Controlling Invasive Species in Winegar Pond

Project Summary: Blocking the entry of common carp and removing invasive plants has restored Winegar Pond’s natural ecology, improved wildlife habitat, and enhanced outdoor recreation.

Project name: Winegar Pond Invasive Species Control

Location: Green Bay West Shores Wildlife Area, Marinette County, Wisconsin

Winegar Pond provides crucial habitat for breeding and migrating waterfowl, as well as spawning grounds for several native species of fish. Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited.

Description: Winegar Pond is a 120-acre coastal wetland that sits within the Peshtigo Harbor Unit of the Green Bay West Shores State Wildlife Area. The wetland provides crucial habitat for breeding and migrating waterfowl, as well as spawning grounds for several native species of fish. The wetland is naturally connected to both the Peshtigo River and Lake Michigan, allowing migrating fish to access these spawning grounds. Unfortunately, this positioning also makes Winegar Pond susceptible to spawning populations of invasive common carp, which are enticed by the pond’s warm water and shallow depths. Spawning carp greatly disturb this ecosystem by uprooting native vegetation. The loss of native plant communities degrades water quality, decreases the availability of native fish habitat, and allows invasive plants like phragmites to colonize the area, further displacing native plants and reducing migratory bird nesting success.

Workers installed aluminum fencing to to deny invasive carp entry without excluding native fish populations. Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited.

Thanks to funding provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Ducks Unlimited has worked to stop the introduction of invasive species to restore habitat quality in Winegar Pond. Workers installed aluminum fencing that spans the width and depth of the channels that blocks entrance to the pond. These structures can be deactivated in early spring while native fish species spawn, and activated from May to June when common carp typically enter. This allows the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which manages the Wildlife Area, to deny common carp entry without excluding native fish populations. Workers also applied herbicides to 110 acres of phragmites-infested wetlands, after which treated phragmites stands were burned, mowed, or flooded to help ensure eradication.

Approximate cost of project: $420,000 was provided through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Resource challenges addressed: Coastal wetland habitat, native wildlife and plant communities, invasive plant and wildlife populations.

Key partners (public and private): The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Types of jobs created: Contractors and materials suppliers.

Results and accomplishments: The project was completed in 2015, and after several growing seasons, the formerly struggling coastal wetland has seen a resurgence in its native waterfowl and shorebird populations. This restored habitat enhances outdoor recreational opportunities for bird watchers from across the region. The eradication of invasive phragmites has resulted in the reestablishment of wild rice populations.

Website: http://www.ducks.org/media/conservation/glaro/_documents/_library/_conservation/_states/2011/wisconsin_poster2011.pdf

Originally published July 31, 2017

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