Over the river

LEWISTOWN – One-by-one the kayakers and canoers participating in the annual Sojourn, drifted in to Victory Park on Tuesday for a lunch break.

The Sojourn, held by the Juniata Clean Water Partnership brings people together to embark on a journey down the river to draw attention to watershed conservation.

The four-day trip down the river started Saturday at Mapleton Depot’s Riverside Park and will end today in Juniata County at Mexico.

Mike Makufka, Executive Director of the JCWP, said this was the 13th Sojourn down the Juniata River.

Makufka said the Rothrock Outfitters from Huntingdon County came along to ensure safety.

“Property owners along the river are really nice,” Makufka said.

“Nicest thing I noticed is the increase in bald eagles,” he added.

A total of 49 people participated this year, including Paul Nixon, of San Francisco.

Nixon is an avid kayaker and tries to come east every once in a while to visit family in Pittsburgh and New York and he plans his trips around various sojourns he would like to do while in the area.

Nixon said there is a lot of wildlife on the river and that he found a moth as big as his fist.

Nixon was joined on the trip by longtime family friend Dawn Frank, who said a number of bald eagles and kingfishers were seen along the river.

Frank said it is nice that the river is so accessible to everyone.

Another experienced kayaker, Will Goddard, said Pennsylvania has so many rivers that people can take advantage of.

The sojourners were met with a catered lunch and local representatives, Kevin Morgan with Community Partnerships RC&D, and Jim Tunall, president of the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

Morgan gave a presentation on invasive plants and pollinators.

Makufka said he has noticed an increase in the invasive plant population over the years.

Tunall highlighted some of the local industrial companies, such as Standard Steel, which is investing $62 million. The company employs around 700 people.

Tunall also spoke about some of the local festivals, such as the Juniata RiverFEST and Goose Day.

After the presentations, the sojourners slipped back into their kayaks and canoes for the next leg of their journey.

For more information on Juniata Clean Water Partnership, visit www.jcwp.org.