Swatara Watershed Association

An all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit organization covering parts of 4 counties: Berks, Dauphin, Lebanon & Schuylkill;
47 municipalities;
Population over 300,000;
Founded in 1970. Mission:   "To promote the conservation of the natural resources of the Swatara Watershed by conducting scientific investigations and research, disseminating information, conducting educational programs, sponsoring conservation projects and all activities incidental thereto." Read more in the link at the top of the page.

Swatara Watershed Park

A 33.69-acre parcel along the Swatara Creek at 1929 Blacks Bridge Road, Annville (East Hanover Township, Lebanon County PA).  Boat access, 960 square foot pavilion; 240 square foot stilted office and porch, approved public water source with a flow rate of 25 gallons per minute at the pump house; Primitive camping; and 3,341 feet of riparian buffer that shades and cools the Swatara, slows evaporation, and limits runoff and erosion.  Because we start or end our sojourn and River cleanup at this site each year, SWA considers this site an essential hub in the wheel of the Water Trail, which is recognized by both PA and the nation, and connects to the Captain John Smith Water Trail.  Read more in the link at the top of the page.

Swatara Water Trail

Recognized both state and nationally, the Swatara Water Trail is 60 miles in length, created by Swatara Watershed Association in cooperation with PA DCNR, PA Fish & Boat Commission, and the National Park Service with public launches established about every 7 miles. Maps point out historic, geologic, scenic, and other recreational areas as well as hazards like two dams. Read more in the link at the top of the page.

Bordner Cabin

On Old State Road/Bear Hole Trail in Swatara State Park, hike, bike or horseback ride to the Armar Bordner Cabin.  Carry in and carry out your lunch and trash.   Drive thru Swatara State Park 9AM-3PM the 2nd Fri & Sat monthly & 4th Fri & Sat Mar, Apr, Sep & Oct. Donations to Swatara Watershed Association for use and/or maintenance of the Bordner Cabin are most welcome and appreciated. Explore Aycrigg's Falls too. Read more in the link at the top of the page.

Clean Water

Wells in the county can become polluted or go dry. In fact, the Bethel area is a deficit area where enough rain doesn't fall to recharge used groundwater. As a result, and because our population has almost doubled since the early 1950s, more and more people depend upon a clean public water supply. The water on earth today is the same amount of water that was here at the beginning of time. We need to be good stewards of the earth, and shepherd the Swatara Creek, a source of drinking water, recreation and wellness in our back yard. Read more in the link at the top of the page.

Swatara Sojourn

Restarting Sojourns after the pandemic in 2022.
Always the first weekend in May. Travel 30 river miles over two days. Sleep on the banks of the Swatara Enjoy good food, good company, and take home lusty tales of adventure. Read more in the link at the top of the page


Water wars are fought in many nations. In 2019, California came out of a 7-year drought. The Swatara Watershed Association supports hundreds of thousands of people, and we are growing. Water supply is at a critical point. We need the American Water Company, Lebanon Water Authority, and United Water Company to present a unified plan so that all citizens can get behind a Water plan for future generations of children and their families in the Swatara Watershed. In the interim, do your part to conserve and reuse water. Read more in the link at the top of the page.

The Swatara Sojourn is in it's 32nd year, rotating between the upper and lower half of the 60-mile long Swatara Water Trail on Swatara Creek. Often we pick up litter as we go to leave the Swatara better than we found it. Scout troops are a common sight on the Swatara Sojourn. Eagles scouts help maintain the Trail too, refinishing or installing new signs, building boat ramps, and general maintenance. What a great partnership. Follow us on Facebook for "real-time" issues and discussions.

Additional PAGE LINKS:

DEP Letter requesting water companies to submit a unified plan

Seasonal Primitive Campsite Contract
U-Tow Canoe Contract
Pavilion Use Contract

NOAH Steam Depth Predictions

2020 Swatara Sojourn Registration

  •  Partnered with Keystone Conservation Trust and the PA Audubon Society to complete a Return On Environment Study documenting natural resources totaling over $309.8 million in Lebanon County alone.
  • PayPal QR Code for donations, camping, tickets….  Send us an email with details after utilizing PayPal.


Get Out doors at the Swatara Sip N Stroll in September.  Register your brewery, winery, food truck, craft tent, or nonprofit, Email JoEllenLitz15@comcast.net  for a pdf.

Use Paypal to Support Clean Water Projects in advance $25, or $30 at the door.

  • Tent Sponsor Lebanon Water Authority
  • Wristband Sponsor Cleona Dental
  • PA American Water Company
  • First Citizens Community Bank
  • Breweries
    • Mt.  Gretna Craft Brewery
    • Rotunda Brewing Company
    • Snitz Creek Brewery
    • Troegs Brewery
  • Food Trucks
    • Cheezy Grill LLC
    • Seltzers Bologna

ORDER  Swatara Apparel/Gear/Souvenirs/Swag  


About Swatara Watershed Association

Our History and Mission

SWA Mission:   “To promote the conservation of the natural resources of the Swatara Watershed by conducting scientific investigations and research, disseminating information, conducting educational programs, sponsoring conservation projects and all activities incidental thereto.”

