The Susquehanna River Sojourn makes a stop in Muncy
MUNCY – “Exciting,” said Muncy Historical members who helped nearly 80 canoes and kayaks come down the Susquehanna River on Friday afternoon. They were part of the annual West Branch Susquehanna Sojourn that started their journey on Sunday, June 13 in Renovo and ended Saturday at Shikellamy State Park in Northumberland. Each day brought them an educational experience about the rich history and the ecological aspects of the river and its impact with the Chesapeake Bay.
It is a 7 day, 97 mile guided trip with a variety of activities and learning opportunities along the way. “Anyone can participate,” said Kristen Hand, Education and Outreach Coordinator with DCNR who assisted the sojourners with their needs and shuttle service from Renovo to Shikellamy Park. Most of the paddlers left their vehicles at Shikellamy then took a shuttle to Renovo where they started the journey.
Some of the participants came just for one day. “You can choose any day, a few days or the entire week if you choose,” added Hand. “This is our second year for the six day sojourn that was originally started 20 years ago,” said Leslie Ferguson, a Water Program Specialist with DEP whose organization also assisted with transportation, setting up speakers and transferring gear from one point stop to another.
Martha Lawrenz, age 69 from Maryland came by herself. “This is my 9th sojourn,” she said. “But I have to leave a day early and I am obliging to the Muncy Historical Society for keeping my van parked at their lot and arranging a special pick up for me here today so I can leave,” stated Lawrenz as they helped her fasten her kayak to the roof top of her vehicle.
Representatives from 11 states in the Mid-Atlantic region were on board this year on the Susquehanna according to Sarah Koontz, a Vista AmeriCorp member with the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership in Lewisburg who helped fund and coordinate the excursion.
Since 1990, the Alliance has worked with local river conservation organizations across the Bay watershed to hold week-long paddling and camping trips that celebrate rich history and ecology of the rivers that make the Chesapeake Bay unique.
Throughout the week, Sojourners build comradery through daily paddles and programs and share new experiences with others on the trip. Each day, paddlers covered about ten miles of the river, stopping to meet with local communities and their elected officials along the way. Each evening, the Alliance and partner organizations coordinated group meals and environmental programs designed to educate paddlers and their guests about the river’s importance to local communities and the Bay region as a whole.
On day 6, Bill Poulton from the Muncy Historical Society gave a presentation about the canal and the timber industry at the Muncy Heritage Trail after they enjoyed a lunch provided by volunteers from the historical society. They were also escorted from the boat launch to the heritage trail where they took a short walking tour of the Last Raft incident. “This is the first time the paddlers stopped in Muncy,” said Paul Metzger from the historical society who also took photos. “They will come back in four years to see the progress on the trail,” he added.
Trish Carothers, Development Outreach Coordinator for Susquehanna Greenways in Lewisburg spent a few days on the river herself in a kayak. “Our organization helped with the funding through POWR, a grant for watersheds and rivers,” she said. “We also helped them with ground support and helped to connect resources and acquaint them with the history and the people in these river towns. This is a good opportunity to see the water trails in their own back yards,” she added. The organization also helps with technical assistance and acquiring funding for river access points and improvements.
Other local organizations that assisted with the Muncy stop were Trout Unlimited, the North Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, Boy Scouts of America, the YMCA and the Lycoming County Planning Commission.