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Partners Work to Increase Access to Outdoor Opportunities
Midwest Region, December 12, 2013
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Biologist Lloyd Lorenz releases rainbow trout into Chad Erickson Memorial Pond
Biologist Lloyd Lorenz releases rainbow trout into Chad Erickson Memorial Pond - Photo Credit: FWS photo
Dave and Barb Erickson standing next to the Chad Erickson Memorial Pond
Dave and Barb Erickson standing next to the Chad Erickson Memorial Pond - Photo Credit: LaCrosse Tribune

Dave Erickson, member of the Friends of the Upper Mississippi, wanted to do something special to commemorate his son's life and love of the water. His son Chad loved to be around water, and constantly came home damp from his many excursions, according to his mother Barb. He used to particularly love an old overgrown pond behind a nursing home in the La Crosse suburb of Shelby. Chad was confined to a wheelchair after complications during open heart surgery and passed away too soon in 1995.

Dave and Barb were committed to preserve his memory in a meaningful way. Dave also works for the La Crosse Park and Rec department, who owns most of the land around the overgrown pond his son loved to visit. Dave and his wife pledged $60,000 from the Chad Erickson Memorial Fund Endowment for improvements to the pond and surrounding area. These improvements included dredging the pond, installing access trails around it with four accessible fishing piers, and adding an accessible bridge with fishing stations. The goal is to have fishing programs for Park and Rec Department programs held at the site, as well as provide fishing for people with limited access to the outdoors, such as residents from the local nursing home.

Dave approached the Genoa National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin to inquire whether fish may be available for special fishing events. Genoa occasionally has excess rainbow trout available from its ongoing programs, and supplying excess fish for this pond would also dovetail into the Service's mission to create oportunities for children and those with limited access to the outdoors. The hatchery recently stocked a few hundred trout into the pond to see if the fish would successfully survive over the winter. Local businesses and community groups are now pitching in as well to provide a picnic shelter, lighting and paving the access roads. The Friends of the Upper Mississippi recently provided fish cribs to increase fish habitat. Plans are to have a grand opening in the spring of next year and also scheduling a Chad Erickson Fishing Day next summer. The hatchery is extremely proud of its limited role in such a worthy project to benefit the community while commemorating Chad Erickson's memory.


Contact Info: Doug Aloisi, 608-689-2605, Doug_Aloisi@fws.gov



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