Middle Susquehanna RIVERKEEPER® John Zaktansky became the Riverkeeper in 2020. John Zaktansky, an award winning journalist and outdoors advocate, grew up on a small family dairy farm and hunting preserve in upper Northumberland County and was active in 4H, numerous school-related sports and Boy Scouts, earning the rank of Eagle Scout and then giving back via outdoors-centric leadership training programs. Zaktansky joins the Riverkeeper movement after nearly 14 years of working at The Daily Item newspaper in Sunbury, winning numerous state-wide journalism awards for his writing, design work and special projects. He worked previously as a counselor for troubled adolescents at a residential group home and, with his family, helps oversee the youth ministry at the Port Ann Wesleyan Church in Snyder County.
“I consider myself the Lorax of the greater watershed … I speak for the Susquehanna and the people, wildlife and natural resources that she represents which may not always have a voice when it comes to pollution and environmental issues,” said Zaktansky. “In this role, I am committed to engaging our communities and working together as a unified front to preserve one of our most valuable commodities.”
The Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association was formed in 2015 under the tutelage of Carol Parenzan, who filled the role of Riverkeeper and executive director of the association through late 2019 and was an instrumental figure in the selection of the Susquehanna River’s North branch being named the Pennsylvania River of the Year in 2016 and the Loyalsock Creek earning River of the Year designation in 2018.
Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper priority issues include:
- Connection to the Chesapeake Bay (sedimentation, nutrients, agriculture)
- Legacy energy (abandoned mine drainage and land, abandoned oil and gas wells)
- Current energy (hydro-fracking of Marcellus Shale, proposed pipeline review, pipeline construction monitoring, current and proposed hydroelectric power, coal-powered electric generation plant, coal to natural gas conversion generation plant, active nuclear power plant)
- Pharmaceuticals, personal care products, micro beads, and plastics in waterways
- Construction in and around the river (major bridge project commencing and pipelines)
- Wildlife migration and movement (dams, flood wall)
- Aquatic health and invasive species (small mouth bass skin issue)
- Sewage, septic, and storm-water
- Coordination of river clean-up efforts