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Lower Peshtigo River

Back to Northern Lake Michigan

Counties: Marinette


Lower Peshtigo River, East Bay, Peshtigo Harbor, 18 Aug. 2000. Dunes, interdunal wetlands, and emergent aquatic communities on outer barrier beach.

Site Description

This site includes the Bloch Oxbow State Natural Area.

The Lower Peshtigo River site is a very large wetland situated on poorly drained sand lakeplain located along the northwest shore of Green Bay approximately three miles southeast of the city of Peshtigo. The wetland extends upstream along the Peshtigo River for two miles from the mouth. Some smaller sites treated separately in previous phases of this project have now been included within one large site, linked by the Peshtigo River. Ownership is a mixture of state and private holdings. The private lands are primarily concentrated around the periphery of the wetlands.

A number of different natural communities and habitat features occur here, including emergent marsh, sedge meadow, shrub-carr, floodplain forest, abandoned oxbow lakes, beach, sand bar, and channels within the river delta. The lower two miles of the river form an extensive delta, with river channels winding through large stands of good quality emergent marsh and sedge meadow. Dense colonies of the submergent aquatics, coontail and pondweeds, were present. Seiches and long term water level fluctuations are significant enough to have an impact on the wetlands, leading to changes in natural community composition, location and structure over time. These changes affect the types and extent of available wildlife habitat.

According to a report from the early 1980's (Herendorf et. al. 1981), the Peshtigo River was either polluted or adversely affected by pollution from upstream discharges of sludge deposits, leading to algae growths that limited dissolved oxygen levels. The current effects on the wetlands from this pollution are unclear.

This wetland provides large, varied and high quality habitat for waterfowl, herons, gulls and tern, and shorebirds. The habitat is also desirable for furbearers, and trapping is an important recreational activity in the wetlands. A number of rare animals and plants are known from this site.

Currently development pressure is fairly low and overall disturbance levels are lower than those experienced at many other wetlands along Green Bay's west shoreline. The area receives a multiplicity of recreation uses such as hunting, fishing, trapping, and boating. Logging has occurred periodically in much of the silver maple-green ash floodplain forest bordering the river above the marsh and meadow complex, but several older, intact stands have recently been acquired by the state and are now protected.

Additional Comments

Site significance is high due to its size, the diverse mosaic of wetland communities present, the overall good condition of the vegetation, and the many rare resident and migratory species known to use the Lower Peshtigo. This site, arguably, contains the most diverse and least disturbed wetland complex on the west shore of Green Bay.

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