Sheboygan Area of Concern Habitat Restoration Projects

Sheboygan, Wis.

The Sheboygan River flows 81 miles and discharges into Lake Michigan at the City of Sheboygan. In 1985, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated the lower Sheboygan River and harbor an AOC because of water quality and habitat degradation that had occurred due to urbanization and the historical discharge of industrial pollutants into the river. In 2011, the City of Sheboygan, Sheboygan County and the WDNR hired a diverse SEH Project Team to develop habitat restoration projects along the lower Sheboygan River that addressed Beneficial Use Impairments (BUI’s) associated with the AOC.

The three major project sites addressed by the SEH Project Team encompassed 73 acres and nearly 2 miles of shoreline, and included the: (1) Kiwanis Park Shoreline Site, (2) Wildwood Island Area Site, and (3) Taylor Drive/Indiana Avenue Site. The aggressive project schedule, successfully met by the SEH Project Team, required the development of conceptual, preliminary and final habitat restoration design documents in a seven month period, while incorporating review comments from a range of local stakeholders and the public.

Although degradation issues varied by location, the causes of the habitat related BUIs included stream bank erosion, sedimentation, habitat fragmentation, invasive plants, urban land use, and urban storm water impacts. Restorative measures at the three project sites included: (1) shoreline stabilization and development of habitat using woody debris (anchored log jams and log benches); (2) bioeningeered bank stabilization; (3) conversion of a wet detention basin into a wetland system, including the construction of a reptile hibernaculum; (4) removal of invasive plants and restoration with native species; (5) strategic placement of boulders and gravel banks within the river to provide fisheries habitat and address sediment issues; and (6) the placement of numerous bird / bat houses and nesting platforms.

In addition, long-term management of invasive species is being addressed within the entire AOC and is an integral component of the habitat restoration projects. The improvements being made at each project site are designed to enhance habitats for migratory and shore bird stopover and breeding, herptile breeding, warm water fisheries, and fish and wildlife populations. Construction was funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

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