Watershed - Lower Sugar River (SP11)
Lower Sugar River Watershed

Details

The Lower Sugar River watershed lies in southeast Green and southwest Rock Counties. It contains an 18.4 mile stretch of the Sugar River from the dam at Decatur Lake downstream to the Wisconsin-Illinois state line. The watershed is intensively agricultural with scattered grasslands and woodlots. Two municipalities, Brodhead and Orfordville, discharge to the Sugar River and Swan Creek, respectively. The Juda wastewater treatment facility discharges to groundwater. One industrial facility, Grande Cheese-Juda, discharges to the North Fork Juda Branch. Polluted runoff is the primary cause of water quality and in-stream habitat problems. Point source pollution is also a problem on the North Fork Juda Branch. The North Fork Juda Branch and Spring Creek are on the state's list of impaired (303d) waters, mainly due to habitat impairments caused by non-point source pollution. Many of the streams in this watershed have not been monitored in the last 10 years. In 2018 a targeted watershed approach plan was published. For more information go to the TWA Project online.

Date  2018

Ecological Landscapes for Lower Sugar River Watershed

Ecological Landscapes

The Southeast Glacial Plains Ecological Landscape makes up the bulk of the non-coastal land area in southeast Wisconsin. This Ecological Landscape is made up of glacial till plains and moraines. Most of this Ecological Landscape is composed of glacial materials deposited during the Wisconsin Ice Age, but the southwest portion consists of older, pre-Wisconsin till with a more dissected topography. Soils are lime-rich tills overlain in most areas by a silt-loam loess cap. Agricultural and residential interests throughout the landscape have significantly altered the historical vegetation. Most of the rare natural communities that remain are associated with large moraines or in areas where the Niagara Escarpment occurs close to the surface. Historically, vegetation in the Southeast Glacial Plains consisted of a mix of prairie, oak forests and savanna, and maple-basswood forests. Wet-mesic prairies, southern sedge meadows, emergent marshes, and calcareous fens were found in lower portions of the Landscape. End moraines and drumlins supported savannas and forests. Agricultural and urban land use practices have drastically changed the land cover of the Southeast Glacial Plains since Euro-American settlement. The current vegetation is primarily agricultural cropland. Remaining forests occupy only about 10% of the land area and consist of maple-basswood, lowland hardwoods, and oak. No large mesic forests exist today except on the Kettle Interlobate Moraine which has topography too rugged for agriculture. Some existing forest patches that were formerly savannas have succeeded to hardwood forest due to fire suppression.

Date  2010

Recreational Opportunities

One of the features which is fairly unique to this watershed are large, floodplain wetland complexes that exist along the lower portion of the Sugar River. These wetland complexes have a high value as wildlife habitat and help maintain good water quality. Many of these wetlands are encompassed in the Avon Bottoms State Wildlife Area and Avon Bottoms State Natural Area in Rock County. The 1,735 acres that make up this area are home to many different types of waterfowl as well as turkeys, cranes, rabbits, squirrels and other furbearers. Canoeing is a popular activity as there are several public accesses along the route. The area consists of bottomland hardwoods, scattered oak woodlots, grasslands, and marsh.

Date  2002

Watershed Documents
Watershed Grants
Grant Details
Aquatic Invasives Early Detection and Response
Date
9/1/2012
Waters Involved
Sugar River
Status
Complete

River Alliance Of Wisconsin: Gambusia Infestation- Sugar River: The River Alliance of Wisconsin intends to test a technique to mechanically remove as many exotic Gambusia (mosquitofish) as possible from the slough where their population expanded this past summer. The goals of the project are to test this method of sequentially blocking sections of the slough from the mouth to the top, shocking, collecting, and netting, in a repeated fashion), and actually removing as many of these destructive fishes as possible in order to create a more favorable habitat for the return of the native topminnows. Without this action, the return of the native species would highly improbable after this drought year, which dried up most of their habitat in this and other river systems. Final results will be presented to DNR in a report, and via poster at the UW-Platteville poster day by another partner in the project from the UW.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/15/2017
Waters Involved
Decatur Lake
Status
Complete

