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It's all about Clean Water.  Post your pictures of our events, water conservation, floods, pollution.  Share your memories about the Swatara....  Our projects and areas of interest include the Bordner Cabin, Eagle Scout Projects, PA Conservation Corps, Swatara State Park, Swatara River, Swatara Sojourn, Swatara Water Trail, Tenaska, Swatara Watershed Park, and Water Companies

 Planning a Swatara Outing? Tips:

bullet Updated Map  
bullet Swatara Water Trail map and guide 7MB 10.12.2017.pdf
bullet Public     access points about every 7 miles.

For comparison, when the Harpers gauge at our launch @ 1929 Blacks Bridge Road, Annville reads the following heights:

5.5’, the Road to site #1 is almost covered, not             accessible and partly flooded;  


7’ our ramp is covered to the top gravel border; 


9’ the swell puts water onto sites 1-4 & site 8; and


10.56', only sites 26-35 do not flood. 

Depth  USGS Guages  National Weather Service provides forecasts for Harper's and Hershey gauges. Check the gauge nearest your start point.  Beginners should reschedule at 2.2' deep.  Reschedule if experienced, but water is rising between 3.5' & 4', or below .4'.  Kayaks may float a bit lower.  Memorial Lake is an option when the Swatara is too high or too low. 

bulletUse caution at dams:  With groups, avoid low-head dam in Jonestown.  Uneven portage on left bank, which disappears  into tree line in high water.  Hershey dam portage is also on the left.  Long, but flat, mowed route.  Take out at feeder stream on left before warning sign.
bulletU-Tow Canoes Available  http://www.mbcomp.com/swatara/redirect/watertrail/canoe_rent.htm

Canoe Use agreement: CANOE USE CONTRACT.pdf


Seasonal Primitive Camping Camp/2019 Campsite Agreement.pdf  Fishing, hiking, picnicking 


Visit the Bordner Cabin in Swatara State Park:  Bordner Cabin Drive thru Swatara State Park 9AM-3PM the 2nd Fri & Sat monthly & 4th Fri & Sat Mar, Apr, Sep & Oct.


Most recent Newsletter: 

2017 Swatara News .pub.pdf


newsletters/Swatara News 2018 final.pdf



Envisioning an Environmental Legacy for the Swatara EELS, the Book in pdf file


Mills and Bank Barns Mills and Bank Barns Book.pdf\


 Minutes/Statement of Importance of the Swatara Creek.pdf

About the Swatara Watershed


Watershed Description


Virtual Driving Tour


Maps of the Watershed


Swatara State Park (position papers: Bordner Cabin and Old State Road


Watershed Links (more than 200 links to Recreational opportunities, Schools, local government, and MORE!)


Tourist Destinations (New Feature)


Contact Information/Press Room



About SWA


Our History and Mission


Officers and Board Members


Legacy Giving


Lifetime Members


Become a SWA Member


Support SWA


SWA Newsletters


Meeting Minutes


SWA Awards and Publications

SWA Projects


Canoe Trips and Sojourn




Intern Opportunities

Rivers Conservation Plan


What is a RCP?


About Swatara's RCP


Get your own copy


Read the RCP on-line


View watershed maps

Swatara on Great Nonprofits: http://www.greatnonprofits.org/reviews/profile2/swatara-watershed-association


Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

December 2005

2005 Year in Review


Completed an oral history project and distributed EELS-Envisioning an Environmental Legacy for the Swatara—books, audio CDs, and DVDs to elected officials, media, and as membership incentives.  Supplied historical societies with complimentary copies.


After assembly and installation of signs and working with DCNR, the PA Fish & Boat Commission, National Parks Service, and Canaan Valley Institute, SCWA dedicated the 60-mile Swatara Water Trail.


Feature articles appeared in the PA Angler and Boater magazine, the Lebanon Daily News, the Lebanon Valley Tourist Promotion Agency magazine and DVD, and an Environmental Digest article for Dave Hess:
http://www.paenvironmentdigest.com/newsletter/default.asp?NewsletterArticleID=1561&SubjectID=  .  Video clips also aired in Our Town Annville by WITF Channel 33.


