The Mon in Running for Pa. River of the Year
Washington PA Observer Reporter
27 December 2012
By Andy McNeil, Staff Writer
Once heavily polluted by nearby coal mines and steel mills, the
Monongahela River is making a comeback and vying for the title of
Pennsylvania’s 2013 River of the Year.
The designation is part of a program sponsored by the state
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the
Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers aimed at
elevating public awareness of rivers and recognizing important
Presented annually since 1983, the program also awards a $10,000
grant for community events to the organization that nominated the
winning river. Joining the Mon in the running are the Juniata,
Kiskiminetas, Lackawanna and Schuylkill rivers and Swatara Creek.
“Individually, each of these waterways showcases unique natural
resources and recreational potential,” said DCNR Secretary Richard
J. Allan. “Collectively, they demonstrate just how blessed
Pennsylvania is with its wealth of rivers and streams.”
This year, the Mon was nominated for the honor by the Brownsville
Area Revitalization Corp., a Fayette County nonprofit working to
revitalize the area by connecting people to the river.
“I think the Monongahela River is one of the greatest assets we
have in our region,” said Norman Ryan, BARC treasurer and former
mayor of Brownsville. “We have not begun to tap the possibilities
of that river.”
For the past several years, BARC has been working with the
AmeriCorps VISTA program to create a water trail map of the Mid
Mon River to bolster recreational activities, and to fill the gap
between existing maps of the Three Rivers and Upper Mon. Ryan said
the geographic information has already been collected, and the
project is ready for the final design elements needed to help it
match the look of the existing maps.
The new map will include icons that show the locations of spots to
dock and other highlights, such as restaurants, for each community
along the Mid Mon River. Ryan said the organization hopes the maps
will encourage tourism and help these historic communities tell
If the Mon is crowned River of the Year, BARC plans to use the
grant to work with the River Town Program, a like-minded project
of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, to promote the water
trail map through events such as walking and paddling tours and
other gatherings in the vein of the Brownsville Community Festival
and Mon Ducky Race. Ryan said BARC plans to print 15,000 to 20,000
maps to distribute to the river communities.
Voting is taking place at http://pawatersheds.org
and will end Jan. 18.