Voting to Begin for Pennsylvania’s 2021 River of the Year

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced the public is invited to again vote online for the 2021 Pennsylvania River of the Year, choosing from among five waterways nominated throughout the state.

“Never has the value of our wealth of waterways shined brighter than during this pandemic as people in unprecedented numbers are being drawn to Pennsylvania’s river and streams and the natural refuge they supply,” Dunn said. “Much more than a public vote gauging popularity, this annual competition builds community support around our rivers and streams, putting them in the public limelight. All have truly unique attributes, offer incredible recreational opportunities, and offer significant boosts to local economies.”

Waterways nominated for 2021 are Buffalo Creek, Lehigh River, Loyalhanna Creek, Shenango River and Tunkhannock Creek. 

Nominations were based on each waterway’s conservation needs and successes, as well as celebration plans if the nominee is voted 2021 River of the Year. In cooperation with DCNR, selection of public voting choices is overseen by the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR).

Dunn said the online public selection process continues to be increasingly popular as it enters its eleventh year.

The public can vote for a favorite state waterway beginning today, Monday, December 14, 2020, through 5:00 PM Friday, January 22, 2021. A POWR website enables voting and offers details on nominated waterways and the River of the Year program. Voting is managed through Woobox, an online contest application restricting voting to one email address.

POWR, an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, administers the River of the Year program with funding from DCNR. Presented annually since 1983, this year’s 2020 designation was awarded to the Lackawanna River.

“We are excited to kick off, for the eleventh year, the public online voting process for Pennsylvania River of the Year,” said Janet Sweeney, Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers. “During this trying time, we have all deepened our appreciation for the outdoors and the many benefits found through spending time in nature. The Annual River of the Year voting process is a way for the public to rally behind and support their favorite waterway.”

After a waterway is chosen for the annual honor, local groups implement a year-round slate of activities and events to celebrate the river, including a paddling trip, or sojourn. The organization nominating the winning river will receive a $10,000 leadership grant from DCNR to help fund River of the Year activities.

POWR and DCNR also work with local organizations to create a free, commemorative poster celebrating the River of the Year.

The River of the Year sojourn is among many paddling trips supported each year by DCNR and POWR. An independent program, the Pennsylvania Sojourn Program, is a unique series of a dozen such trips on the state’s rivers. The water-based journeys for canoeists, kayakers and others raise awareness of the environmental, recreational, tourism and heritage values of rivers. For more information about the sojourns, visit

To learn more about DCNR’s Rivers Program, visit (go to “Conservation” and click on “Water”).

For details on the River of the Year program, visit