Enlisting unprecedented community support, in May, the 17th Annual Swatara Sojourn took place from Pine Grove, Schuylkill County to Union Canal Canoe Rentals, East Hanover Township, Lebanon County.  We cleaned up litter along the way.


In July, Watermelon at the Waterworks turned into an annual event as SCWA again picked up litter and repaired their adopted canoe launch damaged by Hurricane Ivan. 


SCWA helped to identify abandoned quarries for Lebanon County Emergency Management Agency and the PA Bureau of Mining, and hosted filming of the Stay Out Stay Alive PSAs with DEP Secretary Katie McGinty.   


SCWA successfully completed an Internal Revenue Service audit.


Hosted Todd Shepps as a Leadership Lebanon Valley intern from the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce.


Quarterly newsletters kept members, municipalities, commissioners, state and federal officials, and agencies at all levels of government informed.


Toured the Armor Bordner cabin


Filed the final report for the Little Swatara 319 Grant, which provided financial assistance to install best management practices on farms near the impaired stream.


Educated MPO about Aesthetic Bridges and signage over Swatara Creek


Nominated Conservation District board members and awardees.


Presented at the Lebanon-Lancaster Watershed Forum.


With the PA Organization of Watersheds and Rivers, participated in a Sojourn Congress in State College.


Manned displays at the LV EXPO, BassPro, Watershed Forum, and Levitz Park.


 Presented with the “Swatara Song” by the Down to Earth Band, a Blue-Grass band

Other Watershed Happenings:

¨       Quittie Wetlands boardwalk construction completed and held successful envirothons.

¨       Dry hydrants improving ISO ratings in East Hanover Township, Lebanon County

¨       $5 million released for Swatara State Park

¨       Future of Agriculture program by the Ag Extension Agency.                                                                         Nitrogen Loads

¨       Jonestown Greenway is underway

¨       Camp Shand preservation GGII funding approved for the Lebanon Valley Conservancy

¨       Lebanon Water Authority

¨       Quittie Creek Assessment by Rocky Powell, using the Rosgin technique.

¨       Lebanon County Comprehensive Plan is underway

¨       Expansion of Rails to Trails

¨       Recycled tires by the Ag Extension Agency

¨       March 2005 one of three DEP public meetings held at the Lebanon County Conservation District

¨       Twin Grove Park amusement park dedication

¨       Sweet Arrow Lake - Simmone, Jaffe, and Collins unveiled a $3 million Master Site Plan for Schuykill County’s first county park.  The club house is refurbished.

Please note that we will not have a December meeting.  See you on January 25, 2006 at the Watershed office, 9:30AM.

September 2005

Stay Out Stay Alive PSAs started to air Labor Day weekend.  DEP Secretary Katie McGinty delivers the message targeting young males who comprise the majority of victims of quarry drownings.  In the “background” footage, you may see someone you know from the Union Hose Fire Company in Annville, the First Aid and Safety Patrol Ambulance, Lebanon’s Emergency Management Agency, or the Lebanon Valley Scuba Club.  While it is a very serious topic, Lebanon is honored to have been asked to participate in the making of this public service announce-ment, which can also be viewed on our web site under a new feature entitled “Safety” http://www.mbcomp.com/swatara/StayOutStayAlive.wmv .

 Ono Fire Company Dry Hydrants:                             With an RC&D grant, East Hanover Township installed the first dry hydrant on 6/23/05.  The PVC pipe is at the Heagy pond, 769 Ono Road.  Ono Fire Company brought the pumper/tanker out and tested it while NRCS was there. 

¨       Next came Gamber's pond on Crooked Road and Jonestown Road, East Hanover Township.  Then came Moyer's pond on Jonestown Road at Harper's.

