Wisconsin Secretary of Administration Joel Brennen will be in Green Bay this afternoon to present a grant supporting the region’s efforts to locate a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) on The Bay of Green Bay.In partnership with local and national agencies, UW-Green Bay is leading efforts to recognize local waters as a national reserve—an important next step in the region’s 30-plus-year effort to protect one of the largest surface freshwater systems on earth.The NERR designation will help UW-Green Bay and its partners bring in funding—more than $1 million per year—for water-focused scientific research, education, stewardship and training, and will include a visitor center for hands-on and place-based education, lab space, conference area, and a boat launch
Join Emily Tyner in a Coffee Break discussion with the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, June 25, 2021 at 10: 30 a.m..
In recognition of the ecological, cultural, and historical importance of the wetland and estuarine systems of Green Bay, UW-Green Bay is leading the process to designate the Bay of Green Bay as a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR). The NERR System is a national network of 29 sites across the coastal US, including the Great Lakes, designed to protect and study estuaries and their coastal wetlands. Wisconsin already has one designated NERR on Lake Superior. Emily will discuss the benefits of a NERR designation for Northeast Wisconsin and opportunities to provide input and thoughts on the role a reserve could fill in the region.
The bay of Green Bay is massive. In fact, it carries the distinction of being the largest freshwater estuary in the world. The bay is also a Petri dish of challenges, from agricultural runoff to toxic algal bloom. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has long been studying these issues and is now on the cusp of a major boost in its research capacity.The university is in the process of becoming a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR). Largely funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Green Bay will become the third NERR on the Great Lakes and the 30th across the country. The multiyear process will result in a facility somewhere on the estuary that will be both a visitor center and research hub.Marissa Jablonski, with the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin, and Emily Tyner, the director of freshwater strategy at UW-Green Bay, say that the NERR site will serve a large number of communities and function as a meeting place for education and research.“This preserve as it’s currently designated, will be designated, will represent the Lake Michigan / Lake Huron biogeographic region, which is a huge region. So that means that although the research will be in the waters of Green Bay, programmatically, the education focus will be quite broad — opportunities for training, for participating in programs will have a larger footprint and reach,” Tyner explains.
Sturgeon Bay wants to be the public headquarters for a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) and officially established a committee last week to help make that happen.The waters of Green Bay are the world’s largest freshwater estuary, and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is leading the charge for that body of water to become the 30th NERR in the country. The national reserve designation is given by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).A NERR is a protected area established by partnerships between NOAA and coastal states. Although research is a NERR’s primary focus, other benefits include opportunities to reconnect people with the water (education), address pollution challenges (stewardship) and introduce citizen-science-based programs to the region (training).The new Sturgeon Bay committee will meet a couple of times per month and be subject to Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law. It can have up to nine members, who will be appointed next month. The Sturgeon Bay Common Council officially established the committee by resolution April 20.
UW-Green Bay and its partners, hosted two virtual kick-off events in April to educate the public about NERR and what it could mean to the region and state. The kick-off was highlighted by a video describing the importance of protecting our freshwater resource — not only for our physical livelihood, but for commerce, recreation, and pure enjoyment. Watch the video. The one-hour kick-off events can now be accessed at the UW-Green Bay NERR website.
UW-Green Bay and area partners are leading the charge to establish a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) for the Green Bay watershed—home to the largest freshwater estuary in the world. The NERR system is a national network of 29 sites across the coastal U.S., designed to practice and promote stewardship of coasts and estuaries. Established through the Coastal Zone Management Act, the reserves represent a partnership program between the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the coastal states. NOAA provides funding and national guidance, and each site is managed on a daily basis by a lead state agency or university with input from local partners.
The regional NERR designation would promote a coordinating force to manage, restore and protect the Green Bay ecosystem, with a programmatic focus on four sectors—research, education, stewardship, and training.
UW-Green Bay and its partners, hosted two virtual kick-off events in April to educate the public about NERR and what it could mean to the region and state. The kick-off was highlighted by a video describing the importance of protecting our freshwater resource — not only for our physical livelihood, but for commerce, recreation, and pure enjoyment. Watch the video.
The one-hour kick-off events can be accessed at the UW-Green Bay NERR website.
Next steps will be to review relevant geography being considered for a site, draft criteria to be used in the site selection process, and identify 3-5 optimal candidate locations for the Green Bay NERR.
Were you interested but just couldn’t find the time to participate in the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) kick-off event? They are recorded and are now live on the UW-Green Bay NERR website.
The National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERR) is a national network of 29 sites across the coastal US, including the Great Lakes, designed to protect and study estuaries and their coastal wetlands. The mission of the NERR System is, “To practice and promote stewardship of coasts and estuaries through innovative research, education, and training using a place-based system of protected areas.”
