Wolf Lake Watershed

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Hydrologic Unit Code: 04030202

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Watershed Overview

The Wolf River Watershed is approximately 3,727 square miles and is primarily covered by farmland and forest. The Wolf River originates with a discharge from Pine Lake located in Forest County. The river flows south for about 203 miles until it reached Lake Poygan, at which point it becomes part of the Lake Winnebago system. From there, Lake Winnebago discharges into the Lower Fox River where it eventually discharges into the Green Bay.

Menominee, Stockbridege-Munsee Band of Mohicans, the Forest County Potawatomi Community, the Sokaogon Chippewa, and Mole Lake all participate in the Wisconsin NRCS Tribal Conservation Advisory Council.

Development within the basin is predominately along the Wolf River or its major tributaries. Communities like Shawano, Clintonville, New London, Waupaca, and Weyauwega were primarily founded near the river and served as focal points for the logging industry.

The basin’s general topography can be characterized by rolling hills, plain meadows, lush and forested wetlands, numerous lakes and small tributaries. Vegetation consists primarily of hardwood forests mixed with large amounts of hemlock, northern white-cedar swamp, and hardwood-conifer swamp.

Surface waters within the basin are a mix of cold and warm water streams with smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, panfish, trout and salmon. Groundwater is generally abundant, clean, and used for drinking water in many of the basin’s communities.

Over 143 rare animal species live in the Wolf River Basin including the Northern Goshawk, Red headed Woodpecker, Great Gray Owl, Barn Owl, Red –shouldered Hawk, Bald Eagle, Osprey, various butterflies, beetles, dragonflies, fish, grasshoppers, mayflies, mussels, mammals, snails, snakes, and turtles.

The basin supports 57 rare plants (known accounts), including 8 state endangered, 11 state threatened, 38 special concern and two federally list plant species. The majority of these plants are associated with wetlands.

The basin includes the Northern Hills and Northeast Plains Ecological Landscapes with small portions in the Central Sand Hills, Southeast Glacial Plains and North Central Forest. The Nature Conservancy has identified Midwest Mixed Emergent Marsh, Silver Maple – Elm – (Cottonwood) Forest, and Tussock Sedge Wet Meadow as important ecosystems in the watershed. In addition, the Wolf Lake Chain, the Lower Embarrass River’s large tributaries to the Lower Wolf River, Oxbow Lakes, cool headwaters, and rapids reach of the mainstream Wolf River have been identified as critical ecological systems. The Wolf River Watershed is also a critical migratory waterfowl stop-over site.

Critical species found in the Wolf River Watershed include:

  • Lake Sturgeon
  • American Bittern
  • Black Tern
  • Sedge Wren
  • Cerulean Warbler
  • Snuffbox
  • Wood Thrush
  • Red-headed Woodpecker
  • Black and white Warbler
  • Round Pigtoe
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Golden-winged Warbler
  • Blue Winged Warbler

The following species have been identified in the Lower Embarras River, a tributary to the Lower Wolf River:

  • Lake Sturgeon
  • Snuffbox
  • Round Pigtoe
  • Pygmy Snaketail
  • Salamander Mussel
  • Western Sand Darter

Between the years of 1996 and 2001, there has been a slight increase in developed land, farmland, and forest, and a slight decrease in grassland and wetlands.

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Watershed Activities

There are several issues within the watershed that have been identified which include, loss of aquatic habitat and open land to development, pollution threats to surface and groundwater, simplification of diverse habitats and loss of specialty habitats that support rare species. Dams, urban and agricultural runoff and other sources of in place pollutants have posted a threat to water quality. In addition, invasive, exotic species such as purple loostrife, gypsy moths, zebra mussels, Eurasian water milfoil, and garlic mustard have been identified as a problem throughout the watershed.

In response to the watershed’s challenges, the following is a list of priorities/initiatives that have been identified:

  • Preserve biodiversity and protect endangered and threatened species
  • Protect large contiguous blocks of forests, grassland and wetlands that serve as habitat for mammals, birds, and amphibians, and provide a large self sustaining ecosystem
  • Monitor wildlife populations, water quality, and ecosystem function to determine the status and trends of the resources in the basin

The Wolf Basin Partners have identified the following areas as highest basin priorities:

  • Water pollution
  • Loss of shoreline habitat
  • Hunting/fishing/trapping and recreational uses
  • Inventory of resources

The Wisconsin DNR’s Wolf Team has also identified areas on which to focus:

  • Preservation and protection of wetlands
  • The presence and spread of invasive species
  • Pressures on natural resources from development
  • Promoting sound land use and “smart growth” or comprehensive planning

Watershed Groups

For more information, see the USEPA “Surf Your Watershed” websiteor see the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ “Wisconsin’s Basins” website.

Additional information is available at Michigan State University's Institute for Water Research's Digital Watershed Tool. 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: 04030202 - Wolf

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 Wolf - HUC 04030202:

Invasive Species

To report invasive species, you can send an alert via e-mail or call 1-877-STOP-ANS.

