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Ahnapee River Wetlands

Back to Northern Lake Michigan

Counties: Kewaunee


Ahnapee River Wetlands, 7 Nov. 2000. Photograph, E.J. Judziewicz

Site Description

The Ahnapee River Wetland is a five-mile, 1/4 to 1/2-mile wide corridor along the Ahnapee River between the Forestville dam and the City of Algoma. The lower stretch of the Ahnapee River corridor is a small freshwater estuarine system greatly influenced by Lake Michigan water levels. Situated on mucky wetland soils, the site supports isolated, small patches of white cedar, black ash swamp and tamarack swamp set in a matrix of wetlands including open wet meadows, emergent marshes and shrub swamp. The cedar swamps support a number of species at their southern range limits. The shrub and herb layer in these swamps vary with the stand's disturbance history. Relatively undisturbed sites have an intact herb layer and a fairly open native shrub layer, while disturbed sites have a less diverse herb layer and locally brushy shrub layer with tag alder or invasive species including Japanese barberry and autumn olive. Willows, dogwoods and bog birch are dominant in the patches of shrub swamp. Vegetation is dominated by native sedges and forbs in the intact, open meadows, while the invasive reed canary grass dominates disturbed or formerly tilled areas. Many areas within this site have been logged or grazed in the past, resulting in invasion by reed canary grass. The wetlands provide an excellent buffer for the river as adjoining lands have been cleared for agriculture.

Most of the area is privately owned, although a state trail passes through the site along an old railroad bed. Although they suffer from various high-impact uses, the Anhapee River wetlands may be an important migratory corridor for various wetland species.

Additional Comments

Individual wetland patches are small and many have been degraded, but in aggregate they constitute an extensive corridor providing habitat for many native species and afford some protection to water quality in the river.

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