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M-11 - Little Manitowoc River

Counties: Manitowoc


Little Manitowoc River, 20 Oct. 2000. Estuary. Photograph, E.J. Judziewicz.

Site Description

The Little Manitowoc River wetlands are located in eastern Manitowoc County just north of the City of Manitowoc stretching from the river mouth upstream to County Highway Q. Similar to other coastal wetlands in the area, the site lies upon a clayey till plain. Wetland plant communities bordering the river include a small sedge meadow and a disturbed, open emergent marsh. Due to its proximity to Manitowoc, this site has suffered direct and secondary impacts of neighboring development and land-uses.

The estuarine sedge meadow's size and composition fluctuates depending upon both river flow and Lake Michigan water levels. It is still dominated by native sedges and grasses but remains vulnerable to infestation by reed canary grass and other invasive species. The disturbed emergent marsh is dominated by the invasive reed canary grass and cattails with other weedy species including nettles and burdock. A sizable block (approximately 80 acres) of hardwood forest is present in the northernmost portion of the site.

The Little Manitowoc river is a small tributary of Lake Michigan with a bottom of gravel and rubble. Smelt and suckers spawn here. Rainbow trout may spawn here if sufficient flow is present and appropriate habitat has not been degraded by siltation. Due to its the size and proximity to Lake Michigan, it is likely that this site provides important habitat for a variety of animal species. Additional inventory is needed to document more specific values.

Additional Comments

Small and somewhat degraded, the wetlands along the Little Manitowoc River provide habitat for native plants and animals and contain some of the more intact natural features in the local landscape.

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