The St. Croix River: A wild and scenic river in continued need of protection

The St. Croix River offers good water quality, excellent fisheries, and a thriving mussel population. But there are some problems, including phosphorus levels and resulting algae in two sections of the river, with more threats to water quality on the horizon. One of the first rivers in the United States to be designated as wild and scenic, with special protections, the St. Croix River now needs protective measures more than ever.

MPCA study contacts

Jordan Donatell
Environmental specialist
jordan.donatell@state.mn.us or 651-757-2254

Mike Feist
Research scientist
mike.feist@state.mn.us or 651-757-2351

The St. Croix River: Study of the river’s health


Read about the study

Thumbnail image of the St. Croix River report cover

 

 

 

The St. Croix River Association (SCRA) recently released The State of the St. Croix River report. This report notes the rich culture and recreational value of the river while warning of threats to water quality like invasive species and a changing landscape. It also recommends actions that people can take to protect this cherished river.

SCRA report contact: Monica Zachay, Director of Programs, monicaz@scramail.com or 715-483-3300

 

Section from the St. Croix River report

St. Croix River: Keep safeguarding this treasure

The St. Croix River is indeed a treasure, with good water quality, excellent fisheries, and a thriving mussel population. This river has a healthy ecosystem, in large part because of relatively little disturbance to its wetlands, floodplains and other features. This condition helps makes the basin more resilient to climate change. Located near major metropolitan areas, the St. Croix offers exceptional recreation for hundreds of thousands of people every year. But that attraction also poses threats. Development—for housing, recreation and agriculture—means more runoff, and more runoff means more pollutants. One of the first rivers in the United States to be designated as wild and scenic, with special protections, the St. Croix now needs protective measures more than ever.

  • Protection crucial: This river faces threats from changes in land use, both different ag practices and expanding urban development, so protection is crucial. Climate change is also a threat.
  • Popular: The St. Croix River is extremely popular because of its high water quality, exceptional recreation, and ease of public access.
  • Nutrient diet prescribed: Many partners are working to reduce phosphorus in Lake St. Croix to prevent algal blooms. The stretch of the river coming into the lake also needs reductions in nutrients.
  • Healthy biology: The fish and bugs are in good to excellent condition. And this river is one of the few of its size in the United States with a thriving mussel population.

More information

Watersheds that feed the St. Croix River

These watersheds comprise all the land in Minnesota that drains water towards the St. Croix River: