2023 cohort of Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly leaves GNFH, arrival of 2024 cohort.


In early November, Genoa NFH staff were busy collecting and checking Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly larvae that had spent the 2023 growing season in culture at the Hatchery. These larvae had been collected as eggs in late summer 2022 by research partners with the University of South Dakota, and had been transferred as eggs to Genoa NFH last November. This cohort was the first group from the Lower Des Plaines River (IL) population to be cultured at Genoa NFH; previous cohorts of Hine’s Emeralds had been collected from a population in Northern Wisconsin. The population in the Des Plaines River area is smaller though more genetically diverse than the Northern Wisconsin population, this coupled with increased threats from urban development (the Chicago metro area) makes augmentation and conservation of the Des Plaines population a high priority for this project.

Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly larvae collected from its culture cage at the end of the growing season and placed in a culture cup for transport. Larvae from Genoa NFH will over winter at the University of South Dakota in Dr. Dan Soluk’s research lab..

This year’s cohort at Genoa NFH had 43.5% survival from the egg stage to the end of the growing season, or 241 individuals. They were transported to USD for over wintering, and when they are ready to emerge as adults, will be released into the habitats along the Des Plaines River to augment that population. As these larger larvae were leaving Genoa NFH, the next cohort was arriving—Lower Des Plaines River population eggs that had been collected in late summer 2023 to over winter at the Hatchery. Drought conditions last summer limited the number of ovipositing females that could be collected, so the 2024 cohort is going to be a smaller group than previous years. These eggs will be held at a steady 3-4°C all winter, until warming in the spring begins the hatching process and the cycle continues.

By: Beth Glidewell

Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly eggs housed at Genoa NFH. Individual Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly larvae packed for transport. Photo credit: Beth Glidewell/USFWS.







Waterfowl Observation Day

Saturday, November 11, 2023, 10am -2pm

Come join the Friends of the Upper Mississippi (FUM), Friends of the Refuge –Mississippi River Pools 7 & 8 (FOR78) and the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge to celebrate the fall migration!

Spotting scopes and bird identification guides will be available for visitors to enjoy. Refuge staff, and members of FUM and FOR78 will assist with bird ID and related questions. Please dress for chilly weather!

Light refreshments will be available while supplies last, during this event only. All donations for refreshments will benefit FUM. Members of FUM and FOR78 will have wildlife-themed items available for purchase.

The Brownsville Overlook is one of the best places along the river to view hundreds of tundra swans, ducks, pelicans and bald eagles. The overlook is located about three miles south of Brownsville, MN along MN Highway 26.

At the Brownsville Overlook near Brownsville, MN


Ready, Set, Lets Tag!!! Volunteers Welcome!!!

This year Genoa National Fish Hatchery staff collected lake sturgeon eggs from the Wolf, Wisconsin, Rainy, St. Clair and St. Lawrence Rivers. Throughout the summer hatchery biologists, pathways students and youth conservation corp. enrollees have their hands full feeding and caring for lake sturgeon. As the summer season comes to an end and fall begins, these fish are ready to be tagged before being released to their stocking locations. Lake sturgeon are coded wire tagged, which gives them a batch identification number, allowing resource managers to assess future population growth and survival. Thank you to all of our volunteers we tagged over 40,000 lake sturgeon this year. Hatchery staff rely heavily on volunteers and partnerships to assist with individually tagging. Volunteers play a vital role in supporting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission: working with others, to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. When these fish are tagged, they are ready for transport to many locations from Northern Minnesota to Southern Tennessee and west to South Dakota and east as far as New York in support of continued restoration efforts.
Although our sturgeon have been all tagged, there is still time to volunteer! If interested in volunteering contact Erica Rasmussen erica_rasmussen@fws.gov (608)689-2605. We will be tagging our Coaster Brook Trout in October.  By: Orey Eckes

Volunteers helping tag Lake Sturgeon. Photo credit: Erica Rasmussen/USFWS.


