50th Anniversary: Photos and quotes from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act celebration kick-off

St. Croix River stewards praised the river and past advocates, while launching a full schedule of events and activities to mark 50 years of federal protection.




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Elementary school students from Amery, Wisconsin presented
research projects about many aspects of the St. Croix River.

Events marking the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act — and the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway — got underway Thursday at a special event in St. Croix Falls. The press conference highlighted the historic effort to protect the St. Croix, and plans to celebrate the anniversary all year long.

The National Park Service and the St. Croix River Association hosted a gathering at the St. Croix River Visitor Center, which also opened for the season. The event featured U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Wisconsin State Senator Patty Schachtner, community leaders, and young river stewards.

The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, located in northwest Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota, was established by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968. The 255-mile waterway is comprised of the St. Croix and Namekagon rivers.

Wisconsin State Senator Patty Schachtner presented the National Park Service with a proclamation from the Wisconsin Senate recognizing the occasion.

Some of the speakers spoke directly to the school children sitting in front, urging them to carry the torch of river preservation for the next half-century.

Superintendent Julie Galonska receives a proclamation from Wisconsin State Senator Patty Schactner.

“It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.”

  • Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, October 2, 1968

“Today’s Riverway reflects the commitment of people working together over the past 50 years. The inclusion of the St. Croix and Namekagon rivers in the Wild and Scenic Rivers System would not have been possible without the great effort and commitment of legislative, corporate, and community leaders, and we want to say thank you to all.”

  • Julie Galonska, Riverway superintendent

“[This was a] investment made in 1968 when I was eight, just imagine what it’s going to be like when one of you could be standing up here talking about the 100th. One of you could be there. As grandparents and parents we want you to enjoy the river valley like we did.”

  • State Senator Patty Schactner (WI-10)
Rep. Betty McCollum

“I was 13 when this happened, I remember there were big articles in the newspapers in St. Paul and Minneapolis about this big thing happening in Stillwater. This didn’t happen all by itself, it took a lot of people, it took elected officials in Washington, state leaders, people and community activists, and a big corporation that said we want to be part of this. It’s important we take time to remember it took a lot of people.”

  • Representative Betty McCollum (MN-4)
Deb Ryun

“It’s a great year for you to go out and experience the riverway in new ways. If you’ve never been out there, try biking or boating or paddling, there are so many ways. One of my favorite things is just going out and playing on the river.”

  • Deb Ryun, St. Croix River Association
Rep. McCollum talks to students from Amery Inquirng Minds.

“I will be 103 when I come back in 50 years, and I’ll be sitting out there and you will have done a fabulous job in all the speeches you give about how you continued to protect this legacy of this beautiful Wild & Scenic St. Croix.”

  • Representative Betty McCollum (MN-4)

“Xcel Energy is honored to be part of the history behind the beautiful St. Croix National Scenic
Riverway. Decades later, our company is just as committed and passionate about being responsible by nature and delivering safe, reliable energy for our customers.”

  • Laura McCarten, Xcel Energy Vice President

Note: Xcel Energy, which was Northern States Power at the time, committed to donating 24,000 acres of land along the Riverway to the federal and state governments in 1969.

Rep. McCollum listens to students from Amery Inquiring Minds.

“The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is living legacy for all Americans, which is preserving the beauty and free-flowing nature of this precious waterway for generations to come. We must remain vigilant to preserve this great national treasure and our clean air and water.”

  • Representative Betty McCollum (MN-4)

Plans to celebrate all year include special events along the Riverway, as well as a documentary, featuring former Vice President Walter Mondale to air on Twin Cities and Wisconsin Public Television beginning in June, and a book by photographer Craig Blacklock.

Featured anniversary events:

  • April 12, UW River Falls, WIFish of the St. Croix: Past, Present, and Future featuring Dr. John Lyons, Curator of Fishes, University of Wisconsin Zoological Museum
  • April 14, REI, Bloomington, MNScenic and Wild at REI, a kick off to National Park Week. Activities & educational stations for all ages and information on Riverway outings and destinations
  • April 19, Mill City Museum, Minneapolis, MNThe Enduring Gift Photo Exhibit featuring Craig Blacklock. Photos from his new book with reception at the Mill City Museum. Exhibit runs through June 22.
  • April 21, St. Croix Falls, WIGive Back to the River Day – An Earth Day Weekend Stewardship project. Meet at 8am at Lions Park
  • April 24, UW River Falls, WI – St. Croix Summit featuring Satish Desai, Minnesota March for Science and youth workshops by Climate Generation
  • May 11, Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul, MNSCRA Spring Gathering: Changing the Face of Conservation Leaders featuring Rue Mapp Founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro
  • May 17, Scandia, MNMinnesota Wasp Watchers featuring Jennifer Schultz, Wasp Watchers Program Coordinator, University of Minnesota Extension
  • June 6, Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, MNSaving the St. Croix Riverway Film Premiere featuring the 27- minute film about the Riverway and speaker panel
  • June 9-15, Hayward, WI2018 Namekagon Paddle, a six day-92 mile supported river trip
  • August 25, Trollhaugen, Dresser, WIWild and Scenic Film Festival at Trollhaugen Recreation Area featuring family fun, music, and inspiring outdoor and environmental films
  • September 9, Horst Rechelbacher Farm, Osceola, WIAnnual Fundraiser – Celebrate the River
  • September 14-Oct 22, Phipps Center of the Arts, Hudson, WIHeart of the River Exhibit featuring a juried art show that expresses the significance of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway
  • October 2, Phipps Center of the Arts, Hudson, WIOfficial 50th Anniversary Celebration

Stay tuned to St. Croix 360 for lots more about upcoming events and activities. Learn more at nps.gov/sacn and stcroixriverassociation.org.


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50th Anniversary: Photos and quotes from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act celebration kick-off