Get Involved

Coulee Partners for Sustainability

Coulee Partners for Sustainability is a group of La Crosse area residents who promote environmentally sustainable, economically viable, socially just lifestyles. The group supports use of the Natural Step Framework, which was adopted by the City and County of La Crosse in 2007. Members educate the community about sustainable lifestyles, foster sustainable business practices, promote local foods, and build networks and neighborhood groups that adopt sustainable practices. Watch for classes, events and volunteer opportunities on the Coulee Partners Web site.

Mississippi Valley Conservancy

The Mississippi Valley Conservancy is a regional, non-profit land trust that has permanently conserved over 11,000 acres of bluff lands, prairies, wetlands and streams in the Coulee Region since 1997. In addition to facilitating voluntary conservation agreements, land purchases, land donations, and cooperative acquisitions for land owners and local communities, the Conservancy sponsors hikes, events, and volunteer work days on protected properties. Volunteers can also help with office- and event-related tasks. To contact the Conservancy, call 608.784.3606 or visit their Web site.

Water Action Volunteer Program

Water Action Volunteers is a statewide program for Wisconsin citizens who want to improve the quality of the state’s streams and rivers. Citizens, civic groups, 4-H clubs, students and other volunteer groups monitor streams, stencil the message "Dump no waste, drains to river” near storm drains, and participate in riverbank clean-ups. If you want to get outside, learn something, and maybe even get wet, contact Randy Mell, UW-Ext. Basin Educator at 608.784.0303,, or Myrick Hixon EcoPark, 789 Myrick Park Drive, La Crosse, WI 54601. To learn more, check out the Water Action Volunteer Web site.

Coulee Region Trout Unlimited

Coulee Region Trout Unlimited brings people who love to fish together. In addition to regular get-togethers, they obtain funding to restore streams and participate as volunteers in those projects.

Check out work days, fundraisers and their annual banquet.


The La Crosse area is rich in resources for learning about water and science. All are affordable; many are free. Take advantage of these materials and experiences for scout groups, 4-H clubs, classrooms, home schoolers, and adult study or volunteer groups.

Earth Partnership for Schools

Earth Partnership for Schools engages students and teachers in natural habitat restoration on their own school grounds. The program, designed by the University of Wisconsin, involves the school community in a project that includes research, stewardship, science and creative writing.

Water Action Volunteers Packet

This resource includes eight action-oriented activities that promote environmental stewardship. Volunteers learn about water quality issues, then choose activities such as a stream walk survey or clean-up, building simple soil erosion or watershed models, collecting aquatic insects and using them to assess water quality, or storm drain stenciling. Download the activity plans here.

Key to Macroinvertebrate Life in the River

Detailed drawings of a variety of freshwater organisms and short descriptions will help adults and youth figure out the names of organisms that live in rivers, following a logical process. This is a great asset for anyone who’s curious about life found under rocks or in a collection net at a stream or river.

Water Activities to Encourage Responsibility

10 activities introduce youth to water concepts including the hydrologic cycle, groundwater, water supply, water pollution and contamination, water and human impact, water-related careers, and government/citizenship. A free copy can be obtained here.

Macroinvertebrate Wildcards

Baseball card-sized cards show a photo of aquatic macroinvertebrates on the front and descriptions of habitat and unique characteristics on the back. They are designed to aid citizen monitors in identification of macroinvertebrates. They’re free to citizens who attend Water Action Volunteers stream monitoring training and are available to others who will use them as an identification aid. To order, click here.

Editor's Favorites

In love with La Crosse County's bluffs and streams? This list of good reads about the area will give you something to savor.

Minn of the Mississippi

This 1951 Newberry Honor Book by Holling C. Holling traces the journey of a turtle from the Mississippi headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico. It's an oversized picture book filled with maps, drawings, river lore and natural history that both children and adults will enjoy.

The Land Remembers

Ben Logan's beautifully written memoir of growing up on a southwestern Wisconsin farm has captivating imagery, warm humor, and observations of the natural world. Mr. Logan protected the farm he writes about in this book with the help of the Mississippi Valley Conservancy in 2009.

The River We Have Wrought: A History of the Upper Mississippi

In this book, John Anfinson traces the history of the upper Mississippi River from early European exploration through the completion of locks and dams in the mid-twentieth century. Clear and easy to get into, this book helps us understand what forces shaped the river we know.

The Last River Rat

These tales by J. Scott Bestul chronicle life along the banks of the Upper Mississippi River through the eyes of Kenny Salway, a true "river rat." Salway's simple lifestyle and understanding of the Mississippi River ecosystem is interesting and engaging.

Big River Magazine

Six times a year Winona-based Big River offers stories about people, events, and places on the River between the Twin Cities and the Quad Cities. Subscribe by calling 800.303.8201 or at Copies are also available at bookstores, groceries and other retail outlets in the area.

Webinars for Municipal Professionals
What is a storm water utility?

In La Crosse County four municipalities now have storm water utilities: Holmen, La Crosse, Onalaska and the Town of Holland. If you live in those places, you're now charged a fee once a year. What's it for? Why do we need it? How is the money used?

Learn more here.

Learn to Build a Rain Garden
In The Know
These elected officials are advocates

Tara Johnson
Tara Johnson
County Board Chair, District 29

La Crosse County's streams, rivers and lakes are some of the most valuable natural assets we have. Clean waters enhance our outstanding quality of life and help attract business and tourism to our community. By taking steps in my daily routine to reduce pollutants, I can help protect our waters for my children and future generations. By working together to create systems and processes to protect and improve water quality, we can all make great strides in preserving these treasured assets.

Maureen Freedland
Maureen Freedland
County Supervisor, District 8

La Crosse County’s local water bodies are jewels used by residents and tourists. Protecting them starts with each of us, not only on the water but at home and at work. It makes good sense to reduce pollutants that enter these waters. If every homeowner installs a rain garden, uses a rain barrel, or doesn't over-water lawns we'll see less polluted stormwater entering the public storm sewer system. It truly starts with individuals.

Steve Doyle
Steve Doyle
Representative, State Assembly 94th District

Our lakes, rivers and streams are among our most important natural assets—they make the La Crosse area a destination for thousands of people every year. Reducing the volume of pollutants entering our storm sewer system is an important step all of us can take to protect these valuable assets. What we do as individuals is key to improving water quality.

Find Out

Want to know more about water quality on your stretch of the Upper Mississippi River? The Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center in La Crosse manages the largest and most successful water quality monitoring program in the world. Anyone can access this water quality data on the Center’s Web site.
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