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Dredging Adds to Cat Island Restoration Project

Posted on October 11, 2016

By Eric Peterson, FOX 11 News

Dredging operations are getting underway in the Green Bay Shipping Channel.

Crews could spend the next two months clearing the way for freighters using the Port of Green Bay.

The operations are taking place near the Cat Island Causeway, a restoration project near the mouth of the Fox River, and that dredge material is being used to rebuild the Cat Island Chain.

A couple of miles into the waters of Green Bay, crews are preparing to clear the way at the bottom of the shipping channel.

“The outer harbor is dredged to 26 feet. and the channel is 500 feet wide. So what they’re doing is they’re not only reclaiming the depth, but also the width,” said Dean Haen, Port of Green Bay Director.

In the coming months, crews hope to dredge 400,000 cubic yards of material, and pump it through an 18-inch-wide floating pipe. Three quarters of a mile to the west, a lone bulldozer clears the way for the sandy shipment.

“That will complete about three-quarters of the capacity of the west island,” said Haen.

The islands are part of the Cat Island Restoration Project. The two and a half mile causeway serves as the backbone for dredged material from the bay.

“Every other year they dump the dredge spoils at the Cat Island wave barrier. That new fresh substrate has a lot of invertebrates and other food in it that the shorebirds and other species of birds love,” said Tom Prestby, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Environmental Researcher.

Prestby says the new causeway provides a nesting, and resting area for migrating birds.

“We’ve already had a lot of success stories like the piping plover and at least 30 other species of shorebirds that have been using the habitat,” said Prestby.

And as the bulldozer continues to clear the way on the surface, Port of Green Bay leaders say the efforts underwater are critical to keep the nearly two million tons of freight moving through the channel each year.

“It’s really been rebounding and picking up. We’ve had almost 30 ships in the month of September, so it seems to be a good push towards fall, and we hope it continues right up until winter,” said Haen.

Dredging typically wraps up around Thanksgiving.

Shipping continues until the ice becomes too thick for the freighters to safely travel.

Source: FOX 11 News

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