Aquatic Invasive Species Strategic Plan

Jul 6, 2016 | Aquatic Invasive Species, Citizen Advocacy, Water Policy

AIS signs have been installed at high-traffic boat landings in La Crosse, Trempealeau and Buffalo Counties

There is an intriguing paradox with the Upper Mississippi River. It is one of the more stunning landscapes in the Upper Midwest; Mark Twain described the region “as tranquil and reposeful as dreamland.” And yet that beauty has a thousand threats: pollution from cities and farms, catastrophic floods, spills of toxic brews from barges and trains, and being loved to death by tens of thousands of well-intended but uninformed recreationists.

And then there are the invasives – critters and plants, tiny and scary-big, invisible and pernicious. Aquatic invasive species rarely grab headlines or rivet the public’s attention. They are to the body-ecology more like a low-level virus than a metastatic cancer: not dramatic but still debilitating, and very hard to cure.

A few good souls in a three-county territory around La Crosse determined to stare this threat to the Mississippi and its tributaries right in the eye. Don’t be daunted, they said; let’s get organized.

And so they organized the La Crosse Area AIS Partnership, a mouthful for a name, but it speaks to a devoted group of collaborators with a vital mission and the will and expertise to achieve it. From college student volunteers to scientists of county, state and federal agencies, this Partnership, in coming together, realized a few essential things:

  • Aquatic invasive species could make a mess of the Mississippi.
  • The best way to stop them is to stop their spread.
  • The best way to stop their spread is to educate, inform, monitor and research.

And the best way to do that? Lay out a plan for all the above. That is what you are about to read. This Aquatic Invasive Species Strategic Plan for the Mississippi River and Major Tributaries in La Crosse, Trempealeau and Buffalo Counties is as thorough a compendium that you will find anywhere to combat AIS: strategies, action plans, descriptions of the invaders lurking in this region, and maps of the area rich with details germane to AIS control.

Scott Pulling Aquatic Invasive Species from water
Scott pulling AIS Hand-pulling water hyacinth from a pond on the southside of La Crosse.

This Strategic Plan will serve not only as a roadmap for conservationists, scientists and citizens in this three-county area to do their part for AIS control. We hope it will also serve as a template and a prompt for other areas and AIS partnerships, in the Upper Mississippi River and beyond. Controlling aquatic invasive species will require patience, persistence and planning. This Plan will provide the wisdom and guidance for the patience and persistence to follow, in the fight against AIS.

Click here to read the full strategic plan.