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In 2018, Kewaunee County ranked first in the state in the Chinook salmon harvest, with 26,557 fish caught, with nearby Door County ranking second at 14,268 fish caught. Chinook salmon are sought after by tourists enjoying chartered fishing trips. 2,447 in Kewaunee County
The state record rainbow trout was set in 1997 at 27 pounds, 2 ounces and 42.5 inches long. It came from the Kewaunee County portion of Lake Michigan. In 1999 the state record pink salmon was also caught in Lake Michigan out of Kewaunee County waters. It was 6 pounds, 1.9 ounces and was 24.0 inches long. In 2005, the state record white perch was taken out of the Kewaunee County portion of Green Bay. It weighed 1 pound, 5.4 ounces and was 13.5 inches long.
Beginning in 1964, first coho and then chinook salmon were stocked in Lake Michigan. New salmon and trout fingerling stocking in the spring and egg and milt collection from late September to early November takes place at the C.D. "Buzz" Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility. The facility is a public attraction.
In recent years there has been concern that the alewife population will not support the salmon population, especially as the Chinook population has already collapsed in Lake Huron. A 2016 survey of Wisconsin anglers found they would on average pay $140 for a trip to catch Chinook salmon, $90 for lake trout, and $180 for walleye. Should the Chinook salmon fishery be replaced with a native lake trout fishery, the economic value would decrease by 80%.
A 1995 study found the greatest abundance of spawning lake trout in Lake Michigan was on the Clay Banks Reef off of Door and Kewaunee counties.
The sucker run, which was a popular fishing event in the 19th century, occurs in March and April. Suckers may be taken by frame dip nets, and the sucker run is also sought out as viewing opportunity. The smelt run also attracts fishermen.
The county operates eight parks. The Dana Farm (childhood home of Ransom Asa Moore) was relocated to the Winter Park. Along with the Bruemmer Park and Zoo, it is located near the state-owned C.D. Buzz Besadny Fish Hatchery. Two other state-owned parks are Mashek Creek Public Access and the Brusky Wildlife Area. There are also 27 municipal parks operated by the cities of Algoma, Kewaunee, and the Village of Luxembourg.
Limestone kiln remnants of historical interest are open to the public at the Bruemmer Park and Zoo. Although lime is not presently produced in Kewaunee County, as of 2016, there were 9 active gravel pits producing sand and gravel for roadwork and construction use.
279.54 acres (113.1 ha) of privately owned land is open to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking, sight-seeing and cross-country skiing under the Managed Forest Program.
Species lists and coastal wetlands
The four state recognized coastal wetlands in the county are the Kewaunee River Wetland Complex, the Black Ash Swamp Area, the Ahnapee River Wetlands, and the Duvall Swamp. A 1980 inventory of natural areas recognized Duvall Swamp, Alaska Bog, Krok Woods, Kewaunee River Marshes, Cosco Tamarack Woods, Broemmer Creek Headwaters, Alaska Lake, Three Mile Creek Tag Alder, Silver Lake, Krohn's Lake, and the Ahnapee River Swamps. Historically, hypnum peat was produced in the county.
In 2016, 586 plant species were listed in a checklist for the county that excluded mosses, liverworts, and hornworts. In 2020, 33 species of mosses, liverworts, and hornworts and 125 species of macrofungi (including lichens) were listed for the county. In 1999, 8 aquatic species were found in East Alaska Lake.
From 1996 to 2001, researchers listed 48 species of snails in Kewaunee County, ranking eighth out of the 22 counties in the study. Nearby Door and Brown counties ranked first and second with 69 and 62 species respectively. However, they only sampled 13 areas in Kewaunee County, compared to 74 areas in Door and 28 areas in Brown. Slugs were found in all three counties.
In 2018 statistics, a county total of 3,527 deer were killed as a total of all deer hunting seasons, down from the total harvest of 3,787 deer for 2017 statistics. In 2017, Kewaunee and Door counties were reported to have equal deer-to-human ratios. Kewaunee County had the third highest cow-to-human ratio in the state, with only Lafayette and Buffalo counties having higher ratios. In 2018, there were an estimated 97,000 head of cattle in the county, more than Door County which had 23,500 head of cattle.
