Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
Select this button stylePrint Friendly

Fox River NRDA brings recreation closer

Areas of the Fox River are being restored, including improvements to fishing and boating access. Photo courtesy of the City of DePere.

Areas of the Fox River are being restored, including improvements to fishing and boating access. Photo courtesy of the City of DePere.

By Taylor Hensel
DOI Office of Resource and Damage Assessment

The Fox River, located in eastern Wisconsin, was contaminated in the 1950s with hazardous chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs impacted not only the water quality, but native fish and wildlife, as well as how the local communities use their natural resources.

As part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment, the trustees conducted a full assessment on the Fox River/Green Bay and determined there was work to be done to restore the land and water to a healthy condition. Dredging began in 2009, and additional cleanup efforts are ongoing to help with the contamination. One of the main goals of restoration efforts is to support projects that compensate the public for their diminished use of the fishery as a result of PCB contamination.

The Fox Point Boat Launch and the Bomier Boat Launch in DePere, Wisconsin, both support the goal of enhancing public recreation. These projects involve the renovation of a boat dock that deteriorated over time and the expansion of another boat dock to increase capacity.

Fox Point Boat Launch

The Fox Point Boat Launch project began in 2017 and is still in progress. Located on the Fox River, it’s a very popular site for fishing, especially for walleye and musky, and other outdoor activities as well. The area gets increasingly busy during the spring walleye run, due to boat launch popularity. This restoration project involves renovating the deteriorating docks. Replacing all the boards with recycled plastic boarding, repairing/replacing floats, and repairing framing the boat launch will allow for safer and more welcoming conditions for visitors.

Bomier Boat Launch

The stigma of PCB contamination drove many away from using the Fox River for fishing and recreation. One of the main goals of the Bomier Boat Launch project is to increase the ability for people to use the river, as well as to accommodate a larger segment of the community. While this project does not create fish habitat, it does replace the loss of the use of this resource. Anglers and canoers alike will have a place where they can safely launch their vessels south of the De Pere Dam.

The project is currently in the design phase and includes three main components: the parking lot expansion, addition of a launching lane, and the installation of a handicap accessible canoe/kayak launch. This launch site is the only boat launch in the area that provides access to the section of the Fox River between the De Pere Dam and Wrightstown.

The renovation of the Fox Point Boat Launch as well as the expansion of the Bomier Boat Launch help to achieve the ultimate goal of compensating the public for their diminished use of the river and fishing opportunities. Working to give the public better access to the river and more functional and practical ways to engage in recreation will in turn increase the quality of life in these areas.

Last updated: April 9, 2019