River Friends seek the public's help
On Tuesday, Aug. 15,
around 10:00 a.m., two men drove a black pickup truck to the Grove
Street Boat Launch in Elmira, got out of the truck and threw stones
at and killed a Canada goose grazing in the grass. The men picked up
the dead goose, got in the truck and left.
The disgusting and illegal
killing of the goose was witnessed by two children at the boat
launch, who told their parents who reported it to River Friends.
The incident is being
investigated by New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation Office John Lifrieri. If caught, the men could face
jail time and thousands of dollars in fines for violating environment
“This is another example
of animal cruelty and ignorance,” said River Friends Executive
Director Jim Pfiffer. “These two men stoned the bird in broad
daylight at a public boat launch in front of two young girls. While
the killing itself is sickening, what’s worse is that the girls
witnessed it. They watched the goose try to escape as it was
repeatedly stoned and flopped around in its death throes. Boat
launches are like public parks – outdoor places where families can
go to enjoy nature and outdoor recreation, and not have to worry
about witnessing the brutal and illegal killing of wildlife.”
The girls said they two
men were white, wore camo shorts and drove a black pickup truck.
We ask that anyone who
knows or has any information about this incident to contact Officer
Lifrieri at 697-644-3815 or River Friends at 607-846-2242 or
Community installs swings at Chemung River boat launch and town park
A combined Chemung and
Steuben counties community project has provided the public with
another means to enjoy the Chemung River and a Town of Corning Park.
A wooden bench swing was
recently installed at the Bottcher’s Landing Boat Launch in Big
Flats and at the Town of Corning Community Garden at the town hall at
20 South Maple Street.
The 5-foot-wide wooden
bench swings provide quiet and scenic places for individuals and
families to enjoy nature while swinging with the breeze. The
Bottcher’s Landing swing offers a scenic view of the river at the
river’s edge. The town of Corning swing overlooks the recently
built town community garden.
The 1,500-pound steel
swing frames were manufactured by NUCOR of Chemung. The frames were
installed by the towns of Big Flats and Corning. The wooden swings
were purchased from the Amish Workshop in Big Flats by the Corning
Rotary Club, which helped install the swings. The swing frames were
painted green by River Friends staff and volunteers. The paint was
donated by Tom’s Hardware in Waverly.
The swings are similar to
two other bench swings and frames installed in 2016 along the West
Elmira river trails. That too was a cooperative project with River
Friends, Vulcraft and Chemung Chamber of Commerce Leadership program.
“We get plenty of
positive feedback on the West Elmira river trail swings,” said
River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer. “Now we are getting
requests from the public to install more swings. It’s like a free
and quiet amusement park ride in nature, but you don’t need a
ticket or a seat belt. What’s not to like?”
For the Corning Rotary
Club, the project was part of the group’s community dedication.
"We saw an
opportunity to add some extra beauty to our natural spaces and wanted
to be involved,” said club member Brian Klotz. “The swings give
people at Botcher's Landing and the community garden a great way to
take a break from a day of activity or to just peacefully swing and
West Elmira women open West Water Sports kayak rental business
Just as the summer
paddling season begins a new West Elmira kayak outfitter is making it
easier for people to paddle area rivers and lakes.
West Water Sports, owned
by Shannon and Christina Heffron-Nicholson, opened a few weeks ago.
The business rents out kayaks and paddle boards and delivers and
picks up the boats for customers.
The couple runs the
business out of their 1506 West Water Street home in the Town of
“Chemung River Friends
is happy to support this business that will make it easier, safer and
more fun for people to discover the adventures and beauty of paddling
our rivers and lakes,” said Chemung River Friends Executive
Director Jim Pfiffer. “The majority of area residents do not own
kayaks or canoes; and are unlikely to try paddling. Rental businesses
provide the equipment to get these people on the water so they can
experience the joys of paddling.”
Christina has kayaking
business in her veins, as her father, Al Heffron, ran a former kayak
rental business on Keuka Lake for 12 years.
