State officials are taking votes now for Pennsylvania’s River of the Year award.
Before there’s any thought that a river might have pulled off some course-changing event, even in a positive way deserving of merit, know that the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is looking to recognize conservation efforts of the people and groups that care about the rivers.
They want to do it with an eye toward promoting recreation, sport and travel involving those rivers, so this is the 2014 River of the year Award.
And a lot of votes should be expected from Indiana County because two of the five rivers nominated for the award run through the area.
The Kiskiminetas-Conemaugh River and the West Branch of the Susquehanna River are candidates for the River of the Year honor.
Nominations were based on each waterway’s conservation needs and successes, along with plans proposed by community environmental groups to celebrate the winning river’s award in 2014.
In cooperation with DCNR, selection of public voting choices was overseen by the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR), an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
The Conemaugh forms the southern boundary of Indiana County, running along East Wheatfield, West Wheatfield and Burrell townships, Blairsville Borough, Conemaugh Township and Saltsburg Borough, where it meets Loyalhanna Creek to form the Kiskiminetas River.
The West Branch of the Susquehanna looks most like a river in Clearfield, Clinton, Lycoming, Union and Snyder counties, but it has its birth from tiny trickling waterways converging in the Cherry Tree area.
“So many unique natural resources and so much recreational potential are showcased individually in these nominations,” said Ellen Ferretti, the acting secretary of DCNR. “Collectively, these rivers and streams demonstrate just how blessed Pennsylvania is with its wealth of major waterways.”
The other rivers nominated for the recognition are the Ohio River, which forms at The Point in Pittsburgh, the Schuylkill in eastern Pennsylvania and the Brodhead Creek Watershed in the northeast.
Online voting continues through 5 p.m. Dec. 27 at www.pariveroftheyear.org. The website tells more about the nominated waterways and the River of the Year program.
“As it enters its fourth year, we have seen the online public selection process become increasingly popular,” Ferretti said. “We also know this spirit of good-natured competition rallies community support around our waterways and puts deserving rivers and streams in the limelight.”