A well-established, three-decade-old area environmental nonprofit may soon change its name.
The annual Cannon River Watershed Partnership (CRWP) changed its name to Clean River Partners during a membership meeting Thursday.
“We have streamlined the name to Clean River Partners to allow us to invest more time helping people focus on our mission as opposed to explaining what our name means,” wrote CRWP Executive Director Kristi Pursell in a letter to members.
The environmental nonprofit is based in Northfield, but the watershed itself expands across many area counties, including Dakota, Goodhue, Le Sueur, Rice, Steele and Waseca. The group’s aim is to engage people in protecting and enhancing the area’s land and water.
The name change is not unexpected because the CRWP Board of Directors has been discussing the potential switch for many years, according to Pursell. At this point, CRWP has viewed various options for rebranding for more than a year. A board subcommittee was tasked with guiding the organization to the new name, which was ultimately approved by the board of directors. Now the decision moves onto the members for a bylaw change.
CRWP is entertaining the name change because there are concerns that the term “watershed” may lead people to believe that the organization is a government body, which it is not. Over the years CRWP has received many phone calls from confused residents inquiring about getting permits.
“For about the last decade or so, aside from CRWP, the only organizations in Minnesota with the term watershed in their name, were government agencies or watershed districts or watershed management organizations,” said Kevin Strauss, CRWP community engagement coordinator.
With the newly formed Cannon River Watershed Joint Powers Board (CRWJPB), retaining the Cannon River Watershed Partnership name may cause even more confusion. The Cannon River joint powers board formed in 2020, and involves some government representatives from area soil and water conservation districts with the goal of implementing the Cannon River Watershed Comprehensive Management Plan. The comparable name between the two groups helped lead to the proposed rebrand. Along with the new name, CRWP anticipates a logo redesign and new website address.
While the organization will appear slightly different, its mission remains the same. Clean River Partners will continue its work to collaborate with other organizations in an effort to make the water and land surrounding the Cannon and Straight rivers clean.
“These are by and large cosmetic changes, in terms of operations and activities, the organization will be operating exactly the same,” Strauss said.
The CRWP’s agenda Thursday also included the Board of Directors election and bylaw changes, effectively changing the name. Additional bylaw changes will make committee structures more flexible.
“In practice it won’t make a lot of changes, primarily the changes have to do with the names of the committees and allowing the board to be a little bit more flexible about which committees we need to have operating and how many volunteers we need to have on them,” Strauss said.