LANCASTER, Pa. — The Conestoga River, which runs through the heart of Lancaster County, is a finalist in the 2023 River of the Year competition.
The competition, which is funded by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers, aims to elevate public awareness of specific rivers and recognize important conservation needs.
Todd Roy, Executive Director of the Conestoga River Club, nominated the Conestoga for this year's competition. He says awareness is exactly what this river needs.
“It needs it. You can see the trash right here. The awareness has to happen," he tells FOX43. "This has got to stop because this is our home. This is where we live. This is our river. Nobody’s going to fix it but us.”
Roy has been a champion of the river and organizing clean ups for the area. He says he’s seen people come together in that pursuit as well.
“In the last two years I have seen effort that restores faith in humanity. I have seen people who live next store to each other become neighbors.”
The Conestoga is up against the Perkiomen Creek, the Schuylkill River, and the north branch of the Susquehanna River. The winner will receive a $10,000 leadership grant.
Roy has plenty of ideas for how he would spend the grant money, including funding cleanup efforts and hosting activities that spotlight the Conestoga.
"We’ll be hosting a 2 day camping trip," Roy says. "We’ll be hosting a river race festival on Memorial Day weekend. Just everything that we can do to bring the community together even more firmly behind the needs of this great river.”
Accessibility is also at top of mind for Roy, who wants everyone in the community to be able to enjoy what this river has to offer.
Voting is open in the River of the Year competition until Wednesday, January 18th. You can cast your vote here.