“Susquehanna River Honor Journey passes through York, Lancaster counties”

It is intended to celebrate the river but also bring awareness to the pollution in it.

susq honor tourFrom the left, Tom Ray, of Lancaster, and Jono Droege, of West Hempfield Township, walk on Tuesday along the Susquehanna River in Lower Windsor Township as part of a 64-mile trek from Long Level to Havre de Grace, Md. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – PAUL KUEHNEL)

By TERESA ANN BOECKEL | Daily Record/Sunday News

York, PA –

“Many people appreciate the Susquehanna River while they are crossing a bridge over it, fishing or boating on it or connecting with it spiritually.

“But the river has been shaped by man and damaged by pollution for centuries.

“A monthlong event called the Susquehanna River Honor Journey is intended to honor and celebrate the river but also bring awareness to the pollution and impacts industries have had on it, according to a news release.

“The Southern Branch Honor Relay started at Shikellamy State Park in Union and Northumberland counties, where the north and west branches of the river meet. The relay continues to Havre de Grace, Md., where the mouth of the river meets the Chesapeake Bay. The journey has included biking, boating and hiking.

“Ryan Overly, one of the organizers who is from Lancaster, said he has been concerned about natural gas drilling in other parts of the state. For example, fresh water is withdrawn from the river for the hydraulic fracturing process, and that’s just one of the issues.

“Other environmental concerns on the river exist, too, from algae blooms caused by nitrogen to smallmouth bass having lesions, he said.

“The honor relay came to York and Lancaster counties this past weekend. A walk across the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge was held Sunday, and Michael Helfrich, Lower Susquehanna riverkeeper, spoke Monday at Shank’s Mare Outfitters in Lower Windsor Township about man’s impact on the river.

“Helfrich said during a phone interview that the river has changed over the years from trees being cut down to dams being built on the river to industries polluting the water.

“Helfrich said he thinks the honor journey is great. Many people care about the river for different reasons.

“‘It’s important because if you’re not concerned with the river, you don’t understand how much it gives to us,’ he said.

“On Tuesday morning, a group of hikers started a 64-mile trek from Long Level in Lower Windsor Township to Havre de Grace, Md.

“Tom Ray of Lancaster said some say the water is OK, but ‘you look at the sores and tumors on the fish and see something is wrong.’

“Jono Droege of West Hempfield Township, Lancaster County said the hike helps him understand why he is doing this.

“‘It’s been healing for me,’ he said.”

Staff photographer Paul Kuehnel contributed to this report.

Learn more

Interested in learning more about the Susquehanna River Honor Journey?

Visit susquehannariverhonorjourney.org.

SOURCE: York Daily Record

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