Brice Prairie Conservation Association

Preserving Lake Onalaska and the Black River Bottoms



The Brice Prairie Conservation Association (BPCA) was founded in 1958 to support conservation projects in the lower Black River area of southwestern Wisconsin.

The BPCA has been recognized with local, state, and national awards for its conservation and community-related activities. Specific goals of the BPCA are to:

  • restore the natural beauty of the Black River and the surrounding territory;
  • promote the general health and welfare of the community by supporting sound management practices for the Black River, Lake Onalaska, and the Mississippi River;
  • disseminate knowledge and promote scientific inquiries.

 


54th Annual BPCA Ice Fishing Derby

Saturday February 1, 2014

Lake Onalaska (North Shore)

Over Half a Century of Hardwater Tradition!!

Winning Fish Board

The winning "Big Fish" Board from the 2014 Derby
(Click to Enlarge)

Cold temperatures this winter appeared to slow down the fishing action a bit. The sun came out late in the day, raising the temperatures to a relatively balmy 20 degrees, with light winds. Derby headquarters was once again the big heated tent on the lower parking lot of Red Pines Bar and Grill on Brice Prairie. Fishing started at sunrise and ended at 3:00pm sharp. Cash prizes were offered for 1st thru 4th place for five fish species: bass, northern, bluegill, perch, and crappie.

All proceeds from the derby are reinvested in conservation projects around Brice Prairie and Lake Onalaska: Improved Boat Landings, River & Bike Trail Cleanups, Wood Duck & Bluebird Houses, Fish Cribs, Purple Loosestrife Control, Swamp White Oak Tree Planting, Emergency Shelters and more.

For winners lists and more information on the 2014 derby or past derby years see the BPCA fishing derby page

 


2,884 Bluebirds Fledged In 2013

Bluebird production decreased in 2013, primarily due to the late spring season that delayed nesting activity and discouraged third nesting later in the year. A total of 796 bluebird houses were monitored on this BPCA-sponsored project in the La Crosse area, producing 2,884 fledglings, down from the 4,679 produced in 2012. Cold temperatures in early spring interfered with first nesting that resulted in poor hatch rates and nestling mortality. This delay offered competitive House Sparrows, Tree Swallows, and wrens opportunities to dominate boxes normally used by bluebirds. Some nestling mortality was due to black fly gnat infestations. A full report on 2013 blubird production as well as those of past years is available on the BPCA Bluebird Page

 


53rd Annual BPCA Ice Fishing Derby

Saturday February 2, 2013

Lake Onalaska (North Shore)

Winning Fish Board

The winning "Big Fish" Board from the 2013 Derby
(Click to Enlarge)

Over Half a Century of Hardwater Tradition!!

It was back to cold derby fishing this year, with temperatures peaking at 11 degrees with light northwest winds. Derby headquarters was once again the big heated tent on the lower parking lot of Red Pines Bar and Grill on Brice Prairie. Fishing started at sunrise and ended at 3:00pm sharp. Cash prizes were offered for 1st thru 4th place for five fish species: bass, northern, bluegill, perch, and crappie. All proceeds from the derby are reinvested in conservation projects around Brice Prairie and Lake Onalaska: Improved Boat Landings, River & Bike Trail Cleanups, Wood Duck & Bluebird Houses, Fish Cribs, Purple Loosestrife Control, Swamp White Oak Tree Planting, Emergency Shelters and more.

For winners lists and more information on the 2013 derby or past derby years see the BPCA fishing derby page

 


BPCA Fledges over 4,600 Bluebirds In 2012

In 2012 BPCA members produced 4,679 bluebird fledgings, the fifth highest we have recorded since 1992. Average production this year was 5.4 fledglings per nest box, with one BPCA member achieving 7.7 per box. The good production was primarily due to the early spring season that favored early nesting activity and more third nesting later in the year than usual. Black fly gnat infestations and excessive heat caused considerable nestling mortality. Three heat cycles occurred in July when local temperatures peaked at 103 degrees or more and set new records for La Crosse County. The modified, vented NABS-style houses offered better survival for advanced nestlings. Raccoons were filmed successfully predating a nest box this year, despite predator guards on the support posts, but car wax applied to the predator guard shows promise for prevention. A full report on 2012 BPCA blubird production is available on the BPCA Bluebird Page

 


52nd Annual BPCA Ice Fishing Derby

Saturday February 4, 2012

Lake Onalaska (North Shore)

Winning Fish Board

The winning "Big Fish" Board from the 2012 Derby
(Click to Enlarge)

Over Half a Century of Hardwater Tradition!!

