A designated Wild and Scenic River that draws legions of anglers, paddlers, and other outdoors enthusiasts throughout the seasons, the Clarion River in northwestern Pennsylvania has been voted the state’s 2019 River of the Year.
The public was invited to vote online, choosing from among four waterways nominated across the state. Results were announced jointly on January 17 by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Pennsylvania Organization for Waterways and Rivers (POWR). Other waterways nominated were: Conodoguinet Creek, Delaware River and Lackawanna River.
“Congratulations to the supporting groups who rallied around a waterway most deserving of River of the Year honors,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Beyond its Wild and Scenic River status, this icon of our Pennsylvania Wilds defines a wilderness of clean water and healthy forests that draws back visitors again and again. This annual honor recognizes not only our state’s wealth of rivers and streams, but also the core of dedicated folks who fight to protect them.”
A total of 14,790 votes were cast, with the Clarion receiving 5,850; Delaware River, 4,748; Lackawanna River, 2,852; and Conodoguinet Creek, 1,340.
DCNR and POWR will work with the Allegheny Watershed Improvement Needs (WINs) Coalition to create a free, commemorative poster celebrating the Clarion River as the 2019 PA River of the Year. As acting fiscal agent for the WINs Coalition, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy will receive a $10,000 Leadership Grant to help fund a slate of year-long River of the Year activities.
The WINS Coalition is a collaborative network of 35 organizations, including members from non-profits and local watershed groups, as well as county, state, and federal agencies, all of whom will plan and coordinate the celebration events to be held throughout the year. The WINS Coalition was formed in 2007 with the goals of protecting, restoring, and improving habitat in watersheds throughout the Allegheny National Forest.
“Having just observed the 2018 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act by hailing the conservation of nearly 52 miles of the Clarion River protected under that designation, we are elated to continue to honor the Clarion as the 2019 Pennsylvania River of the Year to celebrate its remarkable recovery and pay tribute to it as a treasured resource of the state,” said Kylie Maland of the WINs Coalition.
In cooperation with DCNR, selection of public voting choices was overseen by the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers, an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
“POWR is excited to partner once again with DCNR on River of the Year Program,” POWR Executive Director Janet Sweeney said. “The River of the Year program is a great way for us to highlight the opportunities and challenges facing the state’s waterways. As part of the larger river sojourn program, the River of the Year honor helps connect thousands of Pennsylvanians to the water, as well as highlights the great work being done in Pennsylvania communities on these valuable resources.”
POWR administers the River of the Year program with funding from DCNR. Presented annually since 1983, the 2018 River of the Year designation was awarded to Loyalsock Creek in northcentral Pennsylvania.
A commemorative River of the Year sojourn is among many paddling trips supported by DCNR and POWR each year. An independent program, the Pennsylvania Sojourn Program, is a unique series of a dozen such trips on the state’s rivers. These 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 sojourn program, visit www.pawatersheds.org.
To learn more about the River of the Year program, the nominated waterways, and past winners visit www.pariveroftheyear.org.
To learn more about DCNR’s Rivers Program, visit www.dcnr.pa.us (click on “Conservation” then “Water”).