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Corbett flaunts W.Pa. recreation

| Wednesday, July 25, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Governor Tom Corbett gives a press conference after arriving in Seward via kayak on July 24, 2012. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review

Gov. Tom Corbett felt every bit of his 63 years of age Tuesday as he gingerly climbed out of his kayak in Seward after paddling 7.5 miles of the Conemaugh River from Cambria County.

Despite the stiffness and aches he felt immediately after paddling almost three hours along the stretch of rural waterway, Corbett said he had no regrets.

“It's a great example of the beauty of Penn's Woods,” Corbett said as he boasted about the opportunity to show off the region's recreational opportunities to many of his fellow paddlers from the Philadelphia end of the state.

On Monday, Corbett kayaked down the Allegheny River, starting in Tidioute in Warren County and also visited Forest and Venango counties. Wednesday, Corbett will be kayaking closer to home in Point State Park in Pittsburgh.

“I've driven a lot through here along Route 56 over the years, but never realized its beauty before. We saw a couple of bald eagles,” Corbett said.

Among Corbett's fellow paddlers were his wife, Susan; state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Krancer and state Rep. Mike Vereb, a Montgomery County Republican, and a number of staffers from his office and three state agencies: Environmental Protection, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Fish and Boat Commission.

Corbett said the early morning rain that delayed the kayaking flotilla's planned start at 7:45 a.m near Johnstown helped raise the water level of the river, enabling a less rocky trip.

Corbett, dressed in Steelers T-shirt, green cargo shorts, sandals and life vest, addressed a handful of media at a public access area next to the Route 56 bridge connecting Westmoreland and Indiana counties.

“Preserving our natural resources for generations to come is critical to the growth of our commonwealth. Not only do they support a high quality of life for our residents, but they support the continued success of Pennsylvania's tourism industry,” Corbett said.

Tuesday afternoon, Corbett visited Whitewater Park, an outdoor whitewater course in Johnstown. The park is the state's first set of constructed rapids along the Stonycreek River.

Its facilities enable novice paddlers an opportunity to learn basic whitewater techniques and more experienced boaters opportunities to play in more severe hydraulics.

Some Pennsylvania Democrats were not impressed with Corbett's three-day tour promoting the state's natural resources and recreational opportunities and put out a missive yesterday criticizing the trip.

Democratic chairman Jim Burn issued a release lamenting that Corbett “paddled past schools he hurt, homeowners who saw increased property taxes, and county health providers whose funding Corbett cut with his budget” in Cambria County.

For information about recreation opportunities and state parks, visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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