River users hoping the Ohio can earn state honors
Vincent Troia knows that the multitude of industrial sites along the more than 40 miles of Ohio River stretching from Point State Park to the Ohio state line can be a barrier to developing the waterway for recreational use.
But he sees a future in which kayakers, canoeists, motor boat owners and fishing enthusiasts have easy access to the river and share it with commercial users.
“The significant improvement in water quality in our region during the past 30 years has led to a great interest in using our waterways for recreation, and developing hiking and biking trails along them,” said Troia, executive director of the Ohio River Trail Council.
“And while much of the focus has been on the Allegheny and Mon rivers, we're starting to see it happen along the Ohio.”
Troia holds out hope that the Ohio will be selected River of the Year in a state contest, which could raise awareness of what's been accomplished and help to attract government grants for development.
The Ohio River is among five nominees — including the Kiskiminetas-Conemaugh River, which begins in Freeport — vying for the contest's top honor. In addition to bragging rights, the organization that nominated the winner gets a $10,000 grant to help fund year-round activities, including a paddling trip. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources started the contest in 1983.
Public online voting began on Nov. 25 and runs until 5 p.m. Dec. 27. To cast a ballot, visit: http://bit.ly/1hysyLo. Other competing waterways are Brodhead Creek Watershed in the Poconos, the Schuylkill River and the West Branch Susquehanna River.
Jeff Brown, who operates Midway Marina in Glenfield, welcomes any effort to boost recreational opportunities along the Ohio River.
“There's lots of riverfront but not a lot of places for people to access it,” he said. “It would be great to have more places where you could tie up your boat and have a picnic, toss a Frisbee, or walk up to a restaurant, like you can do on the North Shore.”
Brown said the installation of a public boat launch in Kilbuck has drawn more than just boaters.
“In the spring and summer, the area is packed with people fishing along the river, and I've noticed a lot more kayaks and canoes in the river,” he said. “I think a lot more people would use the rivers if there were more areas like that.”
Laura Hawkins, who helped the Conemaugh Valley Conservancy nominate the Kiski and Conemaugh rivers, said winning the competition would “help put these rivers on the map.”
“They were basically dead as a result of our industrial heritage,” Hawkins said. “But years of restoration work and stewardship have made them a tremendous success story. Unfortunately, we've found that a lot of people who love to use the rivers or bike trails don't even know about them. That's something we need to change.”
Though some remnants of industry — abandoned sites and working plants — line the 86 miles of those rivers from Freeport to Johnstown, thick woods line much of the waterway.
Hawkins said the key to improving public awareness of recreational opportunities on the rivers involves marketing them.
“We need to make sure there is information available at every access point, to let users know what's available in the many towns along the way,” she said. “We believe these steps will go a long way to helping these communities rebound.”
Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7987 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- North Fayette company changes defendants in Antonio Brown endorsement lawsuit
- Sinkhole caused by mine subsidence closes Laketon Road in Penn Hills
- Lawrenceville man will stand trial on ‘revenge porn’ charges
- Man charged in child rape case from 2014 arrested again
- Wilkinsburg state deputy constable charged with official oppression
- North Side blogger pushes herself for a cause
- Pittsburgh police release photo of alleged cash snatcher
- $10M in Pittsburgh funds stay on hold until payroll management system is complete
- Contraband found 3 times on fired Allegheny County jail psychiatrist
- Forest Hills picks new mayor for rest of year
- Ex-Gov. Ridge: Hacking group’s kill list only a scare tactic