“We wanted to start our
own business and we realized that no one had really taken advantage
of the river, as a business opportunity, so we decided to start the
kayak rental business,” said Christina, who is originally from
Branchport and currently works as a supervisor at MASCO Carpentry in
The rental boats include
eight kayaks (three sit-on-tops and five sit ins) ranging in size
from 8-to-10-feet and made by Coleman, Perception and Old Town canoe
and kayak manufacturers. Two paddle boards are available for rental.
Rental rates are $35 for two hour rental; $40 for four hours and $45
for eight hours (includes life vest, paddle and delivery and pickup).
“The river is a few
blocks from our house and it’s beautiful and easy to get too, and
we want people who don’t have boats to experience a paddle on the
river,” said Shannon, who was raised in Seneca Falls and has lived
in Elmira for 20 years. “Plus we have the Finger Lakes for paddling
West Water Sports is one
of four kayak and canoe outfitters doing business on the Chemung
River (the others are: Kim’s Kayaks, Corning; On The River, Big
Flats and Southern Tier Kayak Tours in Ithaca).
“The river is an
economic driver that attracts new business, from outfitters and bait
shops to tourists and paddling clubs,” Pfiffer said. “Those
businesses bring outside money into our community and encourage local
people to spend their leisure time and money here at home.”
For more information about
West Water Sports: (585)-490-4480,
on Facebook at @westw2017 or phone at (585)-490-4480.
River Friends announce new board members
The Chemung River Friends
is proud to announce two new members to the organization’s board of
directors to each serve two year terms:
Sisson, of Addison, N.Y., a retired
secondary art instructor at Addison Central School District.
member Lee “Rip” Doud, of the Town of
Southport, N.Y., owner Bulkhead Hardware in the Town of Southport.
The 2017 board officers
include President Tom Beecher of Pine City, N.Y.; Vice President Don
Hall of Elmira; Secretary Thomas O’Brien of Corning and Treasurer
Jim Ripley of Pine City, N.Y. Jennifer Fais of Cameron Mills, NY rounds out the board membership.
Chemung River Friends is a
nine-year-old nonprofit organization headquartered in Elmira and
dedicated to protecting the waterways in the Chemung River Basin and
encouraging the public to better use, enjoy and respect our waterways
for recreation and environmental education.
Kids learn to kayak in River Friends portable pool at EOP Carnival May 20
Chemung River Friends used its new portable pool to offer free canoe and kayak lessons to
children at the annual Head Start Carnival - from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
May 20 at the EOP/Head Start office at 650 Baldwin St. in Elmira.
29-inch-high pool allows River Friends to bring the river to the
children, and teach them basic paddling and water safety. The
children learned about the importance of life vests, how to get in
and out of a canoe and kayak, basic paddle strokes, and what to do
when a kayak or canoe tips over.
“It’s a great way for
kids to learn and feel what it’s like to be in a tippy boat in
water, without the fear of being in a murky river,” said River
Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer. “The pool water is clear,
the kids can see the bottom, and there are always two adults in the
pool with the boats and kids.”
The annual carnival is for
Head Start students and their families, and features live music
entertainment, food, games and interactive activities.
The pool was purchased
with a $3,000 grant from the Anderson Foundation in Elmira.
Finn Academy students make Elmira nature trail safer for wildlife
More than 130 Finn Academy
charter school students, parents and staff did the environment an
Earth Day favor by removing more than 250 pounds of trash along the
Lackawanna Rail Trail in Elmira on Saturday (4/22).
The “Give a hoot, don’t
pollute” cleanup was part of Elmira school’s second grades owl
expedition program. The students spent weeks researching and learning
about native owls and what people can do to improve and protect the
birds/ habitat – namely pick up litter.
The cleanup with done with
the Finn Academy’s expedition learning partner, Chemung River
Friends. During the cleanup, the group learned about the history of
the trail and the former Erie-Lackawanna Railroad that it was built
“Thanks to the school’s
education program, nearly 50 second-graders, learned how litter can
harm and kill owls and other wildlife, pollute our environment and
make nature trails unsafe and unsightly,” said River Friends
Executive Director Jim Pfiffer. “Then they did something about it.
