French Creek in northwestern Pennsylvania has been named 2022’s River of the Year after public voting closed January 14th. Winning nearly half of all votes cast, French Creek will be the site of a commemorative River of the Year sojourn and other celebratory activities in the coming year. French Creek Valley Conservancy, the nominating organization, will be awarded a $10,000 leadership grant to help fund the events.
The Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers, an affiliate of PEC, administers the River of the Year program with funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
“We are delighted to have French Creek selected as Pennsylvania River of the Year,” said French Creek Valley Conservancy’s Executive Director, Brenda Costa. “Many thanks to DCNR and POWR for this program and this honor. French Creek has incredible biodiversity, flowing through beautiful natural landscapes, and it provides many wonderful recreational opportunities. It is a common thread that joins so many small communities in northwest Pennsylvania with a sense of pride and passion, and we are grateful to the thousands of people who voted for French Creek. People often share stories with me about their experiences and family memories surrounding French Creek, and I look forward to having more people discover our community treasure.”
People often share stories with me about their experiences and family memories surrounding French Creek, and I look forward to having more people discover our community treasure.
French Creek’s remarkable biodiversity is one of its most unique qualities. The French Creek watershed contains 27 of Pennsylvania’s 65 freshwater mussel species, four of which are federally endangered. French Creek is home to the eastern hellbender, North America’s largest salamander and Pennsylvania’s official state amphibian. Hellbenders are a species of special concern in Pennsylvania due to their declining populations. French Creek also presents excellent birding opportunities and habitat for rare and endangered plant species.
In addition to wildlife spotting, the French Creek Watershed is a popular region for paddling, fishing, hunting, and geocaching. French Creek Valley Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to protecting the ecology and recreational opportunities of the French Creek Watershed. It manages the French Creek Water Trail and will be celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
The other 2022 River of the Year nominees were the Monongahela River, Catawissa Creek, and Connoquenessing Creek. Last year’s winner was the Shenango River. Watch a video of the 2021 commemorative River of the Year Sojourn below:
“POWR would like to commend everyone across the commonwealth for their support for the nominated waterways,” said POWR and PEC’s Janet Sweeney. “The River of the Year program is a great way to highlight the opportunities and challenges facing our waterways, raise awareness and connect Pennsylvanians to the water, as well as highlight the great work being done in Pennsylvania communities on these valuable resources.”
Visit POWR’s website for updates on upcoming River of the Year activities and events.