THE SUSQUEHANNA Greenway
Stretching over 500 miles in length, the Susquehanna Greenway is a corridor of open space, land trails, river accesses, and communities that border the Susquehanna River. This past year, SGP worked across the corridor to advance programs and projects within our three program areas 1) Trails
2) Education & Outreach, and 3) River Towns. The following map illustrates the locations and areas of work.
Assisted communities and partners to envision, build, and sustain land and water trails.
Education & Outreach
Provided programming and outreach to promote and increase the use of the Susquehanna Greenway.
Worked with communities to develop strategies that increase their connections to the River and each other.
The Susquehanna Greenway
A network of connected land and water trails, parks, and towns that border the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania.
Time is like a river—its passing is as swift and as consistent as the currents that flow downstream. This past year’s currents have brought with them great successes and exciting projects that you helped us achieve!
In 2017 & 2018, our work and the efforts of our partners made important strides in advancing our vision of a Greenway that connects open spaces along the Susquehanna River, inspires people to engage with the outdoors, and transforms communities into places where people want to live, work, and explore.
We advanced the Middle Susquehanna Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan in partnership with the SEDA-Council of Governments and regional Municipal Planning Organizations (MPOs). As the state appointed water trail manager of the West Branch and Lower North Branch of the Susquehanna River Water Trail, we also embarked on a scouting mission to visit and inventory all the boat launches and canoe accesses along the water trails.
Through our Education & Outreach Program, we continued to bring opportunities to explore and connect with the Susquehanna River. Last year, SGP hosted the 7th Annual Photo Contest, launched our Volunteer Ambassador Program, and hosted a hands-on Rain Garden workshop and installation.
Our Susquehanna Greenway River Towns program explored the recreational, natural, and cultural assets of three West Branch River Towns and helped them further leverage their resources to enrich their communities. Additionally, our family of River Towns grew by four this year.
We would also like to thank our network of dedicated partners, who help us to advance the vision of the Susquehanna Greenway in their areas. A selection of their programming is included within this report.
On behalf of the board of directors and the staff of SGP, I want to express our gratitude for your support. We live in an extraordinary region with exceptional places, unique communities, and a river that binds us all together.
Thank you for your interest and generosity as they have allowed us to undertake tangible and rewarding projects that connect our region together and connect you to the Susquehanna River.
See you out on the Greenway,Corey Ellison SGP Executive Director
SGP’s Trails Program helps communities and partners to envision, plan, and sustain trails within the Susquehanna Greenway. Our vision is to create a truly unified 500-mile system of open space that includes parks, land trails, boat launches, and preserved open spaces that connect people to the Susquehanna River and to each other through a network of greenway trails.
Middle Susquehanna Bike & Pedestrian Committee
The average trail project takes 10-14 years to be transformed from an idea into a physical reality. A majority of this time is committed to planning and designing the trail, as well as garnering the funding needed to navigate each component. Isolated trails tend to take longer, while trails with collaborative support at both the local and county level tend to progress at a faster rate. These coordinated projects also tend to be scored higher when soliciting grant funding on the state and national stages.
With this in mind, SGP has been working with the SEDA-COG and Lycoming County Municipal Planning Organizations (MPOs) for the last two years to develop the Middle Susquehanna Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan.
The transportation plan brought together county planners, community representatives, and bike/ped interest groups to evaluate the impediments to walking and biking within the region, as well as to identify the bicycle and pedestrian facilities needed at the community and regional level to help organized bike/ped projects secure funding.
The end result will be a more coordinated effort to build bike/ped infrastructure within the Middle Susquehanna Region.
Most communities within the region were originally built with bicycling and walking in mind. Communities were constructed so that residents could easily walk or bike across town, but as cars gained in popularity and communities expanded, automotive infrastructure took precedence over bike/ped transportation. The result was a menagerie of infrastructure that leaned to the side of the motorist.
Nevertheless, most of the region’s communities still maintain their original networks and with some key updates and redesigns could place pedestrians and bikes on equal footing with vehicular traffic. These bike/ped projects in return will provide numerous benefits to the residents and visitors,
including increases in healthy living opportunities, economic development, environmental benefits, and even increased property values. The result will be more attractive and vibrant places to live, work, and explore.
