Who We Are

Friends of the Refuge - Mississippi River Pools 7 & 8 (FOR78) is the friends group for the La Crosse District of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (UMRNWFR).


FOR78 is a sustainable, active, well-funded partner to the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (UMRNW&FR) - La Crosse District, engaged with river communities and organizations supporting refuge stewardship.


FOR78 serves as a bridge between the UMRNW&FR – La Crosse District and the surrounding communities, and is dedicated to building awareness, enjoyment and support of the refuge through engagement, environmental experiences, education, research and habitat enhancement.


FOR78 has its roots in the Upper Mississippi River Interpretive Association, which was formed as a cooperative in 1996 to support the mission of the La Crosse District through funds raised by a small nature store, At that time the District Office was located in a commercial district of La Crosse. The La Crosse District moved into a new Visitor Center/Office in 2012 on 186 acres of restored sand prairie with trails and an overlook of the Mississippi River. This new site offered a “sense of place” that was missing previously and there was interest and support from a more diversified base of supporters in having a Friends group. In 2014 the initial (founding) board members were recruited and the process of changing UMRIA to a new Friends group was begun. By January 2017 the process was complete with a new name, a new mission and vision statement, a strategic plan, brochure, logo and a web site.

The Refuge

Stretching 261 river miles from Wabasha, MN. to near Rock Island, IL., the Refuge is divided into four districts: Winona District, La Crosse District, McGregor District and Savannah District. The La Crosse District encompasses the land and waters of the Refuge between lock and dam #6 in Trempealeau, WI., and lock and dam #8 in Genoa, WI. Pool 7 is upriver from lock and dam #7 in Dresbach, MN., and Pool 8 is upriver from lock and dam #8 in Genoa, WI.