Mon traffic 2

A barge hauls coal on the Monongahela River in this photo from 2020.

The Monongahela River, which begins in Fairmont, W.Va., snakes through Southwestern Pa. and meets the Allegheny and Ohio rivers at The Point in Pittsburgh, is a contender for the 2022 Pennsylvania River of the Year award, hosted annually since 1983 by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The Mon, as locals call it, will compete against the Catawissa Creek, the Connoquenessing Creek and the French Creek for the award. Nominees were determined by the DCNR and the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers based on each waterway’s conservation needs and successes.

“The value of our waterways has shined brighter than ever during this pandemic as people have visited Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams in unprecedented numbers seeking the natural refuge they supply,” DCNR secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said in a news release. “This annual competition is so much more than a popularity contest. All of our rivers and streams have truly unique attributes, offer incredible recreational opportunities, and offer significant boosts to local economies. This competition shares those wonderful attributes and helps build community support around our rivers and streams, showing just how much they have to offer to the public.”

The 130-mile-long Monongahela River offers much to the region.

It’s the first river in the U.S. with complete navigational control, thanks to locks and dams installed and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Averaging 20 feet deep, the river is easy for boats and barges to navigate, and its slow-moving currents make it a great river for kayakers and paddleboarders.

The Mon is also one of the few major rivers in North America to flow south to north.

Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to vote online for their favorite river between now and 5 p.m. Jan. 14.

The winning waterway will receive a $10,000 grant, which funds River of the Year activities organized by local groups.

To learn more about the River of the Year, or to cast your vote, visit https://pawatersheds.org/vote-for-a-2022-river-of-the-year/.

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