Over the last year, the committee gathered public input via a series of open houses. During these open houses, maps displaying the region and surveys were utilized to collect data and public feedback. Topics of discussion were centered around questions that would establish the current state and use of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, evaluate the current level of bicycle and pedestrian activity, and determine the public’s perception and opinions on bicycling and walking in the study area.
People want to live and work in places that are walkable and bikeable, and this plan pushes the Greenway one step closer to our vision for a continuous 500-mile corridor of land and water trails along the Susquehanna River. Once finished, the plan will make these trail projects eligible for PennDOT funding. This extra support and valuable partnership will be an asset to improving community health and revitalization through bike and pedestrian projects. The final plan is scheduled to be re-released in June 2019.
Water Trail Access & Launch Inventory
The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership is the stateappointed water trail manager for the West Branch and the Lower North Branch (Sunbury to Berwick) of the Susquehanna River Water Trail. During the summer and Fall of 2018, the staff of SGP embarked on a scouting mission to visit and inventory all the boat launches and canoe access sites along
both of our appointed Water Trail sections. During the site visits, staff gathered information on existing needs and improvements at accesses, as well as inventoried issues related to user experience and safety. The information gathered will be used to assist SGP in updating the Water Trail Map and aid staff in outreach and coordination among partners.
Diahoga Trail Breaks Ground
An initiative six years in the making entered its final stage of development as crews broke ground on the first phase of the Diahoga Trail in September 2018. This two-mile trail, located on the upper North Branch of the Susquehanna River, will run from Riverfront Park in Sayre Borough along the banks of the Susquehanna River to the Valley Playground in Athens Borough, connecting two valuable assets and communities together. The Trail is scheduled to open in the Summer of 2019.
SGP staff assisted the local planning team Futurescapes, and other partners including the Bradford County Conservation District, Endless Mountains Heritage Region, Bradford County Commissioners, Carantouan Greenway, Todd Babcock, PLS., Civil and Environmental Consultants, Stiffler McGraw and Associates, NTRPDC, Athens Borough, Sayre Borough, and the Valley Joint Sewer Authority.
Susquehanna River Trail Manager Meeting
With over 500-miles of waterway in Pennsylvania, collaboration is key to maintaining the safety and spirit of the Susquehanna River Water Trail. With this in mind, SGP convened the other water managers and stakeholders several times throughout the year to provide a platform to share information and updates on projects and events along their section of the water trail. Topics of discussion included the promotion of the water trail, improving signage and safety along portages and leading up to low-head dams, celebrating successful events, and collaborating with PFBC and the National Park Service. The managers of the Water Trail include: SGP manages the West Branch and lower North Branch, Endless Mountains Heritage Region manages the upper North Branch; the Susquehanna River Trail Association manages the Middle Susquehanna; and Susquehanna Gateway Heritage Area manages
EDUCATION & OUTREACH
SGP’s Education and Outreach Program works to promote and educate the public about the Susquehanna Greenway, its ongoing projects, and the many outdoor opportunities and amenities. We also aim to recognize and highlight the people who make the Greenway possible, inform and engage the public, and promote the responsible and safe use of the Susquehanna Greenway’s trails, parks, and River Towns.
7th Annual Photo Contest Stuns Again
SGP seeks to inspire and celebrate the connections that are shared between your communities and the Susquehanna River. The Annual Susquehanna Greenway Photo Contest provides one way of fostering this connection by encouraging people to #GetOutontheGreenway and explore the Susquehanna through a camera lens.
During the 7th Annual Photo Contest, entries poured in from across the state, highlighting the many beautiful and inspiring assets of the Susquehanna River and the Susquehanna Greenway. The winning photos were selected by a panel of judges as the best of four categories: Landscapes, Susquehanna
Adventures, River Towns, and Youth (under 18 years old). Cash Prizes were awarded to the first through third place winners within each category. Winning images were also printed, framed, and added to a traveling gallery, which has been exhibited throughout the Susquehanna region within Pennsylvania this past year.
The photo contest serves to involve the public in one aspect of SGP’s vision and mission—to inspire people to engage with the outdoors, be it walking, hiking, paddling, biking, or in this case, photography. As the traveling gallery moves from place to place so do the scenes of the Susquehanna, encouraging viewers to discover the beauty and resources of the Susquehanna River.
Volunteer Ambassador Program Launches
Do you have a passion for the outdoors? Do you want to be more involved within your community? Last year, SGP launched the Susquehanna Greenway Volunteer Ambassador Program to help you do just that! Volunteer Ambassadors assist SGP with community outreach and events within the Susquehanna Greenway and Susquehanna River Water Trail. Visit susquehannagreenway.org/ambassador for more information and to learn more about how to apply.
Scenes and Sips
In the Spring of 2017, SGP was joined by 40 fellow Susquehanna enthusiasts and partners at our annual Susquehanna Scenes & Sips event. This event, which showcases the winning images from SGP’s Annual Photo Contest, took place at Fero Vineyard & Winery in Lewisburg, PA. Attendees enjoyed free tastings of Fero’s award winning wines, tasty appetizers, and desserts—all while viewing the winning images from the 6th Annual Photo Contest. The Scenes & Sips event was held in conjunction with the 12th Annual Susquehanna River Symposium hosted at Bucknell University. A special thank you to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Susquehanna Life, and Miexell-Diehl Insurance, whose funding made Scenes & Sips possible.
We’re on Instagram; Follow us today!
In the Fall of 2018, SGP launched its Instagram account @susquehannagreenway. Be sure to follow us, and share your scenes and adventures from around the Greenway. If you would like your photo to be featured as our #PhotooftheWeek, tag us on Instagram or Facebook. We’d love to see your shots of Greenway scenery, wildlife, river towns, and Susquehanna adventures like hiking, biking, paddling, and more. Show us how you #GetOutontheGreenway!
Rain Garden Workshop
On Saturday, September 9, 2017, 47 individuals joined the SGP, Columbia County Conservation District, and Penn State Extension Master Gardeners of Columbia County for a unique workshop focused on rain gardens. During this workshop, participants received an in-depth look at rain gardens and their benefits, as well as gained valuable, hands-on experience constructing a rain garden on-site at Kocher Park in Bloomsburg. This project was made possible through a Bella Garzia Grant awarded by the Luzerne County Foundation, as well as grants from the Chesapeake Bay Commission and Foundation for the Pennsylvania Watersheds. A special thank you goes to all those who participated and the funders who made this project a success.
Pennsylvanians said providing more long distance trails and pathways would be among the most effective way to get them to achieve their health and fitness goals.
*2014-2019 Pennsylvania Outdoor Recreation Plan
SGP Thanks Volunteers
A Volunteer Recognition and Thank You Event was held on October 21, 2017, at the Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport, PA. Over 75 volunteers were invited including volunteer SGP Board members, committee members, community engagement volunteers, sojourn volunteers, rain garden volunteers, college interns, river town volunteers, and many others who have assisted SGP in carrying out our work and mission. A total of 19 volunteers were able to attend. A special thank you goes to Bullfrog Brewing for hosting.
SGP’s River Towns Program works within communities throughout the Susquehanna Greenway to envision, prioritize, and implement community-led projects that reconnect their residents back to the Susquehanna River, create trails and river accesses, and interpret the community’s natural and cultural assets. Our vision is to connect these towns to the river and to each other through the Susquehanna Greenway.
Natural Assets Assessed in Key River Towns
Lock Haven, Jersey Shore, and Williamsport are important towns along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and are surrounded by beautiful forested landscapes. These landscapes and communities are rich in natural, recreational, and cultural assets. Together with a network of partners, SGP has been working towards identifying, enhancing, and leveraging those resources to enrich the communities today and into the future.
