La Crosse County Leaders Form Coalition To Protect Bluffs


In a rare move, some leaders in La Crosse County are coming together to protect the area’s bluffs.

The cities and towns of La Crosse, Onalaska, Shelby, and Medary haven’t always worked well together on land issues, and each municipality has its own plan to protect the bluffs. Now, leaders are putting their differences aside and are working together to develop a regional bluff land protection plan, with a goal of protecting natural resources and limiting development.

Area leaders made the announcement near a popular trailhead on top of the bluffs. The plans have to be formalized, but it was suggested that municipalities could pool their money together to protect the land.

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Onalaska Mayor Joe Chilsen says the partnership will make a difference for future generations. The group will partner with the land trust Mississippi Valley Conservancy, which can work with land owners and acquire bluff land for the cities and towns.

Outdoor Recreation Alliance executive director Marvin Wanders says trail development will also play a major role in the planning. He says outdoor rec is a growing economic driver for the region.

“We have world-class trout fishing, we have world class bird watching, we have world class mountain biking – you can go all over the country and not find what we have here,” says Wanders.

According to the county’s Planning and Land Use Department, La Crosse County has about 300,000 acres and up to 10,000 of those acres are protected.