The cleaned the trail and learned that they can make a difference in
protecting our environment. That’s a great lesson to take through
Prior to the 1:30-3 p.m.
cleanup the students displayed the poster and other public education
materials they created to teach people not to pollute and to enjoy
and learn from our region’s native wildlife.”
Chemung River Friends and partners conducted the following environmental cleanups on this Earth Day weekend. Stay tuned for other River Clean-up opportunities:
· Friday, April 21, 10:00 - noon, joining volunteers from the Elmira-Corning Board of
Realtors to clean up trash on the Southside bank of the Chemung River
in downtown Elmira, from Brand Park to Walnut Street Bridge.
April 22, 1:30 -3:00 p.m., joining 100 students, parents and staff from the
Finn Academy to clean up a mile stretch of the Lackawanna Rail Trail.
We met at the trail entrance, adjacent to and just south of the
Wegmans plaza parking lot and walked and cleaned along a mile stretch of
trail, south toward E. Water Street.
Contact Jim Pfiffer, River Friends Ex. Director, via cell: 607-331-3953.
Big Flats Elementary School plant bee-friendly garden
The students and staff at
Big Flats Elementary School are getting environmentally greener by
building a bee-loving pollinator garden and adopting a section of the
nearby Chemung River.
The pilot project,
nicknamed the Pollinator Protectors, is part of the school’s
long-term plans to teach students and staff how to recycle, save
energy and protect the environment, using demonstration projects in
the school’s neighborhood. Each project involves parents and
community organizations working with the school to share strategies
and plans for preserving nature.
The program kicks off from
4-6 p.m., April 21 when students, parents, staff and community
volunteers meet at the 543 Maple St. school. Together the group will
build two bee-friendly raised garden beds to be planted with native
flowers and vegetables that attract and nurture pollinator insects.
Students will also install two rain barrels to collect rain water for
the gardens and building creative water jugs and additional rain
Maycie Bennett, of Tacy Kilmer’s class, is excited about the
school’s involvement, and anxious to get digging in the dirt.
“I really love nature
and can’t wait to be working outside in the pollinator gardens,”
Maycie said. “I can’t wait to see all the plants and animals. The
garden will bring students together and just be a great learning
The pollinator project is
being coordinated by Jingjing Yin, Community Horticulture Educator at
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chemung County, in response to the
loss of many pollinating insects, birds and animals -- due to
agrochemicals, pathogens, climate change and urbanization. The rusty
patched bumblebee was recently declared endangered by the US Fish and
Wildlife Service. The bees’ population has shrunk by 87% since the
late 1990s. Pollinators -- including bees, birds and bats -- help
pollinate three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and about
35% of the world’s food crops.
“Our communities need high quality pollinator
habitats,” Yin said. “This project could improve the habitat
connectivity across a wider landscape, therefore providing
pollinators with adequate food and water within their normal flight
radius, and improving residents’ psychological benefits gained from
community beautification and biodiversity.”
The on-going project will
improve local plant, animal and insect habitats; recycle storm water,
protect the river, and teach the students to be environmental
stewards. The students will learn how individuals, neighborhoods and
communities can make meaningful changes to improve our environment
preK-4 school is part of the Horseheads Central School District, and
is partnering with Chemung River Friends, Cornell Cooperative
Extension of Chemung County, the USDA Plant Materials Center in Big
Flats, Chemung County Soil & Water Conservation District and the
Town of Big Flats. Together, the partners will teach environmental
education and hands-on projects that allow students to apply their
knowledge to improve the local environment.
lumber and rain barrels for the garden project were donated by the
Chemung County Soil & Water Conservation District. The Town of
Big Flats donated the soil. The Plant Materials Center donated the
seeds and greenhouse use. The remaining partners are helping with the
environmental curriculum, programs and projects. Program partners
will continue to provide supplies, materials, educational
presentations and support to assure the program’s growth and
The school will adopt a
one-mile stretch of the Chemung River. Students and staff will use
the river as an outdoor classroom to learn how to be environmental
stewards and protect clean water.
