Restoring an industrial site to a coastal wetland that benefits bird migration, fish habitat, and public recreation
When the Town of Port Wing decommissioned its wastewater treatment system, they left behind a degraded industrial area within the Flag River estuary—a critical migratory bird stopover along the Lake Superior coast.
Working in collaboration with the Town, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources partnered with Stantec to restore the area to a high-quality estuary habitat and recreational destination using Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding. Site access, construction techniques, recreational end-use, and beneficial soil reuse were incorporated into the design to control costs and simplify the regulatory permitting process. Our team’s design and contractor oversight managed construction within budget despite large rainfall events and record high Lake Superior water levels. This approach included partnering with local students and conservationists to document construction, educate stakeholders, and allow recreational access following construction for bird watchers and kayaking enthusiasts.
The results were immediate. The project succeeded in restoring hydrology, achieving high migratory bird use, and the site has become a treasured community destination.
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