For the past two years, SGP has spearheaded an Asset-Based Economic and Entrepreneurial Development (ABED) project within these three West Branch communities. Supported by funding from DCNR and the Appalachian Regional Commission, the project centered around the goal of strengthening collaborative partnerships to grow and promote entrepreneurial and economic development in these river communities. Efforts centered around identifying areas where significant investments in recreational infrastructure have historically, or would if implemented, connect people to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and surrounding landscapes.
As a part of this study, each community hosted a workshop to review the findings of the community assessments and user intercept surveys, prioritize action items, and identify implementation strategies. Participants included municipal leaders, community economic development entities, nonprofit organizations, and interested residents.
Items that were evaluated include improvements to the links between the natural and built resources in the communities (e.g. gateways, signage, safety, and parking), the presence of businesses, opportunities for events, and the quality of the built environment in downtowns and riverfronts. Gathered information was collated and utilized to draft an Action Plan.
Implementation of the plan’s action items will encourage sustainable economic use of each community’s natural resources, augment revenues of existing businesses, develop leaders, strengthen community capacity, diversify the economic base, and encourage participating communities to integrate the Susquehanna Greenway River Towns Program into their community planning efforts.
With the voices of each community working together, SGP looks forward to seeing the plan strengthen the communities’ connections to the river and each other through trail and economic development.
Spearheaded with a $10,000 Peer Grant, the communities of Renovo, South Renovo, and Noyes Township are rediscovering what makes their communities unique. Together with Greenway Coordinator Alice Trowbridge, the Western Clinton County River Town team has been working this past year to outline what they value most about their community and identify ideas for improvement. Through their coordinated
efforts, the River Town Team has identified their surrounding natural environment, and the recreational opportunities it provides, as major assets to their residents. This recognition has resulted in several project ideas centered around embracing these resources including a conceptual plan for the redevelopment of Renovo’s riverfront. The plan was presented to local and regional organizations, and citizens.
Lewisburg River Town Team Receives Grant
The Lewisburg River Town Team was awarded grant funding through the Lindig Lewisburg Foundation Fund at the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania to make modest improvements at the “gas property,” a.k.a. the public park/empty lot adjacent to the St. George Street Boat Ramp. Among other things, the group will be working on naming the park and putting up signage to enhance the user experience and assist the community in locating the park.
Four Join River Town Ranks
Over the course of the last year, four communities saw their efforts come to fruition when they received their official designations as Susquehanna Greenway River Towns. Congratulations to the West Branch city of Williamsport, PA, and to the North Branch communities of Falls, Exeter Township, and Danville. Their endeavors to revitalize and celebrate their connections to the river and the Susquehanna Greenway are admirable and worthy of recognition.
Jersey Shore Bike/Ped Audit
In coordination with the Middle Susquehanna Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, the community of Jersey Shore undertook an ambitious effort to conduct an audit of their bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Spurred by a Peer-to-Peer grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, as well as a Walk Works Grant from the Department of Health, Jersey Shore completed an Active Transportation Plan intended to raise awareness about the importance of bicycle and pedestrian friendly community design. The plan also identified priority projects for implementation within the community, recognized concerns for safe walking and biking, and set priorities to encourage active and healthy lifestyles.
Heart of Williamsport
2018 marked the 3rd year of SGP’s Heart of Williamsport (HOW) initiative. Some key accomplishments for team members have included a community celebration at the Community Arts Center in Williamsport featuring a volunteerproduced movie “From the Heart of Williamsport;” four community conversations at “Williamsport Wednesdays;” and an “Ideas to Action Summit” where 59 participants engaged in ‘monopoly-themed’ activities to ‘buy into’ ideas that will inform a final action plan for the city. The HOW project team has been supported by the Orton Family Foundation and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, a Federal-State Partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
SGP is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the Susquehanna Greenway and its corridor of conserved lands, trails, and communities that run along the Susquehanna River within Pennsylvania. We could not, however, accomplish all of the great work within the Greenway without our valuable network of partners and local community organizations. Below are some outstanding examples of partner work accomplished over the past year.