The Swatara Creek Watershed Association, Inc. was founded in 1970 in response to encouragement from the Chamber of Commerce and State and federal agencies to promote conservation of the Swatara Creek Watershed.  The corporation was active in the 70’s then became dormant.  Approximately 1986 a group of citizens became concerned about landfills being projected close to the Swatara Creek in Schuylkill County, PA.  As a result, they formed an association known as Citizens Coordinating for Clean Water (CCCW).  This group ultimately became active with regard to broader aspects concerning the Swatara Creek Watershed.  The increased size of the organization to over 100, expanded activities, and availability of government and private grants to support some of its educational activities caused CCCW to consider incorporating.  Several of the directors of the Swatara Creek Watershed Association were involved in the affairs of CCCW and it was suggested as a matter of economy to reactivate Swatara Creek Watershed Association, Inc. whose original purpose matched those of CCCW.  The last directors of the corporation met and agreed to become active again and to assimilate the activities of CCCW.  In 2009, the organization’s name was shortened to Swatara Watershed Association.


Jo ellen litz, president

Jo Ellen Litz has been president of the Swatara Watershed Association for over 30 years.  As a First Class Girl Scout, it’s her passion to protect Clean Water.  Her father took her trout fishing so she got to see what clean water is all about.  Her grandfather took her swimming in the Little Swatara Creek where here sister came out with leeches all over her body.  Her mom took her swimming at Lion’s Lake where pig manure ran into the entrance, and she’d get painful boils in the days that followed.  Her husband took her scuba diving in lakes, rivers, grotto’s, and oceans where she saw American Eels, starfish, whales, dolphins, sea horses, barracuda, and many other creatures.  She is certified as a Rescue Diver, and volunteered on teams that recovered drowning victims and discarded guns used in homicides.

A graduate of Cedar Crest High School, Lebanon Valley College, and Kennedy Western University, Jo Ellen also ran Lebanon (Auto) Body Shop where she handled hazardous waste, and she serves in her 6th term as a Lebanon County Commissioner.  She brings a unique blend of conservation, business and government experience to the table.

Bethany canner, Vice President

In 2020, Bethany Canner was appointed to the SWA Board, and elected VP in 2021.  Bethany’s farm is east of Swatara Watershed Park on Blacks Bridge Road.  She is a Master Watershed Steward, mom, and has a biology degree from Bloomsburg University.  She hit the ground running, eradicating invasive species like spotted lanternfly, tree of heaven…and successfully writing two grants, one in partnership with Keystone 10 Million Trees.  Bethany secured trees to stabilize the bank along the Swatara Creek at Swatara Watershed Park.  She’s holding an edible mushroom, but don’t ask where it is.  She won’t tell you as she goes back each year for the harvest.  

Fred Folmer, Secretary

Fred is a retired earth and science teacher who loves the outdoors.  He is always ready to help with a cleanup, down a dead tree, or share his knowledge of the Spotted Lantern Fly.  Fred shepherds the Little Swatara Creek, and serves as secretary on the Bethel Berks Environmental Advisory Council.

Retired since 2009, his interests include outdoor sports like archery, bow hunting, biking, hiking, canoeing, and fishing.  Environmental preservation is his goal

gavin bender, treasurer

In 2017, Gavin Bender came to SWA for an Eagle Scout project, which was assembling or  refurbishing and installing three Swatara Water Trail signs at new launches.  Specifically, Swopes Valley Road, Emrich Farm, and Schiavoni Park to aid paddlers to enjoy the outdoors; participate in wellness activities; educate visitors and share the features of history, geology, and scenic beauty along the Swatara Water Trail; and aid first responder search and rescue efforts.  Gavin also works in a local accounting office.  He became interested in becoming an SWA Board member, and in 2021 was elected as Treasurer.  

Board members:   Mike Adams, Hershey Outfitters; Bob Arnold, Hershey Foods, retired; Gavin Bender, student and Eagle Scout;  Bethany Canner, Master Watershed Steward Charles Cravotta, USGS; Fred Folmer, retired Science Teacher; Stephanie Harmon, Watershed Specialist, Lebanon County Conservation District;  Jo Ellen Litz,  Lebanon County commissioner; Jack Stouffer, retired from Milton Hershey School.  

Also pictured are former Board Members Dick Blouch (deceased),  Tom Embich,  Ann Lasky, and Ben Miller.

Contact Us


Mailing address: 2302 Guilford St., Lebanon PA 17046