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  What We Do

A Project Example

Preserving Community Character: Integrating Nature, Commerce, and Development in the St.Croix River Valley

The Preserving Community Character Workshop convened conservation and planning stakeholders to develop a common vision balancing commerce, development and natural resource conservation for the 252-mile St. Croix River Valley, which bridges Minnesota and Wisconsin. While the corridor is natural in character, its 7,700 square mile watershed contains rural and urban areas, 26 counties, and more than 40 cities and villages, including the Minneapolis and St. Paul/Twin Cities metropolitan area less than 15 miles from the river. The watershed also includes over 1,500 tributaries and a diversity of wildlife and plant species, at least six of which are threatened or endangered.

Photo shows St. Croix River Valley in fall.  Photo courtesy Randy Thoreson.

In the river valley corridor there is a constant struggle between protecting the valuable natural amenities the St.Croix offers and managing the tremendous development pressure. These tensions between competing demands on the river valley corridor is evident in skyrocketing land values, conflicts between motorized and non-motorized recreational uses, and community planning inconsistencies.

In preparation for the February workshop, the project partners conducted a series of local workshops at strategic locations, from which citizen focus teams were formed. These teams then participated in the vision workshop, which included over 200 participants.

Image shows man speaking to group of people sitting at tables. Photo courtesy Randy Thoreson.

Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance staff member Randy Thoreson participated in and helped organize this larger scale effort, but staff is also working more locally on several related projects in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Representatives from each of these projects participated in the workshop, developing specific action plans that will direct their future activities in a manner that is consistent with the regional vision for the corridor. For more information, contact Randy Thoreson at (651) 290-3004.

See a video example of our project work about several trail projects in Minnesota.

Photo shows former Vice President Walter Mondale speaking to an audience with St. Croix Valley banner behind him. Photo courtesy Randy Thoreson.

Former Vice President Walter Mondale addresses the workshop. National Park Service Rivers & Trails, St.Croix Scenic Coalition, University of Wisconsin, Watchable Wildlife Inc. and The Conservation Fund, developed a partnership to facilitate greater understanding of community development and natural resource conservation issues for the St. Croix River corridor and adjoining gateway communities.

For more information, please contact Randy Thoreson, RTCA St. Paul, MN office at (651) 290-3004.

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