Susquehanna Heritage: Canoemobile
In October 2018, Susquehanna Heritage partnered with Wilderness Inquiry to offer a Canoemobile program for approximately 380 fifth grade students from Lancaster and York counties. The students paddled the Susquehanna River in 24-foot Voyageur canoes, participated in field studies, and learned about science, history, geography, and culture.
In addition to instruction in canoeing and water safety, students engaged in hands-on activities to learn about the cultural and ecological heritage found in their hometown, including the historic significance of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. The program was made possible with funding and staff support from the Chesapeake Bay Office of the National Park Service and partnerships with the National Park Conservation Association, Pennsylvania State Parks, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission, Chesapeake Conservancy, and Rotary Club of York-East.
Clinton County Rail Trail
In July 2018, Clinton County’s 11.5-mile Rail Trail system received a name: The Bald Eagle Valley Trail. The project is continuing to acquire funds for the next phases of development, with the ultimate goal of connecting the West Branch communities of Lock Haven, Castanea, McElhattan, Avis, and points in-between to the Lycoming County border and the Jersey Shore trailhead of the Pine Creek Rail Trail.
Volunteers from across the greater Williamsport area joined forces in April 2018 for the inaugural Williamsport Cleanup Week—a week-long initiative dedicated to removing litter from valued sites across the city. Individuals and organizations, with planning assistance from SGP, STEP, and the City officials, removed over 1,245 pounds of trash from the streets, parks, and waterways of the greater Williamsport area over the course of the 8-day event. On the River Walk alone, SGP and Heart of Williamsport volunteers removed 260 pounds of trash in just under 2 hours.
Capital Area Greenbelt Expansion
During October 2018, state and local officials broke ground on an expansion of the Capital Area Greenbelt in Dauphin County. The connector trail will link Wildwood Park to Fort Hunter Park in Susquehanna Township, providing walkers, hikers, and bikers with a safe way to access the park. Completion of the project is expected in mid-2019. It is made possible by various funding sources, which added up to $7.5 million for trail improvements.
DCNR Grant Awards Announced
In November 2018, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced its grant awards for 2019. A total investment of $50 million went towards funding 280 projects across Pennsylvania including trail development, protection of open spaces, planting of riparian buffers, river conservation projects, projects for the maintenance of recreation, parks, conservation facilities, and much more. Thanks to these grants, we have some exciting work coming to the Greenway in 2019!
12th Annual River Symposium at Bucknell
More than 300 people, including students, faculty, scientists, engineers, policy-makers, consultants, and community members, participated in the twelfth annual Susquehanna River Symposium in November 2017 at Bucknell University. The two-day event featured a keynote address delivered by Mohawk spiritual leader Dr. Thomas Porter, and more than 80 research posters by students and faculty from 16 universities. This year’s theme was “The Spirit of Two Great Rivers: The Delaware and Susquehanna.”
York County Land Preserved near Marietta
Last year, nearly 1,000 acres of woodland along the Susquehanna River near Marietta, PA was rescued from development by the Lancaster County Conservancy and its partners. These five tracts of land have been protected to form the Hellam Hills Nature Preserve, providing public access to the river, interior forest, vistas, ravines, meadows, and streams. The grand opening of the preserve is expected in Spring 2019.
Union County Trail Initiative
Union County Commissioners voted to increase the hotel tax in the county from 3% to 5% in an effort to establish a longterm investment in the future of bike and pedestrian trails in the county. Known as the Union County Trail Initiative, the effort would receive an estimated $125,000 annually to promote outdoor tourism and trail use, underwrite trail maintenance, and provide capital to invest in future trail expansion. Additionally, the initiative establishes a fivemember Union County Trail Authority to direct the continued implementation of the Trail Initiative.
Endless Mountains: North Branch Youth Sojourn
In the summer of 2018, Endless Mountains Heritage Region hosted a Youth Sojourn made possible by a grant from the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds & Rivers (POWR). A group of high school paddlers spent three days on the water for a 37-mile journey, learning about nature, environment, the Susquehanna River, fish, safety, and survival. The event, led by Keith Brown from Endless Mountains Outfitters (Sugar Run), also included two nights of camping along with dinner, camp fire stories, music, and fun—bringing in a total of 100 participants with 24 high school kids.
