Bluegill Logo Small Bluegill


Lake Onalaska
Protection & Rehabilitation District

About Us

Wisconsin Lake Protection and Rehabilitation Districts

A public inland lake protection and rehabilitation district is a special unit of government formed under Chapter 33 of the Wisconsin State Statutes. Property owners living within the district boundaries may be assessed fees as part of the property tax levy. The lake district is not a general purpose unit of government like a town or county that must deal with a broad range of issues ranging from fire protection to road repairs. Instead, it addresses lake management issues. A lake district is empowered to operate on its own initiative, independent of its creating entity and the state, but subject to local ordinances and state law. Lake districts can act together with other municipalities and agencies to undertake lake protection and rehabilitation projects. Lake districts can perform a wide variety of lake management activities such as:

  • evaluate lake management issues
  • carry out lake management activities such as lake aeration, dredging, and aquatic plant management
  • develop long range lake management plans
  • undertake projects to enhance recreation
  • monitor water quality
  • cooperate with non-profit organizations on projects
  • operate water safety patrols
  • form a sanitary sewer district

The Lake Onalaska District

The Lake Onalaska Protection and Rehabilitation District (LOPRD) was formed under the State Statutes in 1975 by order of the La Crosse County Board of Supervisors (Resolution 162-75) in response to a citizen petition. The LOPRD is comprised of property owners whose land adjoins the federal shorelands surrounding Lake Onalaska (formal District boundaries). The private lands upon which Lake District residents live are regulated under La Crosse County Shoreland Zoning with Wisconsin DNR oversight. At the time of its organization, the main purposes of of the District were stated as:

  1. Stimulate collection of information
  2. Develop lake management alternatives
  3. To promote projects that will lead to an improved lake environment

History and Timeline of the Lake Onalaska District

1975-80 "Lake Onalaska is turning into a swamp" (link) 1980-82 Draft Federal Plans propose restrictions on public use, shorelands for Lake Onalaska 1984-86 Lake District lobbies for River Restoration 1987-88 Almost all submerged aquatic vegetation in Lake Onalaska Dies 1989-90 Massive projects dredges eastern Lake for Hwy 53, fish habitat, and islands 1992 Sommers chute closing dam restricts lake inflow, prevents barge groundings 1990-95 Aquatic vegetation slowly regrows in barren lake bottom 2006 Upper Miss Refuge CCP alters refuge management ~2015 Vegetation harvested in marked travel corridors

The first twelve years of the Lake Onalaska Protection and Rehabilitation District were summarized in a June 29, 1987 Memorandum

Lake Onalaska District Commissioners

Current Lake District Commissioners are:

  • Barbara Friell (secretary)
  • Rob Abraham (La Crosse County Representative)
  • Fritz Funk
  • Ben Lachecki
  • Connie Welch
  • Marc Schultz (chair, Town of Onalaska Rep)
  • Mark Tierney (treasurer)