Little Manitowoc River Partnership
On June 12, 2008, the City of Manitowoc, WI experienced an extreme storm event – the same storm that caused the Lake Delton Dam to fail in the Wisconsin Dells. The Little Manitowoc River (LMR) rose approximately 4-1/2 feet in less than 24 hours, reaching record levels. The LMR flows into Lake Michigan.
Following this flood, the Little Manitowoc River coastal wetland, from Lake Michigan to Reed Avenue, drained to become an exposed mud flat. This was the catalyst that brought people together to take action to protect this unique ecosystem. Two years later, the mud flat filled in with cattails, reed canary grass, Phragmites, and Japanese knotweed. Unfortunately, these invasive species have a low floristic quality and inhibit native vegetation, thereby reducing biological diversity.
The Great Lakes coastal wetlands are transition zones which provide many critical habitats for fish, birds, and plant life. Coastal wetlands also help maintain Lake Michigan’s water quality and aid in preventing erosion, while offering recreational, education and tourism opportunities.
The Little Manitowoc River Conservancy would stretch from the shore of Lake Michigan to 1.5 miles inland, connecting three city parks (Little Manitowoc River Walkway, Lincoln Park, and Indian Creek Park). This area would run along 2.5 miles of the meandering Little Manitowoc River creating a total conservation area of 230+ acres (potentially larger with easements). The Little Manitowoc River Conservancy will be a high-quality destination for observing birds and wildlife, with enhanced fish habitats.