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Lake Onalaska is treated as a lake, depending on what’s done there: county



It’s a lake AND a river.  Lake Onalaska can be legally defined as both bodies of water, depending on law enforcement needs. 

The La Crosse County Board took action on Thursday, clearing up an ordinance on who has jurisdiction over the lake, which is part of the Mississippi River. 

County board chair Monica Kruse says the county can enforce fishing rules there.

“For purposes of fishing, Lake Onalaska is a river,” says Kruse, “and therefore falls under the authority of the county.”    

The problem resolved by the board dealt with boats exceeding the no-wake speed limit.  Kruse says that’s handled by individual municipalities.   

“I think a lot of people assumed that the county had that authority, but based on state statutes, the county does not. It actually falls to the municipalities that are around the lake,” Kruse said.


A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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