by Nick Hoffman
BROCKWAY – A new canoe access launch was unveiled along Little Toby Creek near Brockway on the morning of October 6th.
The launch, near the Little Vineyard tributary that flows into the creek, adds a new access site for canoers, kayakers and anglers. It complements the launch on the west bank of the creek in Brockway Borough. Little Toby flows north from Brockway through State Gamelands 54 and 44 and into the Clarion River near Portland Mills in Elk County.
The project was spearheaded by the Toby Creek Watershed Association and The Frank Varischetti Foundation along with the state Fish & Boat Commission and Commissioner Bill Sabatose of Brockway, the state Game Commission, Tri-County Rails-to-Trails and the Jefferson County Conservation District.
Sabatose, who is also president of the Watershed Association, said the new launch represents “great potential” to benefit the region economically. He recognized retired Brockway Area High School vocational agriculture teacher and conservationist George Miller, a founder of the local Rails-to-Trails who conceived of a canoe access site.
He also noted the support of conservation efforts by state Sen. Joe Scarnati of Brockway, who was represented by Mark Adams of his staff at the ceremony.
Paul Urbanik, project manager for the Fish & Boat Commission, congratulated the groups on completion of the project and added that Sabatose is “a great commissioner who is well respected.”
PA Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau Executive Director John Straitiff said he is excited with the new launch and looks forward to marketing it as one more reason to visit the region.
Paul Boboige and Ben Zappa of Tri-County Rails to Trails presented a plaque to John Dixon of Apple Tractor in appreciation of that company’s support of and commitment to rails-trails in the Tri-County Area.
Plans are underway to add the Little Toby to the state’s Clarion River Water Trail, Upper Section. Water trails, designated by the Fish and Boat Commission, are recreational and educational corridors between specific locations that can be used for both single- and multiple-day trips.
Nick Hoffman, representing The Frank Varischetti Foundation, referred to a report on tourism spending illustrating that travelers spent $1.7 billion in 2013 in the 12-county PA Wilds region that includes Elk and Jefferson counties. In those two counties, spending for lodging, food and beverage, retail, recreation and transportation totaled $181.2 and supported 2,263 jobs.
Noting the collaboration of numerous agencies in the canoe launch project, Hoffman said, “The willingness of private sector and public sector organizations to join forces and work together will be a determining factor in which areas take advantage of opportunities to grow and flourish … and which consign themselves to stagnation and decline.”
To access the parking area for the new site, go west on Seventh Avenue Extension, 3.5 miles from the McCullough-Seventh Avenue intersection in Brockway, then turn right on the “upper road” another 1.3 miles to a finished parking area above the trail.
Find more information on paddling in the PA Great Outdoors region online at VisitPAGO.com or by calling (814) 849-5197.