The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

April 4, 2013

Whitewater weekends: 15 releases on Stonycreek start Saturday

JOHNSTOWN — Spring might be running a little late, but whitewater season is coming early this year on the Stonycreek River.

Hundreds of paddling enthusiasts will likely be on the Stonycreek this weekend to experience the first of 15 whitewater releases the Benscreek Canoe Club has scheduled for 2013.

“This will be the earliest we’ve started – and really, it’ll be our first full season of releases,” club member Steve Podratsky said. “We’re excited. We’ll be kicking off the season really hard.”

They’ll have reason to celebrate. The Cambria Somerset Authority, which operates the dam, received word Thursday that a long-sought change to a state permit was granted, allowing the authority to regularly release up to 3,740 gallons of water – or 500 cubic feet per second – down the Stonycreek between April and October.

Until now, the canoe club, formed decades ago to promote local boating and area waterways, and CSA had to ask the state Department of Environmental Protection for special approval or annual allocations for whitewater releases.

“We’ve been working on that for years,” CSA manager Earl Waddell said. “We’ll pretty much be seeing releases every other week now ... as long as the water levels (at the dam) are all right.”

The amended permit is valid until 2030.

For the canoe club, the releases are invaluable during spring and summer months, Podratsky said.

For years, the group has scheduled paddling opportunities, as well as the annual mid–May Stonycreek Rendezvous, during the wet season.

Now the club will have releases as a springtime backup when river levels drop. And, barring droughts, they’ll be able to continue having releases into the summer, keeping the Stonycreek’s Class III-plus rapids flowing at a time when other whitewater destinations typically are drying up, Podratsky said.

“That’s important,” he added, noting kayak and canoe crowds in New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and other areas between have no trouble making the day trip to paddle in western Pennsylvania.

The club spreads the word about the Stonycreek, recognized as the state’s 2012 River of the Year, through its social media and website, benscreekcanoeclub.com.

Despite a few scheduling issues last year – primarily due to repairs at the Quemahoning Reservoir – the club quickly learned that some whitewater enthusiasts drove four or five hours for a trip down the Stonycreek. They often spent a night and then headed elsewhere for a day, Podratsky said.

The club estimates that 200 to 300 kayakers and canoeists typically paddled the Stonycreek on release weekends last year. Hundreds more made the trip for special events like the annual Rendezvous. And more than half arrived from distances greater than 70 miles away last year – a statistic that surprised even Podratsky, the club’s former president.

“When we did studies 10 years ago, we were hoping it’d be more like 1 in 3 from outside the region,” he said. “What we’re seeing, it’s great.”

He’s hopeful that the river, and area, will see a 10 to 15 percent increase in paddlers on weekends this year.

“I think it does make a difference,” Podratsky said.

“Maybe it’s not making or breaking the businesses in town, but I think it’s certainly an extra boost.”

Go with the flow

Whitewater releases on the Stonycreek River (subject to change in drought conditions) are scheduled on the following weekends:

• Saturday and Sunday, and April 20-21.

• May 4-5 and 17-19.  

• June 1-2, 15-16 and 29-30.

• July 13-14 and 27-28.

• Aug. 10-11 and 24-25.

• Sept. 7-8 and 21-22.

• Oct. 5-6 and 19-20.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014

  • bachota Volunteers helping to spruce up community

    Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
    The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • alanna Hartzok targets income disparity

    Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
    The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Schools rise to leadership challenge

    Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

    April 19, 2014

  • KATEY LADIKA Student’s photos win awards

    A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears

    Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Columnist Photo Travelogue of terror features Johnstown area

    A historic week will surround the venerable Silver Drive-In come the beginning of May.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads