OSHKOSH, Wis. - Construction on the first segment of the Lake Poygan breakwall is slated to begin by early July.
Phase I of the project, a cooperative effort involving the state, Lake Poygan Sportsmen's Club and Winnebago County, will create a breakwall starting from the east shore at the mouth of the Wolf River and extend 1,170 feet south into Lake Poygan. The structure will be built roughly following the course of the old river bank as it used to exist prior to the system's water level being raised by the construction of the dams at Neenah and Menasha.
This structure will be the first of a number of similar structures to be built between the river's mouth and the "Boom Cut" navigation channel over time. When the entire project is completed, the broken limestone structures will dissipate wave energy, stop erosion of the shoreland marsh edge and allow rooted aquatic plants to take root and grow, forming a quiet water area with quality habitat for fish and wildlife.
This first structure will serve as an engineering test of the construction technique and will be the cornerstone, anchoring the structure to the shoreline.
Todd Kalish, DNR fisheries bureau deputy director, said when completed, the entire project will protect 400 acres of critical habitat including deep water marsh and an eroding marsh edge. The area receives little boat traffic because of the shallow water and the project is not expected to affect navigation in the area or at the mouth of the river as the main navigation route to the Wolf River is through the "Boom Cut" channel, located 1.5 miles east of the actual river mouth.
Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board accepted a $90,000 donation from the Lake Poygan Sportsmen's Club to advance the total $378,700 project.
"The generous support and involvement of the Lake Poygan Sportsmen's Club has been critical in moving this project forward, Kalish said. "The club has worked in partnership with the department over many years and this donation again highlights the important role stakeholder groups play in supporting habitat restoration."
Kendall Kamke, fisheries team supervisor in Oshkosh said the project will protect and start to restore important habitat that has been lost over time.
"The complete project will benefit fish, wildlife and water quality in Lake Poygan and the entire ecosystem in the upper lakes," Kamke said. "In turn, that is good for anglers, hunters and all recreational users of the area as well as lake property owners and will positively contribute to the local economy."
The project has been 15 years in the making and has strong local support, said Matt Harp, president of the Lake Poygan Sportsmen's Club.
"Our club is focused on protecting and improving lake and wetland habitats on Lake Poygan and the other upper pool lakes of the Winnebago system," Harp said. "Habitat projects such as the Poygan breakwall help improve water quality and enhance habitat for fish and wildlife. Partnering with the DNR and the county on these types of projects is a natural fit for our club."