Another sunny derby year, with temperatures peaking at 41 with nearly calm winds brought out big crowds to fish on Lake Onalaska. Derby headquarters was once again the big heated tent on the lower parking lot of Red Pines Bar and Grill on Brice Prairie. Fishing started at sunrise and ended at 3:00pm sharp. Cash prizes were offered for 1st thru 4th place for five fish species: bass, northern, bluegill, perch, and crappie. Funds generated by the derby are spent on local conservation projects including: Bluebird houses, wood duck houses, oak tree plantings, river clean-ups, bike trail clean-ups, emergency shelters, fish cribs, and enhancing public access to Lake Onalaska.

For winners lists and more derby information on the 2012 derby or past derby years see the BPCA fishing derby page

 


BPCA Member Receives Award for Conservation Efforts

BPCA member Marc Schultz received the La Crosse Tribune's 2011 "Man of the Year" award for his many years of dedicated efforts to further conservation and civic projects. For the full story:

2011 Tribune Person of the Year: Marc Schultz

 


Army Corps Recognizes BPCA for Conservation Projects

Army Corps Award

Randy Urich presents award to vice-president Mike Langquist at Nov. meeting
(Click to Enlarge)

The BPCA recently received recognition and a plaque of appreciation from the US Army Corps of Engineers for our efforts in partnering with the Corps and other agencies for over 20 years on projects that include: restoration of floodplain forest, shoreline and river cleanups, invasive species control, and fish habitat and recreational fishing access improvements. The Corps' Randy Urich presented the plaque to the BPCA during his presentation at the club's Novemenber 17, 2011 meeting on the Corps conservation efforts in our area of the upper Mississippi.

 


BPCA Fledges about 3,300 Bluebirds In 2011

Unfortunately it was a poor year for bluebird production because the cold weather in early spring interfered with nesting activities, black flies killed hundreds of nestlings, and we had some 100 degree days that could have been stressful. Yet we managed to fledge about 3,300 nestlings that could help restore better numbers next year. The full report is available on the BPCA Bluebird Page

 


51st Annual BPCA Ice Fishing Derby

Saturday February 5, 2011

Lake Onalaska (North Shore)

Winning Fish Board

The winning "Big Fish" Board from the 2011 Derby
(Click to Enlarge)

Over Half a Century of Hardwater Tradition!!

A board full of big fish had been posted by the end of a day that saw huge crowds out fishing on Lake Onalaska. Fishing effort was likely enhanced by the comfortable mid-20's temperatures with no wind, though skies remained overcast and hazy. Derby headquarters was once again the big heated tent on the lower parking lot of Red Pines Bar and Grill on Brice Prairie. Fishing started at sunrise and ended at 3:00pm sharp. Cash prizes were offered for 1st thru 4th place for five fish species: bass, northern, bluegill, perch, and crappie. Proceeds from derby events are spent for conservation projects to improve Lake Onalaska and the Black River Bottoms.

For more information see the 2011 BPCA fishing derby page

 


BPCA Fledges Almost 5,000 Bluebirds In 2010

BPCA members fledged 4,915 bluebirds in 2010, slightly fewer than 2009 but still notable. Wisconsin produced over 30,000 bluebirds, a new record and likely the top state in bluebird production. The full report is available on the BPCA Bluebird Page

 


"Conservation Organization of the Year"

BPCA Receives Recognition from WWF

The Brice Prairie Conservation Association has just been chosen "Organization of the Year" by the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, recognizing our extensive conservation activities (more information coming soon).

 


18th Annual Mississippi River Cleanup

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Upper Brice Prairie Landing

Dress warm and bring a boat if you can! Meet at the Upper Brice Prairie boat landing, across from Swarthout Park, at 8am. Information and photos of past cleanups on our Lake/River Cleanups. In case of bad weather on April 24, the cleanup will be re-scheduled for May 22. page.

