4/13/2018 11:53:00 AM St. Croix-Namekagon anniversary kick-off 'The next 50 years start now'
Top photo: National Park Service St. Croix Riverway Superintendent Julie Galonska welcomes the celebration attendees in the main room of the Park Service headquarters, St. Croix Falls. Lower photo -- the Superintendent presenting a framed certificate of recognition to Wisconsin’s newly-elected State Senator Patty Schachtner, rt. Minnesota’s U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum also attended. St Croix River Association Executive Director Deb Ryun spoke, as a co-sponsor of the event with the NPS. Xcel Vice President Laura McCarten represented the company that donated many thousands of acres to the federal government.
Opening Day of major league baseball was playing second fiddle last week to a crowd gathered marking Opening Day of the St Croix Scenic Riverway.
The program was organized by the National Park Service and St. Croix Riverway Association as the opening salvo to months of events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the riverway being designated as a national treasure. In 1968 Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin U.S. Senator and Walter Mondale, Minnesota’s U.S. Senator and later the nation’s Vice President, saw their hard work ultimately list the riverway in a federal Wild & Scenic Riverway Act, protecting just eight rivers. Under the Lyndon Johnson administration the first portion of the scenic St Croix riverway was protected and the Lower Riverway; Taylors Falls down river to the Mississippi confluence came under federal protections in 1972. The following year the Wisconsin and Minnesota legislatures passed companion bills developing a 25 mile long co-management zone of the riverway.
Sen. Mondale is 90 now and Sen. Nelson died in 2005. Had they been able to attend the program at the park service headquarters they would have been touched to see so many factions of government, private sector vendors, activists and individuals who realize the riverway protections need to be tended, and supporters energized periodically, on behalf of preserving this “wild and scenic” asset.
As National Park Service Riverway Superintendent Julie Galonska put it, “...the next 50 years start now.”
Galonska welcomed U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota, Wisconsin State Senator Patty Schachtner Xcel Vice President Laura McCarten and St. Croix River Association Executive Director Deb Ryun.
They all shared thoughts about what the St Croix has meant personally, and talked about protecting this river and its headwater river, the Namekagon. The theme throughout their remarks was partnerships.
The river doesn’t divide the two states, it brings them together, they stated. The common goals of conservation and protection have been there since the very beginning. The riverway returns the favor supporting 473 local jobs and drawing 708,000 visitors last year.
U.S. Representative McCollum, a former school teacher, couldn’t help but give a brief history lesson-- stressing how the federal designation of the riverway didn’t happen in a vacuum.
Last week was also the 50-year anniversary of Martin Luther King junior being assassinated, and she mused on King’s civil rights work and tha it also frequently included protecting environmental sites, for everybody to access. She said the federal recognition of this riverway was a direct result of a political groundswell 50 years ago taking actions on behalf of everybody, equally.
Riverway Association Executive Director Ryun pointed out how the Namekagon and St. Croix inspire the creative arts to context for science lessons at area schools.
A dozen or so Amery, WI gradeschoolers were on-hand for the special program at the riverway headquarters in St. Croix Falls, bringing their science fair exhibits based on riverway aquatic and bird life and geology.
Art done by students, as part of a “Riverway Underwaters” contest was exhibited in the NPS headquarters main room.
For other artists: Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson WI will be the location for a St Croix Riverway-inspired “Heart of the River” exhibit later this summer. To learn more about entering pieces, check the scra.org website for details, Ryun reminded everyone.
In the 1960s Xcel Energy was NSP (Northern States Power.) The company was recognized with a framed certificate for being a partner in this riverway story. NSP donated 24,000 acres (25,000 by some counts) the company had acquired for possible future hydro-electric needs. These parcels became part of the wild and scenic riverway area. Xcel Vice President Laura McCarten represented the company last week, thanking those who carry the torch of riverway protection.
Commemorative book If you could assemble a scrapbook of the most breathtakingly perfectly-shot photos, depicting all seasons on the riverway, it would be Craig Blacklock’s gorgeous over-sized The Enduring Gift, Collector’s Edition.
This is a joint production of the renowned photographer with the St Croix River Association, and a portion of the book sale proceeds goes to the organization.
It also contains an essay by Mondale and notations are scattered throughout the book from poets and authors attuned to the wonders of nature.
Blacklock, a Moose Lake resident, has books available at his gallery website. There are various packages, some include single photos that you can frame. ~ This week (April 12 and 13) the book is featured at Watershed Cafe in Osceola.
~ Blacklock goes to Midwest Mountaineering 309 Cedar Avenue in Mpls. Saturday April 28 for a book promotion.
~ Twin Cities Public Television has supported the making of a film, “Saving the St Croix,” that includes some of Blacklock’s still works. The Fitzgerald Theatre film premier is June 6.
~ An April 19 reception for the 50-year celebration and book release, at Mill City Museum, is sold out.
~ July 16, there’s a book signing event at the Marine Library. Times are not yet announced.