Established through the Coastal Zone Management Act, the reserves represent a partnership program between NOAA and the coastal states. NOAA provides funding and national guidance, and each site is managed on a daily basis by a lead state agency or university with input from local partners. For the Green Bay NERR, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is leading the designation process. At the local level, a Green Bay NERR will offer a coordinating force to manage, restore, and protect the Green Bay ecosystem, with a programmatic focus on four sectors: research, education, stewardship, and training.
The Green Bay NERR is currently in step two of the six-step designation process—the evaluation of potential sites. This stage includes broad-reaching public outreach and stakeholder engagement; establishing the criteria used to select a site; the determination of candidate sites; and the nomination of a final site to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). See the Site Selection & Timeline for more details.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article represents the second story in a two-part series concerning the endeavor to establish the Bay of Green Bay as a National Estuarine Research Reserve. Part one can be found in Friday’s (April 14) print edition or by following this link: NERR.
This story about NERR is reprinted with permission from author John Liesveld and the EHExtra.com.
MARINETTE—Where the rivers meet the deep blue waters exists a fruitful and diverse world upon which countless lifeforms rely—including human (see “Estuary inventory”).
As such, a regional push is underway, spearheaded by the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay through a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations (NOAA) and many coastal community members, leaders and businesses—including several in the Marinette/Peshtigo areas—to establish the bay the Green Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GB-NERR). It would place the region into a nationwide network of NERRS and open up many benefits.
According to NOAA, estuaries are critical, funneling billions of dollars annually into the economic centers for coastal U.S. populations. They provide habitat for over 75 percent of the U.S. commercial fish catch, “and an even greater percentage of the recreational fish catch.”
“It will bring in resources, make grant money available and I think it will be a real boon for the are,” said Keith West, Associate Professor of Geo-science at UWGB-Marinette Campus. “This is going to be a big thing for this community and it is going to greatly increase our understanding of the remarkable resource that we are right next door.”
NERR ECONOMY OF SCALING, LOCALLY
Establishing the bay as a “non-regulatory” research reserve holds far-reaching benefits from improving the understanding of the bay’s estuary environments (such as Peshtigo River estuary, see photos), to resource management, innovative educational opportunities, training and further development of coastal ecosystems. Together these benefits can safeguard the tangible assets estuaries provide to local communities
Moreover, if local educators, leaders and other interested entities are successful in their efforts to make the Peshtigo/Marinette region the focal point of the GB-NERR, it could bring the development of an innovative and technologically advanced research/visitor center to the area.
“I would love for the actual center to be located here. But even if it is not I think we will actually benefit,” said West.
President of the Peshtigo Area Chamber of Commerce, Tony O’Neill, resides among the community leaders intrigued by what a NERR and its associated research/visitor center might offer.
After more than 20 years in law enforcement covering much of the approximately 1,400 square miles of Marinette County, O’Neill spent a lot of time traveling throughout its communities.
“After retiring, just getting out to all these different locations … and taking in what I probably missed a lot of overall those years (on the job), gave me that interest,” O’Neill said. “And more so, I gained a better understanding and appreciation for what we have here … Once you see those things, you understand a lot more.”
Now, as president of the Peshtigo Chamber, he also envisions what the NERR designation might do, not only for the environment and recreation but also for business.
“It’s an economy booster,” O’Neill said. “(NERR) will bring forth education, professionals (to address) environmental concerns and add more jobs; and it will give (the area) more opportunity for grants. From manufacturing and business point of view, it brings forth a lot of interests globally.”
SCIENCE THAT MATTERS IN SAFEGUARDING ENVIRONMENT
When it comes to the environmental benefits imparted by NERR research and awareness, one word fits the bill: “monitoring.”
Many waterfront communities face coastal management challenges: Harmful algal blooms, lake level variability, emerging toxic chemicals and others. Addressing those challenges, requires “science and stewardship that matters,” according to NOAA literature.
Closer to home, “water issues surrounding Northeast Wisconsin in recent years make a project like the NERR even more significant for area waterways,” stated a recent UWGB press release. Establishing a GB-NERR can help address human-related environmental stressors and other climate change processes issues.
“It will bring in an environmental monitoring system that (our area) would probably never have until it was more of a reactive type thing rather than proactive,” O’Neill said. “I think having that proactive (aspect) will at least provide us with the knowledge about what exactly is in our water systems and what we can do to improve them.”
For example, locally it might help advance research that addressing emerging issues like PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and other shoreline stressors.
Kristen Edgar, Town of Peshtigo (TOP) supervisor—also involved in the GB-NERR discussions—feels that with NERR designation, the area could become eligible for competitive grants focused on research addressing those issues, like shoreline erosion.
Data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Detroit District show that in about 2014, water levels on Lake Michigan began experiencing a sharp increase, rising over 580 feet, which exceeds the long-term average (tracked since 1918). Current seasonal projections put additional increases of 2 to 7 inches for all (the Great Lakes) over the next month as spring sweeps in. And according to the DNR, those increases raise the potential for shoreline erosion and bluff failure, a growing issue in some areas along Great Lakes’ coastal regions.
