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Long Tail Point

Back to Northern Lake Michigan

Counties: Brown


Long Tail Point, aerial view. Photograph by Gary Fewless, UWGB

Site Description

Long Tail Point is located on the west shore of lower Green Bay, two miles east of Suamico in northern Brown County. It is a state-owned, narrow sand spit and associated embayment resting upon poorly drained sand lakeplain soils which stretch to the southeast for nearly four miles into lower Green Bay. The mouth of the Suamico River is just to the north of the point. The size and shape of the peninsula combined with the fluctuating water levels in lower Green Bay result in a very diverse assemblage of wetland flora and fauna. During high water level periods the point becomes a series of small islands.

The water table is at or near the surface throughout the entire site. Patches of black willow and cottonwood thicket occupy the highest ground, grading to the west into sizable monotypic clones of common reed grass and, finally, a large good quality emergent marsh dominated by cattails, softstem bulrush and three square bulrush. The portion of Dead Horse Bay that borders the point and the west shore of Green Bay support a somewhat intact, though relatively species poor, sedge meadow dominated by bluejoint grass and cattails. The invasive exotics common reed grass and purple loosestrife are common associates here and are a threat to displace the currently dominant native species. On the eastern side of the point there is sandy beach which is well developed at times of low water levels and provides habitat for at least one rare Great Lakes coastal endemic plant.

Fluctuations in Green Bay's water levels, caused by seiches and long-term water level changes, considerably alter the size of the wetlands over time. A change of several inches in water level can drastically alter the amount of wetland present and influence the type of vegetation and wildlife habitat available. Soil erosion from dredging activity and poor water quality in Green Bay has altered or destroyed many other former wetlands and aquatic plant beds in the lower Green Bay area.

This site provides very important habitat for shore birds, gulls and terns, which have historically included a rare species. This is an important migratory bird stopover point and is heavily used by waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as raptors and passerines.

Ownership by the state suggests that the wetlands will remain undeveloped in the future. However, heavy recreational use is a potential threat to this site. The area is used for many forms of recreation including hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, snowmobiling and skiing.

Additional Comments

Wetlands of lower Green Bay have been dramatically diminished and degraded by developments, wetland fills, hydrologic alterations, pollution, and the spread of aggressive invasive species. Remnants continue to provide significant habitat for migratory and resident birds and fish. This site is an important and integral component of the productive wetland remnants in lower 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