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Flood monitoring, climate resilience and rural economic development are topics
Monroe County Climate Change Task Force
Rox Star and first monitoring device
ROXIE ANDERSON, with the Monroe County Climate Change Task Force, demonstrates one of the water-level sensors on the first of many planned flood monitoring stations in the Kickapoo and Little LaCrosse River Watersheds.

DRIFTLESS - The Monroe County Climate Change Task Force continues to forge ahead with fundraising for and installation of flood monitoring stations in the Kickapoo and Little LaCrosse River Watersheds. At their April 7 meeting, Land Use Planner Roxie Anderson reported that the first station had been installed in the headwaters of the Kickapoo River Watershed at the intersection with Monroe County Z.

The information from the monitoring stations which will include water level readings, and for some stations rainfall measurements and even a camera sensor for upstream images, will be served for citizens by the National Weather Service (NWS) in LaCrosse. 

In times of flood or flash flood alerts, citizens will be able to find information about flooding conditions upriver in almost real time on the Southwest Wisconsin Hydrology Monitor page at

To date, the fundraising efforts have raised a total of $18,150 in donation, $2,492 from Monroe County, and a grant from Fishers and Farmers Partnership in the amount of $9,228. This means a total of $29,870 has been raised.

To date, a total of $20,320.72 has been spent on six monitoring stations. Of those, three will be placed in the Kickapoo River Watershed, and will carry two water level sensors, one rain gauge, and one camera sensor. The other three will be placed in the Little LaCrosse River Watershed, and will carry two water level sensors and two rain gauges.

Any donations to the effort should be sent to:

Little La Crosse: Leon Community Center, Sharon Folcey20686 Jamison Road, Sparta, WI 54656

Kickapoo Watershed: Kickapoo Valley AssociationScott Lind - TreasurerP.O. Box 103Ontario, WI 54651, e-mail:

If interest in other counties, such as Vernon or Crawford, should emerge in installation of similar devices in the Kickapoo River Watershed, interested citizens should reach out to Scott Lind to determine the best method to earmark any donations for that purpose.

Priorities in 2021 for this effort will include raising a total of $60,000, completing the deployment of the information to the NWS web page, and coordinating with NWS and Monroe County Emergency Management to establish flood warning protocols.

New initiatives for 2021 will include:

• Inventory of all stream crossings in the county

• Integrate climate change adaptation into the county’s Community Health Plan

• Work with WDNR on an update of the 100-year floodplain map for the county

• Work with Wisconsin Green Fire to develop a County Comprehensive Climate Assessment

Climate Assessment

The Monroe County Climate Change Task Force will hold an in-person, joint meeting with representatives of Wisconsin Green Fire, on Wednesday, May 5, from 1 to 3 p.m., at the American Legion Hall in Sparta, for the purpose of a kickoff to development of a ‘Monroe County Climate Readiness and Rural Economic Opportunity Assessment.’

The assessment will be a ‘first-of-its-kind’ effort to conduct a rapid, comprehensive assessment that brings together climate readiness and conservation-based economic opportunities at a county level. The effort will be initiated as a pilot project in Monroe County, with an approach that will be refined in process, and that can be rapidly replicated in other counties or with groups in other counties.

The assessment will utilize a team of specialists working with a host community to conduct a multi-faceted assessment with emphasis on community climate resiliency, built and natural infrastructure, and rural economic development through conservation. 

The outputs of the assessment will be the foundation for a county, or other community of interest, to make targeted investments and take the most effective actions to improve climate resiliency and climate mitigation, promote rural economic development actions that protect soil, water, ecosystem services, and vulnerable populations and communities.

Upcoming Meetings

The Monroe County Climate Change Task Force meets monthly, on the first Wednesday of the month, from 9 to 11 a.m. Agendas and remote participation information can be found at their website

• May 5:this meeting will be held in-person at the American Legion Hall in Sparta, from 1 to 3 p.m.

• June 2:guest speaker will be Jay Fuhrer of Menoken Farm in North Dakota. Fuhrer is a retired USDA-NRCS Soil Scientist and an expert on cutting edge soil health techniques.