Celebrating 50 years wild and scenic 

State of Wisconsin presents proclamation to St. Croix National Scenic Riverway

ST. CROIX FALLS – The National Park Service and the St. Croix River Association are celebrating 50 years of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. 

U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Wisconsin State Sen. Patty Schachtner, community leaders and young river stewards were among those gathered at the St. Croix River visitor center last Friday, April 6, for a special event to highlight plans to celebrate the anniversary all year long.

“Today’s riverway reflects the commitment of people working together over the past 50 years,” said Julie Galonska, Superintendent of the riverway. “The inclusion of the St. Croix and Namekagon rivers in the Wild and Scenic Rivers System would not have been possible without the great effort and commitment of legislative, corporate and community leaders, and we want to say thank you to all.”

“The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is a living legacy for all Americans, which is preserving the beauty and free-flowing nature of this precious waterway for generations to come,” said McCollum. “We must remain vigilant to preserve this great national treasure and our clean air and water.”

The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, located in Northwest Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota, was established by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968. The 255-mile waterway is comprised of the St. Croix and Namekagon rivers.

Schachtner presented the National Park Service with a proclamation from the Wisconsin Senate recognizing the occasion. 

“The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is a national treasure,” said  Schachtner. “It is crucial that we invest in our natural wonders to support tourism in the region and protect our environment. I am pleased to commend the work that the St. Croix River Association, the National Park Service and others have done on this very special day.”

Xcel Energy, which was Northern States Power at the time, committed to donating 24,000 acres of land along the riverway to the federal and state governments in 1969. 

“Xcel Energy is honored to be part of the history behind the beautiful St. Croix National Scenic Riverway,” said Laura McCarten, Xcel Energy vice president. “Decades later, our company is just as committed and passionate about being responsible by nature and delivering safe, reliable energy for our customers.”

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was signed into law on Oct. 2, 1968.  Plans to celebrate all year include special events along the riverway, as well as a documentary featuring former Vice President Walter Mondale to air on Twin Cities and Wisconsin Public Television beginning in June, and a book by photographer Craig Blacklock.

“We want folks to get out and get involved along the riverway this year,” said Deb Ryun, executive director of the St. Croix River Association. “Take part in one of our events this year, take up a new activity like paddling or hiking, or volunteer and help us to protect this national treasure for generations to come.”

Learn more about the 50th anniversary and planned events at nps.gov/sacn and stcroixriverassociation.org.

Craig Blacklock, an award-winning nature photographer who has a new book on the riverway titled “The St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers: The Enduring Gift,” handed out awards to students who entered the Wildlife Under the Water art contest.  Students shown (L to R) are Spencer Palmer, Shell Lake Elementary School, first place; Izabella Iwaszko, Amery Elementary School, second place; and Charlie Juza, Shell Lake Elementary School, third place. Receiving honorable mention certificates were Tyler Ellefson, Amery Elementary School; and RayAnn Petz, Shell Lake Elementary School.  Blacklock’s selection of photos is now on display at the St. Croix River visitor center, which is open 9 am. to 5 p.m. daily with free admission. – Photos submitted

Congresswoman Betty

“The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is a living legacy for all Americans, which is preserving the beauty and free-flowing nature of this precious waterway for generations to come,” said U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum. 

State Senator Patty

Wisconsin State Sen. Patty Schachtner presented the National Park Service with a proclamation from the Wisconsin Senate recognizing the occasion. 

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