Friends of the Upper Mississippi

Our Vision Statement

To work to protect, enhance and restore our Upper Mississippi River resources by serving as volunteers and partners with conservation organizations to provide education about these resources for our citizens, to advocate for government policies that will support these resources and to increase awareness of threats to the health of the Upper Mississippi River.

Genoa Fish Clinic

Genoa Fish Clinic – Genoa, WI

Mission of the Friends of the Upper Mississippi

  • Provide volunteer services to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other Conservation organizations for native species restoration and population monitoring.
  • Provide education programs for members and the general public on conservation issues and benefits
  • Provide grants for educational activities
  • Provide outdoor activities for children
  • Be a primary point of contact with local and national public officials in support of Mississippi River resources
  • Provide fundraising activities to support local conservation programs
  • Inform local groups and provide education on conservation issues

The Great Sturgeon Migration Begins!




Scott Schlueter with USFWS New York Field
Office, offloads fingerling lake sturgeon from a
Genoa NFH stocking truck. Credit: Eric
Maxwell, NYDEC







Lake sturgeon fingerlings reared for two months at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) were returned to their native land of upper New York State (NY) this past month. Genoa NFH has participated in a cooperative restoration effort with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service New York Field Office (NYFO), and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation restoring sturgeon since 2012. Restoration efforts have been refined and the modest numbers of the first year have increased from 900 fall fingerlings returned to NY in 2012 to an estimated 20,000 scheduled for a return trip home in 2015.

The summer shipment of 10,000 four inch lake sturgeon fingerlings returned this past week was the first installment of fish to waters in the St. Lawrence River basin and Lake Ontario. Lake sturgeon are currently estimated to be at less than five percent of their historic numbers in the Great Lakes basin, and with their unique life history sturgeon populations are very slow to recover. Stocking for restoration reduces the amount of time when egg and fry predation is high, allowing for maximum juvenile recruitment. Sturgeon fry grow fast in their first year of life in order to avoid predation. In one growing season, an average lake sturgeon can approach eight to ten inches in length.

Sturgeon restoration is a long term proposition, in order to not only ensure there is enough genetic contribution in the stocked population to sustain itself, and to create many strong year classes to ensure mating success. A healthy lake sturgeon population may consist of 20 separate year classes with adults ranging from 20 to 75 years of age. Even though we are in the beginning stages of the project, it is encouraging to be able to see the fruits of another successful year class swimming back into the wild. The hatchery owes many thanks to Scott Schlueter of the Service’s NYFO, for his assistance in stocking this summer’s lot of lake sturgeon.

Learning on the Fly!

By: Aaron Von Eschen

fly fish                                                        A trout on the line


“Thanks to our instructors and to the hatchery for the out-standing fly fishing class! That was a great day! And, it was exactly what I need to get started back into a hobby that I left 50 some years ago. I’m pretty excited!” friends group member Lloyd Lorenz stated following the fly fishing clinic that was held in concordance with the 12th annual kids fishing day on May 9th. Members of the Friends of the Upper Mississippi (FUMS) participated in the event and were taught by instructors and fly fishing aficionados from within the group. The clinic taught fly tying, which flies were best to use in different situations and locations, how to properly land fish with fly fishing equipment, and most importantly how to properly cast a fly fishing rod. Each member was given a tutorial and overview and allowed to practice their newly found knowledge on the Genoa National Fish Hatchery’s trout pond. Rainbow trout were available for catch and re-lease and each member had success and caught and released multiple fish. The staff at the Genoa NFH is thrilled to be a part of such events and take pride in assisting people continue their passion for the outdoors and reestablish their kinship for the sport of fishing and the outdoors!

Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly Arrive on Station!

By: Angela Baran

hines fly                                                                  Weighing a HED

On June 2, 2015, staff from University of South Dakota arrived at Genoa with the dragonfly larvae. This marks the beginning of the collaborative effort among the Genoa NFH, Chicago ES Office, Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge and University of South Dakota (USD) funded through the Cooperative Recovery Initiative. USD has been working with the dragonfly for several years and has studied their growth, tracked their genetics and has developed the first captive rearing techniques for the species. The techniques developed work well for small groups in a lab setting but there is now the need for larger scale production. Genoa will take the methods and work with USD to adapt them to larger scale production and to tailor them to the site specific variables.
The 147 larvae were first weighed (those big enough to weigh!) and a picture was taken of each to measure their head width so their growth over the summer at the hatchery can be calculated. Last minute adjustments to their cages were also made that Tuesday to prepare for stocking them out on Wednesday. The first year on station, conditions will mimic those at the other summer sites for the larvae so a more accurate assessment of survival and growth can be determined for Genoa National Fish Hatchery. The larvae were placed in their cages on Wednesday, with half going into the wetland and half into a pond they will share with the mussels. Over the summer, temperatures, dissolved oxygen and water quality will be monitored weekly, the cages also being checked for debris and troubleshooting any issues. The larvae will also be removed each month to be weighed and measured, keeping an eye on their progress and allowing for course correcting along the way.
hines fly 2                                                Dragonfly cages placed in the wetland


