Nebagamon Creek Railroad Embankment and Culvert Removal Project

Current site conditions

Photographic rendition of proposed habitat improvement

Located in Douglas County, WI, Nebagamon Creek is a tributary to the Bois Brule River, that flows into Lake Superior. The Lake Superior Committee (LSC) has identified impairments to fish passage and hydrologic modifications on many of the Wisconsin south shore and Bayfield Peninsula tributaries to Lake Superior as a priority, and these impairments impact brook trout production in tributaries as well as Lake Superior. The Nebagamon Creek restoration site is a collapsing culvert and abandoned railroad grade that impedes fish passage for all life stages of brook trout and other Lake Superior and resident salmonids in the Bois Brule River watershed. In its current condition, the site also poses a high-risk sediment threat to downstream spawning and rearing areas in Nebagamon Creek and the Bois Brule River. The project will remove the collapsed culvert and railroad embankment and will restore natural hydrologic conditions for fish passage and sediment transport in the project area.

Collage of maps showing the Nebagamon Creek Restoration Culvert Removal and River Improvements

The engineering design for the stream restoration/culvert removal portion of the project was completed in 2021 with engineering design for the materials haul-out road ongoing. The design is expected to restore approximately 500 linear feet of stream channel and associated floodplain, remove an existing cast in-place a culvert, and remove approximately 29,000 cubic yards of soil, sloping the grade to 3:1 and 5:1, and disposing of the existing railroad embankment. In-stream habitat restoration features will include installation of a j-hook, gravel riffles with boulders, toe wood and riffle habitat rocks, as well as reconnection to the floodplain at the embankment site. Construction is scheduled to begin in Summer, 2023 and will wrap up by Fall, 2023 followed by post-restoration monitoring in 2023, 2024 and 2025. Project partners include the GLFC, NOAA, WDNR, WI DATCP, Douglas County, and the Town of Brule. The project was funded through federal (NOAA, USFWS), state (WI Trout Stamp Funds), and generous donations from local sportsmen and conservation groups.

The Nebagamon Creek Railroad Embankment and Culvert Removal Project, implemented by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR), will generate environmental data and information, including pre- and post-construction engineering survey data such as stream channel slopes, channel widths, and jump heights using standard surveying equipment and techniques. All post-construction survey data will represent the as-built dimensions of the new channel and floodplain. Pre- and post-construction fisheries surveys will produce data such as presence/absence surveys of coldwater species such as Brook Trout and DNR rotational stream fishery surveys will be conducted using standard electrofishing gear. Fish species composition, size structure, and relative abundance will be determined after identifying, measuring (total length), and enumerating all fish.

Data will be collected by WI DNR and/or contractors according to the procedures described in the Nebagamon Creek Abandoned Railroad Grade and Culvert Removal Project Quality Assurance Project Plan. The data will be stored internally at WDNR as well as on the GLFC website. In the past, the GLFC has shared similar data related to GLFC funded fisheries research projects on the GLFC website. The data will be available to the public either through the aforementioned website or upon request within 60 days of data collection and validation starting during the summer, 2023, through the summer 2026. Contact Jeff Tyson for more information or to make a data request. All future sub-awardees not identified in this plan will have as a condition of their contract acceptance of this data sharing plan. Any additional data sharing stipulations for future sub-awardees may be outlined at that time and described in their contract.

Project Products