A study commissioned by the commonwealth found economic benefits associated with Pennsylvania's 'water trails' -- the 21 rivers outfitted by the state with boat launches, access points, and campgrounds.
The data gathered by ICF International show that just four of those water trails generated roughly $750,000 in local economic activity over three months this summer. From July to September, ICF conducted interviews with water trail visitors at the Schuylkill River; the Susquehanna River's north branch; the Juniata River; and the Three Rivers area in Allegheny County.
Excepting the Juniata, all of those waterways are associated with a major Pennsylvania city, counting them among the state's most-visited water trails.
"While this study only covered a short period of time and a small number of trails, it's a good indication that water trails do have an important economic impact in nearby communities," wrote Richard Allen, Secretary of the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).
Water trails can generate business for restaurants and lodgings in local towns, said DCNR spokeswoman Christina Novak.
"Many of the folks who visit water trails just go for a day, but of those who stayed longer than a day, fifty percent planned a three-day trip," said Novak. "So while people are on the water, they are spending money for things like staying overnight, for food, that kind of thing."
For guides and maps to Pennsylvania's 21 water trails, visit the Fish and Boat Commission website.