Susquehanna River North Branch Vying for 2023 “River of the Year”

The Susquehanna River North Branch in the area of a Starrucca in Susquehanna County, top, in Bradford County at Towanda, above, and in Wyoming County, below.

Voting began on Nov. 30 for the 2023 Pennsylvania “River of the Year,” and the Endless Mountain Heritage Region (EMHR) and the Susquehanna Greenways Partnership (SGP) are asking the public to cast votes for the Susquehanna River North Branch.

EMHR manages the Susquehanna River – North Branch, which is part of the National Parks’ Captain James Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has funded the “River of the Year” contest since 1983 for the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR), an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. The EMHR serves as the official water trail manager of the North Branch.

If the Susquehanna River North Branch gets the most votes, EMHR and SGP will split a $10,000 leadership grant to help fund “River of the Year” activities, which can include paddling trips, sojourns, and celebrations in river communities along the North Branch, which flows through parts of Susquehanna, Bradford, Wyoming and Luzerne counties to its confluence with the West Branch.

Known to be one of the oldest rivers in the world, dating back over 300 million years, the North Branch is a water trail rooted in history and beauty,” said EMHR executive director Cain Chamberlin. “In 2023, the North Branch is poised to continue providing recreational advantages to the region.”

The EMHR will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2023 and is planning a week-long paddling sojourn on the North Branch from Sayre in Bradford County to Shickshinny in Luzerne County. “Like all EMHR outdoor events, the 25th anniversary sojourn will include educational programming pertaining to area history and ecology,” Chamberlin noted.

Our waterways are a great way to connect to nature for recreation and relaxation,” DCNR secretary Cindy Dunn stated in a press release. “This annual undertaking is much more than a public vote gauging popularity of a Pennsylvania waterway. Regardless of the outcome, the competition builds community support around our rivers and streams, putting them in the public limelight.”

Last year’s winner was French Creek, which meanders from its headwaters in lower New York state through four western Pennsylvania counties on its way to the Allegheny River. Competition is stiff again this year, with the Conestoga River, Schuylkill River and Perkiomen Creek also nominated for the title.

In all of these nominated waterways are showcased so many unique natural resources, recreational opportunities and incentives boosting local economies,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn stated.

The North Branch Susquehanna has won the contest five times, sharing the honor with the Main Stem Susquehanna River in 1993 and topping the list most recently in 2016.

We are excited to once again kick off the public online voting process for Pennsylvania River of the Year,” said POWR director Janet Sweeney. “As we all continue to spend more time outdoors and deepen our appreciation for the beautiful natural resources of Pennsylvania, the annual River of the Year voting process is a fun way to rally behind and support for your favorite waterway.”

Voting will run through Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. The public can cast votes online and access additional information about each nominated waterway at One vote per email address is permitted.

This is bound to be a close vote because each river has enthusiastic fans,” Chamberlin remarked. “Every vote we receive brings us closer to gaining statewide recognition for this special waterway that has once again become an asset to our region. What better way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the EMHR than to pair it with a big win for the Susquehanna River North Branch?”

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