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Kewaunee River Wetland Complex

Back to Northern Lake Michigan

Counties: Kewaunee


Kewaunee River. River, emergent aquatics, and sedge meadow, 7 Nov. 2000. Photograph, E.J. Judziewicz.

Site Description

The Kewaunee River Wetland Complex is located in eastern Kewaunee County and is one of the largest wetland complexes bordering Lake Michigan. The wetland occupies both sides of the Kewaunee River where the river forms a large bend north of the city. The surrounding area has a gently rolling topography, but steep bluffs (60-80 feet high) define the boundaries of both the floodplain and the wetland. Most of the wetland is open sedge meadow and emergent marsh, and the dominant species include cattails, common reed grass and tussock and lake sedges. The remaining portions, mostly on slightly elevated and drier topography, are shrub and forested swamp. The river is fertile and generally turbid with a sheltered harbor, including two breakwalls, located at its mouth. The landscape surrounding this site is highly developed for agricultural and urban land-uses.

Historically, this area has been considered excellent wildlife habitat, particularly for songbirds, waterfowl, gulls, terns, herons, and shore birds. It supports a diversity of birdlife due to its proximity to Lake Michigan, the varied habitats present and the size and quality of the emergent marsh and meadow. This area is also migration corridor for many raptors and other birds.

Additional Comments

The largest marsh and wet meadow complex on the west shore of southern Lake Michigan. Overall quality and condition are good, and these wetlands are of high significance to nesting and migrating birds, and fish.

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