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Port Wing

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Counties: Bayfield


Port Wing - Bibon Lake. Aerial view of Bibon Lake (including sewage treatment pond); note older growth tamarack stands, 15 Oct. 1996. Photograph, E.J. Epstein

Site Description

This site includes the Port Wing Boreal Forest State Natural Area.

This large complex of wetlands, forested sand ridges, beach, and open dune occurs at the mouth of the Flag River adjacent to the Village of Port Wing. A large slough, Bibon Lake, is situated within the southwestern portion of the site. Significant communities include coastal fen, coastal bog, Great Lakes dune, tamarack swamp, and several stands of dry pine forest with a strong boreal flavor. Overall quality of the natural communities is good to excellent. At least twelve species of rare plants and animals have been documented here including Wisconsin's only known population of the plant, fly honeysuckle.

The fen community consists of a floating mat of sedges, dominated by woolly sedge. Important associates are twig rush, sweet gale, and buckbean. The coastal bog fringes the margins of the uplands, with a mat of Sphagnum mosses, ericaceous shrubs, and sedges. This community contains species not typically found in truly ombrotrophic bogs. Small tamarack are scattered unevenly through this community. The tamarack swamp consists of three stands, each with an even-aged canopy of mature tamarack, a dense tall shrub layer of speckled alder, and a diverse low shrub/herb/bryophyte flora. The biota includes many rare species.

Additional Comments

Partially protected via a State Natural Area designation, management and protection of the site's natural features will present many challenges. Potential problems include: spread of narrow-leaved cattail and the aggressive common reed grass; diminished water quality due to discharge of effluent from the village sewage ponds into Bibon Lake; encroachment of developments into sensitive areas; disruption of coastal processes including longshore sediment transport by the jetties at the mouth of the river; and successional changes to the fire-dependent pine forests. A more comprehensive management and monitoring plan is needed, with participation from appropriate agency personnel, local governments, conservation organizations, and private citizens.

Last revised: Wed, 20 Jun 2012 17:21:11 CDT