Summer Mussel Culture at Genoa NFH

The last warm months of the summer growing season are always busy at Genoa NFH. The mussel program manages culture systems in numerous locations, and at the end of the summer we start the process of cleaning, collecting, counting and measuring the juveniles from these systems. These culture locations have allowed juvenile mussels to eat and be exposed to a diverse, natural food base in secure locations (Dubuque’s Ice Harbor, in partnership with the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, and Blackhawk Park, in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers), but are not as easily managed in freezing winter temperatures. So, juvenile mussels are brought back to the Mussel Culture building at the hatchery where they will spend the winter inside in flow through pans, circular tanks, and raceways. The pond water flowing through these pans, tanks, and raceways will be near freezing, but we can make sure pipes and valves don’t freeze and compromise water flow, and that the juvenile mussels are safe all winter.

Juvenile Higgin’s Eye going in to tanks in the MARS culture trailer early in the summer. Photo credit: MeganBradley/USFWS.

For the 2023 growing season, thousands of new juveniles and larger sub-adults were housed in the Mobile Aquatic Rearing System (MARS trailer) at Blackhawk Park, mussel cages were placed in Pond 10 on the hatchery grounds, and in Dubuque at the River Museum, while larger juvenile mussels were in SUPSYs (Suspended UPwelling SYStems: buckets suspended in the water column with mesh bottoms and air flow that moves water through the bucket). October will be a busy month collecting juvenile mussels from these systems and getting them settled into their winter culture homes. By: Beth Glidewell

School is back in session!

Have you ever considered the Genoa National Fish Hatchery as a destination for a school field trip? If not, you should! We offer age-appropriate outdoor education programs and tours that give students the opportunity to learn about the mighty Mississippi River, fish, mussels, local history and much more. Students will get the chance to hold live Lake Sturgeon, learn about different fish and mussel species and feed our hungry Rainbow Trout. There are many other activities available like exploring the Great River Road Interpretive Center by completing a scavenger hunt, hiking our nature trails, learning about birds, and identifying animal tracks. Field trips are offered throughout the entire year and can be customized for the changing seasons. We can now even offer the opportunity for students to try snowshoeing during the winter months! If any of these activities sound interesting, please contact Erica Rasmussen erica_rasmussen@fws.gov or 608-689-2605 to set up your field trip. Hope to see you soon! By: Erica Rasmussen

Students learning and exploring about mussels

Winged Mapleleaf takeoff for fall

Hatchery biologists joined partners from the Park Service the Minnesota-Wisconsin Ecological Services Field Office, U.S.G.S., and the University of Minnesota to search for displaying Winged Mapleleaf this year. Over the past 6 years we’ve experienced different patterns of flow and temperature across the fall and this year is different still, with very low water levels and cooler overnight lows. The Winged Mapleleaf responded and have been active early. We found the first female in full display in the shallows early in September. Partners or USFWS biologists have been out on the river at least twice a week since the end of August and we’ll continue until the first of October to confirm that we’ve collected great data about the pattern of reproduction this year. We have many plans for any mussel larvae, from collaborative projects with U.S.G.S., to producing juveniles for our own culture at the hatchery.
By: Megan Bradley


A Winged Mapleleaf in full display. She is ready to infest her host fish. The mantle magazine is the grey protuberance sitting at the center of the white to grey plate of inflated mantle that she will not pull back when disturbed. Her glochidia, or larvae, have been released into her mantle cavity in preparation for a fish mouthing at the magazine. If none arrives they’ll be ejected into the river after a day or so and she’ll burrow back down into the river bottom. Photo credit: Megan Bradley/USFWS.






Doug helping and holding a fish up next to kids at our Kids Fishing events at Genoa. Photo: USFWS.











