The 64-mile-long Loyalsock Creek is making a big splash for a small waterway tucked within the mountains of north-central Pennsylvania. It has been selected as one of five finalists for Pennsylvania’s 2018 River of the Year, with the winner being decided by the public through an online voting process.
The Loyalsock Creek was nominated by Middle Susquehanna RIVERKEEPER® Association, Inc. in partnership with Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association (LCWA). After a review of all nominations, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR) – an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, chose five finalists for 2018: Lackawanna River, Little Juniata River, Lower Susquehanna/ Susquehanna Riverlands, Connoquenessing Creek, and Loyalsock Creek.
The Loyalsock Creek, with its headwaters in western Wyoming County, flows through Sullivan and Lycoming Counties before entering the West Branch Susquehanna River. It is home to ongoing university research and local watershed improvement projects, which, in addition to the uniqueness of the watershed itself, is one of the selection criteria for the river of the year designation.
“The Lycoming College Clean Water Institute (CWI) supports the nomination of the Loyalsock Creek to be 2018 River of the Year,” shares Dr. Mel Zimmerman, CWI Director and Professor Emeritus of Biology at Lycoming College. “The Loyalsock Creek flows through some of the most pristine parts of the Loyalsock State Forest, several Pennsylvania Game Lands, and the unique topography of Worlds End State Park. For much of its length, the Water Quality is considered Exceptional Value/High Quality. Designating the Loyalsock Creek as River of the Year will highlight this jewel watershed in north-central Pennsylvania to the rest of the state.”
According to Dr. Zimmerman, the Loyalsock Creek is home to over 36 species of fish, 130 macroinvertebrates, and a population of the largest salamander in North America – the Eastern Hellbender. Currently the Hellbender is being considered as the Pennsylvania state amphibian.
Speaking as a board member of the LCWA, Dr. Zimmerman praises this group for over 30 years of dedication to conservation and environmental projects on the “Sock.” As a dedicated group of volunteers, LCWA directs or supports partnerships that have been actively involved in projects such as stream restoration, abandoned mine drainage (AMD) and acid rain treatment, stream clean-ups, and educational outreach that includes public meetings, the annual fishing derby, and youth/school environmental programs.
The nominating organization of the winner of the Pennsylvania 2018 River of the Year receives a DCNR leadership grant to help fund a year of celebratory activities and programs, including a sojourn or paddling event. The waterway is also commemorated with a watershed-specific poster displayed throughout the state during the year.
“The Loyalsock Creek,” offers Carol Parenzan, Middle Susquehanna RIVERKEEPER®, “has held a special place in my heart since I took my first unplanned cold water swim in her during a canoeing expedition as a teenager. Today, it is my ‘go-to’ place when I need to reconnect with the watershed and remind myself why I advocate so strongly for clean water throughout my 11,000-square-mile Susquehanna River territory. The Loyalsock brings me peace. It reminds me that it’s okay to slip into a quiet eddy behind a rock when needed to catch my breath before peeling out and dancing again with the current of life. We all need those eddies.”
Don’t let the designation of “river” take you outside the selection buoys! The competition is open to any Pennsylvania waterway – streams, creeks, rivers, and even lakes. To cast your vote for the Loyalsock Creek, go to www.pariveroftheyear.org. The last opportunity to show your “Loyalsock Love” is December 22 at 5PM. One vote is allowed for each email address.
For questions or comments, please contact:
Carol Parenzan, Middle Susquehanna RIVERKEEPER® Association, Inc., 570.768.6300, email@example.com
Dr. Mel Zimmerman, Lycoming College Clean Water Institute and Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association, 570-321-4185, firstname.lastname@example.org