Milwaukee river in lincoln park and estabrook falls

Lincoln Park Oxbow & Estabrook Falls

Milwaukee River Habitat Enhancement

 

Project Overview

The Milwaukee Estuary, where Milwaukee’s three rivers meet, was once covered in thousands of acres of marsh and wet meadows. These areas were critical for various fish and wildlife to thrive. As Milwaukee grew, many of these wetlands disappeared, but today there are opportunities to re-create habitat in and near the estuary. This project is done in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Milwaukee County Parks.

As part of a Great Lakes Legacy Act cleanup project, the Lincoln Park Oxbow and Estabrook Impoundment projects were completed in 2012 and 2015. These projects focused on removing contaminated sediment and stabilizing the river channel, but little attention was placed on how to enhance the fish and wildlife populations in the area.  

Just a little further downstream, Estabrook Falls is an artificial waterfall that was formed about 100 years ago as a result of mining the limestone bedrock in the river. During certain water levels on the Milwaukee River, native fish have a hard time swimming past the falls, limiting their access to spawning and nursery habitat upstream.

The goal for this project is to plan, design, and eventually, when additional funding is identified, implement improvements to fish habitat and migration at the Lincoln Park Oxbow and Estabrook Falls. This project will build on numerous other initiatives in Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties enabling native fish species to move upstream.

This project is part of a larger initiative to clean up the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern (AOC). Learn more about the AOC by watching this John Gurda video or visiting the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website here.

Project Map


Project Benefits:

  • Improve Fish & Wildlife Habitat
  • Improve Migration For Fish & Wildlife
  • Enhance Recreation Opportunities & Public Access

Timeline*:

  • Spring/Summer 2021 - Community Engagement & Preliminary Design
  • Fall 2021 – Complete Preliminary Design for Selected Alternative
  • Final design schedule will depend on availability of funding.

*Timeline subject to change


  • Great Blue Heron flying through Lincoln Park Oxbow.

    Great Blue Heron flying through Lincoln Park Oxbow.

    Photo Credit: David Thomas

  • Estabrook Falls.

    Estabrook Falls.

  • Sturgeon are native fish to the Milwaukee River.

    Sturgeon are native fish to the Milwaukee River.

  • Lincoln Park Oxbow in Fall.

    Lincoln Park Oxbow in Fall.

    Photo Credit: David Thomas

Get Involved:

Project Documents

Partner List


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