By Kate Prengman, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Cold groundwater seeps to the surface at the headwaters of the Little Plover River and winds its way through a narrow strip of shady forest between farm fields to join the broader waters of the Wisconsin River. Once home to a prized trout fishery, this small 6-mile stream repeatedly has dried up and this year had the dubious distinction of being named one of America’s most endangered rivers by American Rivers, a water advocacy group.
“Flow equals fish,” said George Kraft, a hydrogeologist at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. “This river is a shell of itself in terms of fish abundance. And its flows, most summers, are diminished by 50 percent or more from where they ought to be.”