I started this journey with nothing but a love of nature and the outdoors. My husband and I searched for several years for the perfect place to purchase our retirement home. We found that place in Langlade county (The county of trails) here we could hike the trail along the river, mountain bike the many miles of forest trail, or white water kayak the Wolf River. When it came time for me to pick a topic for my masters thesis I choose a topic I was passionate about – Preservation of the scenic and mostly untouched Wolf River in Langlade County. The first thing I discovered was that the baseflow of the Wolf River with a drainage area of 1,200 km2 had declined by over 30% during the last thirty years, whereas climatic, land cover, and soil characteristics of the basin had remained unchanged. So I developed a regression model to predict baseflow changes. I used enviromental variables including annual precipitation and growing degree days within the surface water basin. To take into account variables pertaining to the groundwater basin, I used the withdrawal rates from high capacity wells both inside the Wolf River basin and in two adjacent basins in the regression model. When the high capacity wells data from within the Wolf River basin were included, the r2 improved to 0.512, from the 0.296 it was using only the envoronmental factors. With the high capacity wells data from the adjacent basins included the r2 improved to 0.700. The study suggested that human activity taking place outside of the basin has had an effect on the baseflow, and should be taken into account when examining baseflow changes. I have decided to continue my research at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee working towards my PhD. I am currently looking into the baseflow trends of other rivers and streams in Wisconsin and their relationship to high capacity wells. I am also working on a study to map the dynamics of groundwater divides, and how their movement is correlated with both environmental, and anthropogenic stresses. Early results indicate that high capacity wells affect the extent of groundwater basins more in dry years than in wet years.
Friends of the Wolf River is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Wolf River in Langlade county, Wisconsin.