Dear Editor,

Area residents are invited to attend an open meeting to discuss the future site of The World’s Largest Freshwater Estuary. The meeting is set for Aug. 4, at 6 p.m., at Peshtigo Elementary School, 341 N. Emery Ave., Peshtigo.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) plans to build a multi-million-dollar National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR). Marinette, located on the Bay of Green Bay, is one of three sites being considered. Other potential sites would be located in either Green Bay or Door County.

The bay of Green Bay, the world’s largest freshwater estuary, carries contributions of biologicals, sediment and characteristics of the Menominee and Fox rivers and other inlets directly to Lake Michigan and all the Great Lakes. NERR described our regional area as having “significant cultural, economic, commercial and recreational benefits” gained from its water and coastal features. Because the Great Lakes currently provide drinking water to 30 million people, this source of freshwater’s importance and value will only increase in the future. Yet, according to a NERR fact sheet, both the bay of Green Bay and Lake Michigan “face many challenges: changing water levels, flooding, coastal erosion, and harmful algal blooms.”

The proposed site will help coordinate the management, restoration and protection of the bay of Green Bay ecosystem. NERR’s national network of 29 sites across the coastal United States is dedicated to protect and study estuaries and their coastal wetlands.

“Although the research will be in the waters of Green Bay, the focus will be quite broad—opportunities for training, for participating in programs will have a larger footprint and reach,” according to Emily Tyner, director of freshwater strategy at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. It is hoped to involve elementary, high school and college students and to establish internships working with industry, nonprofits, policymakers and governmental organizations. The goal is to have industry and researchers working side-by-side in watersheds and with wetland restoration.

Tyner adds that although the bay of Green Bay has faced many challenges, there has been improvement in the last few years that NERR hopes to build on. She cited the delisting of the Menominee River as an Area of Concern by the EPA in August 2020 as one win for freshwater.

“There’s this tremendous cleanup that’s already happened but there’s certainly challenges into the future, so hopefully NERR can help coordinate, think about and design what the future around water looks like.”

This is an exciting opportunity for our area and one deserving of community support.

Attend the open meeting Aug. 4 at the Elementary School in Peshtigo to learn and explore more about the possibility of creating of a NERR site here.

Keith Killen