Photo by Jim Netz
Friends of the Wisconsin Great River Road
The Wisconsin Great River Road on the Great River Road National Scenic Byway has long been a cherished attraction for exploring everything the river communities have to offer, from beautiful outdoor experiences to unique roadside attractions and events. The history and culture of this region and these communities is also something the Wisconsin Great River Road helps to keep alive through interpretive centers, historical landmarks, and cultural events. With its recent designation as an All American Road, the byway is more popular than ever as an exceptional travel destination with one-of-a-kind attributes found nowhere else. Luckily, the river road has many supporters to aid in upkeep and improvements, with one of its main supporters being the Friends of the Wisconsin Great River Road.
Mission and Origin
Established to provide education about the Wisconsin Great River Road National Scenic Byway, the non-profit corporation Friends of the Wisconsin Great River Road focuses on creating accessible education on the river road and uncovering the storied past of the river road areas. In 2016, the Wisconsin Mississippi River Parkway Commission established the organization and since then they have taken on projects and tasks revolving around the river road, its history, and its upkeep. They are a charitable and educational non-profit with a mission to improve the quality of the Wisconsin Great River Road and the experiences its travelers encounter.
With a focus on the waysides, vista’s and roadways, all of which are vital to the Wisconsin Great River Road experience, Friends of the Great River Road have taken on and contributed to many projects since the group’s start. In 2018, they worked with other organizations to raise the funds for an interactive story board for the Great River Road Interpretive Center in Genoa, Wisconsin. This project helped to strengthen the education experience at the center providing more information about the Mississippi River region and history of the area’s Native Americans like early agriculture, settlements and businesses. The non-profit also works on on-going projects with other counties addressing ways to improve the waysides, vistas, and pull-offs along the river road.
The Friends organization’s next project is supporting the Wisconsin Mississippi River Parkway Commission/Rotary International Pollinator Program. Pollinator habitats exist all along the Mississippi River and the Great River Road, and this project focuses on ways to improve them and keep them flourishing. Starting with the Wisconsin leg of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway, the project has the potential far-reaching impact to improve pollinator habitats from the headwaters in Minnesota all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. It will hopefully serve as the pilot program to help the other ten Great River Road states start up similar programs.
Contributions are invited and welcomed by the Friends of the Great River Road to help them keep improving the Wisconsin Great River Road. If you are interested, you can help by donating to the work of this dedicated non-profit to help build the economy of this region and keep the WI Great River Road an attractive Wisconsin experience. Consider donating to the Friends of the Wisconsin Great River Road by sending a check payable to “Friends of the Wisconsin Great River Road”, PO Box 171, De Soto, Wisconsin, 54624. Please include your name, address, telephone number, and email.