Historically, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its co-trustee partners (the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, and the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin) on the Fox River/Green Bay Natural Resource Trustee Council have been very active in developing and implementing restoration projects to compensate the public for injuries to multiple natural resources and diminished recreational fishing activities stemming from PCBs released into the Lower Fox River. To date, the Trustee Council has implemented over 100 restoration projects utilizing $36 million in settlement funds matched by an additional $22 million from conservation partners.

buffer sign

In 2010, Trustee Council conservation partners received $2.4 million in grant funding from EPA, through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The GLRI is a major federal initiative, the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades, addressing contaminated sediments and other major threats to the Great Lakes. The Trustees are matching the EPA grant with $1.7 million of NRDA settlement funding to implement two major restoration projects. In the first project, the Trustees and EPA provided $2.6 million to Brown County, Wisconsin, to restore the Cat Island Chain, a 272-acre chain of islands along the western shore of Green Bay. The reestablishment of the island chain will create a wave shadow restoring more than 620 acres of high quality shallow water habitat for diverse populations of native fishes, waterbirds, and mammals, and it will create a major stopover for migrating waterfowl. In the second project, the Trustees and EPA awarded $1.5 million to Brown County and Oconto County to restore wetland and floodplain habitat important for northern pike spawning on the west shore of Green Bay. The restoration of the riparian buffers along with permanent conservation easements will improve adult pike access to upstream, inland wetland areas used for spawning and rearing sites. The restored buffers will also limit sediments, nutrients, and pesticides entering into streams from cropland thereby protecting habitat and quality plankton production areas needed for feeding young pike.

EPA awarded an additional $2.5 million for three other projects within the Fox River/Green Bay watershed that will complement the Trustee Council’s restoration goals and activities. These projects will create buffer strips to reduce sedimentation in one drainage basin, restore stream habitat in a second drainage basin, and control invasive plants along the coast of Lake Michigan to improve fish and wildlife habitat.