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TNBL: Moon's Landing

A cache by Team Northwoods Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 6/18/2012
In Wisconsin, United States
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Size: Size: small (small)

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Geocache Description:

The Chippewa River is one of the largest rivers within Wisconsin. There are 103 miles of the Chippewa River in the basin, from the Holcombe dam downstream to the Mississippi River. This river section includes five flowages and approximately 69 miles of free-flowing river. Dams owned and operated by Northern States Power Company for hydropower generation create the flowages. These flowages, in downstream order, include: Cornell Flowage (836 acres), Old Abe Lake (996 acres), Lake Wissota (approximately 6,212 acres), Chippewa Falls Flowage (282 acres), and Dells Pond (1,183 acres). The free-flowing river segments are present below the Cornell dam (approximately 1 mile), the Chippewa Falls dam (approximately 7 miles), and the Dells dam (61 miles). The sixty-one miles of the Chippewa River below the Dells Dam to its confluence with the Mississippi River represent some of the last remaining unimpounded large riverine habitat in the Upper Midwest. The average annual flow for the river is 4,343 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the Holcombe dam and 5,235 cfs at the Dells dam. Above the Dells dam, major tributaries to the river include the Fisher and Yellow Rivers. Downstream of the Dells dam, major tributaries include the Eau Claire and Red Cedar Rivers. Numerous smaller tributaries also contribute flow to the lower Chippewa River.

Lower Chippewa River Settlement Agreement: Twelve stakeholder groups formally signed this agreement in mid-January 2001. These included the WDNR and Northern States Power of Wisconsin (NSP, doing business as Xcel Energy), who worked for three years to resolve issues surrounding relicensing of three of NSP’s hydroelectric projects on the lower riverway. The long-term agreement (30+ years) will provide continued production of hydropower along with environmental and recreational use benefits for the river.

Water Quality: The Chippewa River has slightly brown-stained, clear water with a shifting sand substrate. The river is greatly impacted by water quality of its numerous impoundments. Generally, algae blooms in the impoundments increase turbidity in the river during summer. The six hydropower dam impoundments greatly affect the hydrology and ecosystem of the Chippewa River within the Basin. Water quality of impoundments is discussed more fully in the following lakes and impoundments section.

The Lower Chippewa River impoundments effectively trap suspended sediment by reducing flow velocities, allowing the solids to settle. The Chippewa River below the last impoundment, Dells Dam in Eau Claire, takes on a very different character from the upstream-impounded areas. Active bank erosion between the Dells Dam and Mississippi River shapes the channel and aquatic habitat. The river meanders its way to Caryville, where the channel starts to become braided. At Durand, the river is less sinuous, but braids again near its mouth.

The erosion of coarse-grained glacial outwash contributes large quantities of sand to the Chippewa River. Deposition of this sand causes braiding of the sinuous reaches. It is estimated that the sediment load at the HWY 35 bridge near Lake Pepin is 940,000 tons of sediment per year (Simons, D. B. and Associates, 1998). The transport of sand and gravel occurs from Dells Dam to Caryville, though the particle size decreases to sand by Durand. This change in particle density occurs due to the braided channel between the two cities, which slows water velocity.

Voss, Karen and Sarah Beaster. 2001. The State of the Lower Chippewa River Basin. PUBL-WT-554 2001. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.


CHIPPEWA RIVER (UC19) - The main stem of the Chippewa River begins at the mouth of the Chippewa Flowage in Sawyer County. The river has a diverse fishery that includes walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, muskellunge, channel catfish, lake sturgeon, panfish and forage fish. Downstream, near Radisson, the Radisson Flowage is formed by the Arpin Dam. The Couderay River joins the Chippewa River just below the Arpin Dam: upstream of this confluence, the Couderay is impounded to form the Grimh Flowage. South of the Arpin Dam, the Chippewa River flows into Rusk County, where the river is joined by its major tributary, the Flambeau. Below this confluence, the Chippewa feeds Holcombe Flowage in Chippewa County. The Holcombe Flowage dam demarcates the Upper and Lower Chippewa River Basins for WDNR water quality management planning purposes.

The Chippewa River supports an excellent warm water sports fishery that is intricately linked to the Holcombe Flowage. Besides containing fish such as walleye, muskellunge, northern pike, bass, and rough fish species, the Chippewa River provides an important lake sturgeon spawning habitat (Bur. of Fisheries Management). We have little water quality information on this segment of the Chippewa River. Long-time residents observe, however, that the character of sections of the river bottom has changed from cobble to shifting sand over the past 20 years (Pratt, 1993). Despite the serious impact sedimentation can have on the river's biological health, the severity and extent of sand deposition in the Chippewa River is unknown.

