About the Initiative

National Heritage Areas across the country celebrate places with important connections to our country’s culture and history.

st-croix-falls-boat-toursImagine the Possibilities: The St. Croix Valley has a rich history and a vibrant cultural life. It’s a great place to live and visit. Yet, our stories and attractions are far flung – from Hastings to Cable, from Prescott to Sandstone. What if we started to envision a future where our history is the basis for regional cooperation and economic growth?

The Heritage Initiative is exploring the possibilities of a National Heritage Area in the St. Croix River region – including the 19 counties which contain streams ultimately flowing into the St. Croix.

A Heritage Area could help us work together to preserve and promote the places that make our region special. We have asked our neighbors about the idea and share the belief that our region is unique and has played a significant role in America’s story.

Based on  input and enthusiasm at a series of public meetings in 2012 and 2013, the Heritage Initiative is currently developing a draft proposal for a Heritage Area. The draft is based on four points:

Proposed National Heritage Area boundary map, with red dots showing location of stories shared by participants in Heritage Discovery Workshops. (Click to see larger version.)

Potential National Heritage Area boundary map, with red dots showing location of resources which tell the stories shared by participants in Heritage Discovery Workshops. Click to see larger version (PDF).

  • The abundant wildlife and white pine forests of the St. Croix region fueled the fur trade and lumber industry, transforming all aspects of culture, economy, and environment.
  • This North Woods landscape at the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin– the St. Croix River watershed – represents the shared history of the Upper Midwest.
  • In this place, waters, woods, and prairies connected the Great Lakes and the Mississippi, bringing together the many people – Native American, European immigrants and recent newcomers—who have called this region home.
  • From unrestrained use to conservation and recreation, the existing landscape reflects competing ideas about and the constantly evolving relationship between people and the natural world.

This concept was discussed by approximately 160 attendees at the Heritage Summit in May 2013. With strong support from participants, we are now working to answer big questions about potential funding, organization, themes, outreach,  community support and other topics.

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