Photos by Karen Black / Story by Rick Hiduk
For the second time in three years, a waterway in the Endless Mountains has been named Pennsylvania’s “River of the Year.” The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural resources (DCNR) announced yesterday that the Loyalsock Creek, the headwaters of which begin in Sullivan County is the “2018 River of the Year.”
Through online voting coordinated by the PA Organization for Watersheds (POWR) and the PA Environmental Council, the Loyalsock beat four other nominees: Connoquenessing Creek, Little Juniata River, Lackawanna River, and the Lower Susquehanna/Susquehanna Riverlands.
The Loyalsock Creek is revered for its natural beauty, trout fishing, spring kayaking, and a healthy home to the Hellbender – the largest native amphibian, growing to two feet or more in length. Due to its rapid plunge through mountainous terrain, the 64-mile long Loyalsock is prone to erosion and sedimentation changes. Its designation as 2018 River of the Year will help government and non-government organizations actively addressing the issue leverage additional funds for creek bank stabilization and habitat restoration projects.
According to a DCNR press release, 15,061 votes were cast, and the Loyalsock garnered 6,100. The Loyalsock’s sponsor organization, the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association will receive a $10,000 Leadership Grant to held fund and promote year-long River of the Year activities.
In 2016, the North Branch Susquehanna River won the honors, leading to celebrations in Bradford, Susquehanna, Wyoming and Luzerne counties led by sponsor organization, the Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR). EMHR and the Sullivan County Commissioners helped lead the charge this year to keep the Loyalsock in the running.