Decatur Lake Millrace Assoc: Decatur Lake Feasibility Study: Decatur Lake and Mill Race Association plans to conduct an objective assessment to identify lake planning options for improving water quality, habitat and recreational uses of Decatur Lake, located on the Sugar River. The project will include public information and education, gathering of public input, and scientific and engineering analysis of management alternatives. They will examine water quality, watershed and hydrology data. Volunteers will collect lake bathymetric data and supplement existing water quality data to help with sediment transport and nutrient cycling analyses. The project will also evaluate carp control options. This information will be compiled and analyzed to determine how the lake and it\2019s habitat can be improved. The final report will be shared with partners via local newspaper, websites and social media.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/15/2017
Waters Involved
Searles Creek
Status
Complete

Decatur Lake Millrace Assoc: Decatur Lake Feasibility Study: Decatur Lake and Mill Race Association plans to conduct an objective assessment to identify lake planning options for improving water quality, habitat and recreational uses of Decatur Lake, located on the Sugar River. The project will include public information and education, gathering of public input, and scientific and engineering analysis of management alternatives. They will examine water quality, watershed and hydrology data. Volunteers will collect lake bathymetric data and supplement existing water quality data to help with sediment transport and nutrient cycling analyses. The project will also evaluate carp control options. This information will be compiled and analyzed to determine how the lake and it\2019s habitat can be improved. The final report will be shared with partners via local newspaper, websites and social media.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/15/2017
Waters Involved
Sugar River
Status
Complete

Decatur Lake Millrace Assoc: Decatur Lake Feasibility Study: Decatur Lake and Mill Race Association plans to conduct an objective assessment to identify lake planning options for improving water quality, habitat and recreational uses of Decatur Lake, located on the Sugar River. The project will include public information and education, gathering of public input, and scientific and engineering analysis of management alternatives. They will examine water quality, watershed and hydrology data. Volunteers will collect lake bathymetric data and supplement existing water quality data to help with sediment transport and nutrient cycling analyses. The project will also evaluate carp control options. This information will be compiled and analyzed to determine how the lake and it\2019s habitat can be improved. The final report will be shared with partners via local newspaper, websites and social media.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/15/2017
Waters Involved
Sugar River -East Channel
Status
Complete

Decatur Lake Millrace Assoc: Decatur Lake Feasibility Study: Decatur Lake and Mill Race Association plans to conduct an objective assessment to identify lake planning options for improving water quality, habitat and recreational uses of Decatur Lake, located on the Sugar River. The project will include public information and education, gathering of public input, and scientific and engineering analysis of management alternatives. They will examine water quality, watershed and hydrology data. Volunteers will collect lake bathymetric data and supplement existing water quality data to help with sediment transport and nutrient cycling analyses. The project will also evaluate carp control options. This information will be compiled and analyzed to determine how the lake and it\2019s habitat can be improved. The final report will be shared with partners via local newspaper, websites and social media.


Grant Details
Large Scale Lake Planning
Date
4/15/2017
Waters Involved
Unnamed
Status
Complete

Decatur Lake Millrace Assoc: Decatur Lake Feasibility Study: Decatur Lake and Mill Race Association plans to conduct an objective assessment to identify lake planning options for improving water quality, habitat and recreational uses of Decatur Lake, located on the Sugar River. The project will include public information and education, gathering of public input, and scientific and engineering analysis of management alternatives. They will examine water quality, watershed and hydrology data. Volunteers will collect lake bathymetric data and supplement existing water quality data to help with sediment transport and nutrient cycling analyses. The project will also evaluate carp control options. This information will be compiled and analyzed to determine how the lake and it\2019s habitat can be improved. The final report will be shared with partners via local newspaper, websites and social media.


Grant Details
Small Scale Lake Planning
Date
10/1/2013
Waters Involved
Decatur Lake
Status
Complete

Decatur Lake Millrace Assoc: Dlmra Website Dev: The Decatur Lake Millrace Association plans to improve communication and outreach for their young organization by developing a website. This should help increase public awareness and broaden the conversation about things they can do to strengthen the organization and generate ideas and energy to improve the lake. The deliverables include creation and launching of a new website, a membership list, and training for website and list maintenance. A press release and presentation of website availability will be made to City of Brodhead, and posted at the local library to get the word out. A brief final report will be submitted electronically at the end of the grant.