¨       A goal for the program is to assist communities in reducing their Insurance Services Office (ISO) ratings.  The insurance industry has long recognized the value of dry fire hydrants, and often offers discounts to clients where the hydrants are installed.  Dry hydrants can also result in fuel energy savings and drought protection (treated water supplies can be reserved for drinking needs).

You may have read the EELS book or listened to the eloquent narration of the book by Gordon Weiss.  Now $500 Gold Sponsors of the SCWA will receive a special incentive--"EELS, In Their Own Words"--a DVD collection of over 40 hours of living history (interviews conducted to create the EELS book) on the Swatara Watershed.  It may be a cherished and valuable asset to your library or a way to teach your children about their heritage.  Order your set today.  Also, the Derry, Lebanon, and Pine Grove Historical societies received free copies of the interviews on seven DVDs, which will play in a computer or dvd player. 

In July, SCWA picked up litter and repaired their adopted canoe launch damaged by Hurricane Ivan.  Washed out poles needed reset, and members hand-shoveled a mixture of clay and limestone donated by Pennsy Supply, Annville and hauled by L&C Construction to "shore up" the existing steps..  Afterwards, they ate Watermelon at the Water Works.  In attendance were Bob Arnold, Jarred Bartley, Tom Embich, Stephanie Harman, Jo Ellen Litz,  Todd Shepps, Jack Stouffer, and John Worrilow

POWR staff change:  Justin M. Shellenberger is now the Sojourn Program Coordinator.


Quittie Wetland Boardwalk:  Members of the Lebanon Conservation District and volunteers took advantage of the dry weather as they worked on installation of a boardwalk through the Quittie Wetland on the east end of the City of Lebanon in front of the Lebanon County Career and Technology Center.  A Killdeer feverishly guarded her nest within five feet of the installation.


Swatara State Park:  The Armor Bordner cabin roof needed replaced; Americans with Disability Act improvements; a new well; a larger septic system on a prohibitive slope; there was mold; and the logs were creosoted.  It would have taken six figures to save the site.  Added to this mix is the possibility that Old State Road will be closed.  Therefore, we were informed that the cabin will come down.


POWR held a Sojourn Congress in State College.  Discussions centered around: safety personnel; insurance; whether or not it would be advantageous to the American Canoe Association; new program ideas like a "U" Can Paddle demo day by outfitters; synchronized canoeing demonstrations to music; safety certifications on sojourns....

Statewide promotion and marketing is going to get kicked up a few notches.  For example, working with DCED and the State Tourism Bureau is a high priority to get a publication out early that promotes all of the sojourns (PA is the only state with statewide sojourns), then distribute them at all TPAs and visitor centers throughout the state; customized brochures for a professional presentation and continuity; maybe even a public service announcement or jingle to which we can add a ten second tag line; "rough it by day, luxury at night" identifying bed and breakfast inns for baby boomers who enjoy trying new outdoor skills, but want pampered at night; family reunions....

More sojourns are incorporating cleanups, which some sponsors really like.

Topics that need attention might include incentives for tire recycling; for safety, signed bridges so that paddlers can report where they are located in an emergency; ....