Kids Fishing Day a Great Community Event for Southwest Wisconsin

. By: Doug Aloisi

Kids from all over the tri-state area of Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota gathered at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery for our 12th annual Kids Fishing Day on May 9th this spring. The event, which is sponsored by the Friends Group of 3 Fish and Wildlife Service Fisheries field stations in the La Crosse area, was attended by over 350 people this year. 159 children first walked through a set of 4 learning stations. One was on boating safety taught by the Corps of Engineers, a station on wetland conservation run by the hatchery biologist Orey Eckes, a station on fish health run by La Crosse Fish Health Center biologist Jenny Bailey, and a station on fish identification and behavior led by La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office biologist Nick Bloomfield. After an hour of learning more about fish and conservation, the kids were allowed to put their newfound knowledge to practical use with a 2 hour open fishing event on a stocked hatchery pond. Most of the children went home with their four fish limit. A light lunch was provided by our Friends group, and many door prizes were then distributed thanks to local area vendors supporting the event. Many thanks to the staff of the three La Crosse area FWS fisheries offices, sponsors, volunteers and Friends of the Upper Mississippi for making this event possible. Making memories out-doors will reinforce the value of our natural resources to the future generation. It is also hoped that events such as these will build a sense of ownership into the outdoors, and plant the seeds of conservation stewardship to ensure that their children can enjoy all the outdoors has to offer

big fish                                                      The biggest fish of the day

Touch Tank Big Hit at Youth Outdoor Fest

touch tank
Hatchery volunteer Liz Hackner assists children diving into the touch tank at Youth Outdoor Fest. Credit: USFWS
La Crosse Wisconsin’s 7th annual Youth Outdoor Fest is a great community event that was sponsored by the La Crosse Park and Rec department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Friends of the Upper Miss. Over 2000 kids and their parents showed up for this year’s event on July 11th, 2015. Many outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, archery, hatchet throwing, bird-watching, an electrofishing demonstration, fish dissections, fly fishing, fur identification, geocaching, Genoa’s touch tank, pontoon rides and storytelling were all on display. Many local vendors and conservation agencies also had booths at the event. One of the stars of Genoa National Fish Hatchery’s touch tank was a young of the year map turtle found on the hatchery grounds. Other inhabitants of the tank were a red-eared slider turtle, lake sturgeon, minnows and several species of freshwater mussels. The touch tank gave the children an opportunity to root through the bottom substrate, just like kids from all generations have to catch fishing bait, explore for mussels, and generally just have an all- around good time. In fact one little girl fell in love with our map turtle, and ended up camping out at our booth for the entire length of the event. The hatchery booth also included fish on a stick to help with fish identification and an aquarium with cold and coolwater species of fish. Many of the children came back for seconds on the touch tank, and the lake sturgeon was also a big star of the tank. This ancient fish amazed the kids with its camouflage and sharp scutes to protect itself against predators. Events such as Youth Outdoor Fest give children a fun day of activities in hope to pique their interest in the outdoors, and desire to protect it for future generations.

La Crosse Garden Club and Summit Environmental School Celebrate Earth Day

garden club
Summit students and garden club members hard at work in the pollinator garden. Credit: USFWS
The La Crosse Wisconsin Garden Club and Summit Environmental School of La Crosse Wisconsin commemorated Earth Day this April 22nd by renovating the Genoa National Fish Hatchery’s pollinator garden for the coming season. For the last several years the Garden Club has been the driving force to ensure that the station has had not only an attractive garden display located by our entry sign, but also plants and species present that will attract and benefit pollinator species. This has become doubly important with the crash of Monarch butterfly populations nationwide. Another positive aspect of this project is including local Summit Environmental School children in the project as part of their Outdoor Classroom Curriculum at the hatchery, and to celebrate Earth Day by performing environmental volunteerism. The project hopes to lay a foundation for the children by demonstrating that people of all ages can make a positive impact in our daily lives, and we that all have a responsibility to be good conservation stewards. The project also fulfills the schools mission statement of providing students with a solid educational foundation in the core academic areas with an environmental focus integrated throughout the curriculum. Staff biologist Jorge Buening coordinated the project with the Garden Club and teachers from the school to make this a meaningful and significant Earth Day 2015. The hatchery hopes to include more cooperative conservation projects in the future whether it be in the field of fish and mussel conservation, or involving prairie and pollinator restoration on some of the hatchery’s acreage that was once considered borderline pastureland.

Reports of Lake Sturgeon Stocked by Genoa NFH and Partners… They’re Doing Well!


sturgeon map

Red River Lake sturgeon catches reported by (Minnesota DNR)
As spring progresses, lake sturgeon begin their migration from larger bodies of water to natal spawning grounds. In the months of April-June hatchery staff will begin collecting sturgeon eggs from natural spawning adults. Eggs will be collected from four river systems (Wolf River, Rainy River, Wisconsin River, and St. Lawrence River) for culture at Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH). Sturgeon will be reared at Genoa NFH for approximately four months before they are released in support of lake sturgeon restoration for federal, state, and tribal partners.

