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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Wickman Wetland Restoration Provides Valuable Habitat in the Fish Creek Watershed of Northern Wisconsin

Region 3, March 7, 2013
Sediment is the number one pollutant affecting Fish Creek, as seen in this aerial shot of the where the stream meets Lake Superior.  This picture was taken following a large June rain event.
Sediment is the number one pollutant affecting Fish Creek, as seen in this aerial shot of the where the stream meets Lake Superior. This picture was taken following a large June rain event. - Photo Credit: n/a
Before picture of a small but representative portion of the Wickman restoration site.  Annually mowed hayfield doing little to slow the flow of large snow melt or rain events.
Before picture of a small but representative portion of the Wickman restoration site. Annually mowed hayfield doing little to slow the flow of large snow melt or rain events. - Photo Credit: n/a
Restoring wetland habitat at the Wickman restoration site which will capture sediment and slow the flow of runoff water during spring snow melt and large rain events.
Restoring wetland habitat at the Wickman restoration site which will capture sediment and slow the flow of runoff water during spring snow melt and large rain events. - Photo Credit: n/a

Fish Creek is an important tributary to Lake Superiors Chequamegon Bay in northern Wisconsin, providing coastal wetland habitat for migratory birds as well as cold and cool water habitat for native fish. Grey wolves roam the watershed and bald eagles nest within its towering pines. Although Fish Creek maintains many of its natural functions, research suggests that changes in land use have dramatically altered the rate of surface water runoff. Where once runoff events from spring snowmelt or heavy rain occurred at a more gradual pace, they now speed through the system in a relatively short time period. This action erodes soil and covers important fish and wildlife habitat with sediment. According to U.S. Geological Survey, many tons of sediment equivalent to around 1,000 dump truck loads, are annually delivered to Lake Superior via Fish Creek.

 

In order to slow the flow of runoff and capture some of this sediment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ashland Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office and other area partners work with landowners to combat this problem. Working with local landowners through the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, 10 acres of wetland, and 20 acres of upland habitat were restored or enhanced to benefit the Fish Creek watershed’s fish and wildlife. Along with the landowners, other partners in the project included the Bayfield County Land and Water Conservation Department which provided the bulk of project design and construction oversight. Northland College’s Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute was also another important partner providing funding through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency'sGreat Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The landowners already report many species of migratory birds and other wildlife visiting the recently restored area. They plan on conducting many more fish and wildlife friendly projects on their 170 acre property bordering Fish Creek’s 1,200 acre coastal wetland and are actively encouraging other local landowners to do the same. As spring approaches, the wetlands will slow the flow of runoff into Fish Creek. It is also expected that many species of migratory waterfowl and other birds will stop over in the restored habitat, some remaining to nest and raise their broods.

Contact Info: Ted Koehler, 715-682-6185, ted_koehler@fws.gov