Thursday, September 8, 2011

Susquehanna River

The Susquehanna River is approximately 444 miles long and is the longest river on the East Coast. The North Branch of the Susquehanna River begins at Otsego Lake and empties into the Northern end of Chesapeake Bay. The Susquehanna River is a fertile limestone river home to one of the best smallmouth fisheries in the East. The Susquehanna River supports a very diverse fishery. Anglers can fish for muskie, walleye, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, panfish, catfish and carp. Fishing is often best around sunrise and sunset, however, smallmouth will often be bite all day. Good live baits include minnows, or hellgrammites. Artificial baits like rubber worms or plastic crayfish imitations also work well on smallmouth bass. Fly rods and poppers are very popular with some anglers targeting smallmouth bass.

The Susquehanna River Basin, spanning roughly half the land area of Pennsylvania and portions of New York and Maryland, remains an important water resources for the Northeastern United States. With a drainage area of 27,500 square miles, it accounts for 45.7% (24,272 miles) of Pennsylvania's stream miles. The Basin, which is comprised of about 60% forested land, also comprises 43% of the Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin. As one of the nations most flood proned areas, it experiences a major devastating flood on the average of every 20 years, keeping the economic costs of managing the Basin high. To illustrate, in 1993, the basin's average annual flood damage was $113 billion dollars. The Lower Susquehanna Basin, the southern most subbasin of the Susquehanna River Basin depicted below, comes under considerable scrutiny as the most developed and populated area within the Basin. This subbasin is not only known for its productive agricultural industry, but also as a major production area for electricity. The Susquehanna River flows 444 miles through the Susquehanna River Basin from its headwaters near Cooperstown, NY to Harve de Grace Maryland where it meets the Chesapeake Bay. As the largest tributary to the Bay, the River provides 90% of the freshwater inflow to the upper half of the Bay and 50% overall with an average daily inflow of 22 billion gallons. In fact, the Bay is actually the submerged area of what was once the Lower Susquehanna River.
There are two main organizations interested in preserving the health of the Susquehanna River Basin. The first is the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), which is a governing agency established under a 100-year compact in 1970 between the federal government and the states that comprise the basin, Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland. The motive for the Commission's creation is that the river basin borders the major population centers of the east coast, and although relatively undeveloped, has experienced problems of water pollution and overusage. Because the Susquehanna River flows through three states and is classified as a navigable waterway by the federal government, there are state, regional, and national interests involved. There remains a need to coordinate the efforts of three states and the agencies of the federal government, as well as a need to establish a management system to oversee the use of the water and related natural resources of the Susquehanna. The SRBC main activities include flood damage relief, ensuring a continual source of freshwater to the Chesapeake Bay, water quality monitoring, ensuring a safe water supply, and wildlife habitat protection. For more information please refer to the SRBC website.
The Susquehanna River, originally "Sasquesahanough", is a river located in the Northeastern United States. At approximately 444 mileslong, it is the longest river on the American east coast and the 16th longest in the United States. The Susquehanna forms from two main branches, with the North Branch, which rises in upstate New York often regarded as an extension of the main branch. The shorter West Branch, which rises in Western Pennsylvania, is sometimes regarded as the principal tributary, joining the North Branch near Northumberland in Central Pennsylvania. The river drains 27,500 square miles covering nearly half of the land area of Pennsylvania and portions of New York and Maryland. The drainage basin includes portions of the Allegheny Plateau region of the Appalachian Mountains, cutting through water gaps in the lateral mountain ridges in a broad zigzag course to flow across the rural heartland of Southeastern Pennsylvania and Northeastern Maryland. The river empties into the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay providing half of the freshwater inflow for the entire Chesapeake Bay.
Susquehanna River
One of the great wonders of the Chesapeake Bay watershed is that you can stand in southern New York state and place a small wooden boat in one of the tributaries of the Susquehanna River and follow it into and through the Chesapeake Bay and then out into the Atlantic Ocean.

In the mid-Atlantic states, it's called the "Mighty Susquehanna." It's the largest river lying entirely within the United States that drains into the Atlantic Ocean and the 16th largest river in the United States. The River's 27,500-square-mile watershed covers parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York. This is about 43 percent of the Bay's 64,000 square miles of drainage basin.

You might be standing by Otsego Lake, near Cooperstown, New York, when you put your boat into a stream and watch it float along with the current as water drains off the land and flows downstream. You realize you're about 290 miles from Baltimore, as the crow flies, but the way the streams and river wind their way over the land, your small boat will travel over 400 miles before it arrives at Havre de Grace, MD near the River's mouth.

During your travels you learn about the river and start to make some mental notes as you observe the native Brook Trout in the streams and see that over half of the river's watershed is covered in forests. Some of the history reveals that native tribes along the river were identified as Sasquesahannocks who eventually became known as Susquehannocks. Some say the Susquehannock word Queischachgekhanne, which may have been altered to Susquehannock, meant "the long reach river." Others think the word Susquehanock may have come from the Delaware Indian word saskwihannang. (To learn more about the name of the Susquehanna River, read Watershed Radio's Misnamed River.)

The Susquehanna River is almost a mile wide as your boat floats by Harrisburg, PA. If you're following your boat during the summer, the river flows about 20 miles per day. When your boat reaches the mouth of the river, approximately 20 days after you started your journey, the Susquehanna is pushing 18 million gallons of freshwater a minute into the Chesapeake Bay. This is about 90 percent of the freshwater for the upper half of the Bay and about 50 percent for the entire Bay.

Now your boat is in the Chesapeake Bay and continues to make its way south. The freshwater of the river and salt waters of the ocean mix to form brackish water of salinities ranging from 0 parts per thousand (fresh) to over 30 parts per thousand at the Bay's mouth. Now your boat has completed its watershed journey as it is swept out into the Atlantic Ocean.

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