2016 River of the Year Kickoff

DCNR-left-rgbDCNR Secretary to Mark “River of the Year” in Bradford County – Heritage Association Makes Press Kits Available

DCNR Secretary Cindy Dunn (above) and other officials will help the Endless Mountains Heritage Region kick off the 2016 River of the Year celebration at 12:30 pm on Friday, May 13 at Sayre Riverfront Park in Sayre, Bradford County. She will greet youths from area schools participating in a three-day paddling sojourn.

The days are getting longer and warmer, and the shorelines of the North Branch Susquehanna River are getting greener as the Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR) and Susquehanna Greenway Partnership (SGP) prepare for a slate of river-related events as part of their 2016 River of the Year celebration.

On Friday, May 13, DCNR Secretary Cindy Dunn will officially bestow the River of the Year designation on the North Branch Susquehanna River at Sayre’s Riverfront Park in Bradford County. There, she and other invited officials, including Bradford County Commissioner Ed Bustin, will meet students from Bradford, Luzerne, and Wyoming counties embarking on the first official River of the Year event – a three-day sojourn from Sayre to Sugar Run from May 13 to 15.

As the sponsor of the state-wide contest that secured the River of the Year designation, EMHR will utilize a $10,000 grant from DCNR and POWR (Pennsylvania Organization of Watersheds and Rivers). EMHR will sponsor a number of sojourns and other activities associated with key events in towns along the Susquehanna River in Bradford, Luzerne, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties.

EMHR now has River of the Year branding materials, including an official logo, banners, posters, decals, and press release templates to provide to communities and groups interested in associating their events with the 2016 River of the Year campaign.

“It is the river that we are celebrating. It’s not about us,” EMHR executive director Annette Schultz said of the association’s willingness to partner with other groups. “We’re inviting everyone to celebrate the river as a means to highlight their good work as river stewards.”

The student paddling/camping trip is designed to put the youths in touch with the natural beauty and history of the river. Participants will be encouraged to bring musical instruments and other means of entertaining each other. They will also be taking photos and video of their journey to share with the public at Wyalusing Valley High School on Sunday, May 15.

“There’s a wide assortment of things we’re going to try to cover,” said Keith Brown, who is coordinating the trip through Endless Mountains Outfitters (EMO). Topics will include talks on Sullivan’s March, the history of French Azilum, primitive living, and survival skills. Northeast Bradford music teacher Brian Primrose and American folk musician Don Shappelle are also slated to make presentations. The youth sojourn will conclude on Sunday afternoon with a presentation by the students for the public at the Wyalusing school. Registered participants hail from Towanda, Northeast Bradford, Wyalusing, Tunkhannock, and Canton high schools, as well as North Rome Christian School and Wilkes-Barre STEM Academy. As the trips will be offered at little or no cost, EMHR Greenways Coordinator David

Buck is seeking sponsors to help cover the costs of food and entertainment, which are not eligible for grant funds.  Buck will also conduct a River of the Year sojourn June 12 to 17 from Sugar Run to Shickshinny. This event is more geared toward adults, and those interested may register through EndlessMountainsHeritage.org by clicking on the “sojourn” tab.

“We proposed focusing on youth and adult education on the river to cover Native American and European settlement history,” Buck related, noting that the most of the sojourns and paddling trips are timed to coincide with River events already on the calendar.

They include a three-day Riverfest in Wilkes-Barre from June 24 to 26, Tunkhannock’s River Day, sponsored by the Wyoming County Cultural Society on July 23; the Old Hickory Guns Encampment at French Azilum on July 23; a large Civil War Reenactment at French Azilum on Aug. 13 and 14.

Buck is working on a paddling trip in the Great Bend/Susquehanna Depot area for August 26. Susquehanna Depot is one of several towns along the North Branch Susquehanna River that has applied for DNCR River Town status with assistance from EMHR, the others being Towanda and Tunkhannock. Sayre and Athens have shared the designation as a dual River Town since 2015, and Laceyville was named a River Town in 2014. River Towns are eligible for assiatance programs geared towards improving connections between downtowns and the Susquehanna River.

Whether the event is musical in nature, a community celebration, or a fundraiser that involves the river, EMHR directors are hoping that the leaders of organizations planning such events will take advantage of the available media kit.

To request a complete media kit, municipal and group leaders may contact EMHR program coordinator Hillary Robinson at 570-265- 1528. For updated information on River of the Year activities planned for the North Branch Susquehanna River, interested readers should log on to EndlessMountainsHeritage.org.

The 2016 River of the Year program is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR) with funding from the Department of Conservation; Natural Resources (DCNR), along with EMHR and donations from local government and non-profit organizations.

The North Branch Susquehanna River Water Trail is part of the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail of the National Park Service. EMHR manages the water trail from Sayre at the New York state line to Berwick in the south, as well as the Great Bend portion of the Susquehanna River in Susquehanna County.