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The Lower Fox River in Green Bay

Contact information
For more information, please contact:
Megan O'Shea
Green Bay and Fox River AOC coordinator
Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources
Green Bay WI
920-662-5465

The Lower Green Bay and Fox River are an "Area of Concern"

About

In the 1980s, Lower Green Bay (out to Long Tail Point and Point Au Sable) and the Fox River below the De Pere Dam were listed as one of 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern by the International Joint Commission of Canada and the United States [exit DNR].

Problems that affected the use of this area such that it needed priority attention included the following:

  • contaminated sediment;
  • poor water quality; and
  • lost or altered habitat.

Eleven beneficial use impairments describing the area’s problems were assigned.

The DNR worked with community stakeholders to develop a Remedial Action Plan in 1988. This plan contained a citizen’s vision for the future and outlined the key actions and recommendations necessary to restore the environment. Since that time, much work has been completed and significant progress made.

The DNR worked with community stakeholders to develop a Remedial Action Plan Update, which incorporated studies and actions that had occurred since 1988, in 1993. The report provided updated goals and recommendations and a list of long–term priorities.

In 2009, the DNR developed delisting targets as a way to measure when enough restoration has occurred to take Green Bay and the Fox River off the list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern. Then, in 2011, with the help of a newly re–formed Citizen Advisory Committee, the DNR developed a Stage 2 RAP Update that summarized the current status of the area’s impairments and described specific actions that should be taken to achieve the restoration targets.

Community engagement

Public input sessions have been
important in planning AOC
restoration. This meeting was held
in Appleton at the Fox Valley
Technical College.

The original Remedial Action Plan was developed by DNR with extensive public involvement and input from other agencies, local governments, scientists, citizens, industries, and environmental groups. Established committees included a Citizen Advisory Committee that is no longer active.

To improve public input to Area of Concern activities, DNR formed a new Citizen Advisory Committee. The group’s purpose is to provide two–way communication between DNR and the CAC member organizations as priority restoration projects are identified.

The CAC consists of 20 people representing a balance between public, private, and nonprofit interests in the lower Green Bay and Fox River AOC. DNR solicited volunteers for the committee in spring 2011. Members were chosen based on their unique background, interest, and ability to serve as a liaison to a larger audience.

Although meetings are open to public attendance and advertised on DNR’s Public Hearings and Meetings website, public participation is limited to specific circumstances when meetings are opened to comment.

Maps

The Lower Green Bay and Fox River Area of Concern includes the last seven miles of the Fox River from the De Pere Dam to the mouth and extends into lower Green Bay up to an imaginary line crossing the bay from Long Tail Point to Point au Sable.

Although this part of the River and Bay is where water quality is most severely impacted, land and water uses upstream in the Fox–Wolf basin also have a great impact on the Area of Concern. To fully restore the Area of Concern a "watershed approach" will be needed to address upstream water quality.

Impairments

A "beneficial use" is any way that a water body can improve the quality of life for humans or for fish and wildlife (for example providing fish that are safe to eat). If the beneficial use is unavailable due to environmental problems (for example if it is unsafe to eat the fish because of contamination) then that use is impaired.

Of the 14 possible beneficial use impairments defined by the U.S. and Canadian governments, 11 were listed as present and two as suspected in the Lower Green Bay and Fox River Area of Concern in the late 1980s. The only beneficial use impairment that is not identified in the Lower Green Bay and Fox River Area of Concern is "Added costs to agriculture or industry".

Beneficial Use Impairments
  • Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
  • Tainting of fish and wildlife flavor (suspected)
  • Degradation of fish and wildlife populations
  • Fish tumors or other deformities (suspected)
  • Bird or animal deformities or reproductive problems
  • Degradation of benthos
  • Restrictions on dredging activities
  • Eutrophication or undesirable algae
  • Restrictions on drinking water, or taste and odor problems
  • Beach closings
  • Degradation of aesthetics
  • Degradation of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations
  • Loss of fish and wildlife habitat

AOC plans

Projects

Last revised: Thursday September 18 2014