June 2005

Water Trail Extension Dedicated

The Swatara Water Trail extension runs north from Jonestown, Lebanon County, through Swatara State Park, to Route 645, Pine Grove, Schuylkill County, where the Lower Little Swatara empties into the main stem of the Swatara Creek. The previous trail ran 42 miles south to the Susquehanna River in Middletown, Dauphin County. The trail extension added approximately 18 miles, and the entire trail now runs through 3 counties and 19 municipalities. In partnership with the Swatara Creek Watershed Association, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, PA Fish and Boat Commission, Canaan Valley Institute, and the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network have identified public access points, placed signs marking those accesses, and created maps to educate the public about the Swatara Creek's history, geology, camping facilities, canoe rentals, potential hazards, and more.  To allow the public to obtain information twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, also new are map boxes placed on the sides of both new and old signs as well as at the Watershed office.  Popular sites intersect walking and biking trails or adjoin campsites.  Access Point Sponsors include: Heinbaugh Trailer Park, Twin Grove Park, Swatara State Park, Lickdale Camp Grounds, Lebanon Water Authority, Swatara Creek Family Restaurant, PA Fish and Boat Commission, Union Canal Canoe Rentals, Derry Township, Hummelstown Borough, South Hanover Township, and Lower Swatara Township. The Water Trail Guardian who will keep the map boxes full in Schuylkill County is Dave McSurdy; in Lebanon County, Tom Embich; and in Dauphin County, Art Schiavo.  It took literally dozens of volunteers to make this Water Trail happen.  More of our local heroes who helped to put this Water Trail together include Text Assistance from:  Joe Hovis and Fort Indiantown Gap; Denise Donmoyer on the Schuylkill County segments, Francis Ditzler on Twin Grove Park, and the late Earl Leiby, Lebanon Historical Society president, who decades ago showed me many of the points that are located on the map, especially the Union Canal Locks.  Then there was the Design, Assembly, and Installation Team of:  Craig Andrews, Swatara State Park Rangers, Kyle Boltz, Met Ed, Betty Conner, Spencer Grogan, Bob Arnold, Dave Ravegum, Rick Litz, Jo Ellen Litz, and David Kohr.

Finally, if you are planning a vacation paddling the Swatara, in order to obtain an advanced copy of the map, you are also welcome to send a stamped, self-addressed, legal sized envelope to SCWA, c/o Jo Ellen Litz, 2501 Cumberland St., Suite 4, Lebanon PA  17042, and a map will be forwarded free of charge to your home.

17th Annual Swatara Sojourn

89 people were on the water Saturday and 53 people on the water Sunday, but on shore, we had dozens of volunteers who helped with safety, portaging canoes, feeding us, and providing overnight accommodations:  Lebanon County League of Women Voters, Sunset Lions Club, Izaak Walton League, Ono Fire Company,    Swatara State Park Rangers, Army National Guard, Kyle & Tammy Boltz at Lickdale Campgrounds, Rick & Julie Bleisath at Swatara Creek Family Restaurant, Swatara Creek Watershed Association members—Tom, Dick, George, Betty--and my family—Laurie, Craig, Ella & Spencer, Carol & Colton.  Elected officials who helped us kick-off the event:  Representative Peter Zug and Representative Mauree Gingrich presented certificates as well as a proclamation from Lebanon County Commissioners Bill Carpenter, Larry Stohler, and Jo Ellen Litz.  In addition, City Councilman Richard Wertz joined the Sojourn--paddling and picking up trash I might add--on Sunday.

Our Safety team was superb.  Andy and Liz Ramsey, Ron Boyer, Tim Lehman, Joe Sabnosky, Dave & Sharon Murphy, and Joe Sieck all pitched in to assist Jo Ellen Litz and the Swatara Creek Watershed Association to make the weekend memorable for everyone.

We enjoyed entertainment by the Blue Grass band known as the Crick Pickers who not only wrote and played the

Swatara Song, but also included it on their new CD. They are now known as the Down To Earth Band, and they were fabulous.  For CD purchase information, contact downtoearthband@hotmail.com .

One final thank you to our fabulous sponsors:  The Army National Guard, Bass Pro, Bayer, Canaan Valley Institute, Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network/National Parks System, CLEAN, Daubert’s Distributors, First Energy, Gooseberry Farms Restaurant & Truck Stop, Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority, Heinbaugh Trailer Park, Rhonda R. Hess & Associates, HL Snyder Funeral Home, Izaak Walton League, League of Women Voters of Lebanon County, Lebanon County Conservation District, Lebanon Tourist Promotion Agency, Lebanon Valley Conservancy, Lickdale Campgrounds, Northern Swatara Creek Watershed Association, Simon Kettering, PA American Water Company, PA Fish & Boat Commission, PA Watersheds & Rivers, Schuylkill County Conservation District, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, Swatara Creek Family Restaurant, Swatara Creek Inn, Swatara State Park/DCNR, Twin Grove Park, Union Canal Canoe Rentals, Weidle Sanitation, Wengers Feed Mill, Wengert’s Dairy, and Werners Lumber of Pine Grove.