The Chippewa River segment in this watershed is very significant for endangered resources. Rare dragonflies, two listed fish species, and several other Wisconsin Special Concern Species have been found here. Many populations of rare species have been declining in the Chippewa River (Bur. of Endangered Resources). It is thus important to identify water quality or habitat threats, and reduce any degradation of water quality in the Chippewa River.

Larson, Nancy and Lisa Kosmond (Helmuth). 1996. Upper Chippewa River Basin Water Quality Management Plan. PUBL-WR-345-96-REV. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

Historical Description

Trend Analysis: A study of monthly water sample results from the Chippewa River at Chippewa Falls from 1961-1976 and 1988-1999, and Holcombe from 1977-1987 and 1996-1999 provides information on trends in water quality of the river. In Chippewa Falls, pH, ammonia, chloride, and phosphorus levels have shown a significant change over time. The levels of pH appear to be showing greater fluctuation between extremes (5.5-9.0) in 1988-1999, than the lesser extremes (6.0-7.5) of 1961-1976 Beaster (2000). Greater pH fluctuations can generally be attributed to increasing levels of eutrophication.

Ammonia and total phosphorus levels appear to be in decline since the early 1960's, presumably due to stricter controls put in place by the Clean Water Act, revised in 1972, and the recent regulations placing a 1 mg/L phosphorus limit on effluent from most wastewater treatment plants. Chloride levels appear to be increasing over time, possibly due to the increased use of road salt and increasing wastewater treatment plant discharge volumes. Suspended solids, total kjeldahl nitrogen, nitrate-nitrogen, and dissolved phosphorus have not shown a significant change over time. At Holcombe, pH also shows a trend similar to samples taken at Chippewa Falls from the late 1970's to the late 1990's. Suspended solids appear to be increasing slightly as well. None of the other parameters mentioned above show a significant trend over time at the Holcombe site (Beaster 2000) (Appendix 5 - Water Quality Trends Analysis for the Lower Chippewa River).

Fishery: The Lower Chippewa River downstream from the Dells Dam harbors 70% of the states fish species and is one of the most diverse fisheries in the Upper Midwest (LCRSNA, 1999). Recent and historic fisheries assessments on this section of river have documented the presence of many rare and unique fish species. Three species, crystal darter, goldeye, and black redhorse are on the state endangered species list. Four species, paddlefish, blue sucker, river redhorse and greater redhorse are on the state’s threatened species list and the, western sand darter, american eel, mud darter and lake sturgeon are on the states special concern list. Common gamefish in this section of river include smallmouth bass, walleye, sauger, northern pike, muskellunge, lake sturgeon, channel and flathead catfish (Benike, 2000). Other common non-game fish species include shorthead, silver and golden redhorse, smallmouth and bigmouth buffalo, carpsuckers, mooneye and gizzard shad (Benike, 2000). Currently, no commercial fishing is allowed in the Lower Chippewa River. Past commercial fishing in the river, primarily for buffalo, resulted in the incidental catch of paddlefish and sturgeon. No fish stocking occurs in the free-flowing sections of the river.

Survey work conducted on the Chippewa River upstream of the Dells dam have identified 52 species of fish including the greater redhorse, which is a state-listed threatened species. The major sport fish species in the river include walleye, muskellunge, northern pike, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, lake sturgeon, bluegill and black crappie. The Chippewa River has a six-week fall hook and line season for lake sturgeon. Because of its limited range in Wisconsin, the lake sturgeon is considered a species of special concern.

Voss, Karen and Sarah Beaster. 2001. The State of the Lower Chippewa River Basin. PUBL-WT-554 2001. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, WI.

The TNBL Series will introduce you to the many boat landing and lakes around the area. Caches are set up as Park and Grabs and hopefully not so easy that you lose interest, but as you will see some areas are hard to find places to put a cache that will last so those will be pretty easy after you find a few. You will need to bring your own pen and please share pictures especially if you catch any fish.

VERY IMPORTANT!!! Please re-hide these caches well. They are located in high muggle traffic areas.

We hope you enjoy this series.

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Last Updated: on 10/8/2017 6:01:16 PM Pacific Daylight Time (1:01 AM GMT)
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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