Grant Details
Small Scale Lake Planning
Date
10/1/2013
Waters Involved
Sugar River
Status
Complete

Decatur Lake Millrace Assoc: Dlmra Website Dev: The Decatur Lake Millrace Association plans to improve communication and outreach for their young organization by developing a website. This should help increase public awareness and broaden the conversation about things they can do to strengthen the organization and generate ideas and energy to improve the lake. The deliverables include creation and launching of a new website, a membership list, and training for website and list maintenance. A press release and presentation of website availability will be made to City of Brodhead, and posted at the local library to get the word out. A brief final report will be submitted electronically at the end of the grant.


Grant Details
River Planning Grant
Date
4/1/2000
Waters Involved
Raccoon Creek
Status
Complete

Rock County: Racoon Creek Watershed Project: The Rock County Land Conservation Department will create a Citizen's Advisory Committee, develop a plan of action for water quality issues and begin its implementation, and disseminate information to the general citenry of the watershed.

A full description of the project scope and deliverables is available in the grant application, which is part of this agreement. The DNR will be provided with both a paper copy and an electronic copy of the final report. Information will be disseminated to the public as described in the grant application.


Grant Details
River Planning Grant
Date
7/1/2011
Waters Involved
Sugar River -East Channel
Status
Complete

Upper Sugar River Watershed Association: Lower Sugar River Watershed Assoc. Capacity Building: The USRWA will participate in the River Planning Grant program by establishing a Lower Sugar River Watershed organization. Project deliverables include the following: 1.) Organize and develop the governance structure of LWRWA, including forming a 401c3 organization 2.) Collect, organize and develop open web access to existing resource data, 3.) Develop a Citizen Science-based network and education program and deploy a series of \201CAcquainting with Your Watershed\201D events to engage volunteers, 4.) Collect, assimilate, prepare and present online the collected data, 5.) Design an online \201Clive map\201D to allow participants to post and share observations in the LSRWA area, 6.) Further develop the \201Clive map\201D to allow for sharing of a variety of annual events and observations, 7.) Create an adaptable, expandable engagement strategy around a comprehensive program to engage, educate, and inspire people in the LSRW area.


Grant Details
River Protection Grant
Date
4/1/2000
Waters Involved
Beckmans Millpond
Status
Complete

Friends Of Beckman Mill Inc: Friends Of Beckman Mill, Inc. Fish Passageway: The Friends of Beckman Mill, Inc. will construct a natural looking fish passageway that will protect the threatened and endangered species found in the stream. The fish passageway will also increase public awarenes about fish behavior and solutions to fish migration around obstructions.

A full description of project scope and deliverables is available in the grant application, which is part of this agreement. The DNR will be provided with both a paper copy and an electronic copy of the final report. Information will be disseminated to the public as described in the grant application.


Grant Details
River Protection Grant
Date
4/1/2000
Waters Involved
Raccoon Creek
Status
Complete

Friends Of Beckman Mill Inc: Friends Of Beckman Mill, Inc. Fish Passageway: The Friends of Beckman Mill, Inc. will construct a natural looking fish passageway that will protect the threatened and endangered species found in the stream. The fish passageway will also increase public awarenes about fish behavior and solutions to fish migration around obstructions.

A full description of project scope and deliverables is available in the grant application, which is part of this agreement. The DNR will be provided with both a paper copy and an electronic copy of the final report. Information will be disseminated to the public as described in the grant application.


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.

Lower Sugar River Watershed

Goals

1/15/2018
The ideal scenario would focus on the facilitation of the re-meandering of stream channels in the watershed. However, this may not be cost-effective or practical, especially in the contemporary agricultural economy. Therefore, DNR staff and partners must work with landowners in the watershed to encourage management of woody vegetation to prevent overgrowth along banks and control regrowth, and encourage landowners to use management practices that avoid destabilization of banks (i.e. cutting and grubbing of the shoreline with no shaping, sloping or mulching). Overall, the management goals include:
1/15/2018
Stream stabilization 
1/15/2018
Encourage and facilitate partnership and educational efforts to provide sustainable improvements that provide long-term management results
1/15/2018
Reduction of sediment and nutrient runoff and erosion from streams in agriculturally dominated landscapes
1/15/2018
Enhancement/restoration of aquatic habitat
Watershed Recommendations
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Citizen Stream Monitoring
Date
Status
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.
1/1/2012
In Progress
Projects
 
