Watershed Conservation

Canoe Access Development Fund

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s Canoe Access Development Fund helps to make the region’s rivers and streams more accessible for outdoor recreation such as canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Our fund provides modest grants to watershed groups, conservation organizations, paddle clubs, agencies and other eligible parties to develop canoe and kayak access sites across Western Pennsylvania.

Canoeing at Lake Pymatuning

We Improve Access for Waterway Recreation

The Conservancy's Canoe Access Development Fund was established in 2008 by the generosity of longtime Conservancy members and outdoor enthusiasts, Roy Weil and Mary Shaw. CADF provides grants to watershed organizations and other community groups to develop and improve access sites on the region's rivers and streams for canoeists, kayakers and anglers. CADF projects focus on rivers and streams where people can canoe or kayak, with an emphasis on easier whitewater suitable for novice paddlers. The best reference for identifying these types of waterways remains the “Canoeing Guide to Western Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia,” compiled and edited by Roy Weil and Mary Shaw.

CADF funds are allotted using a thorough proposal and vetting process. Applicants include nonprofit watershed and conservation organizations, community groups, municipalities and more. Grant awards range in amounts up to $5,000 per site and can be used in a variety of ways, including improving an existing access, developing a new river access or adding nearby parking areas.

Through its staff, WPC also provides hands-on assistance to grant recipients for planning and site preparation.

Download Our Canoe Access Development Guide

As more and more people get on the region’s water to canoe, kayak, fish and recreate, it’s important that safe, durable, accessible sites are available. We’ve developed a canoe access development guide for groups such as existing watershed associations, paddling clubs, outdoors groups and community organizations that are interested in developing and improving canoe and kayak access sites on Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams. It provides an overview of considerations in developing river access sites, as well as links to a number of resources to help you plan.

Download “The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s Canoe Access Development Fund (CADF) Project Implementation Manual: A Short Guide to Implementing a Canoe Access Site in Your Community.”

Apply to the Fund

We are pleased to help watersheds, local governments and community organizations improve or develop canoe access sites on rivers and streams in their communities. In addition to providing funding, WPC a also provides technical assistance for design, permitting, construction, outreach and long-term sustainability.

Applications for the spring grant program are now closed. Please check back in the fall for the next round of applications.

If you have any questions concerning the fund, please contact Eli Long, WPC watershed manager, at elong@paconserve.org or 724-471-7202, ext. 5105.

Our most recent awardees include:

  • South Fayette Township, Morgan Park Dock and Water Access on Millers Run
  • West Wheatfield Township, Robinson Community Center River Access on the Conemaugh River
  • Loyalhanna Watershed Association improvements to access sites at Mission Road Bridge, Idlewild Hill Road and Loyalhanna Nature Trail, all on Loyalhanna Creek.
  • WPC Land Stewardship for access on West Branch French Creek


Meet the Funders

Roy Weil and Mary Shaw, outdoor enthusiasts and Conservancy members since 1974, established the Canoe Access Development Fund in 2008 to help make the rivers and streams of Western Pennsylvania more accessible for recreation and encourage others to get outdoors. They strongly believe in the importance of connecting people to nature through hands-on experiences. Roy and Mary hope that when people have easier access to canoe area streams, they will be inspired to preserve our region’s natural heritage. When setting up the fund, they chose the Conservancy due to its commitment to conservation, the outdoors, water trails and getting people engaged with the natural world.

WPC Canoe Access Development Fund
For More Information:

Watershed Conservation Program
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
1067 Philadelphia Street, Suite 101
Indiana, PA 15701

Eli Long
724-471-7202, ext. 5105