Started in 2002 by a group of local dedicated citizens, the Bad River Watershed Association was formed as a non-profit to promote a healthy relationship between the people and natural communities of the Bad River watershed by involving all citizens in assessing, maintaining and improving watershed integrity for future generations.
The Bad River Watershed (BRW) drains over 1,000 square miles along Wisconsin’s north shore. The headwaters are found in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The lower one-third of the watershed is land of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribes of Chippewa Indians Reservation. Small, rural communities including Mellen, Odanah, Gurney, Mason, Grand View, Delta and Marengo are scattered throughout the watershed. The Kakagon Slough/Bad River Slough, located at the mouth of the watershed on Lake Superior, is the largest and possibly most pristine freshwater estuary remaining on Lake Superior and is the only remaining extensive coastal wild rice wetland in the Great Lakes Basin. The Bad River watershed is home to sturgeon spawning grounds, pristine coldwater trout streams, prime wolf habitat, and many more outstanding plant, fish and wildlife communities.
As we consider the future of the BRWA, we realize the time for growth has arrived. Lake Superior and the Chequamegon Bay region in particular are precious to many. People count on clean water and healthy natural resources for their employment, recreation and daily life. The rivers and streams that empty into the Bay and Lake have an impact on these waters and the resources within, like fish and wild rice.
So how did BRWA and its partners' stream crossing restoration projects--some over eight years old--fare in the recent flood? So far, it appears that only two of 16 sites that included installation of a culvert--to improve fish passage and/or to reduce erosion--were destroyed in the flood. These were installations near "ground zero" in the Marengo River drainage, where some of the highest rainfall totals occurred, and where some of the highest flash flood potential exists in the Bad River watershed. Over the last two weeks, BRWA staff have been receiving updates on stream crossing conditions as town and county road crews made their way in to sites that were often completely cut off by washouts.
Last Friday, with many town roads passable again, we began surveying our restoration sites to see how they stood up to the record flows. We began by visiting five sites in Lincoln and Marengo Townships. We were pleased to find them still working well, with moderate to almost no damage to the installations. Fish were even observed swimming upstream at one of the sites. Primarily, damage seems to be sand partially filling some culverts, roadbed washout around culverts, debris in stream channels, and fallen trees.
As can be seen in the images below, many stream crossings in the storm's path did not fare as well, and it will take many months to return area road/stream crossings to their pre-storm state. Careful design, especially sizing of culvert pipes to anticipate the large flows history has shown to be common in the region (and predicted to increase with climate change), correct placement in stream channels, and other considerations, result in fewer washouts. Another factor is retained forest cover--streams flowing through heavily wooded areas are less severely impacted by flow surges because of dense root systems holding stream banks in place, and the effect of vegetation slowing the flow of water over the surface as it moves down-slope toward streams.
In response to recent flooding and wind damage in Ashland and Bayfield Counties, the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation has created the 2016 Natural Disaster Immediate Response Fund to support area nonprofits with grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. The fund is designed to help nonprofits that suffered damage from the storms of July 11 and 21 so they can continue to perform vital services in their communities.
The 2016 Natural Disaster Immediate Response Fund focuses on three priorities:
Rebuilding nonprofit stability for highly effective organizations whose capability for mission fulfillment was substantially reduced by the storms. Priority will be placed on organizations that provide vital flood relief or contribute to the broader vitality and resilience of the region. Organizations working in all five Community Foundation interest areas–arts, community and economic development, education, the environment and human services–are eligible to receive support from this fund.
Addressing systemic issues resulting from the storms, including but not limited to mental health and housing needs.
Assisting individuals and families with direct assistance in the form of funds, services or goods that are provided by nonprofit organizations.
The fund does provide assistance for disaster-related capital requests–i.e. repair/replacement of damaged buildings/equipment–provided that the applicant demonstrates financial need with receipts, estimates, and/or cost estimates, has taken steps to access available insurance and requests funding that does not duplicate other disaster recovery funding the organization has received or is eligible to receive.
Your donations are needed! To learn more or to make a donation, follow this link:
The Bad River Watershed Association thanks you for your interest and support of these communities in their time of need.
Executive Director Tony Janisch visited Washington, D.C. in May with the Healing Our Waters Coalition. There he and other Coalition members met with Congressional leaders to ask for their continued support of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding. Since the inception of GLRI, BRWA has received over $500,000 for watershed action planning and sediment and fish passage restoration.
Tony was able to meet with Sen. Tammy Baldwin & Rep. Gwen Moore, and the staff for Sen. Ron Johnson, Rep. Mark Pocan, & Rep. Glen Grothman. All of these legislators are supportive of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
The House recently passed GLRI funding at $300 million. Now we need the Senate to step up and do the same.
We are still in need of volunteers to monitor important sites in the watersheds surrounding the Chequamegon Bay. 1-on-1 training is available. Sign up today!
Please rank the questions below based on what you believe is the greater threat to water quality in the region. (5 being the highest, 1 being the lowest - use the "+" selector to vote. 5 votes for highest rank, 4 votes for second highest, etc.)
Please rank the questions below based on how you believe BRWA should prioritize emerging water quality issues in the region. (5 being the highest, 1 being the lowest - use the "+" selector to vote. 5 votes for highest rank, 4 votes for second highest, etc.)