2024 PA River of the Year Map
Allegheny River

Allegheny River

The historic Allegheny River starts as a stream in Potter County, meandering through a field of wildflowers before crossing briefly through New York and then through six counties in Western Pennsylvania. The 325-mile river ends in Pittsburgh where it meets the Monongahela River and flows into the Ohio River, providing drinking water to more than one million people and acting as an ecologically and economically precious water trail.

The fertile valleys and abundant biodiversity have led many communities to call this place home, including the O-non-dowa-gah (Seneca Nation) who call the Allegheny Ohi:yo’ (beautiful river), the Lenni Lenape (Delaware Nation) who named it welhik-heny (most beautiful stream), and French settlers who referred to it as La Belle Riviere.

A series of locks and dams were constructed in the early 20th century to make the Allegheny River navigable for barges to transport goods, and now swimming, boating, and fishing are profoundly enjoyed by residents and visitors. The river includes the Allegheny Islands Wilderness, a seven-island, 372 acre preserve that boasts old-growth hardwoods and prolific bird populations. The US Forest Service has documented over 50 mammals, 200 birds, 25 amphibians, 20 reptiles, 80 fishes, and 25 freshwater mussels in and around the Allegheny, including the threatened Salamander Mussel (Simpsonaias ambigua), who help improve our water quality by filtering out sediment and pollutants.

Whether you are bird watching, island camping, or traveling through the locks, you are sure to find that the Allegheny River is rich with life, history, and beauty. Join Three Rivers Waterkeeper in making the Allegheny River the 2024 River of the Year!

Lackawaxen River

Lackawaxen River

A lot has changed since the Lackawaxen River was River of the Year in 2010. Grassroots efforts to increase accessibility to the 31 miles of the Lackawaxen, combined with county and state agencies, have had game-changing results. The first-ever ADA access on the river was completed in October 2023 in White Mills. This creates four access points with those in Hawley, Indian Orchard, and a Honesdale location coming soon to Sycamore Point. All a culmination of grassroots, local and state leaders’ efforts to provide multiple legal access points to the river.

What hasn’t changed are the innate qualities of the waterway, translated from the native peoples as “swift waters.” Those waters once carried coal to market in New York fueling the Industrial Revolution via the Delaware & Hudson Canal. Generations of anglers have fished the Lackawaxen’s waters up and down its banks, fly fished and shared in its natural beauty. The towns of Honesdale, White Mills, Hawley and beyond to Kimbles, Lackawaxen and more have been connected by its flow. The Wayne County Canoe Classic continues to welcome spring each year with canoes and kayaks making the trek from Dyberry to White Mills. Supporting the Lackawaxen River, along with Wayne and Pike Trails and Waterways Alliance, will only serve to preserve its natural character for generations to come with enhanced access acting as a backbone to connect our communities by water, land and rail for years to come.

Youghiogheny River

Youghiogheny River

With its rushing mountain waters, slow-flowing meanders, and a rich cultural history, the 134-mile Youghiogheny River is a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

From old-growth hemlock stands to unique scour ecosystems, this river corridor is a haven for rare and endangered plant and animal species. It’s a place where nature thrives, and we can witness the wonders of the natural world.

With over 100 trails providing access to scenic vistas and unique habitats, we can explore the beauty of the surrounding landscape. Anglers can cast their lines into the cool, clear waters, hoping to catch a prized wild brook trout. For thrill-seekers, the Youghiogheny offers world-class whitewater rafting, where you can experience the birthplace of this exhilarating sport.

While the Youghiogheny River has faced its fair share of challenges, including the impacts of industry and coal mining, dedicated organizations like the Mountain Watershed Association (MWA) work tirelessly to protect and restore this precious waterway. Through their efforts, they have successfully halted harmful developments and improved water quality, ensuring a brighter future for the river and its communities.

Together, let’s make the Youghiogheny River the 2024 River of the Year! Celebration of this designation will be paired with the celebration of MWA’s 30th anniversary as an organization. Highlighting the achievements of MWA and their partners will inspire and empower other communities facing similar challenges. We can preserve the natural beauty, enhance water quality, and safeguard the biodiversity of the Youghiogheny River for generations to come.

Voting for the 2024 River of the Year has ended. Please check back soon for more information!

For more information contact Janet Sweeney at jsweeney@pecpa.org.

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