Category Archives: Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge

Invasive Species Alert – Your Help is Requested

Friends and Volunteers, we are experiencing an inundation of yet another invasive species known as flowering rush. Like many other invasive plants, it is beautiful but detrimental. Below is a news release and a photo of the plant. If you are on the river and see it, please let us know the location but, as tempting as it may be, do NOT pull it out. We are currently unsure if it is the genetic type that reproduces by seed but it certainly spreads by root fragments so we don’t want to encourage its spread by breaking off roots. There are two ways to report any sightings, both are listed below. We are currently aware of the large patches in pool 4 on the lower end of Catfish Slough/Big Lake and near the upper end of Weaver Bottoms and, unfortunately, there are many smaller patches and individual plants scattered around. 

I Spy a Pretty Pink Flowering Invader on the River

Have you seen a new, pink flower growing on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (Refuge)? Flowering rush is a plant native to Eurasia but is invasive in North America. Blooms start in mid-June and continue into late summer. It can crowd out native vegetation, which provides better food and habitat for wildlife.

These aquatic invaders negatively impact fish and waterfowl habitats on the Refuge. The US Fish and Wildlife Service wants to know where this plant is growing. Refuge biologists and managers are working on a strategic response to this pretty pest.

Many types of invasive plants can be dug up and removed to control them, but NOT flowering rush! Not only is it prohibited to dig up vegetation on the Refuge without a permit, but this plant breaks apart easily and prefers to spread by these little floating, broken pieces.

If you find flowering rush, DO NOT TRY TO DIG IT UP! The best thing to do is pull out your phone and take a photo, report it on EDDMapS (, and then leave it alone. The Refuge is monitoring this site continuously to be aware of new occurrences. For reports on the Winona District (Wabasha, MN to Trempealeau, WI) you can also call 507-454-7351.

Flowering rush was probably brought here as a garden plant because of its pretty pink flower. It grows underwater in deeper areas of the river and sticks out of the water in shallower areas.

You can help prevent new invaders from entering the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge! This is a reminder for everyone who uses these valuable natural resources to be diligent in their efforts to not transport invasive and/or exotic species; remove vegetation from boat trailers, empty bait buckets on land, pull your drain plugs, and NEVER release anything from your home into the wild.

No Fireworks Allowed on the “Upper Miss” Refuge

The 4th of July is just around the corner.  If you are heading to the Mississippi River for a boating or camping trip, just a reminder – no fireworks are allowed on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (Refuge) because of their disturbance to wildlife as well as the litter they leave behind. … Continue Reading

Mississippi River Flooding Could Hamper Boat Access

The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (Refuge), Winona District is urging boaters to take precautions in the coming days regarding flooding on the Mississippi River. Boaters should be vigilant as flood waters will have significantly changed conditions at traditional access, camping, and day-use sites. Excessive current, turbid water, and submerged and floating… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Offices Relocate

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (Refuge) offices previously located at 51 East 4th Street in Winona, MN have relocated. Beginning Monday, March 30, 2020 they are located at 102 Walnut Street in Winona. The Refuge Headquarters office which oversees the 260 mile refuge from Mississippi River… Continue Reading

Whitewater Master Naturalist Course

Friends and Volunteers, please see the flyer (right – click image to open .pdf) announcing the spring Master Naturalist training program offered by the University of Minnesota Extension at Whitewater State Park. If you have questions, please contact Whitewater State Park Lead Interpretive Naturalist Sara Holger at 507-312-2308 or by email at Continue Reading

Commercial Fishing Guide Permit Process for 2020

In 2019, the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (Refuge) implemented its pilot year of the Commercial Fishing Guide Permit Program. The Refuge waived permit fees and offered a grace period to guides operating in 2019 to allow for a transition into this new program. The 2020 season will be fully enforced and… Continue Reading

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