Meadville Tribune

Local News

July 9, 2013

Publication celebrates French Creek designation

MEADVILLE — Area residents seeking inside access to the tourism and recreation offerings by the enchanted waterway known as French Creek now have a convenient form of guidance at their disposal.

Maps and guides to the newly-designated French Creek Water Trail are now available for everyone’s exploring pleasure, Dave Washousky, program director of the Meadville-based French Creek Valley Conservancy, announced Monday.

Two separate editions — Lower French Creek and Upper French Creek — cover the areas Franklin to Meadville and Meadville to the Union City area, respectively.

The publication celebrates the inclusion of French Creek into the Pennsylvania Water Trails Program — bringing to completion a process that began in 2009 under the direction of Andy Walker, who headed Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Meadville office at the time.

“It’s been a long time in coming,” Washousky said, noting that the Pennsylvania Water Trails Program opens a major door to opportunities for recreational tourism while also providing locals and non-locals alike a guide for using the creek that includes a wealth of information.

If your acquaintance with French Creek has been strictly in passing so far, don’t let the “creek” part of its name fool you. This waterway qualifies as a “river” in anyone’s book.

Originating in northwestern New York State’s Chautauqua County, French Creek — which was given its name by a very young George Washington in the 1750s and provided an important transportation route for the French Army and early American settlers during America’s colonization and westward expansion — flows 117 miles through Erie, Crawford, Mercer and Venango counties before joining the Allegheny River near Franklin.

“Anyone interested in getting to know French Creek better can start out right here in our office,” Washousky said, referring to the 301 Chestnut St. storefront that serves as home for the French Creek Valley Conservancy as well as local offices of the Nature Conservancy and Audubon Pennsylvania.

“We’ve also got a great website now, which has everything French Creek-related,” Washousky continued, referring to frenchcreekconservancy.org. “That’s a great place for most people to start. It covers everything, including the conservancy’s work as a land trust, which owns and protects properties along French Creek in perpetuity. That doesn’t mean that they’re off limits — our properties are open for recreation. Not only have we protected the ecological aspects, but we’ve protected the opportunity for people to recreate.” An interactive map is included on the website, he added.

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