Upper Susquehanna-Lackawanna Watershed
The Susquehanna and Lackawanna rivers of northeastern Pennsylvania form two of the most scenic valleys in the country. High, green ridges provide picturesque views of shimmering water and quaint towns. During the 1800s, the region produced large amounts of anthracitic coal that helped fuel America's emergence of the U.S. as an industrial power. The coal industry collapsed in the 1900s, leaving behind economic decline and environmental degradation from polluted mine runoff. Today, the communities along the Upper Susquehanna and Lackawanna Rivers are reversing the trends of the past and establishing sustainable development practices for the stewardship and development of abundant natural and cultural resources in the region.
The Susquehanna is one of the nation's largest rivers, and provides more than half of the freshwater flow into the Chesapeake Bay. The watershed is home to waterfowl, trout, deer, bears, and small mammals. Numerous federal, state, county, and local parks and gamelands within the watershed support skiing, hunting, and fishing. A developing network of trails and rail-to-trail projects provides opportunities for hiking and biking.
Forests and cropland represent more than half of the land on the watershed, and truck farms, dairy farms, and tree farms dot the landscape. In the cities of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, new partnerships are resulting in urban renewal. The Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce has spearheaded new projects such as a soon-to-be completed convention center, a business development center, and several industrial parks. Historic Steam town in Scranton has become the nation's premier railroad museum, following a $66 million investment by the National Park Service.
Community Action Plan
Since the early 1980s, citizens and organizations in the watershed have completed several projects to restore the rivers, protect important natural resources, and foster economic revitalization. The community's plan to restore and enhance the watershed includes completion of a comprehensive ecosystem study, expansion of flood protection, restoration of mine-scarred land, promotion of economic growth, and creation of new recreational and educational resources. American Heritage River designation will give the community the opportunity to implement a regional strategy for reclaiming the two rivers as the watershed's most outstanding resources.
J.J. Balaban, U.S. House of Representatives-The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski (202) 225-6511