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Lake Onalaska
Protection & Rehabilitation District

Lake Onalaska Shorelands

Most of the shoreland band surrounding the Lake is owned by federal agencies (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [USACE]). The City of La Crosse owns shorelands around the north end of La Crosse Airport as well as the lake bottom area of the airport landing lights, extending across to Rosebud Island. The BNSF Railroad owns almost all of the entire eastern shoreland of the Lake as well as a band of adjoining lake bottom. Federal shorelands along several parcels on the north shore of Lake Onalaska (Brice Prairie) have eroded away so that the water's edge is on private property. In all cases the federally-owned shorelands are open to public use where access is available. USACE purchased the shorelands using eminent domain in the 1930s to have flowage right control over lands that could potentially be inundated by the dams of the 9-foot channel Navigation Project.

Town of Onalaska (Brice Prairie)

The Town of Onalaska leases all of the shorelands along Brice Prairie from the USACE. That lease includes several boat landings and public access points. The Town administers a permit system for adjacent landowners to place structures such as docks, steps, lockers, and boat lifts along the Brice Prairie Shore.

  1. Town of Onalaska Lease Agreement with USACE (2014-2039)

  2. Town of Onalaska Shoreline Use Permit Ordinance, implementing the Lease Agreement "Operational Plan" (adopted by Town Board 3/14/2023)

Town of Campbell (French Island)

In the Town of Campbell, each individual property owner has a separate lease arrangement with the USACE for use of the shorelands, and the Town maintains lease agreements for Nelson Park, the spillway landings, and Fishermen's Road boat landings.

USACE St. Paul District Management Documents Pertaining to Shorelands

  1. Upper Mississippi River Master Plan (April 2022)

    1. Shoreline Management Plan (1988) - a "stepdown" plan from the Master Plan

    2. Includes and updates the material covered in the 2011 Land Use Allocation Plan (LUAP)

  2. Piers and Docks Regional General Permit (December 13, 2023)