Paddling the Perkiomen in Pennsylvania

kayaksA few weeks ago, our Collegeville, PA store staff posted an eye-catching photo on their Facebook wall of a huge group of people paddling the Perkiomen Creek.

 

After counting 30 different paddlers, I figured there had to be a story so I called Tim Swavely who handles local outreach in Collegeville. On August 3rd, “The Perkiomen Creek Sojourn” was organized by the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy. The day-long paddle/water quality study session turned out to be a fantastic way to get people on the water and help them understand the history, current conditions and importance of the Perkiomen Watershed to the health of the greater Philadelphia area.

Tim ensured the Collegeville store’s fleet of rental kayaks was available and handled all the put in and take out logistics. He also supervised the paddling party atop his stand up paddleboard. Originally scheduled for June 8, the sojourn had been postponed due to the rainiest June on record. “In a normal summer, paddling the Perkiomen would have been impossible because the water level would be too low. Not this year, we had an incredible day (despite even MORE rain) and learned everyone learned a lot. I particularly enjoyed the looks I got from people as I followed along on my SUP. Folks had no idea you could use a stand up paddleboard on a lazy river so it was cool to let people know what the sport is all about.”

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Stopping to conduct water quality tests for the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy.

In addition to just paddling the Perkiomen, the 31 paddlers conducted an invertebrate study to assess the health of the Perkiomen which feeds into the Schuylkill River, a major source of drinking water. According to Tim, the team assisted with an invertebrate study. Certain invertebrates can only live in high quality water, so finding them is obviously a good thing. “We learned how to tell if leeches were present simply by picking up rocks,” Tim explained. “We also brushed off the invertebrates into a cup and analyzed them under mini microscopes.” During the course of their assessment, the sojourn group discovered that an invasive species of crayfish had arrived and was eating the native crayfish. Information like this is invaluable to the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy and was fascinating for everyone in the group.

Paddling the Perkiomen is a great way to spend a day with lots of great scenery and sightings of great blue herons, green herons, bald eagles, chimney swifts, kingfishers and rough winged swallows. If you’re interested in a checking out Perkiomen Creek yourself, please give Tim in our Collegeville store a call at 610-226-3995.