2016 EMHR Youth Heritage Sojourn participants (top) wait patiently on the Susquehanna River at Sayre in Bradford County for the starting whistle. 2018 sojourners (above) learned much about the history and delicate environmental balance of the Susquehanna River while bonding at Camp Lackawanna in Wyoming County. Registration is still open for this year’s educational adventure.
Residents of and visitors to the Endless Mountains are blessed not only with the Susquehanna River, which flows through Bradford, Susquehanna, and Wyoming counties, but also numerous creeks and streams that provide access to world-class trout fishing, swimming and kayaking opportunities. Premier among these is the Loyalsock Creek with headwaters in Wyoming and Sullivan counties.
The North Branch Susquehanna was named the 2016 River of the Year (ROY) by the Pennsylvania Organization of Watersheds and Rivers (POWR). In 2018, POWR picked the Loyalsock Creek as River of the Year, sponsoring numerous activities and educational opportunities along both waterways. The Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR) serves as the official manager of the North Branch Susquehanna River Water Trail, which is part of the National Park system.
This year, the EMHR embarked on a series of programs to celebrate both the Susquehanna and the Loyalsock, beginning with a pair of presentations about the Susquehanna held in Montrose and Tunkhannock in April.
The final presentation of the Rivers of Our Region series will be held at the DCNR Loyalsock District Office on Route 220 near Dushore at 10 am on Friday, May 17. Featured speakers will include Melvin Zimmerman, Carol Parenzan, Corey Richmond and Lisa Mazzerella from WVIA media. The presentation will include a screening of the WVIA film “Our Town – Sullivan County.”
Zimmerman (above) is a member of the Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association and an instructor at Lycoming College. He will speak about water quality, stream biodiversity, and the positive and negative impacts of development. Parenzan (below) is the director of the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association and spearheaded the ROY events on the Loyalsock last year. Richmond is the watershed specialist for the Sullivan County Conservation District.
From Thursday through Saturday, May 16 to 18, EMHR will conduct the 2019 Youth Heritage Sojourn, which will cover stretches of the Susquehanna River between Wyalusing in Bradford County and Vosburg Neck in Wyoming County. Participants will meet on May 16 at Camp Lackawanna on Vosburg Neck, which will serve as base camp for all three days.
“Our youth sojourns have been quite successful in the past, and we hope 2019 will be no different. It’s an excellent opportunity for high school-aged kids to, not only find a new recreational activity to partake in, but also to develop an appreciation for the outdoors and respect for the environment,” EMHR executive director Cain Chamberlin remarked. “The EMHR water trail managers are in the process of planning some other sojourns for the summer which will be geared towards adults.”
The youth sojourn is coordinated primarily by Keith Brown, a Towanda High School teacher and owner of Endless Mountains Outfitters in Sugar Run. He will be joined on the journey by EMHR water trail manager Emily Rinaldi and other EMHR staff members.
Homeschooled students, Scouts and church youth groups are welcome to participate, and Brown is also seeking adult chaperons.
The cost of the entire trip is $125, which includes kayak rental and daily transportation. Accommodations can be arranged also for students and chaperons who are unable to commit to the full three days. There is no rain date. If the weather is not suited for kayaking, participants will spend more time enjoying the amenities at Camp Lackawanna. If the river is too high, kayakers will be shuttled to area lakes.
For a detailed itinerary and an application form, contact Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dates and locations for additional sojourns will be posted on the Endless Mountains Heritage Region Facebook page.
Outfitters and EMHR staff members who met in Falls on Jan. 12 to schedule paddling adventures and festivals along the North Branch Susquehanna River this year included (seated, from left) Dan Shay, Cain Chamberlin, Charlie Adams, Dana Rockwell, (standing) Brian Swingle, Art Coolbaugh, Emily Rinaldi, and Keith Brown.
Students prepare to launch their kayaks at Larnard-Hornbrook Park in Bradford County for the 2017 Youth Heritage Sojourn.