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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

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December 2006

Walleye habitat restoration

South Bay Marina habitat enhancement project

Tom Nelson and George Boronow

The Department of Natural Resources partnered with Walleyes for Tomorrow (WFT) and the owners of the South Bay Marina to install habitat structures as part of constructing a new marina. The purpose was to provide habitat protection and improve environmentally degraded urban waterfront in the Lower Fox River and southern Green Bay. The project provided six acres of aquatic habitat.

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The project also enhanced walleye spawning reef habitat with rock boulders as spawning habitat for other predator species, such as smallmouth bass. The near-shore habitat provided fishery nursery areas. Boosting predator species enhanced the food web and improved the ecosystem balance over abundant prey species in the river and bay.

Shallow water habitat for fish, amphibians, reptiles and avian wildlife was developed by constructing two headland groins approximately 300 feet long. The headlands extend into the bay at a greater than 90-degree angle pointing northeast from the marina breakwall.

The headlands provide some wave protected habitat. On the exposed, west side of the west headland, a walleye spawning reef was constructed. Wave action will wash the rock clean and maintain spawning habitat.

Project construction was completed in 2003 with $98,000 from NRDAR funds to purchase stone, boulders and gravel. Solar-powered navigation lights were purchased to place and mark the headlands to warn boaters of these shallow rock bars. Walleyes for Tomorrow provided $22,000 to purchase crushed rock for the walleye spawning reef. The owners of South Bay Marina did the construction providing in-kind contributions for engineering, heavy equipment, time and all other costs.