La Crosse, WI—Yesterday, the United States Department of Agriculture announced it had allocated $1.6 million to La Crosse, Monroe, and Vernon Counties to assist with long-term planning in the Coon Creek and West Fork Kickapoo watersheds. This funding comes after flash flooding, washouts and mudslides hit the area in August of 2018–six watershed dams overtopped and five failed. The funding will be used to conduct a study on how to re-plan the watershed and determine whether the counties should replace, relocate, or remove the failed dams. Rep. Ron Kind sent a letter in support of Monroe, Vernon and La Crosse Counties’ application for the funding.
“Year after year, Wisconsin families, businesses, and communities have been hit with extreme weather and devastating floods. Wisconsinites are resilient—especially in times of adversity—but chronic flooding takes a toll on our communities,” said Rep. Ron Kind. “This funding is welcomed news and will ensure that Monroe, Vernon, and La Crosse Counties are making the right investments in projects to reduce damage and minimize risks of future floods in the area.”
“I think sometimes it’s hard for people to look at the long-term and the number of years it will take to get to that point but it’s a step in the right direction. Our community wants to thrive, live, and grow. There are a lot of people very dedicated to that so I think there will be a lot of excitement,” said Village of La Farge President Cheryl Purvis.
“The new NRCS state engineer for Wisconsin, Steve Becker, hit the ground running, without him or the help of our local, state, and federal leaders, it would have been difficult to get the funding,” said Ben Wojahn, a Vernon County Conservationist. “We cannot make an informed decision without doing a full watershed evaluation. This money is important to find the most cost-effective solutions, and at the same time, make sure these decisions are economically sustainable.”
“We have an opportunity to be proactive and look outside the box to find solutions that will help prevent another flood as bad as the one in 2018,” said Monroe County Conservationist Bob Micheel. “Together, we can find a solution that not only fixes the problems we are facing in our area but can be used in other watersheds as well.”
“Ontario had 19 out of 24 of their businesses shut down or suffer due to the 2018 flood. By working to find a long-term fix, we are hoping to find a solution that will prevent another disaster for years to come instead of just holding out until the next bad rainfall,” said Village of Ontario Board President Mark Smith.