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Citizen Stream Monitoring
Date
Status
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.
1/1/2012
In Progress
Projects
 
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Citizen Stream Monitoring
Date
Status
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.
1/1/2012
In Progress
Projects
 
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Citizen Stream Monitoring
Date
Status
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.
1/1/2012
In Progress
Projects
 
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Citizen Stream Monitoring
Date
Status
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.
1/1/2012
In Progress
Projects
 
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Citizen Stream Monitoring
Date
Status
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.
1/1/2012
In Progress
Projects
 
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Citizen Stream Monitoring
Date
Status
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.
1/1/2012
In Progress
Projects
 
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Citizen Stream Monitoring
Date
Status
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.
1/1/2012
In Progress
Projects
 
Citizen-Based Stream Monitoring
Citizen Stream Monitoring
Date
Status
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.
1/1/2012
In Progress
Projects
 
Engage Volunteers in Monitoring/Restoration
Continue Volunteer Efforts
Date
Status
Monitoring of phosphorus and nitrate concentrations in the streams of the Lower Sugar River should continue as funding and volunteer efforts allow.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Information and Education
Fish Habitat Edu Program
Date
Status
Local partners should apply for funds to create educational programs that encourage landowners to leave some woody debris in Spring Creek as habitat for fish.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Monitor Water Quality or Sediment
Unnamed Tributary to Willow Creek Biology mIBI
Date
Status
Only assessment result is "poor". Further monitoring recommended. AU: 5693322; Station ID: 10042508
5/1/2018
Proposed
Projects
 
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
Taylor Creek 303d watch
Date
Status
Taylor Creek, from Swan Creek downstream to the Sugar River and Willow Creek should be added as a watch water since total phosphorus concentrations are near the criteria for listing.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
OK Creek for 303d listing
Date
Status
The entire length of OK Creek should be added to the state�s 303(d) list of impaired waters due to habitat degradation caused by excessive sediment deposition and channel straightening. OK Creek should also be added to the impaired waters list for total phosphorus as concentrations exceed the WisCALM (WDNR, 2018) guidance.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Monitor or Propose 303(d) Listing
Swam Creek 303d listing
Date
Status
Swan Creek should be added to the 303(d) list of impaired waters for phosphorus that exceeds the criteria.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Partnership Project
Outreach and Collaborations
Date
Status
The department should work with watershed organizations such as the Lower Sugar River Watershed Association on outreach efforts with landowners in the watershed, environmental programs in the Juda and Brodhead school districts, and research opportunities for harvestable buffers to provide economic incentives for maintaining buffers along streams.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Review, Update Use Designation
Land Use and Nutrient Management Review
Date
Status
The department should review land use and nutrient management efforts in this sub-watershed to determine if any improvements can be made to reduce phosphorus delivery to the stream.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Rivers Management Grant
Research Riparian Buffer Management
Date
Status
The Lower Sugar River Watershed Association should apply for DNR grants to engage with local landowners and interested parties in projects that research the effectiveness of harvestable buffers in providing economic incentives for maintaining buffers along streams.
1/15/2018
Proposed
 
Lower Sugar River WatershedWatershed History Note

The City of Brodhead and the Village of Orfordville are located in the Lower Sugar River Watershed. Orfordville started out as part of Spring Valley Township which was laid out in 1855. One of the first to settle there was Mrs. Elizabeth Gifford, along with "The Gifford Boys", Joseph, Benjamin, and James Gifford. Mr. Daniel Mowe Sr. wanted to name the territory Moweville, and Mr. Clark wished to name the territory Clarksville. The surveyor, Mr. J.T. Dodge, suggested calling it "Orford", which was a town he was familiar with in New Hampshire. The railroad station in town was also called Orford. It remained Orford until the establishment of a post office, when it was confused with Oxford, Wisconsin. The name was then changed to Ordfordville at the suggestion of the postmaster general. Brodhead sits along the Sugar River State Trail, which follows an abandoned railroad line in south central Wisconsin for 24 miles from New Glarus to Brodhead. North of Brodhead, the trail goes over a replica covered bridge. The trail has also been designated as a National Recreational Trail. Just south of Brodhead is a historic marker for the Half-Way Tree, a bur oak supposedly identified by Native Americans as the halfway point on a foot trail between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River.

Date  2011