Harrisburg, Pa. (WHTM) – The North Branch of the Susquehanna River in northeastern Pennsylvania has been voted as the state’s 2023 River of the Year. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn and Janet Sweeney of the Pennsylvania Organization for Waterways and Rivers (POWR) made the announcement today, Jan. 25.
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The Susquehanna River North Branch starts in New York. As it enters Pennsylvania it merges with the Chemung River at Tioga Point (Athens). At Sunbury, near Shikellamy State Park, it meets up with the Susquehanna River West Branch. Along the way, it meanders through eight Pennsylvania counties-Susquehanna, Bradford, Wyoming, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Columbia, Montour, and Northumberland.
“Through planned River of the Year celebrations, public awareness of the value of the North Branch of the Susquehanna River will be increased and major initiatives along this section of the river will be underscored,” Dunn said. “Economic revitalization of river-town communities will enhance access to the river; increase tourism; and provide additional land and water-based recreational opportunities for local residents and visitors alike.”
Susquehanna River North Branch gets a lot of use from anglers, recreational boaters, and wildlife enthusiasts. In most places the river is calm, giving new boaters and paddlers a place to practice. For boaters of all experience levels, the river has many natural and historic sites to explore. Those historic sites earned the water trail a “National Recreation Trail” designation by the National Park Service in 2009, as part of the larger Captain John Smith National Historic Trail system, which commemorates the exchange of goods and cultures between the early settlers and the native peoples of the Susquehanna River basin and the Chesapeake Bay.
Four waterways were nominated for River of the Year, and the public voted for the winner online. A total of 11,438 votes were cast, with Susquehanna River North Branch receiving 4,098; the Perkiomen Creek 3,110; Conestoga River 2,490; and the Schuylkill River 1,740.
The Endless Mountains Heritage Region, which nominated the North Branch of the Susquehanna River, will receive a $10,000 Leadership Grant to help fund a slate of year-long 2023 River of the Year activities.
“We nominated the North Branch in the hopes of receiving this prestigious designation in conjunction with our organization’s 25th anniversary in 2023 and now that we have it, we couldn’t be more excited,” said Cain Chamberlin, Executive Director of the Endless Mountains Heritage Region. “We have an array of river paddles and sojourns planned for this year as well as other outdoor recreation-related events that will meld perfectly with our management of the water trail. We’re committed to educating the public about paddling safety and encouraging everyone to be responsible stewards for the Susquehanna and its abundant tributaries.”