The winning names of nine new man-made islands grace a map of Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, a migratory bird breeding ground that runs through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois. More than 160 people competed to name the islands, built to replace lost refuge habitat.
New Names on the Map
When they wondered what to call nine new man-made islands, staff at Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge issued a public challenge: Name an island (no proper names allowed), and put yourself forever on the map. More than 160 people responded, submitting 1,000 environmentally and culturally sensitive entries. The winners include several young students.
The nine islands were built to restore habitat at the refuge, a breeding and resting place for migratory birds that runs through four states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois) along 260 miles of the Mississippi River. A lock-and-dam system built in 1937 to aid navigation created wave and wind action that eroded existing islands. The island land mass in this area dropped from 625 acres to fewer than 150. Most of the new islands are built on the "footprints" of original islands in the refuge’s Pool 8, between Brownsville, Minnesota, and Stoddard, Wisconsin.
Here — drum roll, please — are the winning island names, their rationale and their authors.
Broken Bow Island: "It looks like a broken bow."
Luke Helminski, Longfellow Middle School, LaCrosse, Wisconsin
Snake Tongue Island: "The island is shaped like a snake tongue. Snakes are common in this area."
Cass Roney and Parker Schamberger, Longfellow Middle School, LaCrosse, Wisconsin
Small Fry Island: "The island looks like a tiny fish fry. This island is designed to encourage spawning."
Russ Peterson’s 5th grade class at Stoddard Elementary School, Stoddard, Wisconsin
Log Island: "This island was built with black locust logs from Goose Island."
Nicolas Bissen, Maria Lusk, Crucifixion School, La Crescent, Minnesota
Old Scribbler Island: Named for Jay Reed, a legendary outdoors columnist with the Milwaukee Journal.
Jim Schroschein, Mineral Point, Wisconsin
Cant Hook Island: "This island resembles a cant hook, used by river men in the 19th century to move logs floating downstream through the Raft Channel."
Mark Steingraeber, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Raft Island: "This island creates a new safe pathway for boaters to enjoy the Raft Channel."
Jody Sonsalla, Brownsville, Minnesota
Dabbler Island: "Dabblers, commonly found in this area, are ducks that feed by tipping up or dabbling."
Bill Ellingson, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Cygnet Island: "Young swans visit and migrate here each spring and fall."
Marcy Lehrke, Chaseburg, Wisconsin
For more information: http://midwest.fws.gov/UpperMississippiRiver/ or 507-452-4232.