Vernon County leaders work toward flood mitigation

COON VALLEY, Wis. (WKBT) — The Thriving Earth Exchange, which provides communities with a scientist to explore environmental change, soon will help Vernon County. County leaders hope to focus their efforts on flood mitigation.

Every spring, people in Vernon County hold their breath and hope their homes and businesses will escape a flood. During the past decade, floods have damaged the area several times.

“It has caused heavy damage not only to our public infrastructure, but to private property,” said Monique Hassman, who works as a watershed planner in the county. “Flooding continues to be an ongoing public safety concern.”

The county’s environmental leaders have been working at solutions.

“I think the work is pretty overwhelming and I think it’s going to require all hands on deck,” Hassman said.

This resource is helping Hassman, along with county conservationist Ben Wojahn, do just that. A scientist will help them focus on flood-prevention efforts and flood mitigation on farms.

“If they’re able to put conservation practices on the ground that can help reduce rain water runoff,” Hassman said.

The research also could help them find the best solutions for area farmers.

“In agriculture now the key word is sustainability,” said Jim Munsch, who farms in Coon Valley. “But the foundation of that is sustainability of soil.”

Munsch has practiced flood mitigation on his farm for years. He helped push for this research and hopes other area farmers will replicate his work.

“Careful attention to not making channels for water that flow downhill,” Munsch said. “That is what we’re trying to practice more and more in the coon creek watershed. So we have less soil loss, less flooding.”

With this research, local leaders hope for a solution that sticks.

The Thriving Earth Exchange’s work comes at no cost to the communities it serves.

The city of La Crosse, the Town of Campbell and Monroe County are also part of the initiative.

Each community is working on a different project.

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