Wildlife refuge goes under construction - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Wildlife refuge goes under construction

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ONALASKA, Wisconsin (WXOW)- The New Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge on Brice Prairie will be going under construction once again. The Upgrades will complement the newly opened visitor center and create unique learning opportunities in the community.

The Refuge is adding about one and a half miles of trails, benches, trailside learning centers, and two parking lots. An overlook of Lake Onalaska will be added by one of the parking lots, and the other parking lot will provide direct access from the prairie to a public walk down to the waters edge.

All of these improvements fall within the refuge's goal of environmental education and community outreach.

"This is a wonderful opportunity because we have the visitor center now," said Jim Nissen, La Crosse District Manager of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. "And one of the priorities with this visitor center is to promote environmental education. So this sand prairie out here that we're restoring right now provides a wonderful opportunity to do that."

And Nissen said the construction may have other benefits as well.

"If you're looking at it from the standpoint of economics, it's going to become a destination," said Nissen. "We're seeing that incrementally each time we add another piece to this, and this overlook will provide an opportunity for travelers up and down the river to come and see, overlook, Lake Onalaska and the Mississippi River. You're slowly and incrementally adding pieces to this to make it a destination."

Construction will continue through this fall, weather permitting, and the project should be completed sometime next spring. Long term goals include a fully restored prairie and a trailside education center.

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