Cat Island Restoration Project Restores Native Fish Populations

Project Summary: 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.

Project Name: Shoreline Protected by Barrier Island

Location: Green Bay, Wisconsin

Description: 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

The outline of Cat Island, prior to the wave barrier being constructed. Photo courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The outline of Cat Island, prior to the wave barrier being constructed. Photo courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers.

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.

Approximate Cost of the Project: $34,000,000, with

The wave barrier connected to the outline of Cat Island, June 2013. The fully constructed shell for the island chain will protect the wetland habitat on shore. Photo courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The wave barrier connected to the outline of Cat Island, June 2013. The fully constructed shell for the island chain will protect the wetland habitat on shore. Photo courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers.

$1,500,000 coming from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Resource Challenges Addressed: Sedimentation in the water, erosion from waves, strong impact of storm events, loss of barrier island

Key Partners (Public and Private): 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

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.

Website: http://www.co.brown.wi.us/departments/page_3795c0025217/?department=2c960fb409b5&subdepart ment=69127804d809

Originally Published: August 30, 2013

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