MVC Under Financial Scruitiny


The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the City of La Crosse says the conservation land trust, Mississippi Valley Conservancy, needs to pay money back to the departments. This after inconsistencies were found in a drawn-out audit.

An independent auditing firm says it found conflicting financial reports and inconsistent property tax expenses, staffing charges, and donated land costs. The final audit has not yet been released.

Mississippi Valley Conservancy’s Bluffland Protection Program is being scrutinized. Since 2002, it has received city and DNR Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program funds to preserve the bluffs overlooking the city.

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Phil Addis is a private attorney hired by the city for this case. He says MVC owes the city of La Crosse and the DNR $1.14 million combined. He also asked the city council to pass a resolution regarding MVC this week. Addis says, “The idea is that hopefully they’ll meet with the city and the DNR and try to reach a resolution. As trustees of taxpayer dollars, yes, we expect to see that money back.”

MVC executive director Tim Jacobson says they have done nothing wrong, and says they were audited on a yearly basis all along. “The city and the DNR were fully aware at all times how this program was funded. The officials approved in implementing the program, approved the program. Not only was it approved and accepted, but it was recognized as being a wonderful, collaborative, conservation effort.”

Jacobson says he sees the audit as a way to kill the Bluffland Protection Program and funnel money into the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

City officials have not been allowed to discuss the MVC audit.