America’s Most Endangered Rivers® Report: 2009 Edition


#10 Lower St. Croix River, Minnesota and Wisconsin

Threat: Loss of Wild and Scenic River protections
Partners: St. Croix River Association

The Lower St. Croix National Scenic Riverway provides a rare natural retreat in a growing urban area. It is a favorite destination for boaters, anglers, and families seeking a natural, outdoor experience. Recreation dollars brought in by the Riverway provide a healthy boost to the regional economy. But the state-managed section of this gem of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is in danger. Short-sighted zoning decisions along a 26-mile stretch of this protected river threaten to damage the very qualities that make the river so special and appealing to residents and visitors. Minnesota and Wisconsin must renew their commitment to this nationally-recognized river segment and work with riverfront counties, townships and municipalities to ensure development is responsibly planned so that the river remains protected for future generations. Learn More

UPDATE (October 2009): The substantial publicity generated by the MER designation helped to spread the word about the shortsighted zoning decisions along the state managed section of this protected river that threaten to damage the very qualities that make the river so special.   Both the Wisconsin and Minnesota DNRs are well aware of the designation but have not made any major changes in their policies as of yet.  The WDNR Secretary has agreed to a meeting with American Rivers’ partners, the St. Croix River Association, on this issue later this year which will hopefully lead to important changes.  

UPDATE (February 2010): The Minnesota Supreme Court made a ruling that will likely limit the DNR’s authority concerning development along the river.