Genoa Fish Hatchery builds new interpretive center

The Genoa National Fish Hatchery has a new project four years in the making.

The Great River Road Interpretive Center is a new information facility funded by the National Scenic Byways Program as well as the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The purpose of the Scenic Byways program is to make facilities available that show the intrinsic values of the region that they are traveling through,” hatchery manager Doug Aloisi said.

The $3.75 million project features exhibits about the history of the Mississippi River Valley, including the famous Battle of Bad Axe that ended the Black Hawk War in 1832.

“That kind of moved everything that was a policy of displacement where most of the native Americans were moved west of the Mississippi River,” Aloisi said.

Ground was broken for the building in 2013, but the construction process hit some bumps along the way.

“Federal projects, a lot of times, there’s a lot more time with red tape type of stuff,” construction manager Derek Kellogg said.

Aloisi said money also played a factor for the timeline of the construction.

“Funding is always an issue,” Aloisi said. “We built as we had money for.”

Most of the facility’s exhibits have been completed.

The interpretive center will also offer aquariums with real fish and wildlife from the Mississippi River Valley.

“It’s just kind of a building until you actually put things in it,” Aloisi said. “It was really neat to see it all come together.”

Over 14,000 people come to the hatchery every year, prompting the need for a building to welcome those visitors.

“Because of our visitor load, we really didn’t have a facility where we could actually show what the hatchery and the Fish and Wildlife Service does as a mission,” Aloisi said.

It is a place showcasing the heart of western Wisconsin and a popular tourist destination on the map.