Hot Spot - Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge, MN

The Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge is experiencing severe impacts from outdoor activities. As one of the 2018 Leave No Trace Hot Spots, this protected area will receive a site-specific blend of targeted training, expert consulting, education programs, and service projects to help this threatened area on its road to recovery. 

The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge stretches along 261 miles of the Mississippi River and includes over 240,000 acres. This Hot Spot focuses on the Winona District which manages about 45 miles and 40,000 acres of refuge. The majority of the 500,000 annual visits to this area occur during the summer and is comprised visitors using boats (motorized and non-motorized) to access backwaters and islands for day uses such as fishing, sunbathing and picnicking but also for overnight camping. Camping is free and is permitted on sand beaches that have access to the main commercial navigation channel of the Mississippi River. Though the Upper Mississippi River Refuge encourages the use of small pocket beaches that can accommodate just a few boats, but on a busy day, long stretches of beaches are filled hundreds of people at one spot. This high visitation has caused numerous recreation-related impacts including litter, the erosion of shoreline and damage to trees from large boat wakes, and the transport of invasive species on boats. 

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is teaming up with the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge to execute a week of targeted training, education programs and service work with agency staff, key stakeholders and members of the local community. The overall goals of these efforts are the long-term improvement of resource conditions, increased awareness of impacts at the refuge, elevated Leave No Trace programs within agency management plans and increased use of Leave No Trace skills and ethics by the visiting public. This week of action based events is just one step in helping the Refuge on its road to recovery. 

Friday, July 13th
Leave No Trace Guided Paddle 
Time: 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Where: Verchota Landing, 27988 Harbor Drive, Winona, MN
Additional Details: Come join the Leave No Trace team for a paddle along the Mississippi River and to learn more about Leave No Trace and how you can help protect the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge. Refuge will provide equipment or participants may bring their own. 
Leave No Trace Awareness Workshop
Time: 5:00 - 6:00 pm 
Where: Winona Historical Society, 160 Johnson Street, Winona, MN 55987
Additional Details: The Leave No Trace team will be presenting an hour-long workshop on the Leave No Trace skills and ethics and how these minimum impact practices can help to protect the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife & Fish Refuge.
Saturday, July 14th
Youth Outdoor Fest
Time: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Where: Veterans Freedom Park, La Crosse, WI
Additional Details: Come join the Leave No Trace team at this fun-filled day of outdoor activities. There will be demonstrations, entertainment, food and the Leave No Trace team will be there discussing Leave No Trace skills and ethics. 
Sunday, July 15th
River clean-up on Pool 4
Time: 1:00 - 4:00 pm 
Where: Isaak Walton League Landing, Wabasha, MN
Additional Details: Come join the Leave No Trace team for a clean-up of pool 4 on the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge.