Coldwater Streams


Water Quality – Habitat Protection – Recreation

Wisconsin is home to some 2,900 trout streams and west Wisconsin is blessed to have a large share of these unique waters. These streams flow through a variety of environments, from open farm country to dense northern forests. They serve as important tributaries to larger rivers, and then ultimately flow into either the Mississippi River or Lake Superior. The management of these streams and their watersheds is complex and requires a wide range of interconnected efforts by conservation organizations, government, and individual land owners, as well as the input and care of thousands of citizens that enjoy the beauty and recreation opportunities that these waters provide.

Protecting Our Northernmost Streams

Cold, Coaster Brook, Boreal, Brule, Lynx, Fly Fishing, White Cedar, Aurora Borealis, Amnicon, Wild Rice, White River, Old Growth, American Marten, Paddling, White Pine, Bark’s Bay, Spruce Grouse, Cranberry Creek, Calypso Orchid …Deep, Dark, Quiet. The streams that feed Lake Superior are the life of not only our great lake, but the habitat, imagination, scenic beauty, and sense of place that color the Superior Coastal Plain. Totaling nearly 3,070 square miles, it is one of the smallest ecological landscapes in the state yet offers some of the greatest diversity. Along the riparian area of these streams is where the southern most limit of the boreal forest can still be found. Migratory birds use these south shore streams as important stop over sites after their energy-depleting journey across Lake Superior. The federally protected piping plovers nest on the sheltered beaches at the mouths of these streams. The stream watersheds may provide the last large block of forest for Canada lynx and American marten in Wisconsin.

Stones Bridge, Brule River Wisconsin

Stones Bridge, Brule River Wisconsin

Winter in Wisconsin Northwoods

Winter in Wisconsin Northwoods

Kayaking the Brule River

Kayaking the Brule River

West Wisconsin Land Trust is engaged in the protection of the south shore streams and adjacent uplands. We hold conservation easements on or have assisted in the permanent protection of over 5,000 acres on south shore tributaries including the White, Brule, Amnicon, Pokegema and Nemadji rivers. We are delighted to partner with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work closely with the people who live on the streams enabling protection of the important pieces of this intricate system.

Photos courtesy of Travel Wisconsin

Pierce County Trout Stream Gains ProtectionTrimbelle River

We are happy to announce that we have completed the acquisition of 40 acres in Pierce County which includes approximately one-half mile of frontage on the Trimbelle River, a Class II trout stream, which runs north to south through the property. The Trimbelle is also considered a Wisconsin Exceptional Resource Water, and is a priority for protection. This is the last parcel needed to complete a 451 acre block of publically accessible conservation land in a county that has greater than 95% of the land in private ownership. This large block will be managed for wildlife habitat and public recreation. Funding was provided by a grant from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and a generous donation from the Kinnikinnic Chapter of Pheasants Forever.

Pine Creek Plunge PoolPine Creek

Pine Creek is a cold-water stream located in Pierce County at the northwestern end of the Driftless Area. The stream emanates from springs at the base of bluffs along the Mississippi River and flows directly into the Mississippi at Lake Pepin. The creek supports a wild population of Eastern Brook Trout. The Pine Creek watershed is part of the karst landscape of the Driftless Area, which is characterized by thin loess soils underlain by fractured limestone. As is common with many streams in this region the creek has outstanding water quality but suffered from severe stream bank erosion and sedimentation due to past agricultural practices. The Pine Creek restoration took place over a number of years and involved many partners including Trout Unlimited, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, US Fish & Wildlife Service, FishAmerica Foundation, Fairmount Minerals, and the McKnight Foundation.

“The project is an excellent local showcase that paves the way for future collaborations with other landowners. It’s also a model for other chapters in the 24,000-square mile Driftless Area, a four-state region that represents the western most range of native brook trout. There are more than 600 spring creeks in the region, many of them degraded by past agricultural practices and in need of restoration similar to Pine Creek.”
~ Duke Welter, Communications, Driftless Area Restoration Effort, Trout Unlimited