In February 1872, Horace W. Cleveland trudged through the snowy streets of Minneapolis to the Pence Opera House. His goal was to deliver a speech convincing the city planners, wealthy landowners, and businessmen to work quickly on protecting and preserving the scenic beauty found throughout the growing cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
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Within its relatively short length (194 miles) from its source to Lake Superior, and the truncated time frame of 300 years since European contact and colonization, the St. Louis River is emblematic of historical patterns of use and exploitation in the region, as well as recovery attempts, for rivers across the state of Minnesota and indeed much of the country.
Rivers have long been the spines of our greatest cities. Regardless of your geography prowess, you have no doubt heard of them—Thames, Seine, Potomac, Tiber, Ganges, Nile. These names twist through our history and culture in ways that imitate their own billowing shapes. They feed our wells and our fields. They clean away our rubbish. They are the arteries of our civilization…
Citizens who appreciate the importance and preservation of our country’s natural resources know that governmental agencies need assistance to do their jobs. That’s why in the conservation arena so many not-for-profit or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are acting to augment and monitor the work of the government agencies.