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Allegheny River wins Pennsylvania's 2024 River of the Year contest

Two people kayak along the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania.
Three Rivers Waterkeeper
Two people kayak along the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania. The Allegheny River is Pennsylvania's 2024 River of the Year, following a public statewide vote.

The Allegheny River is Pennsylvania’s 2024 River of the Year, according to the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The 325-mile-long river starts in Potter County, crosses into New York, and then goes through six counties in Western Pennsylvania before joining with the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh to form the Ohio River.

The Allegheny won in a statewide public vote against the Youghiogheny and the Lackawaxen.

Jess Friss is the community programs director at Three Rivers Waterkeeper, which is a non-profit committed to protecting the water quality of the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio Rivers.

“The Allegheny River was largely used for industry in the past, so, the transportation of goods and people. So it has a lot of historic pollution, but it's come a long way. A lot of people use it for recreation now: boating, fishing, swimming," Friss said.

DCNR hosts the contest each year with the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers.

DCNR said a record 20,259 people voted this year. The Allegheny got 8,307 votes, the Youghiogheny got 7,212 and the Lackawaxen got 4,740.

“I was blown away. I think that really goes to show just how much the community cares about the Allegheny River and how much they came together to vote for it," Friss said. “I think the fact that this was a decision kind of made by the community really shows that there's this collective commitment towards wanting to promote our waterways. And they are such a great resource for every area that lives near the rivers for not just environmental reasons, but economic reasons [and] for mental health reasons.”

Friss said Three Rivers Waterkeeper will get a $10,000 grant from DCNR for nominating the winning river. She said the money will go toward educational and celebratory events along the Allegheny River.

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