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Bay of Green Bay nominated as National Research Reserve site

Wisconsin has achieved another milestone toward securing its second National Estuarine Research Reserve bordering the Bay of Green Bay, the world's largest freshwater estuary.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has designated the bay on Lake Michigan as the 31st site of the habitats along the Great Lakes, coastal states and territories.

Brian Glesnzinski, manager of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited's Great Lakes Initiative, said it is a huge win for the region's conservationists.

"Some of the things that we gain from the other reserves around the country will not only inform what's happening in Green Bay, but also really be able to tell us what's different about Green Bay and what we need to focus on," Glesnzinski explained.

If designated, the proposed site would make Wisconsin one of only three states with multiple reserves, along with California, Florida and South Carolina. It would join the Lake Superior reserve, which was selected by NOAA in 2010.

Glesnzinski said NOAA worked with Wisconsin's 11 tribal nations throughout the selection process. If the Wisconsin reserve is designated, financial support from the state, the Oneida Nation and the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin would fund a position on the reserve's staff to ensure that tribal nation perspectives are represented in the site's management and operations.

"They're a great part of the conservation community," Glesnzinski pointed out. "They continue to provide excellent partnerships and the unique perspective that only they can bring to the table when it comes to managing resources."

The proposed reserve is composed of three areas covering almost 38,000 acres of land and water, selected to reflect the unique nature of a large Great Lakes estuary. The Bay of Green Bay is the largest freshwater estuarine system on Earth and drains one-third of the Lake Michigan basin. Glesnzinski added the designation is a major accomplishment for the region's conservationists.

"That conservation community is pretty special and robust in the area," Glesnzinski emphasized. "To have a research reserve like this being placed in an existing conservation community like that is really just going to take us all to the next level."

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