We take Brett Favre, but give Sconnie back their islands? Not a fair trade...
Sometime in the past 50 years, Wisconsin lost a couple of islands.
Minnesota found them and, like a good neighbor, is giving them back.
The islands are in the Mississippi River just north of Lock and Dam 4, downstream from the marina in Alma, Wis. They are part of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The only people affected will be those who hunt and trap on the islands, said Mary Stefanski, Winona (Minn.) district manager for the refuge. Wisconsin hunting and trapping regulations will apply this fall, and Wisconsin hunting licenses and stamps will be needed.
Hunters were the first to realize the islands had been "lost."
Maps from when the refuge was created in 1924 show the islands belonging to Wisconsin, Stefanski said, as do 1932 Corps maps designating areas that would be flooded by construction of Lock and Dam 4.
But Wisconsin lost track of the islands after refuge managers closed the area to hunting in 1957.
When it was announced last year the area would reopen to hunting as part of Minnesota, some older hunters came to the Fish and Wildlife Service about the change, Stefanski said. "They even had maps from 1957 given to hunters by the state of Wisconsin," she said.
A review by both states, the Corps and Fish and Wildlife Service ultimately decided the islands were Wisconsin's.
Stefanski said the confusion was understandable. With few exceptions, the state line between Minnesota and Wisconsin in the Mississippi River follows the mid-point of the navigation channel.
The channel in that stretch of river now swings to the Wisconsin side, behind the islands to the locks adjacent to the Wisconsin shore, making it appear the islands are part of Minnesota. But the natural channel ran along the Minnesota side before it was diverted as part of the Lock and Dam project, Stefanski said, and that historic channel takes legal precedence in establishing the boundary.
Signs are being placed around the islands and at boat landings, notifying hunters of the change in jurisdiction.