My Deep, Abiding Love for the River,
by Dan Willius


Nelson-Mondale Legacy Award Recipient Remarks by Dan Willius

I am deeply honored to have my name linked to the legacy of Senators Gaylord Nelson and Walter Mondale. The fact is that I was lucky. Few people are given an opportunity to make a difference. Over a decade ago I was given such an opportunity. I happened to be at the right time, the right place, and with the right people.  Those people shared my deep, abiding love for the river. We realized the river desperately needed a voice and we were willing to take the risk of investing our time, talent, and treasure toward that end. 

Today the reward for me is so much more than this beautiful memento. The greater reward lies in knowing that the river now indeed does have an effective voice. The reward lies in the deep, lasting friendships formed with people who share the same conservation ethic. And it lies in knowing that we are in it for the long haul -  defending the river will be a never-ending journey. 

Dan Willius delivering award acceptance remarks at Open Water fundraiser, 4-21-23
Dan Willius delivered award acceptance remarks at the Open Water fundraiser. Peter Gove stands by his side. Photo by October Yates

A special nod of gratitude to Peter Gove who gave us the vision and confidence to “go big” and to our “wise elder” Bill Clapp. 

Credit also to our “Founding” donors and the McKnight Foundation who trusted us to use their seed-money wisely. And to Deb Ryun who, with the support of staff, donors, board members, has grown our acorn into what is now a mighty oak. I know Gaylord and Walter would be pleased.


- Dan Willius

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1 Comment

  1. Akira Nakano on May 5, 2023 at 1:19 am

    I am a Japanese citizen. I was acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Dan Wullius in New Zealand
    in 2001 and met them in Tokyo in 2013. Since then, we have kept in touch each other by
    e-mail over the years. I have known that Dan has involved volunteer activities to clean and
    maintain for a river, but frankly speaking I did not know he was an important person in Wild
    Rivers Conservancy such a recipient of Nelson-Mondale Legacy Award. Therefore, I am
    quite happy to learn he received the award recently and to see his portraits at Award Recipient
    Spotlight page. I hope for his continued success.

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