Even while entering our second summer of the COVID-19 pandemic, summer brought celebrations on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. In June, the Friends of the Refuge – Mississippi River Pools 7 & 8 worked with a local taxidermist and refuge staff to complete a grant received from the La Crosse Foundation which provided five new “ducks on a stick” to add to or replace birds in our collection! In high demand, the ducks offer an excellent close-up look at wildlife and are used in environmental education, interpretive, and training programs.
The Friends of the Refuge Headwaters, based in Winona, MN are running their fall photography contest – find out more on their website here: https://friendsoftherefugeheadwaters.org/
Through a special grant from the Migratory Birds division of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, staff are work-ing to install new window treatments at the La Crosse District Visitor Center and Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge that reduce the likelihood of birds colliding with the glass. Every year nearly 1 billion birds die from collisions with glass and we are so happy to improve our facilities to reduce the likelihood of fatalities.
Recreation along land and water trails remains high and both local and nonlocal visitors are getting out to explore! Staff in the La Crosse District tackled infrastructure projects including replacing damaged signs, ordering more brochures, working with volunteers to maintain native gardens around the Visitor Center and overlooks, repairing trails, and on larger scale projects like replacing a damaged fishing float. We en-joyed celebrating volunteers through a socially-distanced picnic featuring a coronavirus-shaped pinata! The La Crosse District Visitor Center re-opened in August and is currently open Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays from 10am – 2pm. Visitors are able to pick up federal recreational lands passes in-person during those open hours. Please see the refuge website for more info about open hours in other districts: https://www.fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=6442463812