Last Sunday’s St. Paul Pioneer Press featured a front-page story about the St. Croix River, and photos and quotes from me. I was honored to be featured, and to have the chance to help build appreciation of this amazing river by taking the writer and photographer out canoeing.
Written by reporter Mary Divine and featuring photographs by Jean Pieri, the article also includes profiles of Julie Galonska, superintendent of the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway, Deb Ryun of the St. Croix River Association, former vice president Walter Mondale, and filmmaker John Kaul.
The article provides an eloquent history of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, an overview of threats facing the St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers, and inspiring passages about the power of the river.
It’s a cool, overcast weekday morning in May, and Greg Seitz is paddling a stretch of the St. Croix River he calls his “milk run.”
The 6.4-mile stretch between the Osceola and Log House landings is where Seitz heads whenever time allows.
“It’s where I was really introduced to the St. Croix back when I was in high school,” he says, dipping his paddle in the river and steering around a spit of land where two men are fishing. “I love it. It’s my go-to stretch. It’s the one I’ve been doing the longest, the one I know best.”
Seitz, founder of the St. Croix 360 website, has paddled nearly every inch of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway — 252 miles of the Namekagon and St. Croix rivers. He plans to check off his last 20 miles this summer to mark the 50th anniversary of the riverway.
Many people told me the article made them want to get out on the river as soon as possible, which I think is a great outcome. We need as many St. Croix stewards as we can get. Like Sharon Day says in John Kaul’s new St. Croix River film, “We protect what we love.”
Her quote reminded me of a famous one from Senegalese conservationist Baba Dioum. In a paper presented in New Delhi the same year the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act was passed, he wrote: “In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.”
Thank you to all the countless folks who have worked to protect the St. Croix in the past and today. I am only a minor side channel in that effort, but I hope I have helped St. Croix 360’s readers better understand — and better love and protect — the stunning St. Croix River.
Note: To anyone who might be wondering why I wasn’t wearing a life jacket in the photos, we were going for realistic, and in reality, I don’t always wear one when paddling shallow, warm backwaters in summer. Please be safe out there.