Explore & Restore the Manitowoc River System

© Photographed August 22, 2015
Erected by Wisconsin Maritime Museum, Wetland Dunes Nature
Center & Preserve, City of Manitowoc,  UW Extension,
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Manitowoc, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin
44.092809,-87.657251

Explore & Restore the Manitowoc River System
One of the largest fresh surface water resource in the world -- the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Both people and wildlife need healthy rivers

Think of rivers as weins working within the living system we call our environment. Similar to veins in your body, rivers can provide you with food and water and serve you in many other ways you may take for granted. Manitowoc River water is used for a wide variety of business and recreational purposes and upon entering Lake Michigan, it becomes part of the drinking water source for more than 10 million people. 

Waterfowl and fish from the Manitowoc River and Lake Michigan are important sources of food for people and wildlife. Pollution in these waters, such as PCBs and mercury, can impact fish and wildlife and requires us to limit our consumption. Most of the Manitowoc River and all of Lake Michigan are under a fish consumption advisory due to PCBs and mercury levels. In some areas, there are also waterfowl consumption advisories.

Check the fish consumption advisories at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/consumption/. For waterfowl, refer to health advisories in the migratory bird hunting regulations.

What threatens the river's health?

Pollution from yesterday and today impairs this river. Industrial waste from the past century persists and contaminates sediments in portions of the river with PCBs and other substances toxic to fish, wildlife and people.

When snow melts or rain falls, the water that runs off our land, streets and rooftops is located with soil, fertilizers, bacteria, pesticides and other chemicals from both rural and urban areas.

Physical and biological changes in the watershed also have great impacts, including:
  • non-native invasive plants and animals
  • clearing of forests
  • draining of wetlands
  • dams
  • improperly installed culverts
The marker is located on the north bank of the Manitowoc River, at Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company Park, and is accessible from eastbound Maritime Drive, east of its intersection with South 8th Street / U.S. Route 10, Manitowoc, Wisconsin 54220.

NOTE: The marker is easily accessible from the parking lot for the Wisconsin Maritime Museum.


Sheboygan County
Woodland Dunes Nature Center and Preserve provides opportunities for you to explore, restore and protect hundreds of acres of rare and fragile Great Lakes coastal wetland and estuary habitat along the West Twin River.

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum provides opportunities for you to explore the rich maritime history of the lower Manitowoc River and environmental issues poised to shape the future of the Great Lakes.

The Brillion Nature Center provides opportunities for you toe explore and restore the Brillion Marsh, a large wetland reminiscent of those once abundant throughout the watershed.

Ledgeview Nature Center provides opportunities for you to "get down under" in a cave to explore connections between land and water resources.
Watch and listen for these Manitowoc river residents:
MAYFLY larvae are sensitive to pollution. Their absence may indicate the level of pollution in a river.
GREEN FROG populations may disappear where shoreline habitat is disturbed or waters are polluted.
GREATER and LESSER SCAUP live here in the winter. They may pick up contaminants in the animals they eat.
PEREGRINE FALCONS again hunt in our skies and hatch young! The insecticide DDT weakened egg shells for decades.
MINK are sensitive to PCB contamination. Their reproductive rates decline and local populations may disappear.
SHEELHEAD TROUT migrate up the Manitowoc River in spring and fall, attracting anglers and fish-watchers from near and far.

With the Manitowoc River in the background.

The marker is at the park between the bridge and the U.S.S. Cobia.

Looking west along the Manitowoc River.
The marker location is on the right, near the bridge.

The marker is located at Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company Park.

The marker is located in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

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