Michael R. Helfrich is the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper®. He was born and raised in the Codorus Creek Watershed in York County, Pennsylvania. Michael graduated with honors from West York, and attended York College, studying engineering and calculus, with thoughts of inventing items that would solve environmental problems, but soon realized that our problems were more sociological and political than technological. He left college and worked as an environmental advocate, most notably volunteering on the Navajo Reservation. Water was a big issue there, as the coal mining industries were lowering the water table, leaving thousands of Native Americans and their herds without water. Michael assisted the elders in getting legal representation, as well as hauling water, building homes, and herding sheep.
In November of 2001, Michael returned to York to help organize a strong advocacy group for the Codorus Creek (aka the Inky Stinky Codorus Creek). By January 2002 the Codorus Creek Improvement Partnership had been formed. In 2005 he helped form Stewards of the Lower Susquehanna and became the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper. Since that time he has used education, advocacy, and litigation to improve the Susquehanna and Chesapeake Watersheds.
He continues to live in York, owning the house that Thomas Paine lived in and wrote much of the American Crisis VI in the Spring of 1778, along the banks of the Codorus. He fishes and kayaks the Codorus, Susquehanna and her other tributaries. He is proud to support local farming by buying his produce directly from 9th generation York County farmer Dave Dietz at his stand at Central Market in downtown York.
Michael is also a board member and Cleanup Coordinator for the Watershed Alliance of York, a member of the Leadership York Class of 2005, a Judge of Elections for the City of York from 2003 to 2005, and an Election Official from 2006 to present. He has received these distinguished awards: The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge George Washington Medal of Honor (1984); York County Conservation District Watershed Stewardship Award (2003); the City of York Leadership Award (2004); and the York County Bar Association Liberty Bell Award (2005).
Reach Michael here.