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DMC Leads New York State Effort on Susquehanna Water Trail


In our area of great natural features, perhaps the greatest is the one that originates in Otsego County: the Susquehanna. It is almost certainly the oldest—geologists date it back 320-340 million years—older than even the mountain ridges that it passes through. (That’s a long story. We won’t go into here: think Gonwanda).

It was well established tens of millions of years before the Hudson, Delaware and Potomac rivers. It’s the longest river on the East Coast of the U.S., beating out the Connecticut by 30-something miles, but it drains a far larger area, 27,510 square miles. We humans have put it through some awful punishment with dams and pollution (remember Three Mile Island?), yet the river continues to survive, even thrive in many places.

Attention is being paid to restoring the river to greater health, making it an attractive draw for recreation and tourism in addition to other uses. To that end, Destination Marketing Corporation secured a $250,000.00 grant from New York State’s EDA Tourism Sub-Award Grant Program to lay the groundwork for development of a water trail in New York from Cooperstown to the Pennsylvania state line.

Led by Cassandra Harrington, DMC president and chief executive officer, a Leadership Team put together an RFP for assistance in brand development, website creation, trail mapping and marketing. After thorough evaluation, the team—which includes stakeholders all along the Susquehanna and Chemung rivers—selected 2K Design of Clifton Park to complete the project.

“We are thrilled to work with 2K Design on this phase of the water trail development. 2K has deep experience in several such projects, notably the Hudson River Greenway and Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor,” said Harrington.

“This project is much needed for our region not just as a tourism asset, but as a way to bring our communities together. We aim to create a safe, accessible, well-mapped and well-marked water trail system that caters to everyone from kayakers and fishers to bird watchers and hikers,” Harrington continued.

The trail is planned to include more than 190 miles of navigable waters along the Susquehanna and Chemung rivers, with aspirations for expansion throughout the Susquehanna River Basin. Completion of this phase of the project is slated for September 1, 2025.

Once complete, the water trail will link to an already-developed, 500 mile water trail through Pennsylvania and Maryland right down to Havre de Grace, where the mile-wide Susquehanna empties into the Chesapeake Bay. In a few short years, the 444-mile-long river will be more accessible than ever for use and enjoyment—and appreciation of the grandeur of one of the world’s oldest rivers.


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