For school principal,
Elizabeth Scaptura, the project is a unique learning and partnership
opportunity for the students, faculty, staff and the community.
“We are hopeful that
this project will educate our students and families in gaining a
better understanding of how pollinators, including butterflies, bees,
and birds impact our community’s ecosystem,” Scaptura said. “It
is a very exciting time for all of us.”
The school’s students
recently toured the nearby USDA Plant Materials Center where they
planted seeds, donated by the center. Their seedlings will be
transplanted into the school gardens in late May.
“Principal Scaptura and
her staff want this to be a meaningful hands-on program that teaches
the students what they can do now, and as adults, to protect our
environment,” said River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer.
“And they are starting with their school grounds and the
surrounding river valley. They will learn how to improve their own
community. Everyone wins – especially the environment.”
The program’s proposed
long term projects:
Building an outdoor
classroom pavilion near the gardens, equipped with electricity
producing solar panels.
Build a rain garden
(small shallow rock-filled pond) to collect and slow stormwater to
be recycled in the gardens.
Install birdhouses, a
bat house and a bee hive.
Improve the school’s
recycling programs, including the disposal of paper and food waste,
and reducing its use of energy and water.
During the summer the
gardens will be maintained and used by children
who attend the Big Flats Town Activities for Flats Youth (TAFFY)
program at the school.
HIlliard Foundation donates $5000 to River Friends
Hilliard Foundation in Elmira recently awarded a $5,000 grant to the
Chemung River Friends to help the organization teach river and
paddling safety to children and to improve access to area rivers and
grant will help River Friends purchase equipment and supplies to
teach safe paddling classes to hundreds of children, and to improve
and repair access roads to boat launches on the Chemung River.
year, the Hilliard Foundation supports River Friends to help us make
our waterways more accessible and enjoyable, and to teach the public
safe and responsible use our rivers for recreation and education,”
said Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer. “This
support, from a local community foundation, helps improve the quality
of life and natural environment of the community.”
33-year-old Hilliard Foundation is the gift-giving arm of The
Hilliard Corporation, a 620-employee Elmira business that makes
clutches and industrial filtration equipment.
Friends is a nine-year-old nonprofit organization, in Elmira that
partners with municipalities and residents to protect and use our
rivers in Chemung and Steuben counties.
Free binoculars thanks to a local connection with a global company
People joining the Chemung
River Friends on hikes and paddles will have a closer view of nature,
thanks to Vanguard USA, Inc. for its recent donation of binoculars
and more than $2,000 in hiking equipment - including five binoculars,
carrying straps, carrying cases and a hiking backpack.
River Friends’ new
Osprey Clean Water program will use the five binoculars to teach
children how to use them to watch nesting ospreys (fish hawks) on the
Chemung River, and to learn why the birds need clean water to
“This generous New
Year’s gift comes as River Friends is seeking funding to purchase
10 binoculars and cases for our osprey education program that kicks
off this spring,” said River Friends Executive Director Jim
Pfiffer. “The Vanguard binoculars are high-quality, compact and
easy for children to hold and use. We will use the binoculars and
backpack at all of our outdoor recreation and education programs to
educate and reconnect people with nature.”
The donation was possible
thanks to River Friends Board President, Tom Beecher, whose son, Tom
Beecher, Jr., formerly of Elmira, is the USA managing director for
Vanguard in Whitmore Lake, MI. The younger Beecher and his company
donated the equipment to River Friends to help promote environmental
education and stewardship. The company also offered River Friends
reduced prices on future purchases of optical and photo equipment.
“Binoculars give you
close-up views of wildlife – a drawing card that attracts youth to
nature,” Pfiffer said. “Protecting and enjoying nature requires
support from local, national and even global partners. This gift from
Vanguard makes it easier for us to get the public – especially
children -- interested in our waterways and what they can do to
protect them. That benefits everyone.”
Vanguard is a global
leader in high-quality optical, photo and video accessories. For more
information, go to www.vanguardworld.usa.
Village of Riverside boasts a new grassy Chemung River path
Area residents can enjoy a
walk along a new grassy Chemung River path thanks to the Village of
Riverside, which is just west of Corning, and Chemung River Friends.
