Wild and Scenic Rivers: The St. Croix River

All photos © Alison M. Jones

The St. Croix River runs through Wisconsin and Minnesota as a valuable upstream tributary to the Mississippi River, one of NWNL’s 6 case-study watersheds. In 1968, the St. Croix River was among the first 8 rivers added to the new Wild and Scenic River System, making this a 50-year anniversary of that designation. (The other rivers added at that time were the Clearwater, Eleven Point, Feather, Rio Grande, Rogue, Salmon, and Wolf Rivers.)

Two other segments of the St. Croix were added to the Wild and Scenic River System in 1972 and 1976. A total of 252 miles of the St. Croix River have been designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act:  193 miles for their scenic value and 59 for their recreational value.

St Croix River’s Wild and Scenic designation on Oct 2, 1968

  • From the dam near Taylor Falls, Minnesota to the dam near Gordon, Wisconsin
  • The Namekagon River, from Lake Namekagon to its confluence with the St Croix River
  • 181 miles as Scenic; 19 miles as Recreational

St Croix River’s Wild and Scenic designation on October 25, 1972

  • Downstream from the dam near Taylor Falls, Minnesota
  • 12 miles as Scenic; 15 miles as Recreational

St Croix River’s Wild and Scenic designation on June 17, 1976

  • Upstream from the St Croix’s confluence with the Mississippi River
  • 25 miles as Recreational

NWNL visited the St. Croix during its 2013 expedition to the Upper Mississippi River Basin from Lake Itasca to St Louis. The St. Croix River photographs below were taken on that expedition by NWNL Director Alison M. Jones. More details of that expedition can be found on its Purpose Page. For more information about the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, read the first part of this blog series.

Jones_130512_MN_6624

USA: Wisconsin, Upper Mississippi River Basin and St Croix River Basin,

USA: Wisconsin, Upper Mississippi River Basin and St Croix River Basin,

Jones_130516_WI_7427

USA: Wisconsin, Upper Mississippi River Basin and St Croix River Basin, Gordon

Less than a quarter of 1% of our rivers are protected under the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System. That protection is via  “voluntary stewardship by landowners and river users and through regulation and programs of federal, state, local, or tribal governments,” according to the National Wild and Scenic River System informative website at rivers.gov.

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