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M-08 - Fischer-Centerville Creeks Area

Counties: Manitowoc


Centerville Creeks Area. Common reed on Lake Michigan bluffs, mouth of Fischer Creek, 20 Oct. 2000. Photograph, E.J. Judziewicz

Site Description

The Fischer-Centerville Creeks Area is located on the southeastern coast of Manitowoc County just north of the Village of Cleveland. This site is a combination of several smaller sites, including a mixture of public (such as Fischer Creek County Park) and private ownerships (including one of the largest undeveloped properties in the county). Most of the sites within this area are less than five acres, but as a complex form a significant coastal wetland site. Glacial tills with sandy and silty lake deposits characterize the soil in the area. The unique geology of the area contributes to several interesting and uncommon wetland types.

At this site the seeping clay bluffs along Lake Michigan span a range of vegetation successional stages from open fen-like herbaceous dominated slope wetlands with cattails, gentians and other calcium-loving plants, to brushy alder and dogwood dominated slopes, and ultimately cedar dominated stabilized slopes along the northern-most stretch of bluff. Other wetlands, including sedge meadows and small shrub and forested wetlands, border Fischer Creek. A narrow but heavily used sand beach stretches between the two creeks; it lacks vegetation, most likely due it the intensive recreational use.

Both creeks are tributaries of Lake Michigan and flow through narrow steep-sided "canyons" down cut through the thick clay soils after the significant drop of lake levels in Glacial Lake Nipissing. Centerville Creek is a very fertile, moderate gradient creek that is impounded by an 11 ft dam, a relict from an old mill in the Town of Cleveland, just upstream from its mouth. Its bottom is composed predominantly of gravel, muck and sand.

Fischer Creek is a small stream with a bottom of muck and silt in the lower portions and clay, rubble and gravel predominating in the upper sections. Lake Michigan influences Fischer Creek at the outlet, and during high water periods, lake water can extend as far as one-quarter mile inland. As the lake level rises and falls due to the seiche, it continually changes the elevation of the creek outlet. When the outlet level rises, water flowing downstream backs up and low lying areas adjacent to the creek are inundated. Sucker and smelt spawn here. Sand blockage build up at the mouth during low water periods, allowing only minimal flow. There are seven bridge crossings of the creeks within the site boundary.

Additional Comments

Conservation limitations include small size and various disturbances that have degraded the wetlands and creeks. The site does contain a diverse mosaic of wetland communities and also provides an interesting record of past geological events.

Text describing this site was published previously in a 2002 DNR publication entitled “A Data Compilation and Assessment of Coastal Wetlands of Wisconsin’s Great Lakes” by E.J. Epstein, A. Galvin and W.A. Smith.

NOAA logo Wisconsin Coastal Management Program logo This project was funded by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act.

Last revised: Wed, 20 Jun 2012 17:21:10 CDT