Fox Wisconsin Heritage Parkway

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

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What’s your vision for the Parkway? – Your survey results are in!

Last November we asked you what you most appreciated about the Parkway as well as what you hope this region looks like in the future. We asked you to tell us all the ways you enjoy, treasure, and recreate on the river.

We received many great responses at a series of meetings hosted throughout the Parkway region as well as via an online survey. Everything you told us was important for us to hear–and we tried to note every suggestion. These results were collected for a study the Parkway is conducting of the region. Results and ideas will be utilized to determine Parkway organization’s priorities for the next 3-5 years. The results of our online survey are listed below.

Thank you for answering this survey — and for your enthusiasm, support and passion for your rivers!

Check back often – a new survey will be posted soon!

Survey #1 Results:


Where you were from:

Eighty-four people responded to the survey in the fall and winter of 2011.  The greatest number were from Oshkosh (26), followed closely by Appleton (23).  Menasha responses numbered five, Green Bay four, while three each were from Portage and Omro.  Two people each from Fond du Lac and Neenah answered the survey, and there was one response from each of the following regions and communities:  Berlin, Dalton, De Pere, Fox Cities, Fox River, Kaukauna, La Crosse, Little Chute, Poynette, Lower Fox, Lower Parkway area, Marquette County, Muscoda, Prairie du Chien and Spring Green, Princeton, and South Central Wisconsin.

Question #1:  What is the first place on the Fox and Lower Wisconsin River to which you take out-of-town visitors?


For these survey respondents, Water St. in Appleton holds great appeal (15 mentions).  Menominee Park in Oshkosh and Menasha Lock and Trestle Bridge were each mentioned eight times.  Lake Winnebago (general term) and sites in downtown Oshkosh along the river were each mentioned five times.  Many respondents took the time to describe and explain what they enjoy about the area – and why they like to take their visitors there.  For example:

  • “Lower Wisconsin, Merrimac.  Great countryside, great backroads.”
  • “View of Wisconsin R. from Blue Spoon restaurant” in Sauk City
  • The Fox River as it flows through Appleton – dams and spillways, lock system and eagle habitat”
  • “If they’re athletic …I take them for a run on either the Newberry trail or the off-road trails near the large Appleton cemetery “
  • “In good weather, an eatery where we can sit outside and enjoy a beverage and the view of adjacent green space.”


Question #2:  What is your favorite recreational activity on or near the rivers, and where do you go to do it?


Twenty-six people mentioned canoeing, kayaking, rowing, or tubing.  Ten people mentioned walking and hiking, and nine mentioned boating.  Other mentions:  fishing, biking, combination biking and hiking, biking, watching wildlife, visiting historical sites, sailing, cross-country skiing, photography, inline skating, running, biking and paddling, swimming, and visiting parks.


People enjoyed recreation on every section of the Parkway.  Wisconsinites are energetic!  They hike the Wiouwash Trail near Oshkosh and the Newberry in Appleton.  They float down the Wisconsin River in Portage, then ride a strategically placed bike back to get thetruck.  They canoe past Lock #4 in Appleton by Peabody Park, and upriver from Omro.  They kayak below Prairie du Sac dam and camp overnight on an island.  They find a quiet spot on the Lower Fox to fish, and in Lake Winnebago – but not on weekends!  They visit High Cliff State Park and love watching the sunset on Buffalo Lake in Montello.

Question #3:  What is your vision for the way your grandchildren will experience the rivers?  How do you want them to know and experience them?


This is where we heard about peoples’ passion for the rivers.  Thirty-five responders mentioned the importance of preserving the river environment — clean and pristine.

  • I want our kids and grandkids to treasure our natural resources, learn about them, use them (gently) for recreation, and protect them from predators who dump things into them.
  • I would want everyone’s offspring for a thousand generations to all enjoy the same natural beauty.
  • Want the kids to realize it was bad, that the cost of the cleanup was worth it.
  • I envision the fishable, swimmable, drinkable river that the federal government promised us in the Clean Water Act.
  • Our grandchildren have the most to benefit from the Parkway. It is my hope that the Parkway will become a distinct destination that can balance recreation with conservation.  However, resources must be balanced.  Natural areas, free of human intrusion, should be planned for and protected.


The next most important issue was access to the river, with thirty-four responses.


  • I’d like them to enjoy easy access, with parks lining the rivers, including paths for walking and biking, places to picnic, access to kayak, etc.
  • Vibrant river fronts in cities like Oshkosh where people can congregate and appreciate the beauty of rivers.
  • I wish that there would be more public access along the river so my grandkids can paddle the river and have several points along the river to get out. As it currently stands you have to make the commitment to paddle a while between points with nowhere in between to get out in case the weather gets bad or the water unexpectedly gets choppy. I think having access to the water will teach them to better appreciate the water that made our area’s         prosperity possible.
  • I want PUBLIC ACCESS to rivers for all of us now and generations to come.
  • I don’t want them to take this amazing resource for granted.