Middle Susquehanna Island Stewards
The Susquehanna River Trail Association (SRTA), through its dedicated group of volunteer island stewards, has continued to maintain its network of 23 campsites on 16 islands within the Middle Susquehanna Water Trail. The campsites are a wonderful attraction on the Middle Susquehanna, affording a comfortable respite on a multi-day trip or a picnic spot on a day paddle. 2018’s historic rainfall certainly had an adverse effect on the island campsites. Perusing the logbooks (that were not washed away by floodwaters), SRTA observed that the number of visitors to the island sites was down by about 50%. There will be more work than usual in Spring 2019 due to the high water including clearing debris from campsites and replacing logbooks, but this network of volunteers doesn’t shy away from the work. After the unfortunate cancellation of 2018’s joint SGP/SRTA Sojourn due to unsafe river levels, the two organizations will again partner in 2019 to bring this paddling event to the Middle Susquehanna, highlighting the River Town of Selinsgrove and visiting an island campsite.
MEET OUR TEAM
SGP Board of Directors
Jerry Walls, Chair
Matt McLaughlin, Vice Chair
Jason Fitzgerald, Treasurer
Sid Furst, Secretary
Remembering Meg Finn
The SGP is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of one of our valued board members and friends, Meg Finn. While Meg’s tenure with SGP was abridged, her strategic insight, commitment, and passion for making a positive difference in our Susquehanna communities will live on. She was a lover of the arts and a genuinely compassionate person. Her accomplishments were many, and her admirers and friends countless. Meg will be greatly missed but never forgotten.
James and Cynthia Bower
Bob and Nancy Bowers
Kevin and Debra Boyd
Barry and Nancy Boyer
Stephen and Laura Brown
Patrick and Maureen Carey
Michael and Marsha Cunningham
Walton G. Dahlander
Robert and Helen Dannecker
John K. Davis
John and Linda Dietrichson
Richard and Diane Digiacomo
Jim and Sharin Dougherty
Peter and Mary Dubois
Thomas K. Edinger
Victor and Mary Engel
Glen and Patricia Foster
Sidney and Margaret Furst
Robert Allen Garrett
Steven Miller and Ellen Gauthier
William Gibson Jr.
Gary and Ann Gregory
Bill and Heather Haynos
Dan and Patti Hinkle
Michael and Carol Hubler
David and Theodora Jansky
Robert and Joan Johnston
William and Lois Jordan
Mike and Jill Komar
Leo and Rita Kopetz
Bill and Sue Malone
Raymond And Dorothy Marshalek
Frederick And Josephine Maue
Jay and Ann McCormick
Jennifer and Scott McElwee
Jack and Vicki Mihalik
Anthony and Rosalie Molinaro
Timm and Kristen Moyer
Heath and Jessica Oberlin
John and Marilyn Palmer
Robert and Ann Pappas
Ned Coates and Gayle Peters-Coates
Williams and Suzann Pharr
John and Lana Raymond
Alfred and Ann Reeves
Dennis and Patricia Ringling
Paul D. Schmeck
Marvin and Jean Staiman
David and Louisa Stone
Rich and Alice Trowbridge
John and Carol Wagner
Peter and Christine Wallace
Robert and Rose Ann Wallace
Marty and Cynthia Walzer
James and Joette Wasser
Matthew and Janet Weir
Kerry and Kathy Wilson
Mark and Suzanne Winkelman
Alan and Tana Zeigler
Thomas and Beverly Zorn
C & E Containers
Citizens’ Electric Company
Larson Design Group
Sunbury Generation, LP
UPMC Susquehanna Health
Civic Organizational Donors
Delta Kappa Gamma
Jersey Shore Area Lioness Club
Rauchtown-Nippenose Valley Lions Club
This project was financed in part by a grant from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program, using Environmental Stewardship Funds, under the administration of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation.
Annual Report design by Graphics & Design, State College, PA www.graphicsanddesign.net