The simple, one-mile mowed
loop path runs on the north side of the river in the Village of
Riverside, between Patterson Bridge and Cutler Creek, where it
empties in the river.
The path is a cooperative
effort between the Village of Riverside and Chemung River Friends in
Elmira. The project began eight years ago when a former Corning
couple, John and Polly Guth, donated funds to River Friends to build
a river path in Corning. River Friends did the planning, laid out
the path and worked with village Mayor Bill Cornell to create the
"The path is proof that
by simply cutting a strip of grass in the right place, a municipality
can create a path for recreation, exercise, transportation and a
visit with nature,” said River Friends Board Secretary Tom O’Brien
The path loops over a wide
and flat river plain, between the grassy flood levee and the water.
Half of it is within a few yards of the river and the other half is
near the levee.
The path pinches in the
middle of the loop – giving it a lopsided figure-eight shape -- to
allow safe passage around a grassy drainage culvert leading to the
River Friends plans to
lead guided walks and cross-country ski trips on the path and help
keep it clean. The Village of Riverside will mow the trail.
“There is not much in
the way of trails or walking paths in Riverside,” said Cornell,
village mayor for the past 24 years. “This path gives people a nice
place to walk and get exercise outside. People love that. And it has
no cost to the village, other than the gas to run the mower.”
The path has the potential
to grow and expand along the river into neighboring communities in
Steuben County, depending on the public’s use, feedback and
“This is a primitive,
but easy-to-use grass path for walking, jogging, cycling, pet walking
or cross-country skiing and snowshoeing,” said Chemung River
Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer. “It’s flat, wide open and
offers thousands of yards of unobstructed views of the path, river,
hills and sky. Use it for exercise, a place to fish or a comfortable
commune with nature.”
The path is open and free
for public use. There are no markers, signs, benches or other
amenities. It can be accessed from the William Street Park in
Corning. Walk up and over a grass ramp on the flood levee to the
river’s edge, walk west (upstream) under the Patterson Bridge to
River Friends, Kiwanis and Realtors do spring cleanups on Chemung, Cohocton Rivers
Friends, Kiwanis and Realtors to do spring cleanups on the Chemung and Cohocton Rivers
Just in time for the
beginning of the paddling and hiking season, the Steuben County
community is helping make the Chemung and Cohocton rivers cleaner,
safer and easier to use.
The Chemung River Friends
is partnering with the Painted Post Kiwanis Club, the Elmira-Corning
Regional Association of Realtors and the Town of Erwin to complete
the projects in April and May.
More than 20 volunteers
from the Realtors association will remove littler and trash along the
Chemung River banks from 9 a.m. to noon, May 14 (location to be
determined). During the cleanup River Friends staff will explain how
clean and well used rivers provide recreation, education and a
commune with nature, thus making the area more attractive to
potential homebuyers and businesses.
many years, the Elmira-Corning Association of Realtors has been
active in community service projects,” said Terrie Burke, president
of the Realtor Association. “Making the Chemung River a safe and
enjoyable experience to all those who not only live near the river,
but those who use it for recreation as well, is very important to us.
Helping with the river clean-up was at the top of our list of
projects this year.”
“A protected and
well-used river -- for recreation, ecological education and a visit
with nature – reflect the community’s culture, love and respect
for the environment,” said River Friends Executive Director Jim
Pfiffer. “It sends a message to potential property owners that the
community cares and respects its clean water, environment and quality
That’s one reason why a
dozen members of the Kiwanis club cleaned and improved the Kinsella
Park Boat Launch on the Cohocton River in the Town of Erwin, from 8
a.m. to noon on April 24. The work is part of the annual
International Kiwanis Inc. “One Day Project,” a Kiwanis branded
program to encourage Kiwanis Clubs from around the world to improve
their communities through leadership and service. The Kinsella Park
downed tree limbs and debris from the river trail at the boat launch
and possibly replacing wood chips on the trail as needed.
Installing four bird
houses and two duck houses along the trail.