Thank you Bass Pro/Grumbine RV

In addition to a kayak, on May 14 SCWA received a $500 cash contribution for our conservation efforts.



On May 17, 2005, DEP Secretary Katie McGinty came to the Swatara Watershed to announce the “Stay Out, Stay Alive” safety program.  At a time of year when schools are closing for the summer, and secluded abandoned quarries tempt teens to swim, Secretary McGinty reminds everyone that it is illegal to swim in quarries.  State Police will issue fines that can include the taking of a driver’s license.  Even if under the driving age, the six-month suspension will wait until an individual turns 16 years of age.

Swatara Watershed president Jo Ellen Litz was invited to talk about safety issues like thermo clines of cold water that cause cramping and obstructions left behind from mining operations.  Congressman Holden’s representative, Matt Boyer, addressed federal funding to close unused quarries.

Together we've identified 21 'inactive' quarries in Lebanon County. Additions/corrections welcome.

  1. E Side of Lebanon Valley Mall/422-Henry
  2. W Side of Lebanon Valley Mall/422, south of railroad tracks-Hanford
  3. W Side of Lebanon Valley Mall, north of railroad tracks--donated to Union Canal Tunnel Park.
  4. Behind Tulpehocken Manor
  5. Two N of Palmyra on left & right sides of Lingle Avenue, almost at Railroad St. (or Ridge Rd.?)--closed in 1972.
  6. Cornwall Mines, open pit sold to Elizabethtown Borough.  Underground mine shafts are owned by John Byler, which is part of Iron Valley golf Course.   For more information, contact Charlie Neil at (717)272-0120.
  7. Three N of Annville (one N of the railroad & 2 S of the railroad) on the W end of town-Broyhill & Associates
  8. Behind Quitty Creek Nature Park off of Bachman Road, Annville
  9. Union Township (Huckleberry Lane at Route 78)-Miller
  10. Jonestown (sand)--Moore & Quarry Roads in Swatara Township.  That parcel of land is going to be a housing development under Snyder Developers. Parcel is under contract with Berks Homes, which is scheduled to close in August.
  11. West Myerstown, possibly owned by Wenger's Farm Machinery
  12. East of Myerstown, Jackson Township Parks owns a quarry south of 422
  13. Richland Quarry, Val and John Stokes operate it as a swimming and scuba diving recreation area.
  14. A second Richland Quarry is behind the Borough garage north of Race Street near New Street, owned by the Borough.
  15. 15th Avenue & Weavertown Road, North Lebanon Township, run by a Rod and Gun Club
  16. Southeast corner of Mine Road and Birch Road, Lebanon (South Lebanon Township)
  17. West of SR 501 just south of ELCO Drive, Myerstown (Jackson Township), owner: Stoltzfus (not visible from 501)
  18. On the west side of 16th Street, south of Walnut St., behind Agway Petroleum and the North Cornwall Township Building.

This effort will also prove helpful for our local EMA in responding to accidents.  Prior to an emergency, we need to chart the best access points.  Thanks for your interest and any help that you can provide. 

March 2005

Mandy Kohler, USDA, recently held regional meetings to talk to farmers and the public about the future of agriculture.  Here’s a summary from one of those meetings.

"Let's Talk"

Ag forum 3/4/05 at the Ag Center, 2120 Cornwall Road, Lebanon 

Good things about being a farmer in Lebanon County (From the farmer's perspective):

