Even the industrial section of the Shenango River is wildlife-rich, the tour leader says.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
SHARON, Pa. -- Environmental education will be the goal of a 6-mile canoe trip down the Shenango River from Sharpsville to Farrell on July 14.
"The main purpose is to show people the beauty around this portion of the river that actually comes down through town," said Jennifer Barborak, founder and president of Shenango River Watchers Inc., which is sponsoring the outing.
"People don't realize how pretty it really is, what types of wildlife are here."
SRW is a nonprofit organization dedicated to monitoring water quality, cleaning up and preserving the river and its watershed.
In contrast to a June 1 canoe trip, in which SRW participated on the river's more rustic upper section, this trip will cover a heavily industrial section of the river and pass through downtown Sharon.
But there will still be plenty of wildlife to see, Barborak said. "There's going to be osprey. We may see some [bald] eagles,'' she said, adding that she often sees turkey, kingfishers, herons and deer along this section of the river. "There's a lot of wildlife in this area despite the fact that we've got a lot of human impact through the towns," she added.
"It's just as beautiful in its own way as the section up toward Greenville," Barborak said, adding that Mercer County residents need to learn about the river, the watershed and how they affect the river.
The free trip
The guided trip, for which there is no charge, will begin at 10 a.m. on Kelly Road near the bridge just below Shenango River Lake Dam and end about six hours later at Duferco Steel in Farrell.
Participants will drive to Sharpsville, where they will unload their canoes. Drivers will then take their vehicles to Duferco, park there, and be shuttled back to Sharpsville for the beginning of the canoe trip.
Everyone is urged to bring a life jacket. State law says children under 12 must wear one. SRW will have a few extra seats available for those who don't own canoes.
A picnic lunch and beverages will be provided free at the Consumers Pennsylvania Water Co. treatment plant, where company officials will give a brief presentation and answer questions on their treatment process. There, canoes will be portaged around a dam the company uses to impound water for its river intake.
Duferco Steel officials will give a presentation at the end of the outing concerning their company's impact on the river.
In its studies, SRW has found that the river's water quality is generally good upstream from downtown Sharon but that its quality is reduced after Pine Run, which has lower water quality, empties into the river in downtown Sharon, Barborak said.
Time will be available for fishing on the July 14 trip, but, based on health advisories from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Barborak urges any fish caught be returned to the river and not eaten.
The fish are contaminated with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) -- chemical pollutants from the former Westinghouse Plant in Sharon, she explained.
SRW also is sponsoring a river cleanup day beginning at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 24 at the Reyer's Shoes parking lot in downtown Sharon, during which the group will try to remove small litter as well as a tractor, bicycles, tires, baby swimming pools and large household appliances from the river. A raft and some canoes will be used to remove litter that can't otherwise be reached.
XFor more information about the upcoming events, write to Shenango River Watchers Inc. at P.O. Box 986, Sharon, Pa. 16146, or call (724) 342-5453.