Cat Island Project
Restores Native Fish Populations
A former barrier island chain off the coast of Green Bay is being rebuilt to protect wetlands and habitat, allowing native fish like bluegill and largemouth bass to return.
The Cat Island chain off of Green Bay used to protect the coast from punishing waves and storm events. Starting in the late 1960s, high lake levels and storms started to erode the island chain. By the 1970s, the three islands that comprised Cat Island were submerged. Work has begun to restore these islands, which once protected 1,400 acres of wetlands along the coast. Restoring this island chain will help restore this wetland habitat. A wave barrier, ranging between four and eight feet in height, has been built on the old outline of the Cat Island chain to calm the waters nearshore. Now, thanks to calmer and clearer waters, bluegill, largemouth bass, and pumpkinseed fish will all have an easier time returning to their natural habitat. After the 6.8 mile long wave barrier has been fully constructed, sandy sediment dredged from the harbor will be used to fill in the island area. The Cat Island chain will also provide a productive use for 30-50 years of dredged sediment.
Resource Challenges Addressed
- Sediment build up
- Shoreline habitat destruction
- Loss of barrier island habitat
Results and Accomplishments
The restoration of natural nearshore habitat has allowed bluegill, largemouth bass, and pumpkinseed fish to return. On the island chain, nesting water birds, shorebirds, and other invertebrates will benefit from the newly constructed land. By protecting the nearshore waters, the island chain will also provide fish nursery habitat.
CAT ISLAND RESTORATION
Location: Green Bay, Wis.
Approximate cost: $34,000,000, with $1,500,000 coming from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Key partners: Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Port of Green Bay, Brown County, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Lower Fox River/ Green Bay Natural Resources Trustee Council, University of Wisconsin Sea-Grant, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and 14 port terminal operators, Wisconsin Department of Transportation Harbor Assistance Program, and Natural Resources Damages Assessment
Types of jobs created: Dredging operators, biologists, restoration ecologists, construction workers, landscape architects, and general laborers