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

The Bad River Watershed Association is pleased to announce our new vision for 2016 and beyond - including the expansion of our reach from Red Cliff to Michigan

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.

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Connecting People, Land, and Water

Add this presentation to your spring calendar!

Wetlands and Wildlife in Northern Wisconsin

Presentation by Tracy Hames
Thursday, April 13, 7 pm
Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center
Sponsored by the Friends of the North Pikes Creek Wetlands with the Bad River Watershed Association and the Chequamegon Audubon Society

Healthy wetlands are essential to the health of our waters and wildlife. Join Tracy Hames, Executive Director of Wisconsin Wetlands Association (WWA), as he shares the vital functions wetlands play in helping maintain the health of our watersheds and wildlife. You’ll learn about the types of wetlands in northern Wisconsin and how they capture flood waters, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and ensure that clean, cool water enters our streams, rivers and lakes.

Tracy Hames became Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association in November 2011. Tracy and the staff at WWA help individuals and communities throughout Wisconsin gain the knowledge and guidance needed to protect and care for wetlands. Tracy received a BA in Biology and Environmental Studies from Macalester College, St. Paul, MN in 1984 and an MS in Natural Resources from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point in 1990.


Iron County forum to address wetland conservation and model ordinance

Kyle Magyera of Wisconsin Wetlands Association will be speaking at the Oma Town Hall on October 18th at 6:30 PM. The following article from WXPR can also be viewed at

October 3, 2016

By Miranda VanderLeest


Heavy rains and flash floods this summer has sparked talk about how to “slow the flow,” and improve wetland landscapes in and around Iron County.

That slogan has been used to encourage conservation efforts such as wetland protection and shoreline buffer zones to reduce surface water runoff, but a presentation of a new proposed conservation ordinance at an upcoming citizen’s forum will address new wetland data and management approaches to improve lake and river health.

Called the Wetland Conservation Ordinance, the model was developed by the Wisconsin Wetlands Association and hinges off the regularity and intensity of severe weather and flood risks in the Northwoods and the U.P.

Forum Coordinator Terry Daulton says the presentation of the model will share perspectives on how wetlands benefit our communities…

“…It’s talking about ways to preserve or restore and improve wetlands so they can perform their filtering functions and also slow the run-off into the lakes and streams and that kind of will keep sentiment down but also keep some of the pollutants coming off roads, lawns or municipal surfaces; things like pesticides, fertilizers or pollutants.”

Daulton says the ordinance will be presented by Kyle Magyera who is an outreach specialist for the Wisconsin Wetlands Association. She says Magyera and the Wetland Association have traveled around the state presenting their model and working with counties to adopt their ordinance.

The forum is co-sponsored by Iron County Lakes and Rivers Alliance and the Iron County Citizen’s Forum. The forum is October 18, at 6:30 pm at the Oma Town Hall.


Annual Meeting 2016

The BRWA Annual Meeting and Celebration on September 17 was a success. The event was held at the new South Shore Brewery Tap House in Washburn. A total of 37 people attended the meeting. We held a raffle that raised around $200, thanks to the generous donations from April Stone Dahl (hand-made black ash basket, Solstice Outdoors (Lake Superior Nalgene bottle), Heart Graphics (hat, t-shirt and bumper stickers), Bobbi Rongstad (home-made maple syrup), Tony Janisch (kettle), White Winter Winery (Free Mead Tasting), the New England Store (decorative thermometer), SPOT Fitness (gift card) and Patagonia (backpack). In total, this event raised $362 after food and drink costs.










Our thanks to everyone came out to the event or donated, and to the Tap House for hosting us. We enjoyed filling everyone in on the latest news from BRWA, and even meeting some new people. Stay tuned for more upcoming BRWA events!


Volunteers Needed for Bug Monitoring Oct. 1-15


After the Flood - Culvert Update

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.


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BRWAs Priorities Poll

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.)

Establish baseline water quality conditions
Outreach and education
Restore problem erosional areas
Work with local authorities to address water quality issues
Protective waterway designations
» Go to poll »
15 Votes left
Threats To Water Poll

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.)

Large-scale agriculture
Failing septic/waste treatment systems
Stream sedimentation, washouts and erosion
Forest management practices
» Go to poll »
15 Votes left

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