With the official start of summer just around the corner, heat waves already upon us, and the end of the school year, many Pennsylvanians turn to their local waterways to cool off and have fun throughout the season. That’s why the month of June is also such a fitting time to celebrate Rivers Month in the commonwealth. Rivers Month is an opportunity to celebrate our river resources, consider the importance those resources have on our everyday lives, and acknowledge what we can do to help conserve those resources for generations to come.
Creating and Enhancing Access to our Waterways
Pennsylvania is home to 86,000 miles of rivers, streams, and creeks (second in the United States only to Alaska!), so there is certainly a lot to celebrate! From boating and paddling to swimming, fishing, and tubing – whatever your preferred way to enjoy the water is – chances are there’s a prime spot to do it right here in our Northcentral haven of the state! For over 3 decades, NPC members have been helping to make easier access for these recreational opportunities. Here are just a few!
The conservation of the Baker Run property allowed for the creation of a new public access canoe/kayak launch site to the West Branch Susquehanna River. Baker Run is a tributary to the Susquehanna River, between Lock Haven and Renovo. The section of the West Branch Susquehanna from the PA Fish and Boat Commission access at Hyner, downstream to the access in Woodward Township’s Park (on the North Side of the Jay Street Bridge at Lock Haven) is about twenty-one river-miles long – a pretty lengthy paddle for most! The conservation of this land and installation of the launch between the two points helped eliminate the “recreation barrier”, creating opportunity for more people to enjoy the river.
Byers Island & Harrigan Island
NPC helped conserve the Byers Island archipelago back in 2006. The islands are now part of Weiser State Forest. Paddlers can overnight on the islands at three primitive campsites maintained by the Susquehanna River Trail Association. Find the Camp Sites Map (sites 120b, 120a, 121 for Byers Island).
Harrigan Island is in the Susquehanna River near Athens. The original owners of the island encouraged canoe travelers to camp on the island. To help ensure that others could enjoy this same simple pleasure for years to come, they worked with the NPC to permanently conserve the land. Today, Harrigan Island is part of the Loyalsock State Forest.
Phelps’ Mills Canoe Access
For years, people had used this property on the Avis side of the Route 150 bridge over Pine Creek to paddle, fish, swim, and cool off all summer long. So, when the property, previously under private ownership, came up for sale in 2019, NPC stepped in to help in ensure that this favored, local watering hole remained available for the public to enjoy for generations to come!
Most recently, the site was officially named the Phelps’ Mills Canoe Access (formerly referred to as the Avis Canoe Launch), as a nod to the large grist and saw mills that used to occupy the area, manufacturing boards, shingles, laths, palings, among other materials, that helped develop the northcentral PA region.
Pine Creek flows into the West Branch Susquehanna River. Consider enjoying this section of the river this summer by paddling from the Phelps’ Mills Canoe Access to the Jersey Shore River Access!
Conserving the Health of our Rivers
Beyond recreation, healthy rivers provide habitat, drinking water, replenish groundwater, help moderate floods and droughts, support forest health, and more!
As part of the Northcentral Stream Partnership, NPC is helping to conserve and strengthen the health of our rivers by stabilizing eroding streambanks and improving aquatic habitat on agriculturally impaired streams across the region. The Partnership’s sustained efforts to bring the waterways of Northcentral PA back to health while maintaining a working agricultural landscape is currently being used as a model to help improve water quality throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay.