New St Croix River Camping Regulations to Take Effect in 2008
Contact: Jill Medland, 715-483-2284
After considering public feedback on the draft camping plan, the National Park Service (NPS) has adopted new strategies for managing camping on NPS-administered lands on the Lower St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. At present, there are few restrictions on camping in this popular reach of the Riverway. Changes were needed to address concerns about human waste, shoreline and island erosion, and effects on adjacent private landowners. Alternative 3a from the draft plan, which was on public review in March, will be implemented on the 22-mile stretch of river north of the High Bridge, or essentially from St. Croix Falls/Taylors Falls to the High Bridge. Elements of 3a will also be implemented south of the High Bridge to north Stillwater.
New regulations for 2008 will include camping in designated campsites. These campsites will be signed, which should help alleviate confusion as to where to camp. Up to 8 people will be allowed at individual designated campsites on the main channel and 9-16 people at group campsites. Larger groups will need to split up or make arrangements to camp in one of the State Parks. The 6 clustered individual sites already established at Eagle’s Nest (an NPS boat-in campground south of Franconia) will also accommodate larger groups; up to a total of 48 people with 8 per site. Toilets and water will continue to be provided at Eagle’s Nest. Group size limits will be smaller in backwater areas. Up to 6 people with 3 boats may stay at designated backwater campsites, which will be available by reservation only. A 3-night stay limit will apply to campsites on the main channel. In the backwaters, which serve as fish and wildlife rearing areas, a one-night stay will be put in place. Campers will also be required to bring their own carry-in, carry-out toilets or use onboard facilities.
In addition, campers will need to be in possession of an “overnight use pass.” The purpose of the pass is to make sure that all visitors who are camping are informed of all applicable Riverway regulations. It is not a reservation for a campsite, which, except for the backwater sites, will remain first-come, first-served. In 2008, the pass will be available free-of-charge at the NPS Visitor Center in St. Croix Falls as well as by mail. Persons who are fishing at night, but not camping, will not need an overnight use pass. Demand for camping will be monitored and an advance reservation system for campsites may be implemented in the future, if warranted.
Recreational use south of the High Bridge is quite different than that to the north. In addition to camping, there is more day use of the islands and shorelines and there are larger, faster boats. On the 5-mile stretch of river from the High Bridge south to Stillwater, the following elements of Alternative 3a will be implemented; campers on this stretch of river will need to be in possession of their own carry-in, carry-out or onboard toilets; and campers will need to be in possession of an overnight use pass. Other elements of 3a will not be implemented below the High Bridge. In response to public comments on the draft camping management plan, the NPS will conduct additional planning and public involvement to address remaining issues regarding use on this stretch of river. This process will take a broader approach to recreational use. In addition to camping, the process for the 5-mile stretch will address day use, boat speeds, and island and shoreline restoration.
Changes will be phased in over a period of 2-4 years. This summer, park rangers will be providing information on the new regulations that will start being put into place in 2008. Primitive designated campsites will also be established along the stretch of river between St. Croix Falls/Taylors Falls to Osceola and further downstream, if possible. Demand for camping will be monitored and an advance reservation system for campsites may be implemented in the future, if needed.
A copy of the decision document can be accessed here. Existing regulations will remain in effect this summer including quiet hours from 10:00pm to 6:00am and no glass containers. Pets are required to be on leash.
The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway was established by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968; it is one of a group of eight rivers in the country which first received this recognition. For 252 miles, the St. Croix River and its tributary, the Namekagon, flow through some of the most scenic and least developed country in the Upper Midwest. Camping upstream of St. Croix Falls/Taylors Falls has long been managed through the use of primitive designated campsites. The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is a part of the National Park System.