Annual Honor Celebrates Waterway's Value, Salutes Community Involvement
HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Steeped in a wealth of natural bounties and historical significance shaping northeast Pennsylvania's ecology and communities for centuries, the Lackawaxen River today was named the Commonwealth's River of the Year for 2010 by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
"A recreational treasure renowned for its fly-fishing and canoeing, the Lackawaxen harbors a wealth of bird and animal species," said DCNR acting Secretary John Quigley. "The waterway also drains the forests of the Pocono Plateau, a largely rural and conservation-minded landscape where communities live closely connected to their environment.
"It is this vital 'connection' of local residents and visitors to the Lackawaxen that we strive to promote and protect with our selection," Quigley said. "Those bonds can only be strengthened through a series of educational events planned throughout the year by the river's supporters."
A mecca for birders hoping to glimpse abundant bald eagles, and trout fishermen drawn to its clean, cold waters, the Lackawaxen River flows nearly 25 miles through three counties before joining the Delaware River at Lackawaxen, Pike County. It is where the late American author Zane Grey lived with his family in the early 1900s, honing a love of fly fishing and other outdoors pursuits. The historic farmhouse, now the Zane Grey Museum, is maintained by the National Park Service.
The Delaware & Lehigh Canal runs parallel to sections of the Lackawaxen, and Wallenpaupack Creek and the Lake Wallenpaupack Reservoir drain into the river near Hawley. The Lackawaxen River watershed encompasses 600 square miles across 26 municipalities in three fast-growing northeastern counties -- Pike, Lackawanna and Wayne.
Along with three other nearby counties -- Monroe, Luzerne and Carbon -- the region has been designated the Pocono Forest and Waters Conservation Landscape, one of seven geographical areas targeted by DCNR and conservation organizations for wide-ranging attempts to conserve natural resources and enhance the quality of life they so often support.
"Selecting the Lackawaxen River better enables DCNR to stress the value of healthy forests and greenways, and encourage stream-side plantings under its TreeVitalize program," Quigley said. "Whether it's educating the public on issues impacting the Pocono Plateau, such as gas drilling's impact on the environment and water resources, or touting tree-plantings, the Lackawaxen is an excellent teaching tool."
The Lackawaxen River Conservancy, or TLRC, and its partners will organize several events throughout the year, including a paddling trip and a river cleanup in partnership with the Wayne County Historical Society. The first-ever Lackawaxen River Sojourn is being planned for June.
Amid mounting development pressures in the Pocono Plateau region, local organizations and agencies have worked to show preservation and growth can happen together, said TLRC President Frederica Leighton.
"We need to raise awareness among Wayne County's constituents for preserving the river's aesthetic value and demonstrate that conservation and economic development aren't enemies," Leighton said.
TLRC partners are: the National Canoe Safety Patrol, National Park Service, Delaware Highland Conservancy, Delaware Riverkeeper, Pike County Conservation District, Wayne Chamber of Commerce, Sturbridge Railroad, Greater Honesdale Partnership, Pa. Environmental Council, and Pa. Organization for Watersheds and Rivers, or POWR.
DCNR's lead waterways-project partner, and statewide group for over 400 watershed associations, POWR helps train and organize local groups to lead a dozen sojourns on rivers around the state each year. A sojourn is a water-based journey for canoeists, kayakers and others to raise awareness of the environmental, recreational, tourism and heritage values of rivers.
"The Lackawaxen River is simply wonderful to experience in any season," said POWR Executive Director Jon Meade. "It is well-deserving of this recognition, both for the importance it plays within the communities of the Poconos, as well as the great need for protecting it from degradation."
River of the Year designations have been presented annually since 1983.
For more event information, contact the Lackawaxen River Conservancy at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.lackawaxenriver.org. For details on sojourns planned this summer on the Lackawaxen and other state waterways, visit www.pawatersheds.org. To learn more about DCNR's Rivers Program, visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us/brc/rivers/.
Media contact: Terry Brady, 717-772-9101.
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources