quality. The Marathon County Land Conservation Committee recommended this watershed be considered as a priority watershed to control animal waste.
The watershed was ranked using the Nonpoint Source Priority Watershed Selection Criteria. Based on NPS impacts on surface water quality, the watershed was ranked high, establishing a priority for future grant eligibility through the State Nonpoint Source Pollution Abatement Program. In 1996, the Black Creek Watershed was up for Priority Watershed Selection. However, due to program restructuring, no more were chosen. Developing a plan to increase water quality in the watershed is necessary.
The Black Creek 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.
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.
Watershed History Note
The Black Creek Watershed runs through the Town of Rietbrock in Marathon County. Here one finds the Rietbrock Geographical Marker which locates the exact center of the northern half of the Western Hemisphere. This is the point at which the 90th Meridian of Longitude bisects the 45th Parallel of Latitude, meaning it is exactly halfway between the North Pole and the Equator, and is a quarter of the way around the earth from Greenwich, England.