Prior to release, lake sturgeon are coded wire tagged for future assessment of survival, growth, and migration patterns. As part of the restoration goal it is essential to monitor the success of stocking efforts. For example, sturgeon stocked over the past 15 years from Genoa NFH and released within the Red River Basin have been monitored by US Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and tribal partners. Fisheries reports by Minnesota DNR and anglers have revealed capture locations of lake sturgeon in lakes and streams within the Red River Basin. Fish stocked in 2007 are reported to be between 45-50 inches. Since female lake sturgeon sexual mature between 20-25 years of age and males between 12-15 years they should start reproducing in the near future. Reports of these large fish are encouraging to hear. It’s exciting to know that fish stocked from the Genoa NFH are surviving and doing well in the wild.

Kids Fishing Day held at the Genoa hatchery a great success!

Doug 2015 may fishing derby


Thanks very much for making Saturday’s Kids Fishing Day held at the Genoa hatchery a great success!

Over 328 people attended the event, including 28 volunteers and 159 children. A great turnout! They all got to enjoy a great outdoor activity in Southwest Wisconsin, and enjoy some family time making memories that will last a lifetime. Through your efforts, we have planted the seeds to ensure the next generation values the great outdoors and in turn will work to protect it.

Thanks again for your efforts and we hope to work with you all in the future to help preserve our outdoor heritage.

Doug Aloisi
Genoa National Fish Hatchery
S 5631 State Highway 35
Genoa WI 54632
608-689-2644 fax


The following is the itinerary for our Annual Fishing Clinic/Derby for children 5 to 12 years old, which will be held at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery on Saturday, May 9th, 2015.

Morning Session

Station 1          Station 2           Station 3     Station 4  

8:45 to 9:00 am       Registration Boating Safety Fish Health FHC Fish Behavior and ID Wetland Tour
9:00am to 9:15am    “      “   “     “         “     “          “      “
9:15am to 9:30am     “     “    “     “       “     “        “      “
9:30 am to9:45 am     “      “    “      “         “       “          “       “
9:45 am to 10:00 am     “      “     “      “         “       “          “       “

Event is limited to the first 250 children that register on the day of the event.

Children will rotate every 15 minutes through the learning stations.

Lunch will be provided at noon for the children, volunteers and employees.

Fishing pole loaners can be made available by the Genoa National Fish Hatchery in cooperation with the Friends of the Upper Mississippi and the La Crosse National Wildlife and Fishery Conservation Office and the Upper Mississippi River National & Fish Refuge, Winona District.

Participants will be provided bait, NO outside bait will be allowed.

Due to safety concerns and space limitations, no artificial lures, fly fishing and/or treble hooks will be allowed at the event.

  Recreational Fishing Session

10:00 am to 12:00 pm Fishing at Hatchery Pond 5.

Everyone will be dismissed at approximately 1:00 pm.

 Saturday, May 9th, 2015

9:00 AM TO 1:00 PM

Ages 5 years to 12 years

Fishing poles available as needed.

Lunch will be provided.

For more information call:  689-2605

Children must attend the Fishing Clinic in the morning to attend the Fishing Session at Pond 5 at the Hatchery at 10 am.

Fish ID/Habitat, Fish Anatomy/Health, Boating Safety, and Wetland Tour will be part of the morning session.  Fishing in Pond 5 on the Hatchery will be part of the morning session.



S 5631 State Hwy 35, Genoa WI 54632

(608) 689-2605


Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly

Effects of Reed Canary Grass and Herbicide Application




Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly. Credit: USFWS
Invasive species are a global concern and their presence is often attributed to significant losses in biodiversity. Particularly concerning are the potential impacts of invasive species on endangered species, such as the Hine’s emerald dragonfly. Wetland habitats for this species are substantially fragmented and may be limited in-part by the presence of invasive grasses such as reed canarygrass and common reed (Phragmites australis). However, the effects of such invasive grasses on Hine’s emerald dragonfly are poorly understood. Herbicides have been developed to specifically control non-desirable grasses, but little data exist on their effectiveness on reed canary grass or unexpected impacts on native plant and animal communities. A partnership between the US Fish and Wildlife Service (Coastal Program-Great Lakes and Partners for Fish and Wildlife programs), University of South Dakota, and The Nature Conservancy set out to experimentally evaluate the effectiveness of Fusilade DX (fluazifop-p-butyl) on controlling reed canary grass and its potential impact on larval Hine’s emerald dragonfly populations and co-existing aquatic invertebrate and native plant communities. This was accomplished using a series of plots (3 treatments, 3 controls) in an area of Hine’s emerald dragonfly habitat currently being invaded by reed canarygrass. Variation in invasion intensity within and across plots demonstrated significant negative impacts of reed canarygrass on native plant and invertebrate communities. Fusilade application significantly reduced height, but did not significantly reduce reed canary grass aerial coverage over the course of the study. Herbicide treatments did not affect growth or survival of the dragonfly larvae, or the composition of native plant or invertebrate communities. Results from this study suggests that fusilade can be safely used in habitats where Hine’s emerald dragonfly larvae exist; however, it may not be effective for removing or controlling the spread of reed canary grass. For more information contact Dr. Daniel Soluk at 605-677-6172.