Growing up as a river rat on the Lackawaxen, I often find myself thinking of time as a current–sometimes turbulent, sometimes calm –sweeping us downstream to some final destination. It is important to remember that we should enjoy the journey and take in the scenic beauty we see along the way. As NEPA residents, we are incredibly blessed to have some of the cleanest water in the state, and are nestled between two award-winning rivers that are begging to be explored.
To our west, we have the Lackawanna River, Pennsylvania’s 2020 River of the Year. Polluted from over two centuries of mining and industry, this 60-mile stretch of river has made a new name for itself as a Class A, coldwater river and has become a beloved location for anglers and recreationists alike. To our east, we have the Delaware River, our natural border, marking the divide between Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. The Delaware River has been honored with the title of American River’s 2020 River of the Year and has earned that title through years of dedicated conservation. Around 75 years ago, this river was on the brink of death, heavily polluted and unable to support life in many locations; children we were told not to swim or wade in the river, and there are those in our region who have never connected with the water due to this residual fear. Now, through extensive legislation and the most comprehensive Scenic and Recreational River protections in the country, the Delaware River, drinking water source for over 13.3 million people, has bounced back to become a haven for water lovers everywhere.
As the weather turns warmer and COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, millions of people will be enjoying our greenspaces and waterways. If you do find your way to the river this year, please remember to wear a personal flotation device when travelling downstream and check river conditions before heading out. The current may seem placid, but it can be misleading and many recreationists are lulled into a false sense of security, only to find themselves out of their depth. If you are travelling to multiple locations on the river, or moving a watercraft between two bodies of water, please remember to clean off your boat between uses and remove any water that you may have taken on. Invasive species such as Eurasian Watermilfoil or Hydrilla can wreak havoc on a watershed if allowed to spread. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has great resources you can use to learn more and the Upper Delaware Wild and Scenic River and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area websites have information on river conditions.
- Sarah Corcoran is the Forest Watch Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club. Based out of Northeast PA, Sarah is a lifelong resident of Pike County and loves sharing her knowledge and passion for the outdoors with anyone she meets. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more about the Sierra Club in our area by visiting www.sierraclub.org/pennsylvania or going to the Northeast Group Facebook page, www.facebook.com/nepasierraclub/ or emailing Sarah directly to be added to the local mailing list.