Rocky Run Creek East Fork TWA

Project Title

Rocky Run, Muskellunge, East Fork Chippewa River TWA WQM Plan 2017
East Fork Chippewa River (UC21), HUC: 070500010208 and 07050010207, Monitored 2015
Jeff Jackson, Primary Author and Investigator, North District, Wisconsin DNR with support from Joe Cunningham, North District, Wisconsin DNR
Rocky Run East Fork Chippewa Muskellunge Creek TWA WQM Plan 2017 [UC21]

Study Purpose & Setting

Executive Summary Rocky Run Creek and Muskellunge Creek TWA
The Rocky Run Creek East Fork of the Chippewa River and Muskellunge Creek East Fork of the Chippewa River HUC12 watersheds are healthy but vulnerable. The purpose of the Targeted Watershed Assessment Project was to collect baseline physical, biological, and chemical water quality data in these two HUC 12 watersheds. There is limited data to verify the health of these isolated watersheds. This new information will be used in future watershed management activities.

Fish and qualitative habitat surveys were conducted at 12 stream sites and macroinvertebrate samples were collected at nine sites. Water chemistry samples were collected monthly from Muskellunge Creek and the East Fork of the Chippewa River from May to October for phosphorus, nitrogen, total suspended solids (TSS).

The fish community of the East Fork of the Chippewa River is excellent based on the fish Index of Biotic Integrity (FIBI) scores, with a diverse mix of species, several of which are sensitive to pollution. The macroinvertebrate community was rated excellent based on macroinvertebrate Index of Biotic Integrity (MIBI) scores. Overall the water quality of the East Fork of the Chippewa River is excellent in the study area based on the biological, physical, and chemical attributes. The Headwater streams were dominated by tolerant forage fish and habitat quality is good. The macroinvertebrate community rated good to excellent in the headwater streams based on the MIBI. These headwater streams had high macroinvertebrate species richness and diversity, with many species intolerant to pollution. The streams in the Rocky Run and Muskellunge Creek TWA have limited anthropogenic influences that impact water quality. The Department considers these streams to be high quality waters fully meeting their biological potential.

Watershed Goals
The overall goal of this plan is to improve and protect water quality in the basin. This TWA (Targeted Watershed Assessment) monitoring project collected data in 2015 to assess the current condition of two HUC 12 watersheds within the East Fork Chippewa River Watershed (UC21). This plan is designed to present monitoring results, identify water resource issues, and make recommendations to improve or protect water quality consistent with Clean Water Act guidelines and state water quality standards.


Watershed Overview The East Fork Chippewa River Watershed (UC 21) has 17 listed trout streams, more than any other watershed in the Upper Chippewa River Basin. The Watershed is predominantly wetland and forest, with limited agricultural activities. Glidden is the only Village in the watershed. Glidden has a wastewater treatment plant that discharges into the East Fork of the Chippewa River just south of the village (upstream of the two HUC 12s study area). The remaining residents have private septic systems.

Population, Land Use, Site Characteristics The East Fork Chippewa River watershed (UC21) is 305.16 square miles (196,146 Acres). There are 310.53 stream miles, 2,431.41 lake acres and 65,073.81 wetland acres. The landscape in the area is primarily forest (53%), wetland (33%) and a mix of grassland (7%) and other uses. The watershed has a small agricultural presence that is dominated by grass fields and few row crop fields.

Trout Waters DNR uses three categories to classify different types of trout streams. Wisconsin Trout Stream Maps
provide a comprehensive list of trout streams covering the majority of the state. Efforts have been made to list all trout streams in the State of Wisconsin, but this listing in not exhaustive. The majority of the trout streams in the East Fork of the Chippewa River Watershed (UC21) are class II and class III.

Impaired WatersEvery two years, Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires states to publish a list of all waters that do not meet water quality standards. The list, also known as the Impaired Waters List, is updated to reflect waters that are newly added or removed based on new information. Gates Lake is the only waterway listed as impaired in the Rocky Run/Muskellunge Creek East Fork Chippewa River TWA, for mercury in fish tissue from atmospheric deposition.

East Fork Chippewa River (UC21)

Ecological Landcapes

The North Central Forest Ecological Landscape occupies much of the northern third of Wisconsin. The historic vegetation was primarily hemlock-hardwood forest dominated by hemlock, sugar maple, and yellow birch. There were some smaller areas of white and red pine forest scattered throughout the ecological landscape. Harvesting hemlock to support the tanneries was common at the turn of the century, and the species soon became a minor component of forests due to over-harvesting and lack of regeneration.

