Celebrate the 2021 River of the Year: The Shenango River

Winding through Northwestern Pennsylvania, connecting Pymatuning and Shenango lakes with the Beaver River via 82 miles of scenic, peaceful river, the Shenango River has been voted the state’s 2021 River of the Year.  

“The River of the Year selection does much more than focus on attributes of the most deserving Shenango, it recognizes the Shenango River Watchers and other supporters who rallied behind it,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “This annual honor recognizes not only our state’s wealth of rivers and streams, but also the dedicated folks who fight to protect them.”

DCNR and Pennsylvania Organization for Waterways and Rivers (POWR) will work with the Shenango River Watchers to create a free, commemorative poster celebrating the Shenango River as the 2021 PA River of the Year. 

The Shenango River Watchers will receive a $10,000 Leadership Grant to help fund a slate of year-long 2021 River of the Year activities.

“We are thrilled to have the Shenango River chosen as the Pennsylvania River of the Year. This is a great honor, not just for the Shenango River Watchers but for our region as a whole. Thank you to DCNR and POWR for this fabulous opportunity,” said Shenango River Watchers President Dr. Brandi Baros. “Thank you to our volunteers, who have cleaned up 1.5 million pounds of garbage from the river and its watershed and turned a neglected waterway into a paddler’s paradise. Every year we see more and more people come out to enjoy the wondrous recreation opportunities the Shenango has to offer, including kayaking, fishing, hiking, and birdwatching.”

About The Shenango River

The Shenango River is 82 miles of river that flows from the headwaters of the Pymatuning Reservoir and flows through the towns of Jamestown, Greenville, Sharon, West Middlesex, and New Castle before meeting the Mahoning River to create the Beaver River. The Shenango had a long history of being considered a “dirty” river. In the early 1900s as the steel industry boomed in the towns along the river and debris, runoff, and discharge was dumped into the river creating environmental hazards to be cleaned up by the communities in the following decades. Today the Shenango continues to recover from industrial pollution and provides drinking water for over 130,000 Western Pennsylvanians. Through the cleanup and research efforts of SRW, the community has learned to look at the river with respect and pride. It is home to Water Fire Sharon, one of the premier art and music festivals in the country, attracting thousands of people every year. 

Businesses have begun to use their riverfront properties to enhance their business and provide additional outdoor activities. More importantly, the Shenango River is now used extensively by canoers, kayakers, fishermen, wildlife photographers and is now a place where a variety of wildlife now call home. A great variety of water birds use the river including a growing bald eagle population, the shores host riparian habitats that attract migrating and nesting species, as well as the home of three species of endangered freshwater mussels.

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