Pittsburgh, PA – January 29, 2024
Exciting news echoes through the valleys of western Pennsylvania – the Allegheny River has been crowned Pennsylvania’s 2024 River of the Year! This prestigious honor, announced by Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn and Janet Sweeney of the Pennsylvania Organization for Waterways and Rivers (POWR), comes as a result of a record-breaking public vote.
The Allegheny River, born as a humble stream in Potter County, weaves its way through a picturesque landscape of wildflowers, touching six counties in Western Pennsylvania. Its 325-mile journey concludes in Pittsburgh, where it merges with the Monongahela River, creating a vital water source for over a million people and forming an ecologically and economically valuable water trail.
Communities, including the O-non-dowa-gah (Seneca Nation), Lenni Lenape (Delaware Nation), and French settlers, have all found a home along the Allegheny, each bestowing upon it a unique name that reflects its beauty. Today, the river is a hub for various activities, from historical locks and dams facilitating barge transportation in the early 20th century to the modern delights of swimming, boating, and fishing enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.
The Allegheny River is not just a watercourse; it's a thriving ecosystem. The Allegheny Islands Wilderness, a 372-acre preserve, harbors old-growth hardwoods and diverse bird populations. The U.S. Forest Service has documented an impressive array of wildlife, from mammals to mussels, emphasizing the river's importance in maintaining biodiversity.
Notably, the threatened Salamander Mussel plays a crucial role in enhancing water quality by filtering out sediment and pollutants. Whether you're birdwatching, island camping, or navigating through locks, the Allegheny River promises encounters with life, history, and unparalleled beauty.
This prestigious title was not bestowed lightly. The public played a significant role in this recognition, with a staggering 20,259 votes cast – a record for the River of the Year Program. The Allegheny River emerged victorious with 8,307 votes, surpassing contenders like the Youghiogheny and Lackawaxen Rivers.
Three Rivers Waterkeeper, the driving force behind the Allegheny River's nomination, will receive a $10,000 Leadership Grant to fund a series of activities throughout 2024. This includes a free commemorative poster, crafted in collaboration with DCNR and POWR, celebrating the Allegheny River as the River of the Year.
Jess Friss, Director of Community Programs at Three Rivers Waterkeeper, expresses excitement for the community's collective dedication to the Allegheny River. They are gearing up for a year of festivities, including a summer kickoff, all aimed at promoting the river's abundant resources.
Join the celebration and witness the Allegheny River's glory unfold throughout 2024. Stay tuned for events and activities that showcase the community's commitment to environmental stewardship, recreation, and love for our waterways.
For more information on the River of the Year competition and other events on public lands, visit DCNR’s website. Let’s make 2024 a year to remember for the Allegheny River – Pennsylvania’s crowning jewel!
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