Loyalsock Creek named state’s top waterway

Loyalsock Creek beat out four other state streams and rivers to earn the title of 2018 River of the Year.

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the state Organization for Waterways and Rivers recognizes one body of water as the River of the Year annually for over 20 years.

The public was invited to vote online, choosing between Connoquenessing and Loyalsock creeks and the Lackawanna, Little Juniata and Lower Susquehanna rivers.

“There are winning qualities in all five of these waterways,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “The number of waterways nominated, coupled with a vote tally that increases every year, showcases both the unique diversity of Pennsylvania’s rivers and the strong community allegiances that protect and enhance them.”

The DCNR released the official results Monday, showing Loyalsock receiving 6,100 of the 15,061 total votes.

Connoquenessing Creek received 5,381, the Lackawanna River got 1,676, the Lower Susquehanna River 1,113 and the Little Juniata got 791.

“This annual honor highlights our state’s wealth of rivers and streams,” Dunn said, “and recognizes the core of dedicated folks who fight to protect them.”

Working for the nominating organization, Carol Parenzan, a riverkeeper for Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, Inc., said Loyalsock Creek was at a disadvantage starting out.

The creek flows through Worlds End State Park and the Loyalsock Trail — a 59-mile trail providing vistas overlooking the stream below, according the DCNR. Much of the creek flows through very remote areas.

“It was a challenge, because it does sit in a very remote part of the state compared to the others,” she said. “So we had to reach out to all the people who visit the creek, are loyal to the creek, pass through it or grew up swimming in it … and then to get their family and friends to vote as well.”

Parenzan put in the nomination in November. Last year, she nominated the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, but it didn’t make the top five. She chose the Loyalsock this year because it has always been special to her.

“The Loyalsock has been a personal place of peace and grounding,” Parenzan said. “A place where I go when things get crazy in my watershed to remind myself why I do what I do.”

The Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association will receive a $10,000 grant to help fund year-long activities relating to the award.

Parenzan said there is a meeting planned Wednesday to brainstorm what activities and events will be held at the creek throughout the year. Both the DCNR and Organization of Waterways and Rivers will be creating a free, commemorative poster celebrating the award.

“In the past, Loyalsock Creek was a hidden gem, nestled in the mountains north of Williamsport and enjoyed by area residents,” Parenzan said. “Today, with this recognition, we are ready to share this timeless treasure with the rest of Pennsylvania and beyond.”

Information about upcoming River of the Year events will be posted at www.MiddleSusquehannaRiverkeeper.org, as well as Facebook pages for Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association, and other supporting organizations and agencies throughout the region.