St. Croix River Association celebrates ten years of increasing impact

Organization has grown into a force for the river during the past decade.




2 minute read

The St. Croix River and the broad landscape that drains into it took a huge step toward stewardship in 2009. That’s when the St. Croix River Association was rebuilt to push for clean water, healthy habitat, and much more in the

On Wednesday, the organization celebrated the auspicious anniversary at a small event in Stillwater. While the St. Croix River Association has existed since 1911, making it the oldest conservation organization in the region, for many years before 2009 it was primarily a volunteer-run group focused on the concerns of people who owned property on the river.

Based on conversations and a “Great Convening” in 2007 and 2008, a broad group of St. Croix stewards agreed to transform SCRA into an organization that could work across the watershed to protect the health of its lands and waters.

On hand to celebrate the occasion were many of the founding board and design team members who revised bylaws, recruited the first board of directors, secured funding, and otherwise brought the nonprofit to life. Peter Gove, Dan Willius, Randy Ferrin, Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway superintended Julie Galonska was also there to thank the organization for its efforts as official “Friends” group for the riverway.

The present and future of the cause were also present, such as current board chair Brian Alton, board members and fishing guides Bob Bickford and Stu Neville, and board member Katie Clapp.

Absent but remembered were individuals such as Jim Harrison, Martin Kellogg, and Bill Clapp, who have passed away since playing important roles in the founding.

Tuesday, Oct. 1 was the 10th anniversary of Deb Ryun starting as the nascent group’s new executive director.

Deb Ryun (third from front in pink) paddles with Congresswoman Betty McCollum behind her at a 2018 event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and nonprofit Wilderness Inquiry. (Greg Seitz, St. Croix 360)

A Wisconsin native, Deb had been working in conservation in Iowa for more than a decade, including her most recent 10 years as executive director of the Conservation Districts of Iowa.

At first, she worked in a small office behind the barbershop in St. Croix Falls. Soon, though, the staff expanded and moved into the St. Croix Falls Library building, where the organization remains headquartered today.

Today, the organization employs 12 full-time staff, working on a range of issues from forestry to invasive species. It is funded by private donors, foundations, and some state and federal grants.

SCRA has supported St. Croix 360 financially and in many other ways since 2012. Thank you for making this site possible, and for everything the organization does for the river. Happy anniversary and congratulations!


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St. Croix River Association celebrates ten years of increasing impact