Six rivers have been nominated for Pennsylvania's 30th annual "River of the Year" award, which the public can vote on through Jan. 18.
The Philadelphia region's very own Schuylkill River is among the nominees this year, with the award's state and non-profit sponsors touting the 128-mile Schuylkill's resurrection from a "dead river in the mid-1900s" to one that "touches countryside and urban life" alike.
But the votes aren't flowing as quickly for the Schuylkill in the first week of voting as some of its competitors. The other nominees are: the Juniata River and Swatara Creek in southcentral Pennsylvania; the Kiskiminetas River and Monongahela River in the southwest and Lackawanna River in the northeast. The contest's first week of voting, Dec. 18 through Dec. 24, put the Schuylkill in third place with 19 percent. The Lackawanna has 31 percent and the Monongahela has 22 percent.
"We still have three weeks to go, so we're hoping for a push," Schuylkill River Development Corp. President and CEO Joe Syrnick said today.
The $10,000 award is given by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR).
"This is the third year that our selection process is through public voting," Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard J. Allan said in a statement. "We know the spirit of competition rallies community support around our waterways and puts deserving rivers and streams in the limelight."
The nominees were chosen for their conservation needs and recent successes. The purposes of the annual contest is to raise awareness for the waterway's relevance and historical value, organizers said.
For more information about the rivers and and to vote, visit here.
Since 2000, the Schuylkill River's Philadelphia banks have undergone major changes, Syrnick said. About 2.5 miles of trails have been built and the river's reputation has reversed 180 degress, he said.
"It was no man's land. Not only was there nothing there, but it was a scary place," said Syrnick, who has overseen the expansion of the Schuylkill Banks program. "There was stuff that no normal person cared about."
Now, with trails that currently run along some of the river from the Art Museum to the Dupont Crescent in Grays Ferry - and a $17 million addition underway to add another half mile between Locust and South streets - the Schuylkill is crowded with runners, bicyclists and kayakers, he said.