In 1987, the Sheboygan River was designated one of 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern – areas that are severely degraded and fail to support aquatic life beneficial for human use (such as fish and wildlife that are healthy to eat). The lower 14 miles of the Sheboygan River and the Sheboygan Harbor are included in the Sheboygan River Area of Concern for a number of reasons, but primarily due to: contamination that persists in the environment from industrial waste – polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs; and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, also called PAHs.
These contaminants are often associated with deposits of river sediment. Because these contaminants exist within a dynamic river system, they can be moved and re–deposited by floods and other disturbances" (WI DNR - Office of the Great Lakes, 2013)
Habitat restoration projects along the lower Sheboygan River will help return the recreational, economic and hydrologic benefits of healthy river habitat back to the community. The City of Sheboygan and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are restoring habitat at three project sites that will support healthy native plants and animals, improve fish habitat, and enhance fishing, boating, and recreational opportunities for residents. These projects will also help to restore the capacity of the natural streamside environment to intercept storm runoff, filtering pollutants and acting as a natural sponge to reduce peak flows and potential downstream flooding. A Sheboygan River Fish and Wildlife Technical Advisory Committee guided fish and wildlife assessments and the group was instrumental in developing and prioritizing these fish and wildlife habitat conservation and restoration projects.
The Lower Sheboygan River Habitat Restoration Story Map depicts the restoration activities and their benefits for the three sites within a small segment of the AOC.