A statewide competition that began with a number of great waterways that people could vote on has resulted in the Lackawanna River finally reaching its pinnacle as the 2020  “River of the Year!   The Lackawanna is a vibrant, cold-water “Class A” fishery in its middle and upper reaches, and a waterway that attracts more paddlers every year.

Lackawanna is Lenape (aka Delaware) for  “stream that forks” and indeed it does if you look at the course of this waterway.  It is just about 41 miles in length and a major tributary of the Susquehanna River…the granddaddy of rivers in Pennsylvania.  According to Wikipedia, “It starts in northern Wayne County and ends in eastern Luzerne County in Duryea. The lower reaches of the river flow through the urban areas of Scranton, which grew around its banks in the 19th century as an industrial center.”

The river rises in two branches, the West and East branches, along the boundary between Susquehanna and Wayne counties. The branches, each about 12 miles (19 km) long, flow south, closely parallel to each other, and join at the Stillwater Lake reservoir in Union Dale.

In addition, Wikipedia states that “By the mid-20th century, the river was severely polluted from mine drainages in its watershed. The decline of industry in the region, as well as federal, state, and private efforts, have improved the water quality. Still, the Lackawanna River is the largest point source of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.”

The river becomes more severely downgraded as it flows out of Scranton.  But, there are endeavors working to clean the waters and that is what it takes is an “all hands on deck” approach.

“……this competition builds community support around our rivers and streams, putting them in the public limelight,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “This annual undertaking is much more than a public vote gauging popularity of Pennsylvania waterways. All have truly unique attributes; offer incredible recreational opportunities; and bring significant boosts to local economies.”

DCNR funds this program and Pennsylvania Organization for Waterways and Rivers (POWR), an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, administers the program and will work with the Lackawanna River Conservation Association (LRCA) to create a free, commemorative poster celebrating the Lackawanna River as the 2020 PA River of the Year.

The Lackawanna River Conservation Association will receive a $10,000 Leadership Grant to help fund a slate of year-long 2020 River of the Year activities.  “We are very — you could say extremely — pleased to be recognized as the PA River of the Year for 2020”, said Lackawanna River Conservation Association (LRCA) Executive Director Bernard McGurl. “This honor is a strong validation of our community’s work over the past 30 years to rediscover the incredible natural resource that is the Lackawanna River. The vision for a revitalized river that has been shared by the Lackawanna River Conservation Association has been taken to heart by more and more of our fellow citizens every year!”

Congratulations and a tip of the hat to all who worked so hard to make this happen!

For more information, visit www.pariveroftheyear.org

NATURE NUGGET:  Pennsylvania is home more than 86,000 miles of rivers, streams, and creeks – second in the United States only to Alaska. That’s three-and-a-half trips around the Earth!  Click here to see the waterways of PA:  https://geology.com/lakes-rivers-water/pennsylvania.shtml


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