Inspecting the park
benches to see if they need repair or repainting and make such
Looking for sites for
future fishing access from the trail to the river.
Marking the trail
with biodegradable paint blazes on trail-side trees to make it
easier for cross-country skiers and hikers to follow the trail
beneath winter snow.
A licensed forester
and member of the Kiwanis club will assess the condition of the
trees at the site for potential problems and any needed pruning or
Town of Erwin officials
have approved the project and the removal of the debris and trash
generated during the cleanup.
“We have done a ‘one
day’ project every April for nine years,” said Mike Clark,
secretary and past president of the Painted Post Kiwanis Club. “It’s
part of our mission for members to volunteer to improve our
communities and environment. The river, park and boat launch give
people an easy way to enjoy nature. That’s why we decided to do the
cleanup and repairs. It benefits the river and trail users, the
environment and the community.”
Photographers selected for River Friends 2017 Calendar
natural beauty of our rivers has been captured by 21 local
photographers whose stunning river photos will be featured in a 2017
calendar created by Chemung River Friends.
bald eagles and herons to scenic riverscapes and paddling adventures,
the calendar will feature more than two dozen color photos and
quotes, poems and words of wisdom from local poets and writers.
proceeds from the $15 calendars help River Friends promote and
protect our rivers and encourage the public to better use, enjoy and
respect our waterways.
river calendars are a charitable way to enjoy the majestic beauty and
varied wildlife that is our rivers, while helping the nonprofit River
Friends protect and improve that natural beauty for future
generations,” said River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer.
“The calendars also showcase the talents and skills of our local
photographers and writers who find creative inspiration in nature.”
Friends and the organization’s business partner, Copy Express in
Elmira, expect to have the calendars ready for sale in time for
summer paddling trips and education and outreach events. The
calendars will be sold at soon-to-be announced locally-owned shops
2017 River Friends calendar photographers are: Roger Allaire,
Stephanie Baker, Charles Baldwin, Elizabeth Biroscak, Steve
Brinthaupt, Susan Cratsley, Jen Donovan, Becky Enders, Janie
Ferguson, Debbie Fieno, Stevie G. Graley, Bill Keefe, Randy Olthof,
Carrick Palmer, Rod Reynolds, Rick Siglin, Noel Sylvester, Arthur
Thompson, Christopher Walters, Chris White and Lynn Winner.
is not too soon to start taking photos for the 2018 calendar -- and
you don't have to be a professional," Pfiffer said. "The
rivers are beautiful any time of year. We invite everyone who
enjoys our rivers to take photos and send them to us."
Friends is a not-for-profit organization
in December 2009 to preserve and promote the 45-mile-long Chemung
River and its tributaries -- the Canisteo, Cohocton, Cowanesque and
Find us on Facebook or go to our webpage www.ChemungRiverFriends.org
for more information.
are some of the photos in the 2017 River Friends calendars.
River Patriots and Bait Shop win 2015 River Friends awards
An Elmira bait shop and a
group volunteers, who call themselves the River Patriots, received
awards at the Chemung River Friends Annual Meeting on Nov. 17 at the
Golden Glow Volunteer Fire Company in Big Flats.
Swarthout’s Nickle Creek
Bait & Tackle Shop in Elmira received the 2015 River Friends
Business of the Year Award for helping River Friends promote and
protect our waterways and educate young people about the importance
of environmental stewardship. The shop owners and managers, Melissa
Rinker, Diane Swarthout and Holly Ryan, donated supplies and helped
River Friends with youth fishing derbies, life vest give-a-ways and
river safety education.
The Chemung River Friends
2015 Volunteers of the Year Award went to the River Patriots –
Brian Layton, Dan Layton, Donald Layton, Rod Vanderpool and Kitty
Vanderpool -- for adopting and cleaning several boat launches on the
Chemung River during the year. The three-year-old group removed more
than 900 pounds of trash from in and around the river in 2015.
“These award recipients
are great examples of the unselfish people in our community who
volunteer their time and resources to take care of our rivers and
environment,” said Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim
Pfiffer. “They show you what can be accomplished when you roll up
your sleeves and work together to improve our community.”
