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Pensaukee River Wetland Complex

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Counties: Oconto


Pensaukee River Wetland Complex. Pecore Point on Green Bay shore, 31 Aug. 2000. Emergent aquatic community dominated by softstem bulrush and rush species. Photograph, E.J. Judziewicz.

Site Description

The Pensaukee River Wetland Complex is a mixture of state (Pensaukee Wildlife Area) and privately owned lands, located on a sandy lake plain near the mouth of the Pensaukee River on the western Green Bay shore of Oconto County. This site includes many wetland community types. Of greatest interest are the large emergent marshes along the shoreline, which are best developed south of the river. Dominants in these marshes include soft-stem bulrush, rushes and rice cutgrass. Water level fluctuations caused by seiches considerably alter the size and vegetative composition of the wetlands bordering the river and bay.

Many scattered, quite large complexes of second growth hardwood and shrub swamp also occur throughout this wetland. Some of these are concentrated on private lands in the interior of the site. Dominants include aspen, oak and white birch, or elm, ash, red maple and white pine in the more southern portions of the site. The shrub areas are a mixture of alder, dogwoods and willows.

Overall the area provides diverse habitat for a wide range of songbirds, gulls, terns, shorebirds, mammals, reptiles, invertebrates and plants. This site is also an important spawning ground for many fish species in Green Bay, including northern pike (Schuette and Rost, 1998).

Because of the site's mosaic of upland and wetland conditions, residential developments, roads and agricultural developments lie within its boundaries. Occasional overflow of nearby waste containment structures and heavy runoff in the Pensaukee River drainage basin may cause significant amounts of suspended solids to enter the River; the effect on this wetland complex have not been studied. The state wildlife area is used for many kinds of recreation including hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.

Additional Comments

Somewhat degraded and fragmented, the Pensaukee wetlands provide important habitat for many native animals and contain good quality marsh and shrub swamp communities.

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 17:21:12 CDT