Lower Fox Watershed

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Hydrologic Unit Code: 04030204

Watershed Overview

The Lower Fox River Basin is located in northeastern Wisconsin near Green Bay and includes portions of Brown, Calumet, Manitowoc, Outagamie, and Winnebago Counties The Oneida Reservation, established by an 1838 Treaty, is located within the basin. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources manages the Lower Fox River watershed as part of the Lower Fox River Management Area

The Lower Fox originates at the outlet of Lake Winnebago and flows northeast for 39 miles where it discharges into Green Bay. The Lower Fox is fragmented by a series of 17 locks and 12 dams that were originally built in the mid-1800's to aid navigation and produce power. The river has the most paper mills of any river basin in the world and contains the highest concentration of dairy cows in the State of Wisconsin. Additionally, the Lower Green Bay and Fox River Area of Concern (AOC) is located within the watershed. It consists of the lower 7 miles of the Lower Fox River below DePere Dam and a 55-square kilometer area of southern Green Bay out to Point au Sable and Long Tail Point.

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Land Use

Agriculture land has historically been and remains the predominant land use in the basin, although it also has a high degree of development. As of 2001, 72% of the watershed is agricultural, with 17% developed.

Natural Resources

Wildlife diversity and populations vary within the basin, and are dependent on the specific habitat available. The two main terrestrial habitats within the basin are agricultural land and woodland. Aquatic habitats within the basin are wetland, riverine, and lacustrine (lakes or lake-like). Reported wildlife includes songbirds, white-tailed deer, rabbits, red fox, coyote, pheasant, the Hungarian Partridge, squirrels, skunks, raccoons, upland game birds, waterfowl, bats, small mammals and invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and many others. Numerous endangered, threatened and otherwise rare species exist in the basin, including the endangered Barn Owl and the threatened Small White Lady’s Slipper. The Multi-rib Vallonia is an important species in the Greenleaf Niagara Escarpment Area as identified by the Nature Conservancy. The Greenleaf Niagara Escarpment Area runs from the southwest corner of the watershed to the Northeast towards Door County.

Recreation

Recreational highlights within the watershed include wildlife watching, hiking, fishing, hunting, bicycling, horseback riding, snowmobiling, skiing, camping, picnicking, and water sports.

Water Supply

Much of the drinking water in the basin is derived from groundwater; however, the City of Green Bay and its surrounding suburbs receive their drinking water from Lake Michigan. Several communities constructed a pipeline from Lake Michigan at Manitowoc to suburban Green Bay in 2007.

Watershed Concerns

As the watershed rapidly develops and rural lands are converted to a more urban environment, several concerns emerge. These concerns include habitat loss, deterioration and fragmentation of wetlands, inadequate cropland for land application of animal and other waste (e.g. currently 1.85 acres of cropland per animal unit are available for nutrient management; however, 3 acres per animal unit are needed); private well and groundwater contamination within the karst areas adjacent to the Greenleaf Niagara Escarpment Area; water quality problems from contaminated sediment, increased runoff in urban and agricultural areas, and overuse of groundwater supplies (with groundwater quality implications); and heavy recreational use of resources, such as lakes and shorelines. Also, the presence of exotic species continues to be an emerging problem. Zebra Mussel and Rusty Crayfish populations are spreading, thereby disrupting stream and lake ecology. Additionally, plant species, such as Reed Canary Grass, Purple Loosestrife, Buckthorn, Garlic Mustard and Eurasian Water Milfoil, are quickly out-competing native species and affecting ecosystem balance within the watershed.

Watershed Activities

The West Shore of Green Bay contains 50% of all remaining wetlands in the Lake Michigan Drainage Basin. The West Shore Pike Habitat Wetland Restoration project (2007-2009) is funded by the Natural Resources Damage Assessment program and is administered by the Brown County Land Conservation Department and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Goals include restoring wetlands for pike spawning and installing vegetated buffer strips.

Lower Fox River Area of Concern

The Lower Fox River Area of Concern comprises the lower 40 miles of the Fox River and Green Bay. Stressors and Primary Contaminants within the AOC include: PCBs, Phosphorus, Suspended Solids, Mercury, urban and rural runoff, contaminated sediments, aquatic exotic species, wetland loss, and habitat alteration. Ten of the 14 use impairments have been identified for the Lower Green Bay and Fox River AOC through the Remedial Action Plan (RAP) process. The two main impaired desired uses of the AOC are shore and water use. Fishing, boating, swimming, hunting and passive recreation have been restricted. Fish and fish-eating bird reproduction are impaired. Consumption advisories warn against eating mallard ducks and fish of twelve species. Shipping and navigation in the harbor and channel have been impaired due to the high cost of dredging and contaminated sediment disposal. The harbor must be dredged to a depth of 24 feet to allow deep draft navigation.

