Western Wisconsin Lawmakers Want More State Control Over Mississippi River Refuge

A plan developed by the federal government to guide the use and conservation of the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge is drawing complaints.

Eight western Wisconsin legislators, six Republicans and two Democrats, are asking Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager to draft a legal opinion that the plan may violate the state Constitution. They contend only the Legislature has authority to protect the state's navigable waters, including parts of the refuge within the state's jurisdiction.

But refuge manager Don Hultman says the federal government has authority to regulate national parks and refuges. He also says a majority of the money provided under the plan is earmarked for improving wildlife habitat and acquiring land.

But some say it could restrict public use of the popular refuge along about 260 miles of the Mississippi from southern Minnesota to northern Illinois.