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Rivers Month in June Puts Focus on Waterways
As summer officially begins this week and the time for vacations is upon us, our journeys often take us to water. That’s why it’s fitting that we celebrate June as Rivers Month in Pennsylvania.

Part of the mission at the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is rivers conservation. Much of the work to conserve river resources is done through the preparation and implementation of locally-initiated rivers conservation plans that are supported by DCNR grants.

The program provides technical and financial assistance to municipalities and river support groups to carry out planning, implementation, acquisition, and development activities.

The month-long celebration of Rivers Month includes highlighting the River of the Year.

This year, the North Branch of the Susquehanna River was chosen by voters to be featured. A 15-mile stretch of the 2016 River of the Year flows from New York into Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier, and continues south 166 miles to join the river’s West Branch at Shikellamy State Park in Northumberland County.

This past Saturday, DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn joined Susquehanna River supporters as they paddled more than 45 miles on a sojourn saluting the 2016 River of the Year.

“I could think of no better way to observe Pa. Rivers Month than to spend a day on the free-flowing Susquehanna River North Branch, a waterway steeped in beauty and recreational and historical prominence,” Dunn said. “Shaping countless community lifestyles in the past while emerging as a recreational treasure of the future, this 2016 River of the Year highlights how Pennsylvania is blessed with a wealth of rivers and streams, and a core of dedicated folks who fight to protect them.”

Dunn commended the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership and Endless Mountains Heritage Region for their work in earning the North Branch the 2016 River of the Year title. They, like other watershed groups across the state, have worked to plan a variety of annual paddling sojourns, riverside events, and educational efforts to gain recognition for more than a dozen waterways across Pennsylvania.

“Through the North Branch and other sojourns, public awareness of a waterway’s value is heightened,” said Dunn. “There is a vital connection among the rivers and streams and area residents and visitors, and these sojourns and other activities planned by river advocates can only strengthen those bonds.”

Scheduled throughout the state, sojourns are unique water-based journey planned for canoeists, kayakers, and others to raise awareness of the environmental, recreational, tourism, and heritage values of rivers. The annual paddling events encompass more than 500 river miles, span more than 50 on-the-water days, and engage more than 4,000 participants.

Sojourn season typically runs from May through September, and participants can paddle just one day or the whole trip. They range from two to nine days and cost participants from $20 to $75 per day, often with meals, transfers, and camping included. Trained safety personnel accompany the sojourns and many have boats for rent through local liveries.

Whether you join a sojourn or explore a water trail on your own, take time this month to think about the many values that our rivers and waterways provide to us including sources of fresh water, habitat, and recreational opportunities for citizens and visitors alike.

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June 22, 2016

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