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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Grant For Menekaunee Harbor Clean Up Project

The long-awaited cleanup and restoration of Menekaunee Harbor got a $5 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, officials announced Tuesday, April 22.

The City of Marinette and the Department of Natural Resources are partners in the efforts to restore this historic harbor, once home to commercial fishing fleets. Much of the harbor’s shoreline protection consists of dilapidated wooden seawall pilings. Fish and wildlife habitat in the harbor is degraded by invasive plant species, contaminated sediment and excessive sedimentation.

The city has been working with DNR and its hired engineering firm, Ayres Associates, to design and engineer the removal of contaminated sediment, improve navigational and recreational opportunities, and restore fish and wildlife habitat. Structural improvements will be made to the harbor and its seawalls.

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said this project will be a great example of environmental cleanup and habitat work sparking economic growth.

“Some of these large cleanups take years of planning and building relationships,” Stepp added. “I’m just thrilled to see it all come together. I’m proud of our dedicated staff, I’m impressed by the foresight of city officials and I’m grateful to all the citizen volunteers who are working with us on the Lower Menominee River.”

The EPA grant comes from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

“The City of Marinette is pleased and proud to receive this large grant from the EPA, as well as a previous grant from the DNR,” said Marinette Mayor Denise J. Ruleau. “We believe these improvements will lead to increased public usage of the Menekaunee Harbor and allow for substantial economic development in Menekaunee.”

Cheryl Bougie, project leader for the Department of Natural Resources, said the funding presents an opportunity to complete the important and long-awaited restoration of this strategically located and economically important harbor.

“The city’s been planning a harbor restoration for nearly 30 years. It’s exciting it will finally become a reality,” Bougie said. “We couldn’t complete this project without the strong partnerships between the city, EPA and DNR.”

Menekaunee Harbor is a 13-acre natural bay at the mouth of the Menominee River and is included within the boundaries of the Lower Menominee River Area of Concern. Areas of Concern are Great Lakes rivers and harbors most severely affected by historic pollution and habitat loss. They were commonly important centers of early trade and industry.

In recent years, there has been significant progress on the Lower Menominee River through partnerships with the Wisconsin and Michigan natural resource and environmental quality agencies, multiple federal agencies, local governments and local citizen groups on both sides of the river.

Keith West is the Wisconsin co-chair of the citizens advisory committee working on the Lower Menominee River AOC.

“I’ve used the harbor for years as an outdoor laboratory for students at UW-Marinette, mostly looking at ways habitat has been degraded by human activity,” West said. “It’s nice to see this will be reversed. There is wonderful stuff happening here on the Menominee River.”

Two separate remediation projects were recently completed. Approximately 260,000 cubic yards of arsenic impacted sediment was mechanically removed, treated and disposed of in 2012 and 2013 by Tyco Fire Products. Another 15,000 cubic yards of oil-saturated sediment was removed, stabilized and disposed of by Wisconsin Public Service in 2013.

Now, EPA’s $5,105,988 award will enable partners to dredge the harbor, removing about 75,000 cubic yards of sediment, of which 22,000 cubic yards is contaminated with metals that affect the health and functioning of the aquatic ecosystem. In addition to the EPA funds, DNR is providing state funds from a grant to assist on the development of the design and engineering plans.


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