Wild and Scenic, 50 years on.

Fifty years ago we weren’t sure.  The Wild and Scenic Rivers act was before Congress and if it passed the St. Criox, the boundary river between Minnesota and Wisconsin, was to be one of the first 8 rivers included in the system.  Landowners along the river would have restrictions on what they could build, especially if that building could be seen from the river.  The act would compensate property owners for the scenic easements but many property owners were not happy.

Suzi’s family kept their land and accepted the easements.  Others sold their land outright while some sold the land in return for a 50 year lease, which is up this year.  Two neighbors have already left their summer homes.

Fifty years later the wisdom of the act is apparent, at least to me.  The river is clean, the views from the river remain scenic, if not wild, and land values have been enhanced because of the serene nature of the environment.  There is an abundance of wildlife that was not there 50 years ago.  We always had deer, but now bald eagles are back and the great blue heron.  All sorts of songbirds, orioles, goldfinches, robins and others fill the yard.   Even black bear are back, although homeowners do not necessarily welcome them.   When we travel to Minnesota from Alaska Suzi’s sister, Nancy, still welcomes us to the river house where we enjoy a clean swim and a relaxing boat trip down the river.

There is one encroachment of civilization that I do find enchanting, the old Soo Line high bridge about three miles below the cabin.  Everytime I see it I feel like it belongs, with the wildlife, the trees and the water.  And at night the sound of the train and its whistle is something I don’t get in Sitka.

Upland from the river bank, above the lower bluff line, old farms are going to trees.  The land is sandy, not the greatest farm land, and is waiting for the development that halted with the 2008 collapse of the real estate market.   It’s a nice place for a walk on a summer’s day if you wear shoes and socks and search for ticks when you come back from your walk.

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