UWGB students in the hardwood swamp at Point au Sable Natural Area

Cofrin Center for Biodiversity receives a grant for restoration at Point au Sable

UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Center for Biodiversity received a $12,715 grant from the WI DNR and USFWS for the project entitled, “Lower East Green Bay: Habitat Restoration Sub-award.” The project is a sub-project of a land acquisition by Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust of property adjacent to Point au Sable, just off Nicolet Drive a few miles from campus.

Point au Sable is a rich outdoor lab for student and faculty researchers. It is one of the few unmodified estuarine wetlands in the entire Lake Michigan ecosystem. Each spring and fall, thousands of migratory waterfowl, gulls, terns, shorebirds, and passerines pass through Point au Sable on their way south. Recent studies have documented more than 200 bird species on or near Point au Sable during a single year.

The restoration will occur in a “sedge meadow,” which, according to the Center’s Natural Area Ecologist Bobbie Webster, is a “wonderful type of wetland community most typically dominated by tussock sedge (Carex stricta) and Canada bluejoint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis). The remnant sedge meadow at Point Sable fits this characterization; it also has lake sedge (Carex lacustris), prairie cord grass (Spartina pectinata), water smartweed (Persicaria amphibia), and joe pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum), iris (Iris sp.) and more.”

Sedge meadow was historically a very important community type in the lower Green Bay, and especially at Point au Sable. At Point Sable, there was likely 30 or more acres of sedge meadow but now there is only about 3 to 5 acres of true sedge meadow left. The rest has been taken over by invasive grasses like reed canary grass and Phragmites, as well as hybrid cattail, a hybrid of the native cattail and a non-native cattail. (Typha x glauca).

The combination of low water, excess nutrients from the watersheds flowing into the bay, and habitat fragmentation resulted in the sedge meadow at Point Sable becoming invaded and dominated by non-native, invasive species such as giant reed grass (Phragmites australis) and hybrid cattail (Typha x glauca).

Photo 1

In photo 1: the edge of the sedge meadow with prairie cordgrass on the left, water smartweed blooming, Canada bluejoing and tussock sedge beyond, and then encroachment of Phragmites and Typha (tall vegetation) beyond ( you’ll have to crop out the hand).

 

 

 

 

Photo 2

In photo 2: UWGB students in the hardwood swamp at Point au Sable Natural Area, preparing to map vegetation in the nearby sedge meadow.

 

 

 

 

Photo 3

In photo 3: Heart of the sedge meadow with a few Typha in the center of photo, and a wall of Phragmites in the background.

 

 

 

 

Photos by Bobbie Webster