Watershed Groups and Programs

  • Lower Fox Basin Partners- Kendra Axness, [kendra.axness@ces.uwex.edu]
  • Brown County Land Conservation Department, Bill Hafs [hafs-bc@co.brown.wi.us] http://www.co.brown.wi.us/land_conservation/
  • Outagamie County Land Conservation Department, Greg Baneck [baneckgj@co.outagamie.wi.us]
  • Oneida Tribe of Indians, Mike Finney [mfinney@oneidanation.org]
  • Fox Wolf Watershed Alliance — http://www.fwwa.org
  • Rivers Alliance of Wisconsin — http://www.wisconsinrivers.org
  • Richard Stoll, Green Bay Water Basin Team Leader, [richard.stoll@wisconsin.gov]
  • University of Wisconsin Seagrant, Vicky Harris [harrisv@uwgb.edu]
  • Science and Technical Advisory Committee – Green Bay RAP, John Kennedy [jkennedy@gbmsd.org]
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service, Louise Clemency [Louise_Clemency@fws.gov]
  • Baird Creek Preservation Foundation -- http://www.Bairdcreek.org
  • Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust, Jim Klinkert [jimk@newlt.org]
  • PCB remediation effort -- Fox River, Greg Hill [Gregory.Hill@Wisconsin.gov]
  • Green Bay Area Great Lakes Sports Fisherman, Tom Patzke 920-822-2342 -- http://www.great-lakes.org/wi/greenbayareaglsf.html
  • Brown County Conservation Alliance , Ron Vanderloop President , 929-494-4886
  • Nature Conservancy in the Green Bay Watershed, Mike Grimm [mgrimm@tnc.org] -- http://nature.org/wisconsin

Watershed Management Plans

  • Brown County Land and Water Resource Management Plan 2004 – 2008 http://www.co.brown.wi.us/land_conservation/ResourcesReports2.htm
  • Nonpoint Source Control Plan for the East River Priority Watershed Project Publication WR-274-93
  • Lower Green Bay Remedial Action Plan
  • Outagamie County Land and Water Resource Management Plan
  • Nonpoint Source Control Plan for the Duck,Apple and Ashwaubenon Creeks Priority Watershed Plan Publication WT- 493-97

More watershed information is available at the USEPA “Surf Your Watershed” website at http://cfpub.epa.gov/surf/huc.cfm?huc_code=04030204 and at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ “Wisconsin's Basins” website at http://dnr.wi.gov/org/gmu/gmu.html.

Additional information is available at Michigan State University's Institute for Water Research's Digital Watershed Tool at: http://35.8.121.101/scripts/esrimap.dll?name=watermap&cmd=WFPage&huc=04030204. 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.

Watershed Data and Information

USGS Water Resources Links for: 04030204 - Lower Fox

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 Lower Fox - HUC 04030204:

303d Impaired Waters

More information on watershed impairments for the watershed can be found at the Surf Your Watershed.

LowerFox303d.jpg

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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:


12-Digit Subwatersheds Located within the Lower Fox River (WI) Watershed

Information on other Lake Michigan subwatersheds can be found at Lake Michigan Subwatershed Information.

HUC Watershed Name
04030204 0101 Dead Horse Bay-Frontal Green Bay
04030204 0102 Upper Duck Creek
04030204 0103 Oneida Creek
04030204 0104 Middle Duck Creek
04030204 0105 Trout Creek
04030204 0106 Lower Duck Creek
04030204 0201 Little Lake Butte des Mortes
04030204 0202 Mud Creek
04030204 0203 Kankapot Creek
04030204 0204 Plum Creek
04030204 0205 Garners Creek-Fox River
04030204 0301 Upper East River
04030204 0302 Bower Creek
04030204 0303 Baird Creek
04030204 0304 Lower East River
04030204 0401 Point du Sable-Frontal Green Bay
04030204 0402 Apple Creek
04030204 0403 Ashwaubenon Creek
04030204 0404 Dutchman Creek
04030204 0405 City of Green Bay-Fox River