A centennial. One hundred years. A benchmark unreached by many nonprofits, or for that matter any business. Yet, in 2011 the St. Croix River Association celebrates one hundred years of attention and service to the waterway that defines this region of northwest Wisconsin and east central Minnesota.
The St. Croix River Association (SCRA) mission is to protect, restore and celebrate the St. Croix River and its watershed. It is the only organization with a watershed-wide scope that is able to focus on both sides of the river and both the upper and lower portions of the river basin. With such a large regional focus (7,800 square miles), it’s only natural that the centennial observation called for a signature event that would celebrate the entire river. So, a progressive party has been designed, one that begins in Solon Springs, WI on Tuesday, July 5th and works its way downstream with events all along the way, ending in Prescott, WI on July 22nd. The great news is there are two ways to celebrate: by land and by water.
“Our intent is to celebrate in a big way this July,” said Deb Ryun, SCRA Executive Director. “This river is what makes the region unique and it has sustained communities for thousands of years. We will bring regional and national attention to the St. Croix, recognizing the importance of protecting the river for a wide variety of uses while we are having a lot of fun in every town along the way.”
Be Moved by the River is a 180-mile paddle of the entire St. Croix River. On the bigger water, especially on the lower St. Croix, paddlers will be joined by pontoons, other motorized watercraft, and excursion paddleboats. At lunch and overnight stops along the way, communities will celebrate and participate with music, performance, educational programs, and food events.
An SCRA steering committee of about 30 people have guided the planning process led by Dan McGuiness, a paddler who has experienced thousands of miles of river travel in his lifetime.
“The St. Croix is such an enjoyable river,” said McGuiness. “For most sections of the river, anyone with minimal skill can paddle it. It is small enough that you are never far from shore and yet fast enough to carry a canoe along at a nice pace. Be Moved by the River is a chance to paddle this beautiful river with others who love it and are always willing to share their own stories along the way.”
The 2011 Paddle aspires to have about one hundred vessels on the river each day with most participants probably taking part for a day or two. A photographer who will be documenting the excursion, Gary Noren paddled the entire distance in 1974 and felt that it was high time to do it again. He hopes that even if people can participate for just one day, they will.
“Just to be a part of such a grand event...and when we're celebrating our 125th Anniversary, the participant will be able to look back a quarter of a century and say ‘I remember being part of that first Paddle’"
Another voice in the chorus urging people to join in the celebration is Julie Galonska, the National Park Service Chief of Interpretation, Education, and Cultural Resource Management for the St. Croix Scenic Riverway. When asked if people with just a short amount of available time should get involved, Julie said, “If someone can come just for an hour, they should! The Paddle is more than paddling, so even if people do not want to get out on the water, they can find a way to participate. This event offers opportunities for learning, relaxing, physical activity, and celebration. So often, we get wrapped up in our busy lives and need an excuse to do truly enjoyable things. This is your excuse! Put it on the calendar now.”
Find additional information and registration online for the Be Moved by the River 2011 Paddle of the St. Croix River at www.scrapaddle.org. Daily itineraries, links to outfitters, and opportunities for volunteerism are all found at the website and questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.