Bad River Watershed Association

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Welcome to the Bad River Watershed Association

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 and habitat, and many more outstanding plant, fish and wildlife communities.

Connecting People, Land, and Water

BRWA Recognized by The Bottom Line News and Views

Bad River Watershed Association was featured in this year's Earth Day edition of Diane Daulton's "The Water Column" in The Bottom Line News and Views.


The Water Column

by Diane Daulton

Northwoods residents dub this time of year “mud season”, but staying put during mud season in the Lake Superior watershed can be worth its weight in gold, as nature puts on quite a show.  Some favorite spring suggestions … thrill in the catch and release of a brookie, witness the enduring power of area waterfalls, or drive to the boonies for a nighttime glimpse of the illusive northern lights. Even homebodies can enjoy the animated ups and downs of springtime weather, perhaps punctuated by an April shower or May flower.

From a water resource professional’s standpoint, mud season is an exciting time, often coinciding with spring runoff.  Like March, waters from melting snows or spring rains either roar downstream like lions, or not…sometimes simply dissipating more like the proverbial lamb.  The reason for all this excitement?  The increased speed and velocity of water as it moves over clay soils and open lands can exacerbate erosion, de-stabilizing streambanks and leading to failures in the form of slumps, or outright collapse of bluffs.

From a trout’s perspective, milk-chocolate colored streams, flooding, and transport of sediments from the upper reaches of the watershed can make it tough to earn a living.  The landscape and geology of our region predispose streams like the Marengo River, Bear Trap Creek, and Fish Creek to heavy sediment loads.  The good news…key to addressing this concern and is a better understanding of how water flows through a watershed and the how land use practices affect the quantity, quality, timing, and velocity of runoff events.

In keeping with Earth Day’s adage, “Think Globally, Act Locally”, citizens can learn more and help “slow the flow” to protect area streams through activities offered by the Bad River Watershed Association (BRWA).  Their association is working to help people better understand how issues like erosion and sedimentation affect our watershed and Lake Superior…“Connecting People, Land, and Water”.

BRWA supports a monitoring program to enlist citizens in supplementing data collected by agencies and Tribal staff.   Folks who want to get involved can get start small and decide how much training and commitment they prefer.  The first step for many is learning to collect and identify aquatic insects called macroinvertebrates.  By identifying what types of aquatic life streams can support, more is known about habitat health and water quality. This year’s “macro” training is being offered on May 9th in Mellen [from 9:00am-1:00pm, and May 10th in Mason from 1:00pm-5:00pm].  For a fun look at the watershed, a waterfall tour is also being offered on May 17th.  To sign up, contact Mariana at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

BRWA also has a fish passage program to support native brook trout.  By working with towns to identify and upgrade problematic culverts, they have completed restoration of more than 18 miles of trout habitat and have funding for three new projects in 2015.   In the Penokees, BRWA still has monitoring plans.  Executive Director Tony Janisch stated, “We plan to collect data in the Penokee region, since there is still potential for a mine in the future”.  Their strategy is to continue working to establish baseline data, while broadening efforts to cover more of the mineral deposit area.  Currently, over a dozen “baseline” sites are established in the Tyler Forks and Upper Bad River sub-watersheds, where sampling for macroinvertebrates is ongoing and submerged data loggers monitor water temperatures hourly, all summer long.

If getting your feet wet monitoring isn’t your thing, BRWA hosts the “Watershed Words Lecture Series” to provide a closer look at the watershed.  For more information on upcoming programs, check out their website at or contact Tony at 715.682.2003.

Knowing that some of our Northwoods streams still support brookies is exhilarating, whether you experience their multicoloured splendour from the babbling brook or simply explore the world they inhabit as a visitor.  As a tribute to trout everywhere, inspiration comes from 7th grade student Joshua’s poem written as part of an interdisciplinary “trout in the classroom” project at Nichols Middle School in Buffalo, NY.   “Gliding ninjas of the sea.  You are biracial, I can see. A shadowy top, a radiant belly…Swift as a cheetah, smooth as jelly. You’re initially pretty, then you become something grand. Up to eighteen inches long, you’re now longer than my hand.” excerpted from

Diane is an independent natural resource consultant and can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



Thank You, Norcross Wildlife Foundation!

Earlier this year, we were awarded a $2000 grant from Norcross Wildlife Foundation. Thanks to their generosity, we were able to purchase some much-needed computer hardware and software, including these three laptops and a new office server. We made our purchases through TechSoup, an organization that sells refurbished computers and discounted software to nonprofit organizations.

This new equipment has already had a profoundly positive impact on our computing, data storage, and network capabilities. Thank you, Norcross Wildlife Foundation!


Water Chemistry Volunteers Attend Quality Control Session

BRWA Water Chemisty volunteers gathered at Northland College on the evening on April 1st to test the accuracy of their sampling techniques and equipment. Dr. Sharon Anthony hosted the event in her lab in the Northland College CSE, and helped by preparing standards to test and assisting with oversight. The volunteers did very well - their techniques were sound and their results were accurate. We host at least one water chemistry quality control session each year to help volunteers with any questions or difficulties they may be having, to restock their LaMotte sampling kits, and to ensure that we continue to collect high-quality data. Our thanks to Sharon Anthony and Northland College for hosting this event, and to the volunteers for attending.



BRWA Kicks off 2015 Watershed Words Lecture Series


On March 22nd, BRWA hosted Dick Rewalt of the Mason Area Historical Society (MAHS) for his presentation, "Historic Logging on the White River." This program the first of our 2015 Watershed Words Lecture Series.  Around 40 people attended the presentation held at the Delta Town Hall. Dick spoke for an hour and a half about the path and methods of transporting logs down the White River to Mason during the early 1900s. The presentation featured many photographs of the logging infrastructure on the White River, including historic and recent aerial images, as well as a 3D tour of the saw mill in Mason. Some of the original wood cribbing is still in place in the White River. It is possible to visit some of these sites, though the structures are most visible through aerial photography.

The MAHS has been able to piece together substantial information (and some guesses) about how the White River was altered to suit the needs of the logging industry, and how the day-to-day operations took place. This is thanks in part to local residents' stories and donated photographs. People with information or historic photographs of the logging that took place along the White River are welcome and encouraged to share them with the MAHS to help with their ongoing research. Stay tuned for more upcoming Watershed Words presentations!


BRWA Featured in Penzeys Stories and Recipes

Tony Janisch, BRWA Executive Director, was interviewed several months ago by Penzeys Stories and Recipes. The interview highlights the work of BRWA and volunteers, and emphasizes the importance of clean water in all our lives. Check out the article by following the link below!


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