Fish passage success

Ozaukee County’s efforts to re-establish spawning grounds in streams has been so effective that the state has offered it $300,000 for Sucker Creek work

SEEN HERE WHERE it empties into Lake Michigan in the Town of Port Washington, Sucker Creek, or Sucker Brook, is one of the beneficiaries of Ozaukee County’s ongoing efforts to restore migratory fish spawning grounds. The program has been so successful that the state has offered the county $300,000 for Sucker Creek work, which is primarily being done upstream. Photo by Bill Schanen IV
Ozaukee Press staff

Thanks to ongoing fish passage improvement projects, the Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department has been offered a $300,000 grant to improve fish passage on Sucker Creek in the Town of Belgium over the next two years.

The grant from the state Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Great Waters would be used to replace culverts and improve four farm crossings over the creek, which is also known as Sucker Brook, in a continuation of work already begun on the creek to improve fish passage there.

The funds administered by the DNR are from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

No match funding from the county is required to receive the funds, Planning and Parks Director Andrew Struck said.

“It’s an invite-only grant in recognition of the work we have been doing,” Struck told county supervisors on the Natural Resources Committee last week.

Besides work already underway on Sucker Creek, the county has worked to improve fish passage on Mineral Springs Creek in Port Washington, Mole Creek in the Town of Saukville, as well as other locations.

In all, the Ozaukee Fish Passage Program has utilized approximately $17.5 million of federal, state, local and non-profit organization funding to re-establish migratory fish passage between 11,149 wetland acres and 215 stream miles of the Milwaukee River Watershed, the Milwaukee Estuary, direct tributaries to Lake Michigan, and Lake Michigan, according to the program’s web page.

“So far, the program has removed or remediated more than 300 impediments to fish and aquatic life passage, restoring access to over 150 miles of in-stream habitat and thousands of acres of wetland habitat,” the site says.

The Sucker Creek project will include replacing old culverts with larger culverts able to accommodate heavier flows of water and which also will be partially buried, allowing fish to swim through them, Struck said.

Sucker Creek flows south from Sheboygan County through the Town of Belgium, roughly parallel to I-43, and into Lake Michigan in the Town of Port Washington.

At the same meeting, the Natural Resources Committee also voted to accept a $65,000 grant from the City of Port Washington to restore habitat and improve fish passage on Mineral Springs Creek in the city.

The city grant will be used to match a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation National Coastal Resilience Fund and another grant from the Fund for Lake Michigan.

In August 2018, Mineral Springs Creek experienced an intense rainstorm that dropped more than nine inches of rain in less than 24 hours, exceeding a 500-year storm event, scouring the stream bed and causing it to drop about four feet downstream of Ravine Street, exposing an 18-inch sanitary sewer line.

In response, the City of Port Washington encased the pipe in concrete after checking with the state Department of Natural Resources, which told city officials to do what was needed and apply for the needed permits later.

But the DNR later determined the repair effectively created a dam that impedes fish passage, and the city must remove the obstruction.

Working with the county, which secured $730,000 in grants to restore fish passages there, habitat along the waterway is being restored



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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