2021 River of the Year

The Shenango River

Winding through Northwestern Pennsylvania, connecting Pymatuning and Shenango lakes with the Beaver River via 82 miles of scenic, peaceful river, the Shenango River has been voted the state’s 2021 River of the Year. 

“The River of the Year selection does much more than focus on attributes of the most deserving Shenango, it recognizes the Shenango River Watchers and other supporters who rallied behind it,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “This annual honor recognizes not only our state’s wealth of rivers and streams, but also the core of dedicated folks who fight to protect them.”

DCNR and POWR will work with the Shenango River Watchers to create a free, commemorative poster celebrating the Shenango River as the 2021 PA River of the Year.

The Shenango River Watchers will receive a $10,000 Leadership Grant to help fund a slate of year-long 2021 River of the Year activities.

Shenango River Watchers was founded in 2001 by a small group of interested and dedicated citizens. The organization began by hosting trash and litter cleanups. Since 2001, it has removed over 1.5 million pounds of trash from the watershed and attracted more than 50 volunteers at each cleanup event. In addition to cleanups, they conduct water quality monitoring and aquatic life surveying. In the last 20 years, Shenango River Watchers has provided outdoor, hands-on environmental learning opportunities for hundreds of students within the watershed through its annual Outdoor Environmental Education Day.

Shenango River Watchers is currently the only organization in Mercer County whose sole focus is on the clean-up, preservation and protection of the Shenango River and its recreational opportunities. Shenango River Watchers host over 20 annual events including two successful sojourns attracting up to 400 paddlers per event; an outdoor environmental education day with over 250 local students; and a 5k race that attracts over 1,200 runners plus spectators. They also partner with other groups to host free recreational workshops such as a fly-casting clinics and introduction to kayaking courses, as well as community hikes, volunteer work days and cleanups. For 20 years the Shenango River Watchers has demonstrated commitment and ability to plan and implement a wide range of events for the benefit of the community and the Shenango River.

“We are thrilled to have the Shenango River chosen as the Pennsylvania River of the Year! . This is a great honor, not just for the Shenango River Watchers but for our region as a whole. Thank you to DCNR and POWR for this fabulous opportunity,” said Shenango River Watchers President. Dr. Brandi Baros. “Thank you to our volunteers, who have cleaned up 1.5 million pounds of garbage from the river and its watershed and turned a neglected waterway into a paddler’s paradise. Every year we see more and more people come out to enjoy the wondrous recreation opportunities the Shenango has to offer, including kayaking, fishing, hiking, and birdwatching.”

About The Shenango River

The Shenango River winds through Northwestern Pennsylvania, connecting Pymatuning and Shenango Lakes with the Beaver River via 82 miles of scenic, peaceful river. Its history includes use as part of the Erie Canal system during the Industrial Revolution, remnants of which can still be found along the historic Shenango Trail which follows part of its eastern bank. In addition to the swimming, boating, fishing, and waterfowl hunting offered on the lakes, the Shenango River has become a paddler’s paradise, bringing kayakers and canoers from many states to enjoy the diverse wildlife and riparian forest views.

The upper Shenango and its tributaries offer excellent fly fishing for trout, bass, and other choice species. The Upper Shenango River Water Trail runs from Pymatuning Dam, through downtown Greenville’s Riverside Park and, under the historic Kidd’s Mill covered bridge, to Shenango Lake. The Water Trail offers a 23-mile sojourn with Class 1 rapids, easily accessible launch areas, more fishing opportunities, and fabulous bird-watching; including majestic bald eagles, ospreys, kingfishers, and many other waterfowl and songbird species.

In Sharon, the Shenango River is home to WaterFire Sharon, one of America’s premier art and music festivals. From Sharon to New Castle, where the Shenango merges with the Mahoning to form the Beaver River, the Shenango continues to offer beautiful scenery and plentiful launch areas. The Shenango River Watchers and their partner organizations have worked together to clean up the less savory remnants of the River’s industrial past and maintain it as a beautiful destination.

Find events here.