Uncertain future for Lower St. Croix River, one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2009

Six months after 'Most Endangered River' listing, outlook is mixed for future of Wild and Scenic protections

October 20th, 2009

Caitlin Jennings, American Rivers, 202.243.7023
Dan McGuiness, St. Croix River Association, 651-260-6260

Washington— Six months after American Rivers named the Lower St. Croix River one of America’s Most Endangered RiversTM, the future of the river’s Wild and Scenic protections still hangs in the balance.

The Wild and Scenic Lower St. Croix River, a hotspot for anglers and boaters and a rare natural retreat from urban life, could have its character destroyed if poorly planned development along the river continues. This threat landed the Lower St. Croix in the number ten spot in America’s Most Endangered Rivers: 2009 edition.

American Rivers and its partners called on the Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments of Natural Resources (DNRs) to, respectively, reestablish and expand their oversight of local zoning decisions that affect the unique qualities of the state managed section of the Lower St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

“This river is a national treasure but it is in danger of dying a death from a thousand cuts. Poorly planned development is slowly killing the very qualities that make the Lower St. Croix so special,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. “Not only is this National Scenic Riverway at risk, but the integrity of the entire Wild and Scenic River System is being harmed.”

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.  

Surrounded by wooded bluffs and historic towns, the Lower St. Croix River corridor provides a wealth of scenic views and recreational opportunities for the nearby Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area and western Wisconsin. Hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors enjoy fishing, swimming, and boating the St. Croix every year, and these recreational industries depend on a clean, healthy river. It has also been called one of most biologically diverse rivers in the Upper Mississippi River basin because its sloughs, backwaters, and braided streams provide remarkably diverse habitat for native plants and animals, including 17 species of state- and federally-endangered mussels.
To learn more about the 2009 Most Endangered Rivers Report, please visit www.AmericanRivers.org/EndangeredRivers.

About America’s Most Endangered Rivers™
Each year, the America’s Most Endangered Rivers report highlights the rivers facing the most uncertain futures. The report presents alternatives to proposals that would damage rivers, identifies those who make the crucial decisions, and points out opportunities for the public to take action on behalf of each listed river.

The America’s Most Endangered Rivers Report results in thousands of supporters taking action on behalf of their beloved river. Such action produces immediate and tangible results. To see success stories visit www.americanrivers.org/MERSuccesses


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About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at AmericanRivers.org, Facebook.com/AmericanRivers, and Twitter.com/AmericanRivers.