Lancaster County residents drink from and play in the county’s 1,500 miles of streams, from tiny Landis Run to the mighty Susquehanna River. The waterways drive the local economy and the county would not be celebrated as the Garden Spot without them.
Yet, nearly half of those streams are polluted.
How to get Lancaster County residents to care more about these vital resources in their midst and become more active in saving them?
A new, ambitious attempt toward that goal will be the first Lancaster Water Week, to be held June 3-10 around the county with 15 free events for the whole family.
They include a stream cleanup, paddle tour of the Susquehanna, tree planting, a bike race, golf tournament, stream study, guided hike along the Susquehanna and finale picnic at the Climbers Run Nature Preserve, which has been extensively restored.
There will even be a special craft beer brewed and sold for the week: A Climbers Run IPA brewed by Lancaster-based Fetish Brewing Company.
Spearheaded by The Lancaster County Conservancy and Nimblist, and presented by Turkey Hill Dairy, the event will award $30,000 to community projects to get the hands-on movement started. Some 20 local businesses ponied up money to fund the on-the-ground projects to better waterways.
“It’s our resource to do with as we want. Our goal is to preserve it and increase awareness,” says Fritz Schroeder, director of urban greening at the conservancy.
Schroeder and Spike Brant, owner of Nimblist, a local lighting and production design company, conceived the idea for both a countywide celebration of local streams and a call to action while they were taking a break from paddling the Conestoga River. Both frequently paddle local streams.
“There’s a lot of mandates out there, but does the general public understand why we are being required to do these things?” says Schroeder. “We want to educate people and have them celebrate the natural resources.
“We also want to establish a large database of people who care about these issues and over the next couple years get more people active in volunteering with their community groups.”
Ground zero for the event is this website.
At the website, you will find a detailed listing of all the events and a link to sign up for them.
There’s also an interactive map where you can plug in your zip code and find out which of 12 watersheds in Lancaster County you live in. If you want to do more in your watershed, there’s a link to local watershed groups.
The week’s finale on Saturday, June 10, is a “Picnic on the Preserve” along the conservancy’s restored Climbers Run.
The first 450 people to attend the week’s events will receive a free native tree to plant on their properties.