Brule Watershed

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Hydrologic Unit Code: 04030106

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Watershed Overview

The watershed is located at the almost entirely in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with a small area located in northern Wisconsin and covers 1057 square miles. The watershed has no Lake Michigan shoreline and approximately 12.5 miles of streams that are classified as blue ribbon trout streams. The Ottawa National Forest makes up much of the Brule Watershed and was exclusively managed by Native Americans during pre-settlement times. The name “Brule” (originally Brulee) originated from early French explorers and means “burned woodlands” in reference to the practice of using fires to stimulate wildlife use by the Native Americans. During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the watershed was subject to extensive logging.

Today the Iron River, one of the major rivers that flow through the Brule Watershed, supports a naturally reproducing brook trout population. The dominate industries are forestry, wood products, and tourism. All but one of the MDEQ watershed sampling sites received and “excellent” rating. The remaining site received a “good” rating.

Additional information is available at Michigan State University's Institute for Water Research's Digital Watershed Tool at: This site has interactive watershed-based information on industrial facilities discharge sites, toxic release inventory, permit compliance system, water quality stations, bacteria stations, national sediment inventory stations, best management practices, water quality observation stations, weather data stations, impaired waters (reach and area), landcover change (1992-2001), landuse 2001, soil, and elevation.

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Watershed Activities

The overall health of the Brule River Watershed is generally good. The macroinvertabrate community for the watershed has been deemed excellent with most of the impairments relating to fish consumption advisories only. Despite the good over assessment of the watershed, there are a number of point source discharges that exist. These include the West Iron County Sewer Authority Treatment Plant in and the National Steel-Dober pit site in Caspian, MI. There are also discharges from Wastewater Sewage Lagoons at Crystal Falls, MI and Alpha, MI.

The watershed has also been subject to limited contamination from mining operations. The recent fines that have been assessed have been applied to the restoration activities on the Iron River. In addition, grants have been awarded for road and stream stabilization projects within the watershed.

Between 1996 and 2001, there have been slight increases in developed land, grassland, and cultivated land, and a slight decrease in forest. Watershed planning activities have consisted of watershed inventories, public education, and identifying strategies to reduce the effects of non-point source pollution. Specifically, an information and education campaign was developed to reduce non-point source pollution and restore or sustain habitat and water quality. Several methods were used to implement the campaign’s objectives including, newsletters and articles, radio and television appearances, public presentation, training workshops, rod signs, interpretive signs, the development of a website, storm drain markers, and the development of a comprehensive brochure.

Watershed Management Plans

  • Iron River Watershed – Iron Conservation District

Watershed Groups

For more information, see the USEPA “Surf Your Watershed” website or contact the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality at 517-335-6969 to request a copy of the following reports:

  • MI/DEQ/WD-03/032, “A Biological Survey of the Brule, Paint, and Michigamme River Watersheds, Iron and Marquette Counties, 2002”

Watershed Data and Information

USGS Water Resources Links for: 04030106 - Brule

USGS State Information and Contacts:

Current Water Data:

All Water Data (Current and Historic Sites):

Other Data Links:

Current Regional/National Conditions:

Search USGS for Links, Publications and Web Sites Associated with:

EPA Links for the Brule - HUC 04030106:

Impaired (303d) Waters

A listing of impaired waters can be found on the U.S. EPA website at:


Watershed Management Tools

Tools for addressing impairments in the watershed can be found at the Lake Michigan Lakewide Management Plan Watershed Tools page.

Specific Lake Michigan Lakewide Management Plan Watershed Tools can be found at the following pages:

Subwatersheds for Brule River Watershed

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Information on other Lake Michigan subwatersheds can be found at: Lake Michigan Subwatershed Information
HUC Watershed Name
04030106 0101 Paint Creek-North Branch Paint River
04030106 0102 Winslow Creek-North Branch Paint River
04030106 0103 Headwaters South Branch Paint River
04030106 0104 Cooks Run
04030106 0105 South Branch Paint River
04030106 0106 North Branch Paint River
04030106 0201 Shank Lake Creek-East Branch Net River
04030106 0202 East Branch Net River
04030106 0203 Net River Flooding-West Branch Net River
04030106 0204 West Branch Net River
04030106 0205 Net River
04030106 0301 Brule Creek
04030106 0302 Elvoy Creek
04030106 0303 Pendleton Creek
04030106 0304 North Branch Iron River-South Branch Iron River
04030106 0305 Wilson Creek-Brule River
04030106 0306 Allen Creek
04030106 0307 Stanley Creek-Iron River
04030106 0308 Iron River
04030106 0309 Wisconsin Creek-Brule River
04030106 0401 Silver Creek-Paint River
04030106 0402 West Branch Hemlock River-East Branch Hemlock River
04030106 0403 Hemlock River
04030106 0404 Parks Creek-Paint River
04030106 0405 Chicagon Slough
04030106 0406 Peterson Creek-Paint River
04030106 0407 Briar Hill Creek-Paint River
04030106 0408 Time Bowes Creek-Paint River
04030106 0409 Paint River
04030106 0501 Armstrong Creek
04030106 0502 Riley Creek-Brule River
04030106 0503 Brule Island Dam-Brule River
04030106 0504 Brule River