Sheltering Boats -- and Birds, Fish and Frogs
Marinas offer shelter and safety to boaters, but constructing them often means losing wildlife habitat. Places that provide fish and wildlife with shelter and food can be destroyed when shorelines are encased in rip rap, shallow areas are dredged, and trees are chopped down.
Building a marina can actually offer opportunities to restore or rehabilitate habitats. Located immediately east of the mouth of the Fox River in Green Bay, the new South Bay Marina features enhanced wetlands, restored beaches, and new rock reefs and fish spawning grounds.
The marina was finished in the spring of 2003, and it features a variety of habitat enhancements. Two narrow spits of rock “headlands” jut out from the marina, sheltering part of the shoreline from large waves and allowing sediment to collect and aquatic plants to grow. Such wetlands are nurseries for many species of fish, amphibians and birds. Deposits of cobble, gravel and sand in these sheltered waters make natural-looking beaches, which provide resting and foraging places for waterfowl and shorebirds. Submerged “spawning stones,” each two to five inches in diameter, were placed along the break wall to provide optimal spawning beds for walleye and bass. Nooks and crannies between the stones are deep enough to shelter eggs from wave action, yet shallow enough to allow well-oxygenated
water to flow over the eggs. A wooded area once designated for a parking lot was left standing, providing resting places and foraging bases for migrating songbirds, raptors and roosting herons.
The South Bay Marina is now open and welcomes large power boats and sailboats at competitive rates. No charge for birds, fish and frogs.