The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has recognized a La Crosse company for its environmental stewardship.

Brennan received a DNR Secretary’s Director Award Thursday for its remediation and habitat restoration work as well as its handling of barge traffic on the Mississippi River.

Dan Baumann, the DNR’s director for western Wisconsin, said Brennan was nominated by a former member of the agency’s regulatory staff, which “raises it to another level.”

“It’s always about beyond compliance,” Baumann said. “They’re the company that does it right.”

Founded in 1919, Brennan operates the J.F. Brennan contracting company and a barge transportation and repair service under the name Brennan Marine. The family-owned business has offices in Illinois, Florida and Massachusetts and employs about 450 people during peak construction season, including about 50 divers.

“Everything we do is related to the water,” said company president Tony Binsfeld. “We like to joke if we cut our wrist, river water would come out.”

Binsfeld said his employees generate one or two patents a year, most having to do with environmental processes.

For decades, Brennan has been a contractor for the Upper Mississippi River Environmental Management Program, a joint state-federal effort to reverse damage caused by the damming of the river in the 1930s. DNR fisheries biologist Jeff Janvrin said Brennan has been involved in more than half of more than 30 dredging and island restoration projects.

The DNR also recognized Brennan Marine for efforts to keep barges off the shores and out of the way while shuttling materials in and out of the La Crosse harbor.

Brennan is a sub-contractor on the Fox River cleanup, an ongoing effort to remove PCB-contaminated soil from a 13-mile stretch of the river near Green Bay.

Beth Olson, the DNR’s Fox River project manager, told a gathering of employees Thursday, “You guys are the go-to people when other consultants say it can’t be done.”

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