A group of St. Paul business and tribal leaders has formed the Great River Passage Conservancy, a nonprofit that will raise money to help bring several projects and programs to life along the Mississippi River. The conservancy's five board members are:

Chairman Eric J. Jolly, president and chief executive of the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations; Shelley Buck, president of the Prairie Island Tribal Council; John Marshall, director of community relations for Xcel Energy; Joe Nayquonabe, chief executive of Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures and Jake Reint, managing director for public affairs of Flint Hills Resources. Jim Stolpestad, founder and senior principal of Exeter Group, will be an advisory member.

"This conservancy will bolster St. Paul's prominence as a river city and better connect our community to our greatest natural asset — the Mississippi River," said Mayor Melvin Carter.

Projects for which the conservancy is seeking funds include:

• The River Balcony, a proposed downtown public space along 1.5 miles of riverfront.

• The River Learning Center at Watergate Marina, which could combine the local National Park Service headquarters with a visitor center and year-round environmental learning and outdoor recreation.

• A new East Side River District, connecting areas along the Mississippi River that include Dakota homeland and sacred sites, industrial areas, parks and natural areas.

In 2013, St. Paul adopted the Great River Passage Master Plan to begin creating ways to better connect the city to 3,500 acres of parkland along the river.

James Walsh