MONTEVIDEO - Clean Up our River Environment and the executive director who helped create its mission and extend its influence well beyond the Upper Minnesota River are going separate ways.

The organization’s board of directors approved a separation agreement with Patrick Moore on Thursday night. Both emphasized that it was a mutual agreement.

“There will be challenges, but I truly believe that CURE is more than one person,’’ said Jennifer Hoffman, chair of the CURE board of directors.  

“I think CURE can continue and can (continue) to be vibrant.’’

Moore said the separation has been hard and painful, but for the good. “I do think this was kind of a push that was needed.’’

Moore, 53, plans to continue living in Montevideo and working as an independent consultant. He’s already launched his new endeavor on the web, http://riverartisan. com/Home_Page.html.

He said he will also take time to focus on healing. He said he was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, but that it is not a fast growing type.

Hoffman said CURE’s board of directors has not appointed an interim director. It will be considering whether to revise its management structure before making any decisions. Peg Furshong, associate director, Dixie Tilden, Duane Ninneman and Sarina Otaibi will continue with CURE as staff.

The organization will continue in its mission of promoting and protecting the Minnesota River, and follow through on the projects Moore was directing, she added.

“CURE has never been in a better position to move ahead with a motivated staff, a new region-wide board and momentum from several innovative, well-funded projects,’’ said Hoffman in a statement issued Friday.

Moore was among the founders of CURE in 1992, and was tapped to lead it while he was employed with the Land Stewardship Project as a community organizer. He continued with CURE until 1998, when he opened the Java River café in downtown Montevideo.

It was around a coffee table there that Moore developed many of the strategies that he introduced to CURE when he returned as its director in 2005.

People of opposing political persuasions often gathered around the coffee table. They managed to identify common projects to take on. The success that came from working together created an “empowerment’’ and identity that led to more good work, according to Moore.

“We build the road by walking’’ is the theme he most-often promoted.

“We have to be not just what we are against. We have to be what we are for. We have to show what we are for,’’ said Moore.

Under Moore, CURE focused on developing a cultural appreciation of the river. It works extensively to introduce youth and others to the outdoors through canoe and kayak adventures on the river and its tributaries.

Yet it came to statewide if not national attention for its role in opposing the proposal to expand the coal-fired Big Stone power plant. Moore said the classic, pitched battle and rancor over Big Stone II “took it out of me’’ and set him on a new direction.

In recent years, he has been leading CURE-sponsored “friendship tours’’ that bring people involved in production agriculture together with environmentalists and landowners along Lake Pepin concerned about sedimentation. He called this work his most invigorating and said he hopes that he can continue to play a role in bringing people together.

Hoffman pointed out that CURE has survived other, difficult changes and emerged the stronger, and believes that will be the case again.

“Stick with us through the rapids and we will get back hopefully to the smooth sailing very quickly, and with the same direction,’’ she said.

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