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Conewango Creek Watertrail Hazard Fundraiser


Penn Soil RC&D Council and the Conewango Creek Watershed Association (CCWA) are working on the planning and raising money to remove the fallen tree (strainer) hazards from a section of the Conewango Creek Water Trail that has become almost impassable for novice, recreational paddlers. The section is approximately one mile below the Larimer Park boat launch in Russell and three tenths of a mile above the Big Four boat launch. Three major hazards including submerged trees (strainers, ie. obstacles in the current that lets water pass through but not solid objects) and trees piled up on islands and gravel bars, during low water levels, have been mapped and photographed in an attempt to raise awareness of the hazards. When the creek is experiencing higher water levels, the trees beached on the islands and gravel bars then become submerged, stainer hazards as well. A fundraising campaign for the project is underway seeking grant funds and private, local matching funds.

Many rescues and near rescue incidents have occurred in this area over the last 7-8 years, injuring paddlers, submerging or destroying boats and gear causing additional hazards and pollution to the creek and turning residents off from the paddling sport altogether. Additionally, each rescue situation puts group paddle leaders or emergency responders in danger attempting to rescue capsized paddlers.  The strainers in and along the outside banks of the creek are causing changes to the flow of water and accelerating the rate of erosion of the banks causing even more future hazards. As the water erodes the soil along the bank, roots of trees become exposed and weakens their stability on the bank. The tree starts to lean over the water causing what’s called a sweeper. The low hanging branches of the tree can snag on a paddlers PFD ( personal floatation device ie. life jacket) or clothing and “sweep” the paddler out of their boat leaving them hanging over the water. It is best not to paddle under a sweeper and to take a wide route around strainers in a waterway.

Funds raised will go towards efforts to remove the hazards as soon as possible. In the meantime, signage will be posted at launches along the water trail, above the hazards, warning paddlers, especially non-locals, to beware of the conditions downstream and advising paddlers to exit the Conewango Creek at Larimer Park or put in below the hazards at the Big Four boat launch.
As a designated water trail and winner of the 2015 River of the Year designation, the Conewango Creek boasts over 13 miles of it’s 13.5-mile span of undisturbed natural, beauty. Visitors to the creek often see bald and golden eagles, otters, beavers, herons, deer, many other species of water birds and, if lucky, may spot the elusive PA state amphibian, the hellbender!
You can support the Conewango Creek Watershed Association & Penn Soil RC&D Council's efforts to remove the hazards from the Conewango Creek and reduce the risk of drowning of paddlers and rescue personnel due to capsized boats. Please visit www.conewangocreek.org to donate to the hazard removal effort!

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