Also at the annual
meeting, Pauline Emery, of Big Flats, was thanked for her 18 months
service as interim board president of River Friends. She will
continue to serve as a board member.
Grove Street Site selected for "Points of Interest"
Friends and the Chemung River are honored with a recently erected
Points of Inspiration banner at the entrance to the Grove Street Boat
Launch in Elmira.
The project features a driving tour of interesting sights, history and information in Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben counties.
project is sponsored by the ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes
-- an organization that appreciates the beauty of our waterways and
Mile Markers Will Improve River Safety
location signs installed along the Chemung River in Big Flats
Another section of the
Chemung River is safer and more fun to paddle thanks to the recent
installation of 34 location signs along the waterway in Big Flats.
The bright yellow signs
with ID numbers will help river users know their location on the
water, and help emergency responders locate and rescue people in
emergency situations on the river.
The signs were installed
Sept. 5 from Fitch’s Bridge in Big Flats to the Chemung/Steuben
County line by volunteers from the Golden Glow and Big Flats Fire
Departments. They were installed in tandem – two on each side of
the river at each location –on trees about six-feet off the ground
for better visibility.
To help paddlers more
easily spot the signs, the trees where they hang and nearby rocks are
marked with orange paint and yellow “caution streamers.”
“These are not mile
markers, but location markers to help paddlers know where they are on
the river and to help emergency personnel locate and respond to river
emergencies,” said Bob Barnes, chief of the Golden Glow Volunteer
When emergency responders
– usually fire departments – don’t know the location of the
incident, it can add hours to the response time.
Many of the signs are
located in hazardous sections of the river, where many paddlers get
into trouble due to downed trees, swift currents and shifting gravel
The signs feature black
lettering and numbers donating the fire district and the sign’s
location on the river. The letters “GG” show that the sign is in
the Golden Glow Volunteer Fire Department’s coverage area. The
number corresponds to a GPS location available to emergency
responders. That number can be used by paddlers with cell phones on
the river. The signs help pinpoint their location in emergency calls
to 991 operators.
The signs were paid for by
the Town of Big Flats.
Earlier this summer, the
West Elmira Police installed similar location signs on posts, set in
concrete in 5-gallon buckets and placed along the riverbanks. The
signs will be removed prior to cold weather and ice flows, and
returned to the river shore in the spring.
The project is a
partnership between the Chemung County Emergency Management, River
Friends, fire departments, emergency responders and the
municipalities along the river.
“Eventually we would
like to see location markers on the entire 45-mile river, from
Painted Post in Steuben County to Athens in Bradford County, Pa.,”
said Jim Pfiffer, executive director of River Friends.
The location markers are
part of an ever-improving project that depends on public feedback and
responsible use of the location marker system. The color, design,
placement and info on the signs may change, based on how well they
serve the river-using public.
“The success of the
program depends on feedback from paddlers and river users, as to
whether they can easily see the signs, read them and remember the
sign number and letter,” Pfiffer said. “Paddlers need to be on
the lookout for the signs and make a mental note of information on
The markers are part of
long-range plans to improve river safety and public river safety
education. While the markers will make it easier to rescue people in
trouble, the best way to improve river safety is to not get into
trouble in the first place. That means the public has to use some
common sense precautions and learn basic paddling and river safety.
“The river is a great
recreational resource and we need to make it as safe as we can for
people who are using it,” said Town of Big Flats Supervisor Ed
That safety includes:
Always wearing a
properly fitted and bucked-up life vest when on our near the water.
If you have never
paddled a canoe or kayak, take a beginners class or join a guided
paddle to learn the basics.
Never paddle a river
without first scouting out the paddle, ahead of time, either by boat
or on foot, to look for hazards (like trees in the water) and other
from water levels and sand bars to fallen trees and other
obstructions, change all the time. A safe section of the river today
may be blocked by a downed tree tomorrow.
While paddling if you
see a hazard ahead or are not sure about an obstruction in the
river, pull ashore and investigate the hazard or walk your boats
around it. Wear water shoes, sneakers or hard-soled shoes. Carry a
whistle and spare paddle.
