Thursday, May 7, 2015

Restoring Fox River/Green Bay

In spring, biologists monitor adult and young of the year pike along the shores of Green Bay. Photo by Betsy Galbraith/USFWS.
In the mid-20th Century, companies manufacturing carbonless paper discharged hundreds of tons of PCBs into Wisconsin’s Fox River. And for the past several decades, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other natural resource trustees have been working through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process to restore the fish, wildlife and habitat affected by the contamination. Several paper companies, paper recyclers, public treatment works and other parties have made agreements, through the NRDA process, to fund natural resource restoration projects in the Fox River Valley, Green Bay and surrounding areas. Among the completed restoration projects are wetland and stream restoration, land preservation, fisheries enhancements, and public outdoor recreational use projects such as trails and a nature center.

On a recent trip to the area, Midwest Deputy Regional Director Charlie Wooley got an up-close look at efforts to improve habitat for fish along the shore of Green Bay. Charlie visited a west shore northern pike restoration project with Rachel Van Dam, Service Pathways and University of Wisconsin-Green Bay graduate student, to see monitoring efforts of adult and young of the year pike.  Restoration efforts were supported through Fox River NRDA settlement dollars, along with funds through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program. The Brown County Land and Water Conservation Department has implemented this and a number of other restoration projects for pike on the west shore of Green Bay.

The deputy regional director also assisted with a monitoring project on the east side of Green Bay, assisting Angelena Koosmann, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay graduate student with fyke netting in Wequiock Creek.  Two large muskies were measured and released from the nets along with several other species of fish. Fox River NRDA settlement funds provided support for land acquisition adjacent to Wequiock Creek for additional parcels added to the Point Sable Nature Preserve, managed by University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Cofrin Center for Biodiversity.  Sustain Our Great Lakes and the Partners program have contributed to wetland restoration, invasive species control and fisheries projects at the Point Sable Nature Preserve.

You can find the latest news about the restoration of Fox River/Green Bay and other NRDA efforts at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/es/ec/NRDA/FoxRiverNRDA/  or www.FoxRiverNRDA.org.