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Lower Green Bay

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Counties: Brown


Lower Green Bay, 31 Aug. 2000. Green Bay at end of Harbor Lights Road, Town of Suamico, Brown County. Photograph, E.J. Judziewicz.

Site Description

This area is made up of several smaller sites that combine both state and private ownership on the western shore of lower Green Bay. The sites begin just north of Peats Lake and continue south and east to the Bay Port Industrial Tract in the City of Green Bay just west of the mouth of the Fox River. These areas are located on poorly drained sandy lakebed and are heavily influenced by periodic water level fluctuations and seiche effects from Green Bay. Much of the area is managed as a wildlife area by the Wisconsin DNR.

Peats Lake & Duck Creek (also called Atkinson Marsh Complex) is located near the southern end of Green Bay, west of the mouth of the Fox River and on either side of the mouth of Duck Creek. These wetlands are situated in shallow water in lower Green Bay and are characterized by stands of emergent aquatic macrophytes. The exotic common reed grass has formed large monotypic clones here and dominates much of the area. Condition of this marsh is variable and many portions of it have been extensively diked and filled, degrading the site and reducing its acreage and functions.

Lake level fluctuations caused by seiches considerably alter the size of the wetlands in lower Green Bay. Flucuations of the Fox River water levels allow nutrient- and silt-laden water to inundate the marsh. Pollution and siltation has degraded this wetland complex that was historically one of the finest and largest wetlands in the Midwest. Urbanization continues to threaten the site and the marsh is likely to suffer further degradation. Over 250 bird species have been recorded here, and this marsh continues to receive heavy use as a resting and staging area during migration. However, the simplification of the vegetative composition of the marsh has reduced the habitat diversity available thus reducing the numbers of birds of the using the area for breeding and foraging.

Bay Port Industrial Tract is a highly disturbed roughly 200-acre area along Green Bay just west of the Fox River. It is surrounded by industrial development but has historically provided nesting sites for colonial waterbirds and rare marsh birds.

Cat Island is located in Green Bay. Along with the surrounding islands it is provides important nesting habitat for colonial birds.

The privately owned wetlands within lower Green Bay are subject to relatively high development pressure for conversion to agricultural or residential uses. The primary function of this site is providing breeding and migratory stopover areas for waterbirds, and it has also supported populations of rare plants and other animals, including invertebrates.

Additional Comments

This site ranks high due to the heavy use of the Lower Green Bay marshes by nesting and migrating birds and spawning fish. However, extensive remediation is needed to curb the loss and degradation of these wetlands.

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