Hatchery Swan Song
As most of you know, my tenure at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery and the Fish and Wildlife Service for that matter is swiftly coming to an end. I plan on retiring the end of August to pursue other passions such as sleeping in until 7 a.m., nurturing some grandchildren (who thankfully live close enough to nurture), and paying some much due love and attention to my bride of 40+ years, who has been faithfully supporting me throughout my working years. I would be reticent to forget to acknowledge all the people along the way that have supported me and walked with me on our shared mission of aquatic conservation over the 39+ years of the journey.

I have been blessed to have been supported by and worked with some of the most creative, intelligent, thoughtful, and dedicated people through this trip, which included family, friends, co-workers, supervisors, mentors, and partners. It even included people that just had a passion to try to make the world a little better by volunteering to help save it, one conservation task at a time. It includes my supervisors both immediate and regionally that pushed me to do something lasting and meaningful and to think outside the norms in order to “make a difference”. A shared love of the resource and its importance to conserve it is the glue that holds us together, but it is the people and their diverse talents, personalities, and interests that I am going to cherish the most. I also must acknowledge the people we have met and have come to love along the way in our 7 different locations throughout the journey. The church congregations, pastor/shepherds, and church families and “adopted parents and grandparents” that we have leaned on for support and friendship while we were miles away from our own families have been a literal godsend. Thanks again to all of you. I also must acknowledge the love and sacrifices of my wife and 5 children along the way. There have been times when moving away from our support groups was difficult, and many times I was not as present as I should have been. I apologize now and hope to make up for it.
In closing I would just like to say it has been a wonderful ride. Keep using the gifts that God has given you, whether they may be the working of your hands and minds to further conservation, or your service and hospitality to others. Thank you from the bottom of a grateful heart. Fare well and God bless.
By: Doug Aloisi

Summer Dragonflies at GNFH












The ponds and wetland areas at Genoa NFH are home to many aquatic insects, including the aquatic larval stage of dragonflies and damselflies. After hatching from eggs laid in the water or on emergent vegetation in shallow waters, the fully aquatic nymphs feed and grow for one or more years before they are ready to emerge as the terrestrial, flying adults we are all familiar with. The Wisconsin Aquatic Terrestrial Inventory (WiATRI), a program within the Wisconsin DNR that collects information from statewide surveys, lists 53 dragonflies and 31 damselflies species observed in Vernon County, and many of the more common species can be seen flying around the Hatchery during the summer. Some of the earliest fliers are Common Green Darners, which can be observed beginning in midApril – June, July and August are prime flight times for many species, such as the Common Baskettail, Prince Baskettail, and Widow Skimmer pictured here. Some species, such as the Autumn Meadowhawk, can be observed through October. The Hatchery is a great place to view dragonflies in flight all summer- the grounds are always open to the public, and the pond roads are a great place to walk and observe dragonflies and damselflies, birds, and other wildlife in a quiet, low traffic environment. By: Beth Glidewell


Each fall, hatchery biologists working with U.S. Park Service staff, MN DNR mussel biologists and staff from other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices visit the St. Croix as many as 15 times looking for the federally endangered Winged Mapleleaf that thrive in the clean, clear water. Females holding mussel larvae are brought back to Genoa National Fish Hatchery, the larvae (glochidia) are allowed to attach to channel catfish and then the female mussels are returned to the St. Croix River. In the wild the larval mussels remain attached to the catfish until late spring when the water begins. In late May 2023 juvenile Winged Mapleleaf began to drop off at the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center after they’d overwintered on channel catfish in their ponds. Some juveniles went into laboratory culture, while others were stocked into the Chippewa River. Around 3,000 0.3 mm juveniles were stocked in two events at a site where adult Winged Mapleleaf were reintroduced in 2016, and Higgins Eye were stocked in 2017. A quantitative survey of the site in 2021 showed that both species have survived and grown well alongside a large population of federally endangered Sheepnose. We hope that even a few of these Winged Mapleleaf juveniles will survive to adulthood and contribute to the genetic diversity of this reintroduced population.
By Megan Bradley

Photo: Biologists stock WML juveniles on the Chippewa River into a tube to allow them to settle in the mussel bed. Photo credit: USFWS.