Wildlife habitat on the lower bay will get a boost with a $225,000 federal grant to UW-Green Bay and Ducks Unlimited for “Cat Island and Duck Creek Delta Restoration: Restoring Green Bay Aquatic Vegetation and Avifauna.”
Once alive with submergent and emergent aquatic vegetation and vast flocks of migratory waterfowl, the lower bay took a hit from high water and other factors in the 1970s. The recent reconstruction of the Cat Island Chain with a barrier dike offers hope that wild rice, hardstem bulrush and wild celery can again take root.
Profs. Matt Dornbush Bob Howe and Amy Wolf of Natural and Applied Sciences, along with adjunct faculty member and UW-Extension environmental studies specialist Patrick Robinson, are the primary researchers, with assistance from students Brianna Kupsky and Tom Prestby of the Environmental Science and Policy graduate program. The project is funded by the United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. A preliminary study conducted in 2013 following the re-construction of the Cat Island Chain found limited existing aquatic and emergent vegetation and a limited seed bank of desirable species. Researchers are hopeful of restoring a healthy population of native species behind the protection of the new barrier. They need to establish what size plantings are optimal, at what water depths, and the best means (seeding and plugs) for re-establishing native plants.
Planting and monitoring will take place throughout 2015 and into spring 2016. The project will run concurrently with related habitat studies. Field surveys during 2013 indicated the Cat Island restoration site was already showing promise as bird habitat, with four tern species and 30 shorebird species documented, including the endangered piping plover and other species listed as “high peril” or “continental concern.”
Editor’s note: We included notice of this grant in the fall edition of the Inside UW-Green Bay magazine but had yet to share this with LOG readers, before Nov. 19.