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Crews work to improve Mississippi River beaches

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — A work crew is spending a week on a Mississippi River island to eradicate invasive plants and poison ivy as part of a state and federal effort to clean up beaches along the waterway.

The WisCorps conservation team is working with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to clear up nearly 20 beaches between La Crosse and Brownsville, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

The effort is a joint venture of the department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in response to public complaints about brush and weeds at campsites.

“There’s nowhere to be in the shade where you’re not in poison ivy,” said Sara Strassman, Mississippi River planner for the department. “There’s poison ivy at almost every spot.”

The seven-person crew will use chain saws, loppers and herbicide to get rid of the unwanted plants. The department is paying WisCorps $5,000 for the work.

Once their week on the island is complete, the crew will go on to tackle other projects around the state, such as trail maintenance at the La Crosse County landfill site, building a bridge in Rock County and creating a water trail on the Willow River.

About 200 teens and young adults serve on crews doing conservation and community revitalization work each year, said WisCorps operations director Willie Bittner.

Crews spend four to 12 weeks living together in the field. They’re paid $300 a week and are provided with tents, camping gear, food and work tools, but are asked to leave their cellphone behind.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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