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Great Lakes Article:

Grant Funds Wetlands Conservation on Lake Superior
Environmental News Service
posted 10/31/2002

MADISON, Wisconsin,(ENS) - Natural resource agencies, tribes and organizations in northern Wisconsin will receive almost $1 million for wetlands conservation.

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission has approved a North American Wetland Conservation Act grant for $999,800 to conserve wetlands in Lake Superior's Chequamegon Bay area. The project, called the Superior Coastal Wetland Initiative, will provide funding to nine northern Wisconsin agencies, tribes and groups.

The grant partners contributed $1,350,058 in cash and technical assistance to match the grant. The Superior Coastal Wetland Initiative, will include wetland acquisition, wetland restoration and stream restoration, improving protection for more than 5,800 acres of habitat.

Recipients of grant funds include the Bad River and Red Cliff Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa, Ashland/Bayfield/Douglas/Iron Counties Land Conservation Department, Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Nature Conservancy and the Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide financial and program support, but will not receive grant funds.

"There was tremendous give and take by all nine partners as we worked on the grant application. We were motivated by our desire to improve the quality of these coastal habitats," noted Pam Dryer, refuge manager of Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge and the project's coordinator and grant writer. "Our overall goal is to protect coastal wetlands in the Chequamegon Bay Area by working with willing partners to acquire land, purchase easements and restore habitat on private lands."

The Chequamegon Bay area contains outstanding coastal wetlands, including the Kakagon/Bad River Sloughs, the largest, intact coastal wetland in the upper Great Lakes; the Fish Creek Sloughs at the head of the Bay; and, many other smaller, but important sites.

The people who live in and visit this region understand that a healthy environment is tied to their quality of life.

"The protection of coastal wetlands is vitally important to the health of our economy, our fish and wildlife, and the scenic quality of the area," said Fred Schnook, Ashland City mayor.

Wetlands along the coast of Lake Superior help feed the lake, but make up less than 10 percent of the coastline. Lake sturgeon, northern pike, walleye, smallmouth bass, yellow perch and several species of trout all use coastal wetlands at some stage in their life, and many birds, such as ducks, herons and warblers use them for shelter and food during migration.

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