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 fishing guides operating within the Refuge will need to apply for and obtain a permit as well as pay applicable fees.

The Refuge has management authority and jurisdiction over lands and waters on the Mississippi River between Reads Landing, MN (lower Pool 4) and Le Claire, IA (Lock and Dam 15). Those that operate a fishing guide business within the Refuge (Lower Pool 4 through Pool 14), will need a permit from the Refuge. In 2018, the Refuge determined that commercially guided fishing is an activity compatible with the purposes for which the Refuge was established. This process, called a compatibility determination, authorizes the continuation of guided fishing on the Refuge through a permit system. To learn more about the Refuge and refuge compatibility determinations please visit:

Fishing Guides who believe they may be operating on the Refuge, or would like to, should contact Wildlife Refuge Specialist, Meta Griffin (507-494-6221,, to obtain a copy of the Program Requirements and Stipulations (2019 through 2024) for Fishing Guide Services on the Refuge and a permit application. If you operate a fishing guide service within the Refuge, you are encouraged to review this document and submit an application for a permit. Permit applications may be submitted any time between now and March 15, 2020.

Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge Honors Volunteers

The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge (Refuge) Winona offices recently honored volunteers and their guests at a volunteer recognition event.  During 2019, over 100 volunteers contributed more than 1,300 hours of service representing over $32,000. Volunteer activities included assisting with the Refuge booth at community functions, biological surveys, youth fishing days, river… Continue Reading

Waterfowl Observation Day at Brownsville Overlook on November 9

Come join us! The annual Waterfowl Observation Day, hosted by the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, Midwest Fisheries Center, Friends of the Upper Mississippi (FUM) and Friends of the Refuge – Mississippi River Pools 7 & 8 (FOR78) will be held Saturday, November 9th at the Brownsville Overlook between 10:00 a.m. and… Continue Reading

Notice of Availability for Public Comment

NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY: A draft Compatibility Determination, Realignment of a utility right-of-way (ITC Midwest LLC and Dairyland Power Cooperative, Cardinal to Hickory Creek transmission line, Clayton County, Iowa) is available for public comment from October 25 through November 26, 2019. The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge is proposing to allow existing transmission… Continue Reading

Availability of Trapping Permits for the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that Refuge special use permits and trap tags for the 2019-2020 furbearer trapping season on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (Refuge) will be issued beginning October 15, 2019 at the following locations: Winona District, 51 East 4th Street, Room 203, Winona, MN Phone… Continue Reading

Swan Watch 2019

The Friends of the Refuge Headwaters will again offer a bus tour to view the fall migration and changing colors of the Upper Mississippi River from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Saturday, November 16, 2019. Participants will have the opportunity to view migrating tundra swans and other waterfowl up-close on the Upper Mississippi River National… Continue Reading

September Meeting

Thursday, September 26, 2019: Today at 4:10 p.m. the Friends will hold their regular monthly meeting with a twist. There will be three guests at today’s meeting. First, Winona State University seniors Matt Gruber and Austin Stearns will be joining to discuss how they can help the Friends through a project for their “Marketing for… Continue Reading

Paddle the Chippewa River with Ranger Ed

You are invited to join Refuge Ranger Ed Lagace for a free paddle on Saturday, September 14, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The trip will begin on the Chippewa River and return through the Nelson-Trevino Bottoms of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (Refuge). Because of river current, this trip… Continue Reading

Monthly Meeting – Date Change

The regularly scheduled August Friends of the Refuge Headwaters meeting is being moved to Thursday, August 29. The meeting will begin at 4:10 p.m. in the basement (Room 20) of the Exchange Building (51 East 4th Street) in Winona. We hope to see you there! Continue Reading

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