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River of the Year Program

River of the Year Program

The Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers administer the River of the Year program. Pennsylvania’s River of the Year is an honor designed to elevate public awareness of specific rivers and recognize important conservation needs and achievements.

“Every year we look forward to seeing which rivers are nominated by Pennsylvanians. We hear why one particular river is special, how the river plays a role in the community, how residents and visitors enjoy all the recreational opportunities the river has to offer, how groups have rallied to clean up sections of the river.,” said Ellen Ferretti, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “Each and every river has a story to tell and we all connect to “our” river in different ways.

All Pennsylvania Rivers are eligible for nomination, with the exception of recent winning rivers. The selected nominations are voted on by the entire public, which gives local nonprofit groups the opportunity to engage in a broader audience in the appreciation of our rivers and streams. The winner is chosen by the popular vote.This recognition is done to raise awareness of the important recreational, ecological, and historical resources associated with the state’s rivers and streams.

 “It is always great to see how the state’s rivers get supporters to vote for them. Every year, this voting reaffirms the connections that Pennsylvanians and others have with our waterways,” said Davitt Woodwell, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, an affiliate of POWR. “We look forward to once again highlighting the achievements of these local organizations who tirelessly work to protect and promote Pennsylvania Rivers.”

The nominating organization of the winning river receives a $10,000 leadership grant to implement a year-round slate of activities and events to celebrate the river, including a paddling trip or sojourn, a speaker series, clean up days, photography contests, and more.

The River of the Year sojourn is just one of many paddling trips supported by DCNR and POWR each year.  An independent program, the Pennsylvania Sojourn Program, is a unique series of a dozen such trips on the state’s rivers. These water-based journeys for canoeists, kayakers and others raise awareness of the value of rivers.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR) have annually bestowed the River of the Year designation since 1983. The past feature Rivers of the Year are:


Past Rivers of the Year

2019 – Clarion River
2018 – Loyalsock Creek
2017 – Allegheny River
2016 – North Branch Susquehanna River
2015 – Conewango Creek
2014 Schuylkill River

2013 Monongahela River

2012 Stonycreek River

2011 Delaware River

2010 Lackawaxen River

2009 Lower and Middle Susquehanna River

2008 Youghiogheny River

2007 Lehigh River

2006 Three Rivers

2005 West Branch Susquehanna River

2004 North Branch Susquehanna River

2003 French Creek

2002 Delaware River

2001 Juniata River

2000 Kiskiminitas-Conemaugh River

1999 Schuylkill River

1998 Youghiogheny River

1997 Lehigh River

1996 Tulpehocken Creek

1996 Clarion River

1995 Upper Delaware

1995 Juniata River

1994 Allegheny River

1994 Susquehanna River

1993 Meshoppen Creek

1993 North Branch and Main Stem Susquehanna River

1992 Yellow Breeches Creek

1992 West Branch Susquehanna River

1991 North Branch Susquehanna River

1991 Pine Creek

1990 Catawissa Creek

1989 Bear Run

1988 West Branch Susquehanna River

1986 North Branch Susquehanna River

1984 Clarion River

1983 Clarion River


ORWT Photos

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