The Fisherman’s Creek corridor is a unique 2 ½ mile long natural area situated between the City of Sheboygan and the Town of Wilson, both increasingly developing areas. The stream begins about 2 miles from the lake, near the former Conoco Oil Refinery property. From there it flows southeast through commercial, industrial and residential areas. The stream joins the Black River within the Jerving Conservancy immediately to the east of Lakeshore Drive about ¼ mile from Lake Michigan.
Fisherman’s Creek has been severely degraded by urbanization and storm water inputs along the stream and in its watershed. As a result aquatic and terrestrial habitat has been degraded, the stream channel has been straightened and is incised, the banks are eroded, sediment smothers aquatic life, invasive species have taken over along the stream and associated wetlands, it is often riddled with trash, and flooding of the area and homes has occurred. The stream empties into Black River ¼ mile from its mouth at Lake Michigan and transports sediment and trash into the river, which are then discharged into the lake. With increasing development at its headwaters, the stream will continue to become more degraded.
The Restoration Plan
SRBP’s has created a master plan for the Fisherman’s Creek corridor for the purpose of creating a master plan for physical and biological restoration of the stream and riparian area as well as creating public access within the stream corridor. We are seeking to rehabilitate the stream corridor into an ecologically functioning system while providing improved storm water management and a public open space for recreation. Our first step toward this goal is to create a concept plan to guide restoration and recreation activities. This concept plan will provide a cohesive plan for public access, restoration of the stream and associated wetlands.
The plan identifies where changes should take place and provides options for stream restoration. It is understood that the rehabilitation will be a multi-year project that may involve many organizations. A cohesive and comprehensive plan is necessary to ensure that the outcome will be sustainable and well coordinated. This concept plan is a necessary first step in rehabilitating the stream corridor. As with any natural system, spot fixes are not successful, as they often do not account for all the components of the system. An integrated plan considering the system as a whole is necessary.
The goal of this plan is to create a master document to guide and coordinate future restoration efforts. SRBP recognizes that this project will require significant effort and funding, and that restoration is likely to take place in phases over time. We hope to use this plan to guide future restoration and funding efforts in a coordinated manner. We also hope that these plans will serve as vehicle to provide public awareness of the project and that they can serve as a guide to be used on future restoration projects.
Conversion to a Thriving Ecosystem
While Fisherman’s Creek is not unlike other tributary streams that have been degraded by urbanization and storm water, it is unique in what a stream corridor rehabilitation can offer to the environment, the community and Lake Michigan. Although the stream is extremely accessible there is little use offered. While public access is not available right now, the possibilities for turning this corridor into a thriving ecosystem with multiple public uses is unrivalled. Part of this is due to the land ownership along the stream – almost the entire stream corridor is owned by the Town of Wilson, the City of Sheboygan or Alliant Energy. This unique situation of city, town and utility ownership of almost the entire stream corridor allows extensive access and opportunities for public use and education. This presents the opportunity to have almost the entire stream included in a rehabilitation plan and to have a buffer/corridor along almost its entire length to the Black River and Lake Michigan.
The Fisherman’s Creek Restoration Plan (6.5 MB) was presented at a public meeting on June 10, 2009.
The Concept Plan Includes:
- Over 77 acres of habitat would be made accessible and restored or protected.
- Over 10,000 linear feet of stream would be made accessible and restored or protected.
- Many types of habitats would be protected or restored (upland bluffs, meadows, wetlands, stream, etc.).
- 1 ½ miles of vegetative buffer will be created.
Funding for the Master Plan was provided by: Wisconsin Coastal Management Program Grant, Sheboygan County Stewardship Fund Grant and donated services from Miller Engineers & Scientists.