River Cleanup Showcases 2013 Progress in Great Lakes Areas of Concern

Work done will help improve the water quality and habitat for fish and wildlife.

Published on: Dec 25, 2013

2013 was another big year for cleanup and restoration work in Wisconsin's five federally designated "Areas of Concern," contaminated tributaries to the Great Lakes, giving state, federal and local officials who gathered in Madison this week plenty to talk about as they recapped the past year and set plans and budgets for the next two years.

"Wisconsin and partners did a tremendous amount of work to clean up and restore our Areas of Concern in 2013 and there is great momentum for continuing the work in coming years," says Steve Galarneau, who leads DNR's Office of the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding, as well as the fantastic partnerships with state, local and federal governments, citizens and the responsible parties, allowed us to accelerate the work and progress."

Menominee River Cleanup Showcases 2013 Progress in Great Lakes Areas of Concern
Menominee River Cleanup Showcases 2013 Progress in Great Lakes Areas of Concern

Galarneau says the work done will help improve the water quality and habitat for fish and wildlife, and in turn, improve local recreational opportunities and the economy.

The Menominee River in northeastern Wisconsin provides a great example of the progress made in 2013, as the Sheboygan River did in 2012, Galarneau says.

Michigan and Wisconsin natural resource and environmental quality agenciess, multiple federal agencies, the local governments on the Wisconsin and Michigan sides, and local citizen groups on both side of the stateline worked together, says Benjamin Uvaas, the Wisconsin coordinator for the Area of Concern.

"2013 was a really good year, with a lot of progress related to sediment cleanup and significant progress in planning the fish and wildlife habitat restoration work," Uvaas says.

Two separate projects were completed to remove contaminated sediments from the river:

More than 230,000 cubic yards of arsenic impacted sediment was mechanically removed, treated, disposed of in 2013 by Tyco, and 15,000 cubic yards of oil-coated sediment was mechanically removed, treated, disposed of by Wisconsin Public Service.

A third project, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was done to sample and analyze potentially contaminated sediments, work which is important for future cleanup plans.

Invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle were removed from 15.4 acres of island habitat to improve the natural regeneration of native trees used for nesting, and maintain a significant heron and egret rookery in the AOC.

More comprehensive plans for fish and wildlife habitat restoration were developed and will be implemented in coming years.

Sediment removal and habitat restoration is on tap for next year in Menekaunee Harbor, and construction of fish passage structures/fish elevator will begin next summer.

"We're excited about the momentum and look forward to more progress in coming years," Uvaas says.

More information about the Menominee River Area of Concern, videos about other cleanup projects, and magazine stories about the progress made in recent years is available on DNR's feature web page, Good things are happening on the Great Lakes.

Source: Wisconsin DNR