Mississippi River predicted to reach 20.1 feet by June 4, Rendezvous, Flea Market and other events may be affected

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A man wades and fishes on a road on St. Feriole Island Tuesday afternoon. The man’s piscatorial pursuit was cut short, however, when a police officer called him in because the man and his vehicle had gone beyond the barricades. Going past the barricades is not allowed and will be enforced. (Photo by Ted Pennekamp)

 

By Ted Pennekamp

 

There will be yet another crest of the Mississippi River this spring, which, unfortunately, is bound to affect the Prairie du Chien area’s economy now that the tourist season is about to be in full swing.

According to the National Weather Service, the river was at 18.99 feet at 7 a.m. on May 29 at the McGregor gauge. It is predicted to reach 20.1 feet by June 4, which is moderate flood stage. Minor flood stage is 16 feet. June 4 will mark the third crest this spring.

The Prairie Villa Rendezvous is scheduled for June 13 through June 16 as is the annual Flea Market on St. Feriole Island. Also, a Concert on the River (16 Strings and a Stick) is scheduled for June 13 on St. Feriole Island.

“Mother Nature is not cooperating so far this year,” said Prairie du Chien City Administrator Chad Abram. “But, the city of Prairie du Chien will still be open. There is still plenty to do.”

The city held a high water meeting the morning of May 28 at City Hall that focused upon upcoming events such as the Rendezvous. Abram and Parks and Recreation Director Mike Ulrich said there were discussions about a possible alternative site for the Rendezvous, but no decision has been made yet. It is not known yet where an alternative site would be, if needed. It is also not known what will happen with the annual Flea Market which adjoins the Rendezvous. Ulrich said that in the past, Concert on the River events have been moved to Lochner Park due to high water. No decision has been made yet, but the first Concert on the River may have to be moved to Lochner again this year.

Abram said St. Feriole Island will be closed to vehicle traffic again, this week, depending upon how soon the river gets to that point.

The canoe and kayak rental building in the Washington Street Park will also be closed because it will become inundated once again.

In addition, recreational boating and fishing will be affected because all of the city’s boat landings are under water and will remain so for awhile. There are places in the area where boaters can launch, but boating is being discouraged by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Prairie du Chien Flotilla, because of the dangers of high water, and floating logs and other debris.

When St. Feriole Island is closed, of course it will affect tourism to the Villa Louis, as well as businesses such as the Dousman House and the Depot Bar.

The first game of American Legion baseball is scheduled for Thursday, but it may have to be moved to Prairie du Chien High School or some other site. Little League games may also have to find alternative sites in the city, said Abram.

Clean-up efforts on St. Feriole Island will also be delayed because of the rising water. Some fencing around the Mississippi River Sculpture Park has been damaged and will need to be replaced. The remaining fence and the sculptures will be cleaned off.

There has been water over the St. Feriole Gardens since early April, and soon there will be more. Tom Nelson of the St. Feriole Gardens said the gardens remain wet even when the river drops to 16 feet (flood stage).

Nelson said that any and all volunteers will be welcome to help clean up the gardens after the river recedes enough.

“A big concern is that beavers have caused damage,” said Nelson after the second crest on April 25. “Four new trees in Lawler Park are down and there are probably more in the gardens. During the last flood, a nine-inch diameter tree was gnawed down by beavers in the gardens.” Beavers don’t normally go to areas like the gardens but they do when the water is high. Hopefully, no more trees will sustain damage during the upcoming and third crest. Nelson also said a lot of mulch has been washed away from the gardens, which was turned into a muddy mess following the second crest.

Abram said another high water meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 4 at 11 a.m. at City Hall.

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