Pam Dryer 715-685-2678
The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission recently approved a North American Wetland Conservation Act grant for $999,800 to conserve wetlands in Lake Superior's Chequamegon Bay area. The project, called the Superior Coastal Wetland Initiative, will provide funding to nine natural resource agencies, tribes and organizations in northern Wisconsin. Partners contributed $1,350,058 in cash and technical assistance to match the grant. The Superior Coastal Wetland Initiative, will include wetland acquisition, wetland restoration and stream restoration. Over 5,800 acres of habitat will be positively affected.
Recipients of grant funds will be the Bad River and Red Cliff Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa, Ashland/Bayfield/Douglas/Iron Counties Land Conservation Department, Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Nature Conservancy and the Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide financial and program support, but will not receive grant funds.
"There was tremendous give-and-take by all nine partners as we worked on the grant application. We were motivated by our desire to improve the quality of these coastal habitats," noted Pam Dryer, refuge manager of Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge and the project's coordinator and grant writer. "Our overall goal is to protect coastal wetlands in the Chequamegon Bay Area by working with willing partners to acquire land, purchase easements and restore habitat on private lands."
The Chequamegon Bay area contains outstanding coastal wetlands, including the Kakagon/Bad River Sloughs, the largest, intact coastal wetland in the upper Great Lakes; the Fish Creek Sloughs at the head of the Bay; and, many other smaller, but important sites.
The people who live in and visit this region understand that a healthy environment is tied to their quality of life. "The protection of coastal wetlands is vitally important to the health of our economy, our fish and wildlife, and the scenic quality of the area," stated Fred Schnook, Ashland City Mayor.
Wetlands along the coast of Lake Superior, especially those found at the mouth of stream tributaries, help feed the lake. Wetlands make up less than 10 percent of the coast of Lake Superior, but are critical for the production of Lake Superior's aquatic plants and animals, including its fishery. Lake sturgeon, northern pike, walleye, smallmouth bass, yellow perch and several species of trout utilize coastal wetlands at some stage in their life. Many birds, such as ducks, herons and warblers use them for shelter and food during migration.
The North American Wetlands Conservation Act of 1989 provides matching grants to private or public organizations or to individuals who have developed partnerships to carry out wetlands conservation projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. More information can be found at http://birdhabitat.fws.gov/NAWCA/grants.htm The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers the grant program under direction of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses nearly 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
For further information about programs and activities of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region, visit our website at http://midwest.fws.gov