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The floating gardens of Manitowoc: What are these islands in the Manitowoc River?

Posted at 5:14 PM, Jun 21, 2024

MANITOWOC (NBC 26) — Manitowoc's known for many water features, but now there's something new.

  • Manitowoc now has eight "floating islands" that will be gardens in the Manitowoc River.
  • The islands are meant to add greenery and a habitat as well as keep the water clean.
  • The gardens were paid for with a $100,000 grant from Fund for Lake Michigan.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

Dan Cichantek is a member of Manitowoc Fishing and Game. Known as Trapper Dan, a lifelong nature enthusiast, he's checking out new floating islands in the Manitowoc River. The islands are designed to improve the quality of the river.

"The healthier the waterway, the more diversity you got. The more diversity you got, the healthier the waterway,” says Trapper Dan. “It goes hand in hand, you can't have one without the other."

The islands were paid for by a $100,000 grant to Manitowoc from the Fund for Lake Michigan. Fund staff told me the islands are made from recycled plastic from 45,000 water bottles.

Together with city planner, Paul Braun, their goal is to bring life back to the waterfront.

"To add greenery to the area. To add habitat,” Braun said. “The plants once they get full growth, the roots system will actually grow through the bottom of the floating islands creating habitat plus clean water."

Braun says the unique gardens will be filled with plants native to the area and will filter some pollutants out of the water.

"We've never done this before,” he said. “There are eight islands, if it's successful you might see more. If not, I guess no harm no foul, we tried."

As for Trapper Dan, he loves the idea and hopes to see more islands in other rivers around the city.

"You've got to start somewhere; you've got to start small,” he said. “Boy, this would be just a wonderful thing if it would work."

Braun told me that the plastic was specifically manufactured to not release microplastics into the Manitowoc River.