Lower Fox River Basin Recovery

In 2012, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) worked together to establish a Total Maximum Daily Load and Watershed Management Plan for the Lower Fox River Basin and Lower Green Bay.

Image 1: Photo credit, Mike Mushinski, 2017. Most recent data suggests that Green Bay is a fishing destination for roughly 178,000 anglers per year, contributing more than $114 million in retail expenditures and more than $12.5 million in state and local taxes (American Sportfishing Association, 2011).

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL): 

Determines the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still meet the water quality requirements set by the Clean Water Act. The Lower Fox River TMDL focuses on waters impaired by two major pollutants: Total Phosphorus (TP) and Total Suspended Solids (TSS)

Restoration Goals: 

  1. Reduce excess algae blooms:
    • Improve the river’s health and beauty
    • Improve the safety for recreational users of the river and bay
    • Increase light penetration into deeper depths of the bay
  2. Increase water clarity of Lower Green Bay: 
    • Improve plants’ ability to survive at deeper depths by making food through photosynthesis
    • Improve conditions for recreational activities like fishing, boating, and swimming
  3. Increase dissolved oxygen levels:
    • Better support plants and animals living in the river and bay
  4. Restore degraded habitat: 
    • Support a healthy place for plants and animals to live and grow
Image 2: Photo credit, Tom Prestby, 2016. Federally endangered Piping Plover chick from the first ever nesting record in Green Bay, WI. Successful breeding is contributed to conservation efforts to restore the bay and its historic Cat Island Wave Barrier with dredge material from Lower Green Bay.