Upper Mississippi River Refuge 100th Anniversary Celebration
Jun 22, 2024

The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (refuge) is celebrating our 100th anniversary! Please join us on Saturday, June 22 for an open-house style special event at the La Crosse District Visitor Center featuring FREE presentations and activities for all ages! Event activities will take place indoors and outdoors. The event will be held rain or shine, though some activities will be cancelled in inclement weather. Boat tours require advance registration – read on for more details.

Activities at the La Crosse District Visitor Center

The La Crosse District Visitor Center is located at N5727 County Road Z, Onalaska, WI 54650. Seating for presentations is first come, first-served – no registration needed.

Get to know our conservation partners! 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on the outdoor trail loop. We are so thankful for the federal, state, and local partners who work alongside us in conserving this special place! Come learn more about these partnerships while engaging in activities for children and adults.

Live animal programs:

  • River Valley Raptors presentations: 10:05 a.m., 10:40 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m. in the big tent. Throughout time, raptors have been renowned for their ferocity, majesty, and hunting prowess. Join us for a short program and meet some of our local winged legends and the talented team who care for them! Look for them in the big tent outside!
  • Coulee Region Humane Society presentations: 10:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. in the multipurpose room. Injured wildlife need very specific care. Our friends at the Coulee Region Humane Society are our local heroes in helping them heal! Meet Tater Tot the opossum, Flower the skunk, and discover more about wildlife rehab in our community! Find them inside the Visitor Center multipurpose room.

Arts and crafts: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. in the exhibit room Make a coffee filter butterfly and learn more about the importance of pollinators!

Birthday celebration and Visitor Center dedication ceremony: 12:00 p.m. in the big tent. We are so thankful we can celebrate this big birthday together! Hear from Refuge staff and partners about the importance of this milestone and join the Mississippi River Parkway Commission to dedicate the Visitor Center as a Great River Road Interpretive Center! Stay for a piece of cake (while it lasts)!

Audubon Upper Mississippi River history presentation – 1:00 p.m. in the multipurpose room. Audubon Society members were very influential in the creation of our National Wildlife Refuge System and some of the first federal laws protecting wildlife! This legacy continues as we collaborate to restore the unique floodplain forest habitat on the refuge. Join Audubon Upper Mississippi River Director of Conservation, Dr. Dale Gentry, to learn more about our shared history, collaborations on the Mississippi River and Audubon’s work across key migration pathways.  

Activities at the Fred Funk Boat Landing

The Fred Funk Boat landing is located at W8023 County Rd ZB, Onalaska, WI 54650. Please park in the parking lots across the street at Swarthout Park.

Barge boat tours: 9:00 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 1:30 p.m. Join refuge staff and volunteers on a short ride through the Mississippi River backwaters to see beautiful plants and wildlife who call the refuge “home!” Lifejackets are required and will be provided. Please plan for about an hour for the boat ride including boarding. Registration is required for boat tours and space is limited. Please contact Stephanie Edeler to register: [email protected], (507) 494-6221.

Electroshock fishing demonstrations: 10:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:15pm More than 119 species of fish live in the Upper Mississippi River! Join staff from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR) to see some of these fish up close! Learn more about how the WI DNR and other agencies sample fish and the diversity of habitats used by fish species in the Mississippi River. Please plan about 30 minutes to enjoy these demonstrations. No registration needed.

Thank You

We would like to thank our event sponsors: Audubon Upper Mississippi River, the National Audubon Society and the Friends of the Refuge – Mississippi River Pools 7 & 8 for their generous support in providing refreshments, programming and logistical support for the event.

We’d also like to thank our event partners for their help in hosting activities and logistics: Audubon Upper Mississippi River, Brice Prairie Conservation Association, Brice Prairie First Responders, Coulee Region Humane Society, Dynamic Lifecycle Innovations, Ducks Unlimited, Genoa National Fish Hatchery, Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Natural Resources, Izaak Walton League, Midwest Fisheries Center, Mississippi River Parkway Commission, Mississippi Valley Conservancy, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, River Valley Raptors, Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge, US Army Corps of Engineers – St. Paul District, US Geological Survey – Upper Midwest Environmental Science Center, US Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement and the many Friends and Refuge volunteers who are helping with the event. The partnerships we build together are a big piece of the rich history of this refuge and a critical piece of our next 100 years to come!

For more information, please call 608-779-2399. The La Crosse District Visitor Center is open summer hours Tuesday – Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. except for federal holidays. 

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