Denny Caneff

Denny Caneff knew he was a river rat from the moment he fell through the ice of a small creek in rural Minnesota at age 10.  Ten years later he paddled the Mississippi River from source to mouth as a college project and, with that, began a lifelong affection for towboats. Caneff served as executive director of the River Alliance of Wisconsin from 2003 until 2016.  Matt Krueger, River Alliance of Wisconsin’s River Restoration Director describes the many roles played by Caneff during his tenure there as a “motivational speaker, skeptic-in-chief, vigilant watchdog, guerilla paddler, citizen organizer, bridge-builder, pragmatist, rabble rouser, and river steward.” Krueger goes on to say, “Denny infused a belief in thousands of citizen advocates that no matter the issue, no matter the long odds, their personal stories and testimonies had power that no lobbyist possessed. Not only did he make them believe their voice mattered, he helped them understand how best to use it, from a strategic perspective.” As executive director of the Superior Hiking Trail Association in northern Minnesota, Caneff figures his biggest challenge will still relate to water: maintaining scores of bridges over Lake Superior basin rivers.