Emily Tyner, Director of Freshwater Strategy/University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, recently explained the selection process for a Bay of Green Bay-National Estuarine Research Reserve. Possible locations for the future site of the reserve’s visitor/education center part include Marinette, Green Bay and Door County. The reserve will also include natural areas (land and water) located throughout the Green Bay estuary system.
“The site choice will be neutral, anywhere from Marinette to the top end of the islands of Door County, selected from publicly available land on the coastline in these waters,” Tyner said.
How is a site selected?
“Site choice will be neutral, it’s a process. There are seven categories stipulated by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), our federal partner, modified to fit local conditions. We are currently in step two, evaluation of potential sites. We look at ecological conditions and diversity; whether the site is a good fit for long-term research; site accessibility for education, roads, school buses, public access, etc., and site resilience to climate change and changing water levels. How conducive is the site to building partnerships with local organizations, state agencies, the Department of Natural Resources? Is the site on public land or land held by a nature conservancy and not private land? Will access be impeded by possible future development of surrounding areas? Site selection will be made by the end of 2022 and designed by the end of 2024.”
How will the future site function?
“The university will run the day-to-day operations. Funding is at 70% federal and 30% state match. Every reserve has three to four staff members and a director. It’s a four-pronged focus: REST—Research, Education, Stewardship and Training—with a coordinator for each area and one overall director.” Tyner added that the site would also involve students and summer fellows, one or two educators and may include a person to do mapping work. “Dependent on funding, it could reach six to eight employees.”
What does a National Estuarine Research Reserve site look like?
“It’s not a single location. There’s a diversity of areas, and very likely it will be a multi-component site with a variety of areas included, but that has not yet been confirmed by the relevant committees. The visitor center and educational center form the hub with land and water areas being non-contiguous parts of the reserve.
How does a NERR Center affect the local economy?
The NERR Association “found that Reserves directly and indirectly support jobs in many industries—including tourism, construction, restaurant, real estate, fishing, retail—in the counties where they are located.”
NERR is not a regulatory agency. “The site won’t change fishing, hunting, public boating, kayaking, etc.” NERR fosters water research and education.