About Us

Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge prairie with fog. 

Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge was established by Executive Order in 1936, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. The original refuge consisted of a 706.9 acre upland portion with open areas of former hay, pasture and croplands. An office and maintenance shop complex was constructed in 1936, along with temporary facilities for a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, which was located on refuge lands until the advent of World War II.

For more than 40 years, the refuge remained small, despite several attempts to purchase more than 5,000 acres of the surrounding Delta Fish and Fur Farm, Inc. In 1975, Dairyland Power Cooperative acquired the entire Delta Fish and Fur Farm. Dairyland wanted to construct a rail loop for a coal off-loading facility near their power generating plant at Alma, Wisconsin. The land they would need for constructing the loop was part of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. As part of a land exchange, Dairyland divested about 120 acres of the Delta property and sold an additional 4,778 acres to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1979. This addition, plus other recent acquisitions, has brought Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge to its present size of 6,446 acres.

Today, the oak savannas of the midwest are considered by some to be the world’s most threatened communities. A savanna is generally defined as a plant community where trees are present but are sparse. The open nature of the oak savanna results in the establishment of numerous kinds of prairie plants, both grasses and forbs. Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge has remnants of prairie-oak savanna habitats and management objectives support restoration efforts to maintain and establish additional oak savanna landscapes.

Marsh and aquatic vegetation occupies almost half of the refuge. Wetlands provide a multitude of ecological, economic and social benefits. They provide habitat for fish, wildlife and a variety of plants. Wetlands are also important landscape features because they hold and slowly release flood water and snow melt, recharge groundwater, act as filters to cleanse water of impurities, recycle nutrients and provide recreation and wildlife viewing opportunities for millions of people.

Bottomland hardwood forests cover about 16% of the refuge. Bottomland forests that are located along rivers are generally linear in shape. These linear corridors serve as pathways wildlife can use to move from one habitat patch to another. The dense vegetation of these forests provides cover to hide from predators and an escape from the sun during hot temperatures. Restoration of the forest habitat can make these areas more attractive to species like the red-shouldered hawk and cerulean warbler. Bottomland hardwood forests are rich, diverse ecosystems that benefit the environment, people and wildlife.

Our Mission

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Every national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
was created for a special purpose. Some were created to protect migratory birds, others to protect threatened or endangered species or unique habitats, while others fulfill another special purpose. All activities allowed on refuges must be evaluated to make sure each activity will not conflict with the reason the refuge was founded.

The purpose Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge is to serve as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. The land was deemed suitable for incidental fish and wildlife oriented recreational development, the protection of natural resources and the conservation of endangered species.

Our History

Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge first refuge manager Harvey Neilson driving a Service vehicle.

1936 - Executive Order by President Franklin D. Roosevelt set aside 706.9 acres as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife, thus establishing Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge.

1975 - Dairyland Power Cooperative acquired the surrounding land around Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge from Delta Fish and Farm, Inc.

1979 - Dairyland power sold 4,778 acres to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which added a significant portion to the refuge.

Other Facilities in this Complex

Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge is part of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge Complex.