Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn recently announced the public voting for Pennsylvania River of the Year, with four waterways nominated throughout the state.
“The value of our waterways has shined brighter than ever during this pandemic as people have visited Pennsylvania’s river and streams in unprecedented numbers seeking the natural refuge they supply,” Dunn said. “This annual competition is so much more than a popularity contest. All of our rivers and streams have truly unique attributes, offer incredible recreational opportunities, and offer significant boosts to local economies. This competition shares those wonderful attributes and helps build community support around our rivers and streams, showing just how much they have to offer to the public.”
One of the nominees is the Catawissa Creek, part of which flows through Columbia County. The Catawissa Creek, Connoquenessing Creek, French Creek, and the Monongahela River are the four nominees for the 2022 River of the Year. Nominations were based on each waterway’s conservation needs and successes, as well as celebration plans if the nominee is voted 2022 River of the Year.
In cooperation with DCNR, selection of public voting choices is overseen by the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR). Dunn noted that the online public selection process continues to be increasingly popular as it enters its twelfth year.
The public can vote for a favorite state waterway now through 5:00 PM Friday, January 14, 2022. The POWR website enables voting and offers details on nominated waterways and the River of the Year program.
POWR, an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, administers the River of the Year program with funding from DCNR. Presented annually since 1983, this year’s 2021 designation was awarded to the Shenango River.
After a waterway is chosen for the annual honor, local groups implement a year-round slate of activities and events to celebrate the river, including a paddling trip, or sojourn. The organization nominating the winning river will receive a $10,000 leadership grant from DCNR to help fund River of the Year activities.
POWR and DCNR also work with local organizations to create a free, commemorative poster celebrating the River of the Year.
The River of the Year sojourn is among many paddling trips supported each year by DCNR and POWR. An independent program, the Pennsylvania Sojourn Program, is a unique series of a dozen such trips on the state’s rivers. The water-based journeys for canoeists, kayakers and others raise awareness of the environmental, recreational, tourism and heritage values of rivers. For more information about the sojourns, visit www.pawatersheds.org.
More About Catawissa Creek
Catawissa Creek is an incredibly beautiful, 41-mile tributary of the North Branch of the Susquehanna River that flows through three counties: Luzerne, Schuylkill and Columbia. Unfortunately, the creek’s aquatic ecosystem has been seriously damaged by a history of abandoned mine drainage issues connected to five mine tunnel discharges. This creates an environmental hurdle for the Catawissa to reach its full potential as a world-class cold-water fishery.
The creek’s potential is enhanced by a network of natural riparian buffers and ideal stream bed structure that is ready to support a wide diversity of aquatic organisms. River the Year designation would help raise the awareness (both public and political) needed to accomplish the final leg of treatment the creek needs to complete its success story. The example would provide a valuable blueprint about how persistence along with inter-agency/association collaboration can spark realistic and lasting change in waterways impacted by abandoned mine drainage. River the Year designation would also benefit the emerging coalition between the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association (MSRKA), Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR), Catawissa Creek Restoration Association (CCRA), conservation districts in Columbia and Schuylkill counties, and other groups as they work to engage and empower nearby communities in working together to improve stream quality and recreational opportunities. Additionally, it would help to recharge the local creek restoration association with a new generation of local volunteers ready to correct and protect Catawissa Creek moving forward.