Section 319
Implementing Agricultural Best Management Practices Restores
Coldwater Fisheries in Eagle and Joos Valley Creeks
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                                  Erosion from streambanks, pasturelands and wooded grazing
                                  |ands had contributed to excess sediment and degraded habitat in
Wisconsin's Waumandee Creek watershed. As a result, segments of Eagle Creek and Joos Valley Creek
(8.5 and 7.4 miles, respectively) were added to the state's 1998 Clean Water Act (CWA) section 303(d)
list of impaired waters. Beginning in the mid-1990s, project partners implemented agricultural best
management practices (BMPs) to limit soil erosion and nutrient loading. Partners also stabilized stream-
banks and waterways to restore fisheries habitat.  Monitoring data show that water quality has improved
in  Eagle and Joos Valley creeks as a result of these efforts. Therefore, the Wisconsin Department of
Natural Resources (WDNR) removed both waterbodies from the state's list of impaired waters in 2012.
Eagle Creek and Joos Valley Creek (Figure 1) lie
within the Waumandee Creek watershed in Buffalo
County, along the western border of Wisconsin.
The watershed is characterized by steep topog-
raphy, narrow valleys and numerous streams.
Agricultural activities make up 34 percent of the
land use in the watershed. Because of the close
proximity of farming and dairy cow grazing to
the creeks, WDNR's Nonpoint Source Pollution
Abatement Program identified Waumandee Creek
as a priority watershed in 1985. Five years later,
WDNR developed the Waumandee Creek Priority
Watershed Plan, which identified severe nonpoint
source pollution impacts degrading stream water
quality; the Plan was updated in 2011.

Excess sediment loading, elevated water tempera-
tures and habitat degradation from streambank
erosion (primarily from cattle grazing) prevented
Eagle and Joos Valley creeks from supporting  their
coldwater fishery designated uses. As a result,
WDNR added an 8.5-mile-long segment of Joos
Valley Creek and a 7.4-mile-long segment of Eagle
Creek to the state's CWA section 303(d) list of
impaired waters in 1998. Both waterbodies were
listed as impaired by total suspended solids (TSS),
which had  degraded habitat.

A sediment total maximum daily load (TMDL) for
Eagle Creek and Joos Valley Creek was developed
by WDNR and approved by EPA in 2003. The TMDL
set a goal of a 58 percent reduction in the average
annual sediment load,  based on 1990 conditions.
Streambank erosion and livestock grazing on
pasturelands and in wooded areas were identified
as major sources of suspended solids.
                                              Eagle Creek Watershed
                                                 Buffalo County, Wl
                                                 HUC 070400030404
                                             Figure 1. Impaired segments in Buffalo County's Eagle
                                             Creek watershed include upper Eagle Creek and all of
                                             Joos Valley Creek.
                                             Project Highlights
                                             Between 1993 and 2000, project partners coordi-
                                             nated to implement BMPs in Eagle Creek and Joos
                                             Valley Creek. They built three manure storage facili-
                                             ties and 10 barnyard runoff systems to reduce the
                                             amount of nutrient loading into the creeks from local
                                             farming operations; installed more than 11,000 lin-
                                             ear feet of streambank protection structures and
                                             approximately 3,640 linear feet of livestock fencing
                                             to restrict cattle access to the creeks; added riprap
                                             (rock or other structures used to armor shoreline to
                                             control streambank erosion) and graded and sloped


Figure 2. Before restoration, erosion contributed
excess sediment, which collected and formed this
mud bank on Joos Valley Creek.

the creek waterways; and installed in-stream struc-
tures that provide streambank stability and edge-
cover aquatic habitat. Farmers also implemented
cropland and nutrient management practices
on approximately 470 acres of highly erodible
lands and installed erosion control structures and
grassed waterways to decrease soil erosion  due to
stormwater runoff (Figures 2 and 3).
Between 1990 and 2007 WDNR and the U.S.
Geological Survey (USGS) collaborated on a
long-term study examining the effects of BMP
implementation on water quality in Eagle and Joos
Valley creeks. The study monitored levels of TSS,
ammonia nitrogen, and phosphorus (1) before BMP
implementation, (2) during the installation phase and
(3) for a seven-year period following BMP imple-
mentation. Results show significant decreases in the
median loads of TSS in both creeks—an 89 percent
decline in Eagle Creek and an 84 percent decline in
Joos Valley Creek. These reductions exceeded the
TMDL goal of a 58 percentTSS reduction. Study
results also show declines in total phosphorus and
ammonia in Eagle Creek (77 percent phosphorus and
66 percent ammonia nitrogen reduction)  and Joos
Valley Creek (67 percent phosphorus  and 60 percent
ammonia nitrogen reduction) between pre- and post-
BMP implementation.  WDNR estimates that pollut-
ant load reductions and water quality improvements
are due to changing land practices and livestock herd
reductions in the watershed. On the basis of these
data, WDNR  removed  both creeks from the state's
list of impaired waters in 2012 forTSS.
Figure 3. Joos Valley Creek, after stakeholders
restored the stream and implemented erosion
control practices in the watershed.

Partners and Funding
The success of this project is the result of coordina-
tion between multiple non-governmental and local,
state and federal government partners. WDNR led
watershed planning efforts prior to implementation,
committed $392,044 in state Priority Watershed
Program funds for BMP implementation, and
supported monitoring and data evaluation in the
watershed. Other funding for BMP implementation
included $52,313 in EPA CWA section 319 funds
(supporting the installation of riprap and barnyard
runoff control systems) and grant funding from the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Buffalo County Land Conservation Department
played a key role in coordinating with local farms to
promote BMP implementation. The Fountain City
and Alma Rod and Gun clubs helped with fundrais-
ing to meet farmer cost-sharing requirements; they
also helped to install in-stream habitat structures
and other stream restoration practices.

USGS provided monitoring and data evaluation sup-
port during the 17-year Waumandee Creek water-
shed study. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's
Natural Resource Conservation Service offered
technical assistance  for BMP implementation and
provided Conservation Reserve Enhancement
Program funds to promote voluntary land retire-
ment, which helps agricultural producers to protect
natural resources. The Wisconsin Department of
Agriculture provided  technical assistance, and the
University of Wisconsin-Extension led local  educa-
tion and outreach efforts throughout the watershed.
     U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
     Office of Water
     Washington, DC

     July 2012
For additional information contact:
Roger Bannerman
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
608-266-9278 •
Julia Riley
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
608-264-9244 •