2017-2019 WGCF Presidents’ Project
ST CROIX RIVER CROSSING
Loop Tail, Blue Star Marker, Gardens
After a 60 plus year wait, and years of negotiation, a badly needed bridge was built between Minnesota and Wisconsin over the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. According to Wikipedia: “this is a federally protected system of riverways located in eastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. It protects 252 miles (406 km) of river, including the St. Croix River (on the Wisconsin/Minnesota border), and the Namekagon River (in Wisconsin), as well as adjacent land along the rivers. The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is one of the original eight National Wild and Scenic Rivers, largely as a result of legislation by senators Walter Mondale of Minnesota and Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. The largest scenic riverway east of the Mississippi River, it lies within parts of eight counties in Wisconsin: Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Pierce, Polk, St. Croix, Sawyer, and Washburn; and three in Minnesota: Chisago, Pine, and Washington.”
This bridge took bipartisan cooperation between representatives of Wisconsin and Minnesota and an act of
Congress to be built. A group of 28 stakeholders from all areas affected, worked for years to negotiate a final plan.
As part of these negotiations, a five mile, walking, biking trail, called the Loop Trail, was created. Peggy Grubbs, our current WGCF president, realized that there was a wonderful opportunity for the Wisconsin Garden Club Federation to be involved in several aspects of this project. Beginning in June of 2016, Peggy Grubbs, Susan Johansen and Carol Howe, all members of the Willow River Garden Club, began working with representatives from St. Croix County to see how we could collaborate together.
The idea of putting in a Blue Star Marker and garden at the Loop Trailhead to honor our veterans, was embraced by St. Croix County officials. We were encouraged to also plant both raingardens and pollinator gardens as part of this project.
Because of publicity about the involvement of WGCF, we were contacted by representatives from the US Fish and Wildlife to partner with them in establishing the gardens. They have pledged a substantial amount of money to making this project a reality.
The Loop Tail is an important part of the environmental mitigation package of the project. The five mile long trail goes over both the old Stillwater lift bridge and the new Stillwater Crossing bridge and along both sides of the river. In addition to the trails, there are interpretive panels planned that will highlight both the natural and historic features of the area.
The major focus of WGCF’s efforts will be seen at the Trailhead. This area will include parking, flush toilets, pavilions, benches, gardens and the Blue Star Marker. It is the main location for people to gain access to the trail.
The bridge has been open since early August of 2017 and has had tremendous use by walkers and bikers since its opening. A dedicated path, with outcroppings for viewings of the natural beauty of the river was a wonderful addition to the plan.
Construction of the Trailhead is scheduled for the Spring of 2018. Our 2018 Gathering for Gardeners, will be focused along the river in Stillwater and will include a tour of the Trailhead and the dedication of the Blue Star Marker in Wisconsin.