Foods, agritourism, and alcohol
Kewaunee County is known for its kolache. Another distinctive local food is booyah. The cooking of booyah is not exclusive to Belgians, but has also been adopted by some Czechs. Cornish apple elderberry dumplings are another local dish.
In 2017, six operations tapped 1,840 trees to produce maple syrup, down from 3,024 trees tapped by three operations in 1997.
U-pick strawberries, apples, and pumpkins are grown.
There are also two Christmas tree operations. In 2017, 4,084 Christmas trees were cut, down from 4,462 in 2012.
In 2014-15, there were 96 liquor licenses in the county. The first modern winery in the state opened in Algoma in 1967. The area was recognized as part of a larger federally designated wine grape-growing region in 2012. In 2017, there were 28 acres of vineyards, down from 34 in 2012.
Tourism supports an arts community, including papermaking, sculpture, and painting.
The most important field crops by acres harvested in 2017 were hay and haylage at 48,887 acres, corn (silage) at 37,042 acres, corn (grain) at 22,846 acres, soybeans at 15,000 acres, wheat at 9,975 acres, oats at 2,834 acres, and barley at 146 acres.
Both sale prices and rental values of agricultural land are higher than the average for Wisconsin counties. The most common USDA soil association in the county is the Hortonville[a]-Symco[b] association. About 51 percent of soils in this association are Hortonville and 16 percent are Symco. The remaining 33% in the association are minor soils such as Carbondale,[c] Pella,[d] and Kolberg.[e] Altogether, about 34.8% of the county has Hortonville-Symco association soils. In a forested environment, Hortonville and Symco soils have an average of 7.6% and 13.2% organic matter, respectably. However, as cropland they only have tested from 2% to 3% organic matter.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,084 square miles (2,810 km2), of which 343 square miles (890 km2) is land and 742 square miles (1,920 km2) (68%) is water. The northern part of the county is on the Door Peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. The northern part of the Kettle Moraine extends into Kewaunee County. There are three named peaks in the county. The USGS monitors one well in the county on an hourly basis. It also takes hourly pictures of the field in front of the well.
It usually takes four to five hours for the groundwater level to rise after a big rain.
The Ahnapee State Trail connects Kewaunee to Sturgeon Bay. The Ice Age Trail coincides with the Kewaunee County portion of the Ahnapee State Trail, and also extends further south along the East Twin River Segment. Winter snowmobile access to trails is dependent on weather and trail grooming.
There were 7,623 households, out of which 33.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.40% were married couples living together, 6.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.20% were non-families. 23.50% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 25.80% under the age of 18, 8.00% from 18 to 24, 28.20% from 25 to 44, 22.80% from 45 to 64, and 15.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.80 males.
Between April 2010 and January 2019, there were an estimated 1,745 births and 1,605 deaths in the county. The greater number of births served to increase the population by an estimated 140 people. In addition, there were an estimated 68 more people who moved in than left. Combined, this positive net migration along with the natural increase raised the county population by an estimated 208 persons during this period. In 2013, a researcher predicted that in 2030 the county's population would peak then start to decline.
In 2017, there were 199 births, giving a general fertility rate of 61.8 births per 1000 women aged 15-44, the 33rd lowest rate out of all 72 Wisconsin counties. Additionally, there were 10 reported induced abortions performed on women of Kewaunee County residence in 2017.
Five-year ACS data from 2012 to 2016 show that an estimated 5.2% of women aged 45-54 in the county had never been married, tying with 19 other counties in having the 697th lowest percentage of never-married women in this age bracket out of 3,130 U.S. counties reporting data. The ACS estimate also found that 76.3% of women aged 35-44 were married, tying with five other counties in having the 360th highest number of married women in this age bracket out of 3,136 counties reporting data, and that the county was tied with seven other counties in having the 552th lowest percentage of births to unmarried women out of 3,021 counties reporting data. 22.8% of births were to unmarried women.
In 2015, the county tied with Sawyer County in having the 13th fewest marriages in the state. It tied with Marquette County in having the 23th fewest divorces out of all 72 Wisconsin counties. May and October tied as the months with the most weddings, with 21 each. In 2016 the county was the 19th-least populous in the state.
