The office provides technical and field expertise to tribal governments in managing their resources, such as assisting in walleye assessments in treaty-ceded territory and restoring lake sturgeon populations of the Red River Basin including the White Earth and Red Lake Nations. One key initiative includes controlling the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species through techniques like eDNA, telemetry, multi-beam sonar, and split-beam hydroacoustics. Habitat biologists work to restore fish passage at dams in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa and coordinate habitat conservation projects for the Driftless Area Restoration Effort and Fishers and Farmers Partnership for the Upper Mississippi River Basin under the National Fish Habitat Partnership.
What We Do
La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office works to:
- Restore native, inter-jurisdictional fishes and aquatic habitats
- Prevent the extinction of federally endangered fish and mussels
- Impede the spread of nonindigenous aquatic nuisance species
- Provide environmental education and outreach
- Attain fish passage on streams and restore historic fish migrations through the National Fish Passage Program
- Work on river and stream restoration, rehabilitation and enhancement projects
- Coordinate two National Fish Habitat Partnerships for the Upper Mississippi River Basin: the Driftless Area Restoration Effort and the Fishers and Farmers Partnership for the Upper Mississippi River Basin
- Fulfill federal trust responsibilities to Native American tribes
The La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office is housed within the Midwest Fisheries Center, which also includes the La Crosse Fish Health Center, Whitney Genetics Laboratory and administrative, GIS and outreach staff, as well as the Regional Watercraft Safety Coordinator.
The Midwest Fisheries Center is the region’s Fish Technology Center for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Fish Technology Centers provide leadership in science-based management of trust aquatic resources through applied research and the development of new concepts, strategies and techniques to solve problems in aquatic resource conservation. Established in 2015, the Midwest Fisheries Center’s mission is: “Working in partnership, we provide leadership in science, technology and education for conservation of aquatic ecosystems emphasizing fisheries, aquatic, genetics and aquatic animal health for the benefit of the public”.
We work on the detection ofincluding the highly invasive bighead and silver carp and round goby. In addition, the office works on improvement of habitat for the endangered Topeka shiner and other priority fish like brook trout and smallmouth bass, endangered freshwater mussels such as the Higgins eye, and fish passage for lake sturgeon and other fish and freshwater mussels.
Our lobby features informational displays describing local aquatic wildlife and our scientific research and conservation efforts, a Mississippi River mural and an aquarium of local native fish. The lobby is open to the public. Our laboratories and other work areas are not generally open for tours so we encourage visitors to email or call to pre-arrange a tour.
The Midwest Fisheries Center offers environmental education activities for community groups and schools. In addition, the center can lend fishing poles to local community groups. Each year, the center co-sponsors several events in the community. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities available in several different areas.