New North region on the banks of liquid gold | Specialsection |

The New North region is fortunate to share a border with Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes which is known as the world’s largest surface freshwater ecosystem. The Great Lakes comprise 84% of North American’s surface fresh water and 21% of the world’s supply of surface fresh water. So why is this important? As more regions of the country suffer from severe drought conditions affecting human health and commerce, Wisconsin is becoming more attractive to business and talent attraction. Water is the new currency — liquid gold as my father used to say.

Besides having direct access to Lake Michigan and the Bay of Green Bay, our region is also known as the largest freshwater estuary in the world — National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERR). An estuary is a biological and physical environment that develops when a river with nutrients meets large bodies of water. In our case, the Fox River which empties into the Bay of Green Bay creates natural runoff filters and provides shelter to many species of fish, birds and other animals. This estuary also is a natural disaster barrier as it soaks up excess water from floods and supports vegetation to help soil erosion. While the Bay of Green Bay physically touches the shores of Door, Kewaunee, Brown, Oconto and Marinette counties, its feeder of the Fox River canvases the New North region.

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is leading the designation of the NERR for the region. The Bay of Green Bay NERR will focus on research, place-based education, stewardship and training. I recently had the opportunity to accompany UWGB team members to view areas of priority for the estuary. It was astonishing to see the estuary providing a safe haven and home to small fish, shellfish and migrating birds, all while the Algoberta barge made its way out of the port after delivering valuable commodities for business activity. This is a great example of wildlife, recreation and commerce effectively co-existing.

Our region is fortunate to have many environmental assets. Hosting the largest freshwater estuary in the world will bring additional research, funding and notoriety to Northeast Wisconsin. It will also ensure that our precious resources are protected through stewardship, innovation and education.

Source: New North region on the banks of liquid gold | Specialsection |

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