U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: To build Upper Mississippi River Basin interpretive facility along Great River Road in Wisconsin


Ashley Spratt, 612-713-5314

Kurt Schilling, 612-713-5139

Residents along the Mississippi River and travelers of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway, which follows the river down the western border of Wisconsin, will soon benefit from a new education and interpretive center that will showcase the unique natural, historical and cultural resources of the Upper Mississippi River basin.

The National Scenic Byways Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration, recently awarded a $1.69 million grant to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), which will be used for design and construction of an education and interpretive facility at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) located adjacent to the Upper Mississippi National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and three miles south of the river town of Genoa. The Service will match at least 20 percent of the project cost.

“The Service is dedicated to providing the public with more opportunities to enjoy America’s great outdoors,” said Regional Director Tom Melius of the Service’s Midwest Region. “Restoration and conservation of the Upper Mississippi River basin is one of the Midwest Region’s top priorities. The new interpretive center will provide a first-hand opportunity for visitors to see and understand the evolution and progress of conservation efforts in the basin.”

Assistant Regional Director of the Midwest Fisheries Program Mike Weimer says the value of the new interpretive facility lies within its accessibility to not only local residents, but passersby traveling between cities like LaCrosse and Prairie Du Chien.

“This will be a place where the public can see daily hatchery operations from lake sturgeon spawning to mussel propagation, and, interact with educational kiosks and historical exhibits, all set on the beautiful landscape of the Mississippi River,” Weimer said. “The context provided by the natural setting for experiencing real life examples of conservation in action will provide a unique experience for visitors to the hatchery.”

The new facility will offer the byway traveler and local residents’ opportunities to learn about the aquatic resources of the Upper Mississippi River basin. An estimated 14,000 people per year visit Genoa NFH to view fish and aquatic species and participate in educational and recreational programs. Visitation is expected to significantly increase after the facility is constructed.

“Travelers of the Great River Road will have an opportunity to understand an accurate picture of past, present and planned uses for the Upper Mississippi River basin and gain a better understanding of the value of conserving our natural resources for the next generation,” said hatchery manager Doug Aloisi.

Facility exhibits will highlight past and present uses and values of the basin’s aquatic resources, and, the evolution of river use from pre-historic times to the present day era. These exhibits will include accounts of the growth of the navigation and pearl button industries, and, a segment on the Blackhawk war, the last battle of which took place on hatchery grounds.

The facility is expected to open its doors in spring /summer 2012.

The Genoa National Fish Hatchery houses a wide variety of aquatic species including lake sturgeon, walleye, northern pike, largemouth Bass, smallmouth bass and several native mussel species. For more information about the Genoa National Fish Hatchery, visit http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Genoa/.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov.