The North Branch of the Susquehanna River in northeastern Pennsylvania has been voted the state’s 2023 River of the Year, DCNR announced Wednesday.
The selection was made by the audience via online voting and chose from four nominated waterways.
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 Schuylkill River 1,740.
The Susquehanna River North Branch is a waterway used by paddlers, anglers, recreational boaters and nature lovers.
The Susquehanna River North Branch flows from the New York state line to Sunbury near Shikellamy State Park at the confluence with the Susquehanna River West Branch and meanders through eight Pennsylvania counties including Susquehanna, Bradford, Wyoming, Lackawanna, Lucerne, Columbia , Montour and Northumberland.
The recognition is expected to spur outdoor initiatives. “The planned River of the Year celebrations will raise public awareness of the value of the northern branch of the Susquehanna and underscore important initiatives along this stretch of the river,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Economic revitalization of river-city communities will improve access to the river; increase tourism; and provide additional recreational opportunities on land and water for residents and visitors alike.”
Recreational sports enthusiasts enjoy the calm Class I waters, which serve both as a playground for experienced boaters to explore the area’s natural and historical offerings, and as a learning ground for new paddlers to develop their skills.
In addition to paddling opportunities, visitors are surrounded by rich history.
These historical connections earned the water trail the National Recreation Trail designation from the National Park Service in 2009 as part of the larger Captain John Smith National Historic Trail system — a recreation trail celebrating the exchange of goods and cultures between the early, famous explorers of the Chesapeake Bay and the native people of the Susquehanna River Basin.
“The River of the Year program continues to engage our communities by providing a wonderful opportunity to showcase all of the nominated rivers and the great work being done in Pennsylvania for these resources. We are excited for the opportunity to highlight the Susquehanna River North Branch,” said Janet Sweeney of the Pennsylvania Organization for Waterways and Rivers (POWR).
The Endless Mountains Heritage Region, which nominated the northern branch of the Susquehanna River, will receive a $10,000 Leadership Grant to fund a series of year-round River of the Year 2023 activities.
DCNR and the Pennsylvania Organization for Waterways and Rivers will work with the region to create a free commemorative poster celebrating the North Branch as the 2023 Pennsylvania River of the Year.
“We nominated the North Branch in the hope of receiving this prestigious award 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 a number of river paddling and stays and other outdoor recreation-related events planned for this year that will blend perfectly with our management of the water trail. We are committed to educating the public about paddling safety and encouraging everyone to be responsible stewards of the Susquehanna and its many tributaries.”
Cain thanked the North Branch’s co-manager, the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, for their help in submitting the nomination and promoting the public voting portion of the competition, as well as the many Water Trail Managers along this stretch of the river.
Working with DCNR, the Pennsylvania Organization for Waterways and Rivers, a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, oversaw the selection of public choices.
A commemorative river of the year trip is among the many paddling trips supported each year by DCNR and the Pennsylvania Organization for Waterways and Rivers.
An independent program, the Pennsylvania Sojourn Program, is a unique series of a dozen such voyages on the state’s rivers.
These water-based trips for canoeists, kayakers and others raise awareness of the environmental, recreational, tourism and heritage values of rivers.