Heritage Region Seeks Assistance With Water Trail
By Rick Hiduk
A significant amount of work has been done by volunteers associated with the Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR) over the past year, and the organization, which serves as the water trail manager for the North Branch Susquehanna River, has paired conservation grants with private and corporate funds to cover the costs of new wayfinding signage and improvements to three existing river access points in Bradford and Wyoming Counties and the development of a new boat carry-in access at Tunkhannock.
In the Wyalusing area, EMHR associate David Buck has found help in Wyalusing Valley High School 2011 graduate Ty Space, current seniors Levi Rogers and Lance Reese and local residents Gary Stevens and James Bunnell, who have cleared brush, leveled off access ramps, restored parking areas, and installed a drainage pipe and benches. One of the most accessible of the improved sites is a “pocket park” along Route 187 in Terry Township listed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission as #237.
The site is across a narrow river stream from an island that was sliced through the middle this spring by high water. It is popular among bank and wade fishers, and kayakers drifting through on shallow rapids are a common sight. The parking area and pathways had filled in from silt, Buck related. “It would get mowed occasionally,” he recalled. “It was a steep bank and, when it got wet, it was slippery.” Stevens donated the use of a skid steer and, in previous seasons, has sewn phlox seeds on the island.
Buck is pleased with the outcome of the Terry Township site as it is more visible from the river and more appealing to nearby residents whom he invites to simply sit and enjoy the beauty of the river if they aren’t interested in fishing or boating. “People just need to get out and enjoy the river,” said Buck, who added that EMHR is seeking volunteers who can work with the organization to further enhance and maintain the area. The students, he noted, earned community service credits toward graduation for their work at #237 and for installing benches at French Azilum Historic Site, but Buck noted that there are many ways that individuals and groups can help with the project.
“There is an opportunity to make it nicer,” he stated. “We just need the people to do it.”
On Tuesday, Aug. 16, Buck will head up an improvement project at the Laceyville public river access, which is just downstream from the bridge on the downtown side of the river. Interested readers may call Buck at 570-265-1528 or 570-746-9140 for more information. The Laceyville park provides picnic tables and campsites and is relatively walk-able, said Buck. It’s one of several points along the river between Athens and Tunkhannock that EMHR would like to promote as potential overnight stops or “through-paddlers,” those who may spend a week or more exploring the river with the help of signage from the river that may indicate location, amenities, and general rules. Overnight camping is not permitted at State Game Lands #237, for example, but there are points at Athens, Homets Ferry, Wyalusing, Black Walnut, Laceyville, and Mehoopany, including several islands on the Susquehanna River, where camping is allowed.
In addition to a partnership with Chesapeake Bay Gateway Network, from which EMHR received a $30,000 grant for site enhancements, EMHR maintains associations with Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, members of which recently conducted a meeting in the area, visits to various historic sites and overlooks, and short kayak trips. The Susquehanna River is part of the National Park Service’s national recreation trail system and runs 444 miles from New York state, through the Endless Mountains and on to the Chesapeake Bay. To learn more, readers are encouraged to log on to www.endlessmountainsheritage.org.