“The NERR will allow access to grant opportunities such as grants for shoreline erosion,” Edgar said. “I hear about this concern regularly as a Town supervisor, as the shoreline is continuing to erode.”
Additionally, as a TOP resident, Edgar remains all too familiar with the plume of PFAS-contaminated groundwater beneath a large portion of TOP.
“I also see the potential of the NERR for studying emerging contaminants such as PFAS,” she said. “This (NERR) initiative could open a vast pool of resources such as national experts to help navigate the PFAS issues this community is facing.”
SURROUNDED BY EDUCATION POTENTIAL
Another research reserve, the Lake Superior NERR (LS-NERR) established in 2010 and encompassing 16,697 acres in the northwestern corner of Wisconsin demonstrates the value of NERRs as immersive learning ecosystems.
Research data collected on the LS-NERR provides firsthand experience for students in the amazing environmental conditions and science that occur along coastal regions. Field trips offer young minds (and the public) life-changing experiences through immersive natural laboratories where students utilize all five senses to learn. It gives a more intimate idea of what makes estuaries such intriguing and necessary ecosystems. And what holds true for the LS-NERR and education will likely translate to students at the UWGB-Marinette campus and also to the local elementary and high schools.
“How could (a GB-NERR designation) not enhance the curriculum for the UWGB-Marinette campus to be a little more diversified as far as marine science goes?” O’Neill said. “If we are selected will bring a lot of attention … it will bring in professionals doing laboratory research … it will definitely improve what we will see in the curriculums being taught.”
And West, who possesses firsthand experience teaching geoscience to young minds at UWGB-Marinette Campus—a curriculum that often overlaps with marine sciences—whole-heartedly agreed.
“I think (O’Neill) is spot on,” West said. “And that is my hope, too. I see this (NERR) as having incredible potential as far as enhancing our ability to focus not only on the bay but on all the waters that flow into it.”
Out among the community, some area residents carry similar opinions. On a brisk, sunny morning, somewhere between the Peshtigo and Marinette River, walking her three dogs, Remmy, Rosco and Reggie along the bay shore, TOP resident Emily Boettcher first heard about the push for a NERR designation on the bay. As one who enjoys the recreation offered by the bay and its coastline, and as someone who attended Marinette High School, she can appreciate the unique opportunities that NERR might bring to area schools and colleges.
“It would be beneficial for environmental studies for the high school kids,” she said. “And while I don’t know what sort of environmental courses they offer at the UWGB-Marinette Campus, the (GB-NERR designation) couldn’t hurt them.”
As for Remmy, Rosco and Reggie, perhaps the simple joy of a wide-open recreational space with clean air, safe water and diverse wildlife—which occasionally offers the canine mind a playful chase—offers all the necessary estuary benefits into a single morning stroll. Aside from a few invigorated “yelps” and “barks,” they mostly remained contentedly preoccupied … and mum on the topic.
By MEGAN HART – Associated Press – Monday, April 19, 2021MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Green Bay is the largest freshwater estuary in the world, and now the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is leading the search for a site between Marinette and Door County to become a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR.)This is the second step toward creating a NERR in Northeast Wisconsin. It would be the third on the Great Lakes and the 30th across the country.Reserves receive most of their funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with a local agency managing day-to-day operations. In this case that would be UW-Green Bay.
UW-Green Bay and area partners are attempting to establish a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) for the Green Bay watershed. The NERR system is a national network of 29 sites across the coastal U.S., designed to practice and promote stewardship of coasts and estuaries through innovative research, education, and training using a place-based system of protected areas. The regional NERR designation would promote a coordinating force to manage, restore and protect the Green Bay ecosystem, with a programmatic focus on four sectors—research, education, stewardship, and training—to help protect the world’s largest freshwater estuary. https://www.uwgb.edu/national-estuarine-research-reserves
Video Transcript: Consider the greatness of water. The same amount on earth for billions of years. Nevermore, never less. Always changing, refreshing, soothing, providing, and in only one place, right here, the world’s largest freshwater estuary. It’s where a grand river joins Green Bay and greets a great lake. Providing a place to work, to enjoy, to protect, and to preserve. Now is our opportunity to embrace our great bay. As a community classroom, a center for research, a national reserve. For all the ways that water touches our lives, our recreation, our peace, our lifeline. Let’s join as one to keep it that way.
This afternoon is the second and final virtual NERR Kickoff Event. Zoom login information can be found below; registration is not required. Please use this login information instead of the links sent last week. A recording of the event will be available afterward on the NERR website and sent via email to everyone that registered.
If you have any technical troubles accessing the event, please contact Kassie Linzmeier: firstname.lastname@example.org or 920-465-2318
Monday, April 19, 2021
4 to 5 p.m.
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