Walter Mondale and Peter Gove have been involved in protecting the St. Croix River for decades. They recently reflected on this history in an article on MinnPost, featuring excerpts from Mondale’s essay in The Enduring Gift, the new book of St. Croix River photos by Craig Blacklock.
Mondale was the Minnesota Senator who co-authored the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which was signed into law 50 years ago in 1968. He and his family have enjoyed a cabin on the river in Scandia since 1992.
Gove is a former business executive who started his career in Minnesota environmental causes in the 1970s, while working for Governor Wendell Anderson. He has been active in conservation issues ever since, and in the past, served as board chair of the St. Croix River Association.
“During my tenure as Minnesota Attorney General, the Northern States Power Company (NSP) proposed a large, coal-fired power plant south of Stillwater located along the St. Croix, commencing one of the first environmental battles in our state. The construction of that plant was a prelude to a dialogue with NSP a few years later regarding the protection of the upper St. Croix River.
“At that time a Minnesota legislator and lawyer, Wendell R. Anderson, represented the Save Our St. Croix citizen group opposing this plant. Wendy Anderson was elected governor in 1970. During his time in office, Governor Anderson advocated and signed more legislation to protect natural resources than any other governor – several motivated in part by that power plant dispute on the St. Croix.
“When I became a U.S. Senator in 1964, I joined Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson in sponsoring legislation to protect the St. Croix River for future generations. He had grown up in Clear Lake, Wisconsin, on a tributary to the river and its protection was one of his lifelong priorities. He became not only my colleague, but also a dear friend.
“Sen. Nelson and I worked together for several years on St. Croix legislation. We went to many meetings with landowners along the river and conferred with Northern States Power, which owned thousands of acres on the upper St. Croix. It was sometimes a rocky road, involving several versions of the bill, but our objective was always to preserve as much of this fragile northwoods river as possible.”