A group working to promote the St. Croix region’s story as one of national significance has seated its first formal board of directors and is launching new programs in 2019 to benefit the St. Croix watershed.
In 2019, North Woods and Waters of the St. Croix Heritage Area (NWW) will provide an online calendar for events sponsored by regional businesses, historical societies, chambers of commerce, arts groups and other organizations. It will support and expand the St. Croix Master Watershed Stewards program and will launch a watershed-wide speakers bureau, among other activities. Generous contributions from the Whitson Foundation, the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation, and the Polk Burnett Electric Cooperative as well as individual donors are helping NWW reach its goals on behalf of the region.
The NWW board will oversee the effort to designate the St. Croix watershed of Minnesota and Wisconsin a national heritage area. The designation will underscore the region’s unique landscape and contributions to American history. A volunteer group has been working for several years to document and gain support for status as a national heritage area, a federally recognized title that requires Congressional approval. In telling the region’s stories, NWW will highlight the histories of Native American tribes, the evolution of a sustainable lumber industry, and the immigrant experience. These stories convey the significance of the St. Croix watershed within the broader national history. In sharing them, and promoting the natural beauty and recreational opportunities of the area, NWW board, advisors, and volunteers hops to encourage tourism and economic development in alignment with conservation of area social, natural, economic, and cultural resources.
For residents, celebrating Minnesota and Wisconsin’s iconic north woods and waters reinforces a distinctive sense of place and shared heritage. NWW aims to knit together the watershed’s diverse array of communities and organizations to share and protect natural, cultural, historic and scenic assets and to deepen residents’ knowledge of the resources in the St Croix River watershed.
In 2017 and 2018, NWW became a tax-deductible nonprofit. For the previous nine years, NWW Heritage Area has operated with an advisory committee under the auspices of the St. Croix Valley Foundation, according to Board Chair Martha Harding.
New board members include: Martha Harding (Chisago City, MN); Bill Neuman (Franconia Township, MN); Buck Malick (Hudson, WI); Carol LeBreck (Barnes, WI); Julie Smendzuik-O’Brien (Maplewood, MN); Lynne Moratzka (Scandia, MN); and Margaret Smith (River Falls, WI).
Other board members will be named in 2019, and representatives are sought from the entire watershed; those interested in serving on the board of directors or the four action committees, or wishing to contribute financially should contact Program Manager Alyssa Auten, firstname.lastname@example.org. To stay in the loop on NWW progress and events find us on Facebook: @stcroixheritage.