 


50th Annual BPCA Ice Fishing Derby

Feb. 6, 2010

Red Pines, North Shore, Lake Onalaska

Winning Fishboard, 2010

The winning "Big Fish" Board from the 2010 Derby
(1st and 2nd place Northerns released)

(Click to Enlarge)

Saturday February 6, 2010 marked the 50th year of BPCA Ice Fishing Derbies on Lake Onalaska. For this special occasion, commemorative stocking caps were given to the first 150 ice anglers entering the derby, and Red Pines gift certificates were awarded hourly. The big heated tent was again located on the shore below Red Pines Bar and Grill on highway Z, Brice Prairie, with fishing starting at sunrise and ending at 3pm sharp. Mid-20s temperatures and clearing skies through the day made for relatively comfortable fishing compared to some years. Funds generated by the derby are spent on local conservation projects including: Bluebird houses, wood duck houses, oak tree plantings, river clean-ups, bike trail clean-ups, emergency shelters, fish cribs, and enhancing public access to Lake Onalaska.

More information, winner lists, and photos on our: ice fishing derby page

 


BPCA Project Fledges over 5,000 Bluebirds in 2009

The BPCA Bluebird project monitored 1,019 bluebird boxes this year, 42 boxes more than 2008 and produced 5,252 bluebird fledglings, an increase of 1,024 over 2008. Our bluebird production rate increased this year to 5.15 fledglings per box, an increase of nearly one fledgling per box over the previous year. Three monitors had bluebird production rates of 6.7 or above, suggesting an excellent year for bluebird production. Several below freezing periods in April prevented some of those eggs from hatching; only those eggs under incubation remained safe. Ideal summer temperatures promoted excellent second nesting numbers and even a few successful third nesters. There were no extreme heat cycles during the later nesting periods, and there was no known mortality due to heat in our non-vented NABS-style boxes. We also produced 848 Tree Swallows, 316 House Wrens, and 40 Black Capped Chickadees. These cavity nesting species readily occupy the bluebird boxes, especially if they are located on the edge of bluebird territory habitat. Full text of the report: "Production of Eastern Bluebirds in Monitored Houses " (Word Document)

 


BPCA Member Honored for Bluebird Work

BPCA member Leif Marking recently received the Wisconsin Garden Club Federation Bronze Award at the organization's 2009 state convention in Tomah in recognition of his extensive work and research contributions to raising bluebirds. The award calls Marking "the best friend a bluebird could ask for." Marking is project manager for the BPCA bluebird project. (More info: News Article from Onalaska-Holmen Courier-Life, May 8, 2009 ).

 


Mississippi River Cleanup 2009

picking up trash
(Click to Enlarge)

The Volunteer Mississippi River Cleanup occured on Saturday April 25, 2009. We had a good turnout despite initially threatening weather: 38 volunteers including 16 youth helped clean up trash and large debris from upper pool 7. We collected a full dump truck of trash, salvaged 10 plastic barrels for re-use, and disposed of 5 damaged plastic barrels. Volunteers also brought in 1 tire, parts of two steel barrels, a lawn mower and 1 plastic barrel with about 10 gallons of unknown and potentially hazardous liquid. Over the past 16 years this project has cleaned up 1,385 tires, 1,646 plastic barrels, 12 batteries, 37 appliances, and 2 barrels of hazardous waste, with 79 tons of metal recycled and 129 tons of debris land filled.

scouts with shirts
Scout troop cleanup volunteers with prizes

New BPCA Artwork on Display

New BPCA mural

Brice Prairie Conservation member and artist Laurie Stiers recently completed a mural depicting a number of BPCA projects on location in typical Black River bottoms habitat. (more information)


Canvasback Information

Canvasbacks

USFWS aerial surveys documented peak numbers of 30,315 canvasbacks on Pool 7 on October 13, 2009. Breeding ground survey abundance had been down sharply in 2008, prompting the BPCA to help distribute conservation information about the species. Canvasback abundance indices increased again in 2009. See our Canvasback Information and Identification page for more information

(updated Dec. 15, 2010)