Editor’s Note: This is a column on area watersheds by Blyden Potts and guest columnists to spread awareness of the area’s tributaries and the efforts of area volunteers to keep them clean.
Weather was perfect for a stream cleanup on Saturday: warm enough for shirt sleeves, but not hot. Stream water levels were moderate, and even the water temperature was not too cold. Which was a good thing, because there was a small leak in my right wader. That was about the only thing that detracted from my enjoyment of the day.
Upward of 110 people came out to volunteer for ShipShape Day, organized by D.O.I.T., including nine of us doing the stream cleanup. We split into two teams. One team did the section from Orange Street to Springhouse Road, while the other worked from South Fayette to Garfield Street. Our second group intended to get back to Orange Street, but ran out of trash bags one short. Seems there is almost always more trash in the stream than we think there is. We will pick up – both figuratively and literally – that little gap sometime later this year.
We found the usual abundance of cans, bottles, food and candy wrappers, and plastic shopping bags. In the section near the Little League, we found baseballs, and a sneaker. Balloons were, unintentionally, a theme. We found several, including a Mylar Happy Birthday balloon. I am happy to report we did not find any car tires or shopping carts. These sections we clean almost every year have less trash now than they used to have.
MSWA’s next scheduled cleanup is May 8. A third one is planned for June 5. We expect to do a series of cleanups through the summer and into autumn. Anyone interested in volunteering can check our Facebook page for announcements.
We will not be doing a stream cleanup in late May because of another event, a river sojourn on the Conodoguinet, the weekend of May 21-23. A river sojourn is a group canoe and/or kayak trip, usually for multiple days, with educational content intended to raise awareness of stream issues. Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR) promotes river sojourns across Pennsylvania. You can find a list of them at: https://pawatersheds.org/sojourns/
The Conodoguinet Sojourn will be a great opportunity to experience the stream. The stretches of the river included in the sojourn are suitable for all experience levels, even complete beginners, so long as they are committed to paddling at least one leg of the trip. If you have never tried canoeing or kayaking, are not sure you will enjoy it, or think a full day paddle is too long, you might try our Friday evening sunset paddle. It is on flatwater near Carlisle. It will be a leisurely trip of less than 4 hours, with some interesting scenery, and we should get a nice sunset as we approach the takeout.
Saturday and Sunday legs of the sojourn are longer, on parts of the stream that have some current, but still suitable for beginners willing to commit to the length. Saturday’s trip will feature stream geology as a theme.
Sunday’s trip will have a focus on historic bridges and mills.
The total length of the Conodoguinet Sojourn for the 2.5 days is 21.6 miles. A number of canoes will be available on each day for participants who do not have their own canoe or kayak. More information about the sojourn, and online registration for the event, is at: https://www.middlespringwatershed.org/conodoguinet-sojourn.
Whether you do the sojourn or not, it is a great time of year to be out kayaking or canoeing on local streams.