Friday, November 29, 2013

Vote to Make the Schuylkill the River of the Year

Blogger's Note: The following is (mostly) a press release from the Schuylkill River national and State heritage Area.

It's time to be partisan again -- and once again its the Schuylkill River which is the source of our partisanship; and again, it has to do with voting.

On Sunday The Digital Notebook staff urged you to vote for local photographers in the "Schuylkill Shots" photo contest. (Still time to do that by the way. Follow the link and vote if you haven't already.)

Now we're asking you to vote for the river itself as the River of the Year!

The Schuylkill River is one of five rivers in the running for the 2014 Pennsylvania River of the Year.

Pennsylvania’s River of the Year is an honor designed to elevate public awareness of specific rivers and recognize important conservation needs and achievements. 

River of the Year designations have been presented annually since 1983. The Pennsylvania River of the Year program is administered by the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers.

The River of the Year is selected by a public, online voting process that began Nov. 25 and ends Dec. 27. To vote, simply go online to the voting page and click on the “vote” link for Schuylkill River. Only one vote per person is allowed.
The Schuylkill River in Berks County

Last year, the Schuylkill was a finalist for the 2013 River of the Year. 

Although the Monongahela ultimately won by a narrow margin, voters showed strong support for the Schuylkill, which earned 8,010 votes to the Monongahela's 8,156 -- a less than 1 percent difference of only 146 votes.

“We'd like to see the Schuylkill get the awareness and recognition it deserves,” said Schuylkill River Heritage Area Executive Director Kurt Zwikl. “We’re asking everyone who lives in or near a river community, or who has spent time along the river, to vote for the Schuylkill.”

If you need a reason to vote for the  Schuylkill, the Heritage center has 10. You can read them all at their blog by clicking here.

The Schuylkill runs 128-miles through a variety of settings, from its rural headwaters in Schuylkill County to its confluence with the Delaware in Philadelphia. 

It played an important role in American history, figuring into Gen. Washington’s strategy during the
The Schuylkill joins the Delaware River in Philadelphia
American Revolution’s 1777 Philadelphia Campaign. It later served as a transportation route during the Industrial Revolution, when coal was carried down the Schuylkill Canal to fuel factories and steel mills across the nation.

But the river’s most inspiring story is perhaps the environmental one. The Schuylkill was on the brink of becoming a wasteland until, in 1945, the state of Pennsylvania agreed to undertake the Schuylkill River Project. It was the first major government-funded environmental cleanup, and it dredged millions of tons of coal silt from the river.

In roughly half a century, the Schuylkill has gone from being one of the nation’s most polluted bodies of water to becoming a popular recreational destination for canoeists, kayakers, trail users and anglers. The Schuylkill is a source of drinking water for 1.5 million people, and waterfront communities all along the river corridor are now using those waterfronts to bolstercommunity revitalization efforts.

The Philadelphia Waterworks was one of the nation's first 

public water systems.
“We like to call the Schuylkill the River of Revolutions, in recognition of the role it played in the American, Industrial and Environmental Revolutions,” said Zwikl. “Now it’s experiencing a fourth revolution, as it sheds its industrial persona and has begun serving a valuable recreation and tourism need.”

The Schuylkill River Heritage Area, whose headquarters are right here in Pottstown, has been named as the lead agency in the 2014 River of the Year nomination for the Schuylkill. The Heritage Area has long championed the river as a valuable natural and recreational resource. It has hosted the annual 112-mile Schuylkill River Sojourn every June since 1999.

If the river is selected as River of the Year it won’t be for the first time. In 1999, the Schuylkill was awarded that title. Now, 16 years later, a great deal changed in the Schuylkill RiverValley, and it is once again up for that honor. 

The Schuylkill River flows right past Pottstown's Riverfront Park
The Schuylkill is up against four other rivers for the 2014 River of the Year honor: Kiskiminetas-
Conemaugh Rivers in the southwest; Ohio in the west; Brodhead Creek Watershed in the northeast; and West Branch of the Susquehanna in the north central section of the state.

Nominations were based on each waterway’s conservation needs and successes, as well as celebration plans should the nominee be voted 2014 River of the Year.

After a waterway is chosen for the annual honor, local groups implement a year-round slate of activities and events to celebrate the river, including a paddling trip, or sojourn. The organization nominating the winning river will receive a $10,000 leadership grant to help fund their River of the Year activities.

The public can vote for their favorite state waterway through 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27. Vote now

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