|2012 Schuylkill River Sojourn; by Jeremy Quant|
1.It's inspiring: The Schuylkill was once one of the nation's most polluted rivers until, in the mid 20th century the state of PA undertook the Schuylkill River Project, the first government-funded, large scale environmental project of its kind. The project dredged millions of tons of coal silt from the river. Later, laws were enacted to prevent raw sewage and industrial waste from being dumped routinely into its waters. The result? Today the river is a beautiful place to recreate, and its waterfronts are inviting places where parks, eateries and shops flourish. You can learn more about the Schuylkill River Project by reading Chari Towne's book A River Again. Learn more.
3.Cleanup Efforts Continue: The river is a lot cleaner than it once was, but there is still work to be done, and there are many agencies throughout the watershed engaged in activities that improve water quality in the river. One example is the Schuylkill Action Network. Another is the Schuylkill River Restoration Fund, administered annually by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area as part of a public/private partnership. Since being established in 2006, the fund has collected more than $2 million and funded 42 projects that reduce stormwater run-off, agricultural pollution and abandoned mine drainage.
Fish ladders have been installed at four dams (Fairmount, Flat Rock, Norristown and Black Rock dams). Three breached dams have been removed (Plymouth, Vincent and Felix Dams). The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has stocked more than 4.5 million juvenile shad since1999.
5. Wildlife: Do you know that bald eagles are regularly spotted along the Schuylkill now? Since the 1970s, bird species have been increasing along the river, a direct result of the river's gradually recovery. And it's not only birds that are coming back, wood turtles, mink, river otters and spring peepers are among the many species making a comeback.
6. History: The river played an important role in three revolutions that shaped our nation: the American, Industrial and Environmental. During the American Revolution, soldiers at Valley Forge encamped beside the river. It later served as a transportation route during the Industrial Revolution, when coal was carried down the Schuylkill Canal to fuel factories and steel mills across the nation. It's inspiring environmental story has been told above..
7. Recreation: The Schuylkill River is a National Canoe Association Recommended Water Trail, with signs at landings and water trail maps that make it more accessible to paddlers. And every year, the Schuylkill River Heritage Area hosts the popular Schuylkill River Sojourn, a 112-mile guided paddle that begins each year in rural Schuylkill County and ends a week later at Philadelphia's Boathouse Row.
8. Drinking water: The Schuylkill is a source of drinking water for over 1.5 million people.
9. It's beautiful: The river is a scenic waterway, often hidden from view, that provides a peaceful oasis for people wishing to reconnect with nature a short distance from urban areas and suburban neighborhoods.
10. It almost won last year. The Schuylkill was a finalist for PA's 2013 River of the Year. Although the Monongahela ultimately won by a narrow margin, voters showed strong support for the Schuylkill, which earned 8,010 votes to the Mon's 8,156 - a less than 1 percent difference of only 146 votes. We know it can win for 2014!