Impaired (303d) Waters

A listing of impaired waters can be found on the U.S. EPA website for the Wolf River watershed


Subwatersheds for the Wolf River Watershed

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

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HUC Watershed Name
04030202 0101 Headwaters Wolf River
04030202 0102 Little Rice Lake-Wolf River
04030202 0103 Upper Post Lake-Wolf River
04030202 0104 Metonga Lake-Swamp Creek
04030202 0105 Squaw Creek-Swamp Creek
04030202 0106 Spider Creek-Wolf River
04030202 0201 Pickerel Creek
04030202 0202 Hunting River
04030202 0203 Non-Contributing-Lily River
04030202 0204 Bog Brook-Lily River
04030202 0205 East Branch of the Lily River
04030202 0206 Squaw Creek-Wolf River
04030202 0301 Ninemile Creek
04030202 0302 Slough Gundy Rapids-Wolf River
04030202 0303 Elton Creek-Evergreen River
04030202 0304 McCall Creek-Evergreen River
04030202 0305 White Lake Creek-Wolf River
04030202 0401 Little West Branch of the Wolf River
04030202 0402 Elma Creek-West Branch of the Wolf River
04030202 0403 Little West Branch Creek
04030202 0404 Neopit Millpond 108-West Branch of the Wolf River
04030202 0501 Mattoon Creek-West Branch of the Red River
04030202 0502 Silver Creek-West Branch of the Red River
04030202 0503 Moose Lake-Red River
04030202 0504 Miller Creek
04030202 0505 Red Lakes-Red River
04030202 0601 Pickerel Creek
04030202 0602 Loon Creek
04030202 0603 Shawano Lake
04030202 0701 Dalles Creek-Wolf River
04030202 0702 Legend Lake-Wolf River
04030202 0801 East Branch of the Shioc River
04030202 0802 White Lake-Shioc River
04030202 0803 Herman Creek
04030202 0804 Toad Creek
04030202 0805 City of Seymour-Black Creek
04030202 0806 Village of Black Creek-Black Creek
04030202 0807 Mink Creek-Shioc Creek
04030202 0901 School Section Creek-Wolf River
04030202 0902 Schoenick Creek
04030202 0903 Navarino Marsh-Wolf Creek
04030202 0904 Outagamie State Wildlife Area-Wolf River
04030202 1001 Spranger Creek-South Branch Embarrass River
04030202 1002 Tiger Creek-South Branch Embarrass River
04030202 1003 Packard Creek-Middle Branch Embarrass River
04030202 1004 Elmhurst Creek-Middle Branch Embarrass River
04030202 1005 Dent Creek-Middle Branch Embarrass River
04030202 1006 Logemanns Creek-Middle Branch Embarrass River
04030202 1007 Municipality of Caroline-South Branch Embarrass River
04030202 1101 North Branch of the Pigeon River
04030202 1102 South Branch of the Pigeon River
04030202 1103 Pigeon Lake-Pigeon River
04030202 1201 Strassburg Creek-North Branch of the Embarrass River
04030202 1202 Pony Creek-North Branch of the Embarrass River
04030202 1203 Mill Creek
04030202 1204 Pine Lake-Embarrass River
04030202 1301 Township of Deer Creek-Embarrass River
04030202 1302 Maple Creek
04030202 1303 Bear Creek
04030202 1304 Township of Liberty-Embarrass River
04030202 1401 Town of Greenville-Bear Creek
04030202 1402 Municipality of Stephensville-Bear Creek
04030202 1403 Village of Shiocton-Wolf River
04030202 1404 Black Otter Lake-Wolf River
04030202 1501 Holt Creek-Little Wolf River
04030202 1502 Flume Creek
04030202 1503 Comet Creek
04030202 1504 Bradley Creek-Little Wolf River
04030202 1601 Peterson Creek
04030202 1602 Nace Creek-South Branch of the Little Wolf River
04030202 1603 North Branch of the Little Wolf River
04030202 1604 Nichol Creek-South Branch of the Little Wolf River
04030202 1605 White Lake-South Branch of the Little Wolf River
04030202 1701 Whitcomb Creek
04030202 1702 Blake Creek
04030202 1703 Shaw Creek-Little Wolf River
04030202 1704 Bear Lake-Little Wolf River
04030202 1705 Mouse Creek-Little Wolf River
04030202 1801 Poncho Creek-Tommorrow River
04030202 1802 Emily Lake Non-Contributing Area
04030202 1803 Spring Creek
04030202 1804 Bear Creek-Waupaca River
04030202 1805 Wolf Lake Non-Contributing Area
04030202 1806 Emmons Creek
04030202 1807 Radley Creek
04030202 1808 Crystal River
04030202 1809 Mud Lake-Waupaca River
04030202 1810 Weyauwega Lake-Waupaca River
04030202 1901 Potters Creek
04030202 1902 Partridge Crop Lake-Wolf River
04030202 1903 Hatton Creek
04030202 1904 Walla Walla Creek
04030202 1905 Mosquito Creek
04030202 1906 Partridge Lake-Wolf River