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Rare River Mussels Cost La Crosse County More Than $20K To Protect

Minnesota DNR Charging Mitigation Fee For Project On Hintgen Island In Mississippi River

Aaron Carlson (CC BY-SA 2.0)

La Crosse County expects to pay more than $20,000 to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to protect several threatened species of river mussels.

The mussels were discovered on Hintgen Island, an area owned by La Crosse County, on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi River.

La Crosse County received a federal grant in 2015 to address erosion issues on the island. During an environmental assessment of the project, the Minnesota DNR found several rare species of mussels.

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As a result, the county had two options: “Pay for the moving of the mussels to another site, which would be an excess of $60,000, or pay a fee that then allows the Minnesota DNR to recreate habitat for the same type of species,” La Crosse County Administrator Steve O’Malley.

The county hasn’t received a final bill, but O’Malley estimates the fee will be between $20,000 and $30,000. Officials hope to make up the cost in future revenue from the island.

A private business leases the Harold E. Craig Fleeting Site, a popular holding spot for barges, located on the island.