HOWARD - A restoration plan in the waters of Green Bay is almost complete.
The Cat Island project sits just north of the mouth of the Fox River and west of the main shipping channel.
A newly constructed wave barrier winds its way more than four miles into the bay. And when finished, the barrier will serve as a base for the Cat Island chain to be recreated.
Project leaders say that finish line is within sight for them and for the natural residents.
Cormorants and white pelicans cover Cat Island. This small lump of land in lower Green Bay will soon have company.
Over the past year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been piling rocks to form a more than four mile long man-made barrier. County leaders say the foundation will be complete in November.
The Corps will spend the next 20 years filling it all in.
“The arms that come off, five different arms create three cells where the dredging material will be placed and over time that will create those islands that used to exist back in the 60s,” said Lt. Col. Rob Ells, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Department of Natural Resources secretary says habitat in the bay will return.
“Some of the best indicators are going to be wildlife that we'll be seeing that we haven't seen in a long time, fisheries will be replenished again,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp.
The Environmental Protection Agency says water quality should improve.
“Wetlands act as filters, and they filter water and that is extremely important because it keeps contaminants out of the bay,” said EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman.
Brown County leaders say the project is ahead of schedule and under budget.
“A number of years ago the cost estimate was about $34 million. It was bid out at $27 million. Now with the low water and other water conditions, and other factors, the cost is going to come in at less than $20 million,” said Brown County Port and solid Water Director Dean Haen.
Haen says Brown County will pay for 35 percent of that cost with the federal government picking up the rest.
Birds continue to gather for their winter flight south. When they return in the spring, the Cat Island chain will be a little bit closer to being restored.
The next step will be to rebuild parts of Lineville Road, which includes access to the site.
First responders helped ring in the holidays at the 45th annual Howard-Suamico Christmas Parade.
Christmas is just two and half weeks away, and kids and families are getting into the holiday spirit.
Single digit temps around the area caused problems in the Fox Valley Saturday morning.
The frigid temperatures forced some area communities to cancel their weekend Christmas celebrations. But New London braved the cold for its annual Holiday of Wonder Parade.
Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's all of the injuries, but many Packers fans are saying "no thanks," to this weekend's Packers game.
With only a little snow on the ground in places, snowmobilers are ready for more. In the Lakewood area, trails are not yet open, but clubs are gearing up for an early start to the season.