The Tyler Forks River and Devils, Ballou, Javorsky, and Opergard Creeks, are just some of the hidden gems that flow through the Penokees. Because of the remoteness of the area, chances are many of us have not experienced these and other streams that flow through the wetlands, ridges, and forests of the largely undeveloped Penokee Range of northern Wisconsin. As a result, we really don’t know a lot about them or how a large, open-pit iron mine in the Penokees would change them and potentially affect downstream waters including the Bad River, Kakagon Sloughs, and ultimately Lake Superior.
The Bad River Watershed Association has been operating a Water Quality Monitoring Program since 2002 to document baseline conditions of streams throughout the Bad River Watershed.
In an effort to learn about the baseline conditions in streams near the potential Penokee open-pit iron mine near Mellen, WI, BRWA worked with the Town of Morse and many other local government, natural resource agency, and citizen volunteers to collect macroinvertebrate and continuous temperature data during 2011. BRWA staff presented some of these findings at a public presentation at the Morse Town Hall in February 2012.
The presentation from the meeting is available to view here: What's in Your Water?: Learning the Baseline Condition of Streams in the Penokee Hills- PDF
Wendy Thiede, an audience member, also wrote an article about the meeting for the Ashland Current.
In addition, macroinvertebrate and continuous temperature data collected by BRWA staff can be viewed using Wisconsin DNR’s Surface Water Data Viewer tool. Zoom to the potential mine site area, click on "Layers," then click on "Monitoring and Assessments," then "Monitoring Station Points." Then use the "Identify" tool and click on the yellow triangles at BRWA's site locations (available in the presentation) to see a link to DNR's database and the raw monitoring data.
BRWA hopes to continue this baseline monitoring at these sites in 2012 and beyond. One of the objectives of our Water Quality Monitoring Program is to collect at least 4 years of baseline data to be able to have a good picture of conditions at that site. While we have 4 years of baseline data for some other sites in the Bad River Watershed, we need to do more work to achieve this for the Penokee sites.
We are currently in need of funding to help continue this work! If you would like to make a contibution to BRWA for baseline monitoring in the Penokees, you can donate here. Be sure to make a note with your donation that you want to help with this monitoring effort.
If you have any questions about our data or the Water Quality Monitoring Program please contact Matt at 715-682-2661 or