Fifty years Wild & Scenic: Film, book, art to mark St. Croix anniversary

Year-long celebration announced to mark half a century of federal protection for the St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers.




3 minute read

Via the St. Croix River Association:

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act on October 2, 1968

The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, one of the region’s greatest natural treasures, celebrates its golden anniversary next year, and the St. Croix River Association (SCRA) announced today it is honoring this milestone with a special multi-faceted initiative.

1968 marked the passage of the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and with it the creation of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, which is a national park. The Riverway, which includes both the St. Croix and its tributary, the Namekagon, was among the eight original rivers designated as Wild and Scenic by the 1968 act, and the first to be named a national park.

SCRA’s mission is to protect, restore, and celebrate the St. Croix river and its watershed. It is also the Friends group for the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway and collaborates with the National Park Service to protect and enhance the park and offer quality experiences and access for its visitors.

SCRA’s special initiatives feature a documentary by noted filmmakers John Kaul and Tom Reiter, set to debut on TPT (Twin Cities PBS) next June, and a new coffee table book from acclaimed photographer Craig Blacklock. The book, entitled The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway: The Enduring Gift, includes a foreword by Vice President Walter F. Mondale. Mondale and then-fellow Senator Gaylord Nelson were instrumental in passing the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and protecting the St. Croix and Namekagon. SCRA will also partner with the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, WI, for a month-long exhibit featuring a nationwide juried show and works by Blacklock and by Northern Clay Center alumni. The exhibit opens September 14, 2018.

Other special activities include a research report, numerous paddle adventures, speaking engagements, and an anniversary celebration on October 2, 2018, fifty years after Lyndon Johnson signed the landmark legislation. SCRA’s special initiatives mark this important milestone while celebrating the park’s inspiring history and extraordinary success.

The 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act preserves “certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations.”

Thanks to federal protections, the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway still offers clean water, breathtaking beauty, solitude, and abundant recreational opportunities within easy reach of the Twin Cities.

Through its initiatives, SCRA seeks to honor the Park’s unique history, celebrate the Riverway as a thriving wilderness-like park amidst a growing metropolitan region, and excite new generations of river enthusiasts to swim, fish, boat, camp, or just enjoy nature.

While the Riverway remains under constant pressure from development, invasive species, and other threats, it is exceptional that so much of it remains the same as in 1968. Generations of families continue to make treasured memories on the Riverway’s waters and shores.

The St. Croix and Namekagon’s Wild and Scenic status also puts them in the top echelon of America’s rivers. Less than one quarter of one percent – 12,734 miles – of the approximately 3.6 million miles of streams in the United States have received this level of federal protection. There are currently 208 rivers or river segments within the Wild and Scenic designation.

SCRA’s special events coincide with a nationwide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act, and special pedal and hiking events are also slated for the coming year and beyond.

The St. Croix River Association works throughout the 7,800 square mile watershed to protect the park that flows through its heart. SCRA works towards a thriving watershed, forever accessible, scenic, and wild through effective partnerships and programs.


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Fifty years Wild & Scenic: Film, book, art to mark St. Croix anniversary