Currently, forests cover approximately 80% of this Ecological Landscape. The northern upland hardwood forest is dominant, made up of sugar maple, basswood, Yellow Birch, Balsam Fir, and also including some scattered hemlock and white pine pockets within stands. Aspen & White Birch stands are also relatively abundant due to timber harvest management practices. There is also a variety of forested and non-forested wetland spread across the landscape.

Natural Communities

Soils in this area consist of sandy loam, sand, and silts. Much of the surface water in these watersheds originates from wetland drainage areas and are generally stained.

Site Selection & Study Design

Watershed monitoring sites were selected based on stream access, natural community modeling transitions, and position within the watershed. These watersheds contained many streams with limited road access. Site selection focused on existing road crossing, previous fisheries management sites, and access via public lands (except for the lower site on Dorn�s Creek which was accessed via private land with permission).

Monitoring and Planning

This Water Quality Management Plan was created under the state�s Water Quality Management Planning and Water Resources Monitoring Programs. The plan reflects Water Quality Bureau and Water Resources Monitoring Strategy 2015-2020 goals and priorities and fulfills Areawide Water Quality Management Planning milestones under the Clean Water Act, Section 208. Condition information and resource management recommendations support and guide program priorities for the plan area. This plan is hereby approved by the Wisconsin DNR Water Quality Program and is a formal update to the Upper Chippewa Areawide Water Quality Management Plan and Wisconsin�s Statewide Areawide Water
Quality Management Plan. This plan will be forwarded to USEPA for certification as a formal plan update.


Jeff Jackson, Primary Author and Investigator, Northern District, Wisconsin DNR
Joseph Cunningham, Investigator, Northern District, Wisconsin DNR
Victoria Ziegler, Program Support, Water Quality Bureau, Wisconsin DNR
Lisa Helmuth, Program Coordinator, Water Quality Bureau, Wisconsin DNR

Water Details

The TWA project area included two HUC 12?s; the Rocky Run Creek East Fork of Chippewa River and Muskellunge Creek East Fork Chippewa River watersheds. These watersheds are located within three townships in Ashland County; Chippewa, Jacobs, and Shannagolden. These townships have populations of 374, 715, and 125 respectively; Shannagolden makes up the majority of the watershed?s land area. The Rocky Run Creek and Muskellunge Creek East Fork of Chippewa River TWA encompasses 33,192 acres of the total 196,146 acres of the HUC10 East Fork Chippewa River.


BMP: Best Management Practice. A practice that is determined effective and practicable (including technological, economic, and institutional considerations) in preventing or reducing pollution generated from nonpoint sources to a level compatible with water quality goals.

DNR: Department of Natural Resources. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is an agency of the State of Wisconsin created to preserve, protect, manage, and maintain natural resources.

FIBI: Fish Index of biological integrity (Fish IBI). An Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) is a scientific tool used to identify and classify water pollution problems. An IBI associates anthropogenic influences on a water body with biological activity in the water and is formulated using data developed from biosurveys. In Wisconsin, Fish IBIs are created for each type of natural community in the state�s stream system.

HUC: Hydrologic Unit Code. A code or sequence of numbers that identify one of a number of nested and interlocked hydrologic catchments delineated by a consortium of agencies including USGS, USFS, and Wisconsin DNR.

MIBI: Macroinvertebrate Index of biological integrity. In Wisconsin, the mIBI, or macroinvertebrate Index of biological integrity, was developed specifically to assess Wisconsin�s macroinvertebrate community (see also Fish IBI).

Natural Community. A system of categorizing waterbodies based on their inherent physical, hydrologic, and biological assemblages. Both Streams and Lakes are categorized using an array of �natural community� types.

Monitoring Seq. No. Monitoring Sequence Number, refers to a unique identification code generated by the Surface Water Integrated Monitoring System (SWIMS), which holds much of the state�s water quality monitoring data.

SWIMS ID. Surface Water Integrated Monitoring System (SWIMS) Identification Code is the unique monitoring station identification number for the location where monitoring data was gathered.

TWA: Targeted Watershed Assessment. A statewide study design a rotating watershed approach to gathering of baseline monitoring data with specialized targeted assessments for unique and site specific concerns, such as effectiveness monitoring of management actions.

WATERS ID: The Waterbody Assessment, Tracking and Electronic Reporting System Identification Code (WATERS ID) is a unique numerical sequence number assigned by the WATERS system, also known as �Assessment Unit ID code�.

WBIC: Water Body Identification Code. DNR�s unique identification codes assigned to water features in the state. The lines and information allow the user to execute spatial and tabular queries about the data, make maps, and perform flow analysis and network traces.