Why Conserve?


Every spring, thousands of people take to Pennsylvania’s waterways on one of 12 organized sojourns. These multi-day journeys explore our special rivers and streams. Why not give one a try? Find out how.

Resources in Danger: Lakes & Waterways

With so many major lakes and no less than 83,000 miles of waterways flowing within its borders—all harboring about 160 fish species—Pennsylvania truly is blessed with its share of cool, clean water. But it always hasn't been that way.

Just ask the kids of a different summer, the aging baby boomers who just a few decades ago tried to catch fish in a lake once mocked as "the Dead Sea," or in the polluted rivers once used solely to quench the "Steel City" thirst for production and transportation. To the East, would-be migrating American shad found their route up the Delaware blocked by pollution; and kids swimming in the Schuylkill River found their feet blackened—not by mud, but rather coal silt.

What a difference a few decades make. Lake Erie has become a Mecca for smallmouth bass, walleye and steelhead anglers. The Three Rivers of Pittsburgh have rebounded to the point where the city hosted a Bassmasters Classic just three summers ago. Shad runs in the Delaware are again an annual rite of spring, and the Schuylkill flows cleaner and cooler each year. Meanwhile, slowly, sometimes a small tributary at a time, the home of the brook trout in north central Pennsylvania is being reclaimed from acid mine drainage.

The future. Clean water flows only from a team-effort source: industry, farmers, individual homeowners all are slowly realizing what they do upstream always affects someone downstream. Check out these sources to find more ways that rivers are being celebrated and protected.

 • DCNR’s rivers conservation program offers grants to help plan for and implement projects that will protect rivers health.

 • The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission oversees a water trails program that connects people to the rivers through exploration.

 • Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation: nonprofit organization increasing participation in recreational angling and boating, and public awareness and appreciation of the need for protecting, conserving and restoring this nation's aquatic natural resources

 • Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay works to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Pennsylvania Susquehanna River contributes more than 50 percent of the freshwater to the Bay.