  1. Access to large urban consumer markets, but we are still able to farm in a rural setting.  We enjoy a great quality of life.  We enjoy the lifestyle.  It's a good place to raise a family.
  2. Locally, we consume all produced grains--known as a deficit area.  This is because the animal population eats more grain than we can produce.
  3. Good quality soil and climate--rated in the top 20 places to farm in the entire United States.
  4. Good infrastructure in roads, but some rural roads are not wide enough to accommodate new, larger equipment, which gets caught in culverts.  Most roads enjoy a low density of traffic.
  5. Nearby ag suppliers are available for equipment purchases, parts, and to grind feed in mills.  Other counties and states have to travel here for these services.
  6. We are near a diverse population that eats a diverse diet of our commodities including goats and ducks on the oriental market.
  7. Most municipalities proactively defend farmer's rights to farm.
  8. We still have family farms.
  9. We have commissioners who support farmland preservation.
  10. Farmers are seen as leaders--Supervisors Umberger, Fouche, Patches, and Deck, for example.
  11. Ag lending is available in Lebanon County.
  12. Farmer's markets can sometimes sell local produce for a little better price.
  13. Our farmers and our people work together--the Campbelltown tornado proved that.
  14. Agriculture is still our number one industry, followed only by tourism.  We may be able to enhance agriculture with some tourism components.


  1. Growing farmland preservation--finding additional dollars to support commissioner's bond issues.... 
  2. Development does not pay for all of the services (only about 80%) that they require--police, fire, ambulance, schools....  We need to consider an impact fee.  Studies show that it would require $450 per dwelling unit.  This money could be placed in an escrow account for services.  Perhaps the County could administer the money.?
  3. Right now, real estate taxes increase to cover shortages in services caused by development.  Would a shift to income or sales-tax tax those with more ability to pay?
  4. Increased traffic.  Road rage occurs when traffic gets behind farm equipment.
  5. A double standard--250 homes go in easier that 2 chicken houses.  Maybe we need to designate intensive ag impact areas where farmers can farm on an economy of scale.
  6. Flies, odor, and dust.
  7. World market prices hold local prices artificially low.
  8. We can't get reliable help, so we have to rely upon bigger equipment.  Volunteers are not familiar with farms and machinery, therefore could be a liability.
  9. Whether leasing or owning, the cost of land is escalating.  On farms, you will find either farming for dollars (traditional farmers) or dollars spent for a farm (gentleman farmers).
  10. The cost of nutrient management and conservation plans keeps escalating.  Managing environmental regulations like runoff to waterways is a challenge.
  11. After a 16-hour day, the time and effort it takes to attend classes to learn how to handle chemicals....
  12. If you're lucky enough that your son or son-in-law want to continue farming, there are tremendous costs associated with transferring farms to family members.
  13. Our best farmland is being developed.  We should learn how to do good steep-slope development, and support it.
  14. There is a disconnect of several generations from the farm.  These people need education that food starts on a farm.
  15. Weather in its extreme--droughts when nothing grows or excessive rainfall when tomatoes rot.
  16. Selecting diverse farming strategies to cover bad years.
  17. Health insurance or lack thereof; no minimum wage.
  18. Because of Penn National, an increase in the number of horse farms for veterinarians and furriers, which takes land out of production for food.

 Future of Farming in Lebanon County:

  1. Perhaps a legislative initiative mandating an educational component in schools, which would raise sensitivity to farming issues.
  2. Mentor programs; senior ag projects as part of public service.
  3. Large tunnel cover farming that tractors can enter to extend the growing season rather that acreage.
  4. Multiple uses--diversity on farms--wind mills for electric generation....

Suggestions for Positive Change:

  1. Leadership training for farmers.  Encourage the next generation to serve on boards of supervisors....
  2. Agrithons similar to the successful envirothons
  3. School clubs that aren't stigmatized--perhaps under the environmental umbrella.
  4. Adopting a regional or countywide comprehensive plan that will have teeth in courts.
  5. Setting up ordinances to protect farms now, before large-scale developers tie us up in courts and gobble up our farmland and municipal budgets.


17th Annual Canoe & Clean-up

Paddle Your Park’


May 7-8, 2005

Public programs on Swatara State Park and the Union Canal, entertainment by the Wiconisco Creek Pickers, dedication of the extended Water Trail....  For more details, see the insert or visit SCWA online at mbcomp.com/swatara .

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