Fox Wisconsin Heritage Parkway

A non-profit organization dedicated to the improvement and preservation of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers.

About Us

Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway, a 501(c)(3) organization, works with communities along the Fox and Lower Wisconsin rivers to celebrate and preserve our rich and varied river heritage while promoting vibrant and connected riverfront towns and villages.

The Parkway organization serves 45 river-based communities in 15 counties throughout Wisconsin. The Parkway region follows the Lower Wisconsin, Upper Fox and Lower Fox rivers, 280 miles across the State of Wisconsin from the Mississippi to the Portage to the bay of Green Bay. The organization’s headquarters are currently located in Appleton.

The project began as and remains a grassroots, community-driven initiative that focuses on partnering with organizations, businesses and groups to enhance programs and build capacity for historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, tourism and education. Today, the Parkway is working with over seventy partners from various backgrounds and regions to support promotion of heritage assets and tourism planning efforts within the river corridor.

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    The Parkway’s greatest asset is the widely varying nature of each of the river segments.

    The Lower Fox River

    The Lower Fox River begins at the north end of Lake Winnebago and flows 40 miles to empty into Lake Michigan at Green Bay. The river drops about 164 feet over this stretch, and features a system of 17 recently & soon to be restored locks. Historically, the elevation change encouraged industrial development and urbanization along this river section. Today, the locks make recreational navigation possible along portions of the Lower Fox.

    Communities found along the Lower Fox River (South to North): Neenah, Menasha, Appleton, Kimberly, Little Chute, Kaukauna, Wrightstown, De Pere, Ashwaubenon, Allouez, and Green Bay

    Winnebago Pool Lakes

    The lakes of the Winnebago pool combine to encompass over 166,000 acres of fresh water with everything from state park land to urban centers found along their shores. The lakes -- Winnebago, Butte des Morts, Poygan and Winneconne – offer outstanding recreational and scenic values to residents and visitors alike.

    The Upper Fox River

    The Upper Fox River begins as a small stream northeast of Pardeeville. It flows southwest towards Portage and comes within 2 miles of the Wisconsin River before turning north to eventually enter Lake Winnebago at Oshkosh. The Upper Fox flows for a total of 142 miles through agricultural and rural landscapes, connecting small towns, and providing homes and migratory stopovers for an astounding array of birds and other wildlife.

    Communities found along the Upper Fox River (South to North): Pardeeville, Portage, Endeavor, Packwaukee, Montello, Princeton, Berlin, Omro, and Oshkosh

    Portage

    The City of Portage is named for the portage between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. A vital route for trade for more than 10,000 years, it was first described by Fr. Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet during their exploration of a route to the Mississippi River in 1673. The portage - 2,700 paces in length, as Fr. Marquette calculated -- crosses the Saint Lawrence Continental Divide.

    The Lower Wisconsin River

    The Lower Wisconsin River begins in northern Wisconsin near the Michigan border. At Portage, the river turns to the west, flowing through the driftless region, so called because the ice age ice flows did not reach this area to shape it. The Lower Wisconsin joins the Mississippi River approximately 8 miles south of Prairie du Chien.

    Communities found along the Lower Wisconsin River (North to South): Merrimac, Prairie du Sac, Sauk City, Spring Green, Muscoda, Boscobel. and Bridgeport

    Our Priorities

    Our organization celebrates this great corridor by promoting the history, improving access and preserving the future of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers.

    History is our first priority – telling the stories that make up our collective past in a way that interests people. Through the years, these vital rivers have fed and clothed the people who lived beside their banks and opened the country to European settlement. They powered mighty factories and were the inspiration for many inventions. They are home to prehistoric sturgeon, call eagles and great blue herons, and their resources are harnessed to provide hydropower, world-class fishing, and other recreational opportunities.

    Access is our second priority – making sure that all those who love the rivers have quality access points to do just that. Installing canoe and kayak landings that are developed in such a way that people of all abilities and all skill levels are able to paddle the rivers. We encourage economic redevelopment of under-utilized sites so people can walk along the rivers and enjoy watching the currents and wildlife.

    Preservation is our third priority – as industries grew and evolved, their impact on the rivers became apparent. Wisconsin is now a national leader in practicing the balance that needs to take place between using the rivers to power manufacturing and agriculture and caring for them in order to sustain wildlife and recreation.

    We invite you to spend some time getting to know these rivers – you will be glad you did.

    We had a passionate and productive planning session in November, and have come to the following decisions as to what 2015 is going to be about for the Parkway. If your favorite project is not listed, it doesn’t mean we won’t tackle it. We just agreed to accomplish this list first, but as something comes off of it, something may be added to the bottom of the list. Together, with our massively dedicated volunteers, we can make this waterway come alive as the national treasure that it is!

    Projects – Work Plan for 2015

    Accessible & Traditional Launches – continue to fundraise and install, goal of 4 - 5 accessible and 8 - 10 traditional
    Lock House at Little Chute – Complete restoration by October 2015
    Website – Have in excellent condition re: all content by Dec 2015
    Aquatic Habitat Template – Completed
    Heritage Consortium Museum Store Analysis completed if awarded grant funding
    Water Trail Gap Analysis Complete, which will Complete Water Trail Plan
    Heritage Paddles – Hold 2015 & Plan for Going Forward with Partners –
    Hold at least 1 Fox Locks River Tour
    Provide Sponsorship for National History Day
    Hmong Project – Complete Study & Create Exhibit to Display at 2 locations
    Receptive Tourism – Exploration Phase
    Partnered Signage – content & design creation when funding is received
    Annual Meeting

    It’s going to be a good 2015!!

    Statement Regarding Property Rights

    The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway fully supports property owners’ rights to use their property in any way they decide. The Parkway is not a regulatory agency and its boundaries do not mark a region where any land restrictions will be imposed by the Parkway. No land will be owned or managed by the Parkway other than that which will house our offices one day. The Parkway has no authority or interest in affecting zoning or regulation within the communities along the river.

    It is the Parkway organization’s mission to meaningfully preserve, promote and celebrate the heritage of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. The boundaries of the Parkway are largely symbolic in nature and represent an area where stories, traditions and other resources that best represent the heritage of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers are located. The Parkway works with organizations located within this region to create additional opportunities for historic interpretation, education and recreation of these rivers. Participation in any of the activities and programs of the Parkway is completely voluntary.

    The Parkway organization periodically receives concerns that the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway will affect property rights. We take these concerns very seriously and want to assure everyone that the Parkway fully supports the protection of private property and will in no way interfere with the property rights of any individual, business organization or agency. Any information that states otherwise is simply not true.