Restoring the West Shore of Green Bay


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Restoration experts from Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, and the Lower Fox River/Green Bay Areas of Concern will discuss case studies of partnerships turning federal GLRI funding into successful on-the-ground habitat restoration projects that provide a variety of ecological and societal benefits that can be sustained well into the future. Featured case studies include successfully restoring coastal marsh for waterbirds and for northern pike, using watershed-based GIS planning tools to prioritize restoration projects, and the reestablishment of the Cat Island Chain of islands in lower Green Bay. This presentation was given by Janet Smith, Chair of the Biota and Habitat Work Group of the Science and Technical Advisory Committee for the Lower Fox River/Green Bay Area of Concern, Retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Restoring the West Shore of Green Bay

  1. 1. Cat Island Chain Restoration in Lower Green Bay Photo by Tom Erdman 1966
  2. 2. Southern Green Bay historically provided diverse coastal wetland habitats for fish and wildlife n Expansive emergent marshes (e.g., Duck Creek delta) n Numerous small islands n Beaches and mud flats n Submerged aquatic plant beds Photo by Tom Erdman 1966
  3. 3. 1938 Cat  Island   Brown County Aerial Photography , 1938
  4. 4. 1960 Cat  Island   Brown County Aerial Photography , 1960
  5. 5. Bass  Islands   Willow  Island   Cat  Island     Lone  Tree  Island   han ga6on  C Navi nel   Grassy  Island   1966 during low water levels Islands extend 2.5 miles into Green Bay Photo Courtesy of Tom Erdman , 1966
  6. 6. Long  Tail  Point   Bass  Islands   Duck  Creek  Delta  Marsh   I-­‐43  Construc6on   Cat  Island   Landfill   90% of Coastal Wetlands Lost from Southern Green Bay Agriculture   Photo by WDNR, 1969
  7. 7. LiFle  Tail  Point   Long  Tail  Point   Peter’s  Marsh   Cat  Island  Chain   Duck  Creek  Delta   Rock  dikes  hardened   the  shoreline   Municipal  incinerator   and  landfill   Bayport  Dredge  Spoil  Disposal   in  Atkinson’s  Marsh   Photo Courtesy of Tom Erdman , 1970
  8. 8. Islands survived historical water level fluctuations – Why not now? Ø  Ø  Ø  Ø  Water levels rose rapidly to record highs and remained elevated for two decades Repeated severe spring storms Shorelines hardened by rip rap deflect wave energy and exacerbate erosion Poor water clarity from runoff pollution reduced aquatic vegetation and their wave dampening benefits
  9. 9. Rising Great Lakes water levels and severe storms in 1970s caused wetland and island erosion
  10. 10. Willow  Island   Cat  Island   Grassy  Island   Green Bay islands during high water levels in 1976 Photo Courtesy of Tom Erdman , 1976
  11. 11. Lost habitat effects: Ø  Colonial Nesting Water Birds Ø  Shorebirds Ø  Waterfowl Ø  Fish Spawning Ø  Fish Nurseries Ø  Turtles Ø  Amphibians Ø  Invertebrates
  12. 12. Lower Fox River Area of Concern Photo by UW Sea Grant
  13. 13. Project Beginning Ø  The Cat Island Chain project developed out of the 1988 Lower Green Bay Remedial Action Plan (RAP) and was the top priority project for habitat restoration. Members of the Citizens Advisory Committee and DNR staff worked together to develop the Lower Green Bay Remedial Action Plan. (Photo by Dave Crehore)
  14. 14. q  RAP Key Action: Protect remaining wetland habitats and restore coastal habitats where possible q  1991 Risk Assessment identified habitat loss as the greatest threat to long-term ecosystem health of Green Bay q  1994 Habitat Restoration Workshop identified Cat Islands restoration as the top priority q  Runoff pollution also must be controlled
  15. 15. Goals Ø  Restore Photo by WDNR 1969 diversity of island and aquatic habitats Ø  Recreate 1960s island “footprint” Ø  Enhance spawning and nursery grounds for various fish species (e.g. yellow perch, musky, pike, walleye, sunfish)
  16. 16. Current Project Ø  Today the project’s primary focus continues to be habitat restoration and now has added the beneficial reuse of dredge material as a means of accomplishing the project. Ø  The project is a partnership between Brown County, WDNR, WDOT, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, USEPA, UW-Sea Grant, UW-Green Bay, Port Operators and the Fox River Group of paper mills
  17. 17. Annual Dredging Ø  In order to maintain an active Port annual maintenance dredging is necessary Ø  Annual dredging of 100,000 to 250,000 cy of sediment that has settled into the 14 mile long navigational channel
  18. 18. Project Outcomes Ø  30-50 years worth of disposal capacity Ø  Beneficial reuse of dredged material Ø  2.5 mile wave barrier and re-establishment of 272 acres of islands Ø  Wave barrier will protect 1,400 acres and provide critical habitat for birds, fish and mammals Ø  Sustain jobs, industries and economic outputs of the Port of Green Bay for NE Wisconsin
  19. 19. Shipping Channel
  20. 20. Fisheries Benefits from Recreation of Cat Island Chain Ø  Increased Vegetation l  l  l  Ø  Nursery habitat Habitat for sunfish sp. Spawning habitat Increased Water Clarity l  Predation by visual predators
  21. 21. Muskellunge Spawning Habitat
  22. 22. Improved Predation Ø  Visual l  predators Increased efficiency Ø  Reduced recruitment of Common Carp Ø  Reduction in l  l  Bullheads Gizzard Shad Photo from E. Engbretson
  23. 23. 2000 Cat  Island   Brown County Aerial Photography , 2000
  24. 24. Cat  Island   Willow  Island   Grassy  Island   Brown County Aerial Photography , 2008
  25. 25. 2010 Cat  Island   Brown County Aerial Photography , 2010
  26. 26. June 2012 Cat  Island   Brown County Aerial Photography , 2012
  27. 27. December 17, 2012
  28. 28. December 17, 2012
  29. 29. May 16, 2013
  30. 30. Construction Spine & Long Term Maintenance Access
  31. 31. Tommy Thompson Park, Toronto Canada