Prove your humanity

This story comes from our partners at WITF.

This story is part of our series, Wild Pennsylvania. Check out all of our stories here

Pennsylvania has a lot of rivers, but the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources wants you to pick Pennsylvania’s 2024 River of the Year.

“We wanted to do something that would sort of incorporate some fun and competition into Pennsylvania’s amazing waterways, streams, rivers, natural spaces,” said Wesley Robinson, press secretary for the agency.

This year’s nominees are the Allegheny, Lackawaxen and Youghiogheny.

Each river had its application submitted by separate organizations. For the Allegheny it was Three Rivers Waterkeeper, for the Lackawaxen it was Wayne and Pike Trails and Waterways Alliance and for the Youghiogheny, it was the Mountain Watershed Association.

Finalists were chosen by the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers in cooperation with the DCNR.

The winner will earn a $10,000 grant to be used toward programming around the waterway including conservation and recreation. A commemorative poster will also be created for the winner.

The DCNR will organize a paddle across the top-ranked river.

Last year’s winning waterway was the North Branch of the Susquehanna River.

Robinson paddled alongside DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn.

“I think it was a seven-day sojourn, but we participated in half a day for the river, you know, honoring the North Branch of the Susquehanna River,” he said.

Robinson said the paddle helps people appreciate the natural wildlife that calls Pennsylvania home.

Last year, the competition received around 11,000 votes, with the victor earning around 4,000. Robinson said he hopes that number gets up to 15,000.

Robinson said this competition can create new relationships and spark interest in the natural terrain across Pennsylvania.

“You can make a new friend. You can learn something about Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania’s rich history and culture. You can try a new outdoor activity,” Robinson said. “I think that there are endless opportunities and when you take a step back away from what you’re comfortable with and used to and get that inspiration from the outside.”

Votes can be cast at pawatersheds.org until Jan. 19 at 5 p.m.