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Preserving Great Lakes common terns and the Ashland Tern Island
Midwest Region, May 6, 2020
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Ashland Tern Island construction.
Ashland Tern Island construction. - Photo Credit: Photo by Ted Koehler/USFWS.
The Ashland Tern Island Restoration Team: City of Ashland, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Serviceand Pearl Beach Construction.
The Ashland Tern Island Restoration Team: City of Ashland, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Serviceand Pearl Beach Construction. - Photo Credit: Photo by Ted Koehler/USFWS.

Common terns are not as common as their name implies. In fact, they are listed as endangered by the state of Wisconsin. One of two sites where common terns nest in Wisconsin is located along the Lake Superior shoreline in the city of Ashland, and is called the Ashland Tern Island. The city owns the small man made “island” and it is managed specifically for common tern nesting by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In fact, they consider the location the most important, oldest (active since 1974) and most stable common tern colony site on the Great Lakes.

After many years of pounding waves and ice damage the island had deteriorated the point where this critically important site was in danger of being lost. That brought together the Department of Natural Resources, city of Ashland and the Service’s Coastal Program to restore the nesting island. Common terns are a focal species of the region and the island itself is named in the program’s strategic work plan.

 

After all the birds departed for the season, the work was completed in the fall of 2019 by Pearl Beach Construction Company from Chesterfield, Michigan. Moving heavy equipment and tons of steel and rock to a small island half a mile off shore on the big lake is no easy task. Luckily the weather cooperated and the work was a resounding success as approximately 2,000-square feet of the interior wooden walls of the island crib structure were replaced with steel sheets to ensure site longevity for at least 40-50 years. The important work completed by the group of diverse partners ensures the long-term stability of a site that is central to the recovery of the common tern.


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