In 2010 statistics, the largest religious group in Kewaunee County was the Catholics, with 10,606 adherents worshipping at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Stangelville and six other parishes, followed by 1,622 WELS Lutherans with three congregations, 1,356 LCMS Lutherans with three congregations, 318 ELCA Lutherans with one congregation, 163 NACCC Congregationalists with one congregation, 155 United Methodists with two congregations, 119 non-denominational Christians with two congregations, 90 Converge Baptists with one congregation, 70 AoG Pentecostals with one congregation, and 27 EC-USA Episcopalians at St Agnes-by-the-Lake in Algoma. Altogether, 70.6% of the population was counted as adherents of a religious congregation. In 2014, Kewaunee County had 15 religious organizations in the county.
According to calculations based on 2010-2014 data, children born in Kewaunee County have a life expectancy of 82.0 years, the highest out of all 72 Wisconsin counties. From 2000-2010, the county premature death rate of persons younger than 75 years old fell 38.3%, the greatest reduction out of all Wisconsin counties. In 2015, 89.1% of babies born in the county had a normal birth weight, compared to 92.6% for the state. The substance abuse and preventable hospitalization rates for the county were lower than for the state as a whole. Five-year ACS estimates for 2012-2016 found that Kewaunee County tied with 23 other counties in having the 675th lowest percentage of disabled residents under 65 years old out of all 3,145 US counties. 9.7% were disabled.
A CDC survey of people reporting frequent mental distress (14-30 mentally unhealthy days in the last 30 days, data aggregated over 2003-2009) found that people in Kewaunee County were more likely to be distressed than those in most Wisconsin counties, but less likely to be distressed than those in the heavily urbanized southeast portion of the state.
From 2014 through 2017 reported cases of Lyme disease increased from 0 cases in 2014 to 5 cases in 2017.
In a study of car accident data from 1992 to 2001, the risk of incurring a severe traffic injury during a stretch of driving was found to be higher in Kewaunee County than in Door County, but Kewaunee County had less fatalities per 100 people severely injured than Door County. This was thought to be due to the shorter distance it took to get people injured in Kewaunee County to treatment, as the nearest hospital with a high level of trauma certification was St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay.
Between 2010 and 2018, there were 76 state-documented manure spills in the county. The likelihood of well water contamination differs depending on which area of the county the well is located, as some areas have thicker layers of soil than others. An electronic map marks the locations of every septic system and drain field, along with situations more liable to spread fecal contamination, such as areas with a shallow water table, high permeability, or likely to have karst features. A different electronic map shows the locations of private wells polluted with nitrates and other contaminants down to the section level. Another factor is tile drainage, as relatively high amounts of phosphorus were documented from water coming from two tiled sites located on a Kewaunee County farm between 2005 and 2009. The quick drainage reduces the filtration of nutrients out of the water and into the soil. The distribution of bacterial contamination in private wells has been mapped. Some bacteria found in surface water have genes for antibiotic resistance. This is thought to be due to the bovine use of antibiotics.
^Lake Management Plan for East Alaska Lake, page 31, Table 3-4: Aquatic Vegetation of East Alaska Lake and Relative Abundance at the Lake and State Level by the Ecological Services Division of Robert E. Lee and Associates, Inc.
^See the map of soils by suitability for agriculture for context. In 2016, the average rental value was $144.00 per acre, more than the Wisconsin average of $131.00 per acre and $81.00 per acre for Door County. The average sale price of agricultural land in 2016 was $6,568 per acre, more than the Wisconsin average of $5,306 per acre and $3,861 per acre for Door County. Statistics from the 2017 Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics pages 5 and 10 and (9 and 14 of the pdf), by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, September 2017
^Reported Induced Abortions in Wisconsin, Office of Health Informatics, Division of Public Health, Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Section: Trend Information, 2013-2017, Table 18, pages 17-18
^ abSocial Capital Project: Social Capital Index Data accompanying the U.S. Congress, Joint Economic Committee, Social Capital Project. "The Geography of Social Capital in America." Report prepared by the Vice Chairman's staff, 115th Cong., 2nd Sess. (April 2018)
^Atmospheric Deposition of PCBs into Green Bay (link to abstract), Journal of Great Lakes Research Volume 19, Issue 1, 1993, Pages 109-123, authors: Clyde W. Sweet, Thomas J. Murphy, James H. Bannasch, Cynthia A. Kelsey, and John Hong