For the past twenty years, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has annually recognized one river as the River of the Year. This recognition is done to raise awareness of the important recreational, ecological, and historical resources associated with the state’s rivers and streams.
The River of the Year is celebrated throughout the year. Events have included paddling trips, a speaker series, clean up days, photography contests, and more. Partnerships of community groups organize the events including a Sojourn paddling trip. In addition, POWR coordinates the production and distribution of a free poster celebrating the river.
The Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers, or POWR, administers the River of the Year program. Local organizations submit nominations. POWR also helps organize and support local watershed associations, as well as the groups who lead a dozen sojourns on rivers around the state each year.
2017 PA River of the Year Nominees:
The Allegheny River is over 315 miles long, and with a watershed area of 11,580 square miles, contributes 60 percent of the Ohio River flow at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Including its tributaries, the Allegheny River system is the location of the most diverse and populous freshwater mussel habitat in the world, and is one of the most biologically diverse watersheds in Pennsylvania. Eighty‐six miles of the Allegheny River from Kinzua Dam to Emlenton, PA are a federally designated National Wild and Scenic Recreation River and contains seven islands that are protected under America’s National Wilderness Preservation System. Every year, thousands of people paddle down this beautiful river.
Cumulatively, 822 volunteers have donated 6,576 hours to collect 795 tires and 236 cubic yards of trash from the Allegheny Reservoir. Penn Soil Resource Conservation and Development Council hope’s to bring attention to a large portion of the Middle and Upper Allegheny watershed to draw even more people to this haven of hills, streams, trees, and wildlife and educating the public about the value of water quality
The Brandywine Creek is acknowledged to be one of the East Coast’s most beautiful watersheds. The creek begins as springs and seeps at over 1,000 feet in elevation on the Welsh Mountain ridge near where Chester, Berks and Lancaster counties meet. Totaling several hundred‐stream miles, the watershed includes an east branch and a west branch and multiple tributaries. The Brandywine flows south through rich farmland, down steep wooded valleys, past historic villages and mill towns, and passes nationally acknowledged historic sites on its way to the City of Wilmington where it discharges into the Christina River.
Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art is in the process of implementing a Strategic Action Plan. Many municipalities have already embarked on Greenway initiatives: preserving farms and critical open spaces; planting riparian buffer forests; planning and constructing local and regional trails; and promoting public access to the Creek for recreation.
The Loyalhanna Creek is 41 miles long and drains nearly 300 square miles of land originating from the ridges of the Laurel Highlands near Donegal where it flows north toward Ligonier. The creek then cuts a beautiful, forested gorge through Chestnut Ridge and passes through the center of the City of Latrobe. From there, it passes through farmland and woodland and enters the Loyalhanna Lake, a large flood‐control project of the US Army Corps of Engineers that offers boating, camping and hiking opportunities.
Efforts to restore and improve the Loyalhanna Creek by Loyalhanna Watershed Association, Inc. and numerous conservation groups, universities and state and federal agencies have brought new attention to this once underutilized waterway. Over recent decades, because of the investment of millions of dollars to fund projects that treat abandoned mine drainage, repair eroding stream banks, protect and enhance riparian buffer areas, and increase public awareness and recreational opportunities, what was once an orange, shallow waterway that passed by mills and factories is now a cleaner, vibrant passageway.
The Perkiomen Creek drains 362 square miles; an area that extends from Berks to Bucks County and from Lehigh through Montgomery County. A total of 488 streams flow for 636 miles through the Perkiomen Watershed and enter the Schuylkill River near Oaks, PA. The upper Perkiomen Creek is largely agricultural while the lower Perkiomen Creek valley has recently witnessed an explosion of development.
The three main conservation challenges for the Perkiomen Creek and center on erosion and sedimentation from storm water runoff, nutrient loading due to poor agricultural practices, and riparian buffer destruction from residential development. Despite these conservation challenges, the Perkiomen Creek follows a secluded course that still offers feelings of isolation where a personal connection with nature might be gained. Other natural resources connected with the creek include the 20+ mile Perkiomen Trail, Green Lane Park and Reservoir, Evansburg State Park, a great number of smaller township and county parks, and a number of environmental education centers.
The voting period will last from November 14th to December 19th, 2016. Vote Here!