deal reclaims habitat
agreement will preserve 100s of acres along Green Bay
By Ed Culhane
GREEN BAY Hundreds of acres of critical wildlife
habitat will be saved from development under a multimillion-dollar
agreement that settles damage claims against Georgia-Pacific
for PCB pollution in the Fox River.
Additionally, millions of dollars will be spent restoring
the Cat Island chain in Green Bay and the delta marsh
it once shielded. The agreement also pays for the restoration
of northern pike habitat along the west shore of Green
Bay and the continuing reintroduction of Great Lakes strain
of spotted muskie to the bay.
Although no precise dollar figure is available, the agreement
is worth between $12 million and $15 million, state officials
said. In addition to 1,000 acres of land, Georgia-Pacific,
an international paper company, is providing about $8.5
million for the other projects.
Water-based recreation projects such as parks, barrier-free
fishing docks, trails and boat launches will be funded
in Green Bay, De Pere, Allouez, Ashwaubenon and the Brown
County towns of Bellevue and Howard downstream
from the Georgia- Pacific and former Fort Howard mills.
Darrell Bazzell, secretary of the state Department of
Natural Resources, said much of the wild land being purchased
and deeded to the state, along the Peshtigo and Suamico
riversheds, likely would have been lost to development
in a few years.
is a unique and wonderful opportunity to protect these
sensitive lands, Bazzell said, opportunities
that may not be available in the future.
The compact being announced today is a global agreement
that settles all Natural Resource Damage Assessment claims
against Georgia-Pacific. Other parties to the agreement
are the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Menominee
and Oneida tribes.
NRDA claims remain against the other six companies charged
with discharging polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, into
the Fox River, although Appleton Papers Inc. and the NCR
Corp. will be given credit for roughly half of the $40
million those companies have made available to the DNR
as part of an interim agreement.
PCBs, banned in 1976, are man-made chemicals that were
discharged into the Fox River during the manufacture and
recycling of carbonless paper.
The NRDA claims are designed to compensate the public
for the lost use of natural resources and are not related
to the impending cleanup of the Fox River.
The DNR and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plan
to issue a final decision on the cleanup late this summer
or in early autumn, Bazzell said. The cleanup could cost
the companies $400 million or more, based on feasibility
Bruce Baker, the DNR official overseeing the cleanup,
said the NRDA settlement with Georgia Pacific breathes
life into wildlife projects that have been a long time
on the wish list, some for more than a decade.
is just no way with existing programs that wed come
anywhere close to providing the kinds of funds resulting
from the NRDA process, he said.
DNR officials conceded it was the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service that first pushed for a damage assessment against
Initially, the DNR and the USFWS disagreed on the methods
used to calculate a damage assessment, and the DNR prepared
its own NRDA with Georgia-Pacific, a $7 million agreement
that was blasted by environmentalists as inadequate.
That agreement was withdrawn. Later, the DNR and the USFWS
resolved their differences, combined their efforts and
came up with a plan all the trustees could support.
took the time to work with the Fish & Wildlife Service
and the tribes, Bazzell said. We have secured
dollars in a way that we have not seen occur across the
country with other NRDAs. The magnitude of this settlement
Bazzell was to appear today in Green Bay with Bill Hartwig,
regional director of the Fish & Wildlife Service,
Chairman Gerald Danforth of the Oneida tribe and officials
from Green Bay area municipalities where projects are