Twenty-eight people touted the activities they love along the river – and want their grandkids to be able to share.

  • Swimming and paddling in the water, running or cycling next to the river, and shopping at a vibrant waterfront community.  I have high expectations!
  • Over night canoe trips on the Wisconsin…..just like we experienced with our own children.
  • Embarking on day trips while canoeing and camping, following the routes of those who went before.
  • People   should be able to spend an entire weekend here, spending a day paddling, hiking or biking, taking in our museums and historic sites, experiencing the unique flavor–the restaurants, shops and accommodations of our Parkway communities.
  • People should be able to come to the Parkway and find a unique and authentic experience that can only happen in the Parkway region that appeals to them, regardless of what they like to do.  There is something here for everyone.

Thirteen responders mentioned the importance of connecting to the heritage of the rivers.

  • I want them to know that the rivers have been important to every generation of people that has ever lived near them.
  • The foundation of some of our most important local history.
  • A combination appreciation of the rich history and the beauty of the Fox River.
  • They would know and appreciate the Rivers for their use as a “workhorse” in the past and as a place to enjoy now and in the future.

Finally, quite a few people were concerned about safety on the river.

  • Currently, it is downright dangerous to be on the      water in a smaller boat, esp. on weekends, because of the large boats that are so inconsiderate and violate the law by failing to yield. There must be more regulation.
  • It would also be nice if there was a sandy beach in Oshkosh that had lifeguards and wasn’t an e coli threat or a frog breeding ground.
  • The answer is I would like to see more parkways along these area with interpretive signage, safe parking (not a     drinking area), and scenic beauty.
Question #4:  Which river stories must never be lost?


Parkway people know their history!  Below is a selection of their essential stories, sorted according to Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway themes.


Native Peoples & the Trail of the SerpentRoute of DiscoveryWaves of Immigration
WI IndiansNA/Eur EngagementsWI Indians TodayNew France M&JFur Trade1830s-1840s1850s-1860s1870s-1920s
History of local tribesNative American stories

Native people are still here;  continuing relationship w/the river

Paleo Indian, Archaic, Woodland, Oneota/ Mississippian & historic

Indian mounds

Raw deal NatAms got for showing settlers the way

Kinzies at the Indian Agency HouseFort Winnebago

Metis & Middle Ground

1st pioneer boats piloted by Nat Ams

Early travelersEarly explorersJoliet/MarquetteOmreau started town of OmroFur trade created town of Omro

Fur traders

Early development of Green BayImmigrant craftsmen & laborers building the locks







Hard Working River HighwayLand and Industry of Abundance
Glacial GeologyF-W Improvement ProjectHydroelectric PowerCurrent EffortsMining & QuarryingAgricultureLogging & Papermaking
Steamboats (7)Princeton lock (6)

Ferry crossings (5)

Locks (2)

Dredging of sandbanks for steamboats

Debris from paddleboats

Building of dams

2 govt boats: the Fox & the Wolf

Access to the river (1)Undeveloped nature of Upper Fox (1)

Life on the river (1)

Harvesting marl (calcium product) (3)WI Portland cement industryCreameries, dairy businessBreweries (4)

Pickle factories

Peppermint/ spearmint farms (4)

Wild rice paddies (3)

How the landscape was formedFriends of the Fox fight for locks/pkwayFox River cleanup

Portage canals & locks

Dredging, locks, dams

Fundamental use for powerHearthstone

Vulcan Power Plant

1st hydroelectric dam

Transition fr transportation to recreationDevelopment of trestle trailsMontello granite quarryValue to agricultureLog drivesPaper machines brought by horse-drawn barge from GB

Paine Lumber Co., etc.

Currents of Conservation
Conservation LeadersEnvironment, Industry & ConservationConservation Today
John Muir (12)Passenger pigeons (2)Operation Migration whooping cranes, White R. Marsh (1)
The Muir FamilyIndustry almost killed the riversPeople worked hard to bring the rivers back to health

Use/abuse of the river for logging, paper, trapping, etc.

Environmental history

What was river like before dams & paper companies

Fox R. sprayed w/perfume to cover the smell

Pollution →  massive efforts in wastewater treatment & mgmt.,  storm water mgmt. & remedial efforts to improve water quality & aesthetics.Stewards of the land

Extraordinary story of how fish, birds and people can coexist successfully in a vibrant downtown urban setting

NOTE:  The numbers in parentheses indicate how many times a topic was mentioned by respondents to the survey.

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