St. Croix National Scenic Riverway – Wisconsin & Minnesota

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http://www.nps.gov/sacn

Completed: June 15, 2015

Junior Ranger

While traveling through the MidWest we traveled along the Namekagon and St. Croix Rivers in Wisconsin, they make up the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway (NSR). This was one of the eight designated with the original legislation in 1968 to protect wild and scenic rivers across America. The weather was great that day, mid 70s and sunny.

I picked up the Junior Ranger Activity Booklet at the north end, in Trejo, at the Namekagon River Visitor Center. This is a great center, nice displays and very helpful staff. A required activity is to select a Life Jacket from a bin of jackets, put it on and have a ranger check it for proper closure and fit. Both rivers are wonderful waterways for kayaking and canoeing. We spent some time hiking along the nature trail near this center.

This is considered a Junior Ranger as the front page of the booklet says “. . . Are intended for children in the 8 to 12 year old age range.” They have no problem with older ‘children’ completing the program. Activities include; Life Jacket Activity*, Scavenger Hunt Bingo*, Native Americans, Logging Era*, Fur Trade*, Water Safety*, Wolves, River Map*, Mussels*, Dragonfly Game, Island Song, Cinquain*, Look-Listen-Feel, Special Places*, Eagles*, Animal Tracks*, A Scenic Park*, Crossword*, Watch the Riverway movie* and Attend a Ranger Program. All ages are required to complete 10 or more activity pages. I completed 14 activities, as indicated by an asterisk – *.

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I was amazed and pleased to learn that several wolf packs live along the riverways. The film also talked about the 40 different fresh-water mussels found in the rivers and their improtance to the ecosystem. I frequently see signs about making sure watercraft are free of the non-native zebra mussels, just never realized the diversity and importance of native mussels. The activity involving mussels was fun, what crazy common names they have – sheepnose, rock pocketbook, fat mucket and winged mapleleaf.

I always enjoy the bingo activities that have you identify plants and animals in the park. Our walk, as well as most of our drive, was mid-day which limited what we saw, but it keeps us alert and looking. The River Map activity involved understanding and reading a compass and estimating miles from a scale. As a retired math teacher these are math basics that I love seeing included. Neither a compass or ruler is required, they include the ‘tools’ on the page.

Another math based activity was on the Bald Eagles page; you had to solve a variety of calculations to learn ‘Amazing Eagle Facts’. A few facts; they live on average 40 years, have about 7000 feathers and their nests can weigh on average 1000 pounds. Animal tracks are always a challenge, I think I am improving, but a few of the mammals still are difficult to identify.
Finally, the crossword puzzle had you apply a lot of information in the booklet, which was a good resource, especially for spelling some of the more technical words. It was a good review and overview.
While driving between Trejo and St. Croix Falls I worked on completing several of the activities in the car. By the time we reached St. Croix I was able to finalize a few pages and have the volunteer on duty review it and then present me a certificate and enhanced badge. The badge features a dragonfly, an insect that I saw hiking along the river.
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