Never paddle alone
and always tell someone of your route and schedule.
Bring a cell phone in
a water-tight container, attached to the boat or paddler. Remember,
you may not get cell service and 911 phone contact on all sections
of the river.
Save the alcoholic
beverages for when the trip is over and you are home.
For more river safety tips
and information visit the Chemung River Friends webpage at
Glow Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bob Barnes, 607-215-2886
River Friends Director Jim Pfiffer, 607-846-2242 or
Flats Town Supervisor Ed Fairbrother, 607-562-8443
County Emergency Management Director Mark J. Cicora Jr.
The GG on the sign signifies Golden Glow Fire District and the number
18 represents the GPS location on the Chemung River. Golden Glow
Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bob Barnes displays one of the river
location signs. (Chemung River Friends photo)
Keeping our rivers and streams and their watersheds clean often depends on the work of volunteers. It is rewarding to know that you can make a difference. Ready to pitch in? Be in touch with Jim Pfiffer, River Friends Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 607-846-2242.
Shorter Name for River Friends and more!
Friends adopt friendly name
Friends of the Chemung River Watershed agrees with the public – the
name is too long, difficult to remember and easy to confuse.
listened, to you, and we have responded to your request for a more
user-friendly name. We have shortened our name to Chemung River
change officially occurred on March 31, when the Division of
Corporations of the New York State Department of State issued our
“Assumed Name Certificate.”
official and incorporated name is still Friends of the Chemung River
Watershed,” said Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim
Pfiffer. “The shorter name will be used for easier name
recognition, outreach and publicity. Our logo remains the same with
the longer name.”
original long name was adopted six years ago to reflect the Chemung
River Friends’ mission to protect and promote all of the waterways
in the Chemung Watershed (including Cohocton, Tioga, Canisteo and
name changed, not our mission,” Pfiffer said. “We still cover the
same watershed and will continue to encourage public use, enjoyment
and respect for our rivers and environment.”
public can still use the longer name in documents, letters and
the interest of conservation,” Pfiffer added, “we ask that you
use the shorter name. It saves ink, paper and trees.”
helps River Friends give away 100 youth life vests
River Friends will give
away 100 children’s life vests this year as part of its youth water
The U.S. Coast
Guard-approved vests were purchased with a $2,550 grant from the
Anderson Foundation, Inc. of Elmira.
The colorful vests are
silk-screened with the River Friends logo and the slogan “Be your
best. Wear your vest.” The vest give-a-way is part of River
Friends efforts to teach children water safety.
“The Anderson Foundation
has been a big supporter of River Friends and our efforts to protect
our waterways and make them easier to enjoy and safer for public
recreation and education,” said Jim Pfiffer, River Friends
executive director. “The foundation has provided grants to help us
purchase a river rescue boat and equipment, and provide river safety
Pfiffer reminds the public
to always wear a well-fitted, buckled life vest when on or near
“Too many children can’t
afford vest or don’t know the importance of wearing a life vest,”
Pfiffer said. “There are the children we are targeting in our
public education programs to make river recreation safer.
# # #
Our river runs through it: How the Chemung River buoys downtown Elmira businesses By Ruth Harper
When he bought a building on Elmira’s West Water Street about a year and a half ago, Max Ahmad didn’t plan to open a restaurant. But he fell in love with what Water Street offers: views of the Chemung River.
“I used to stand there and look at the river,” he said. “Then I decided, why not open a restaurant downstairs? When I bought the building, I didn’t think of opening a restaurant.”
Ahmad opened Bistro 223 at 223 W. Water St. in August. He hopes the view from his restaurant helps Elmirans gain a new appreciation for the river.
“I thought, it’s such a river that no one pays attention to,” Ahmad said. “People don’t know there’s a river there. People don’t care about the river. The river, bad, bad, bad. (In 1972) we had a flood. Bad, bad, bad. And I always used to look at the river and say, ‘You know, you’re such a pretty little river and you’re so neglected.’”
As he worked on the restaurant, he faced a problem: A huge flood wall blocked the first-floor restaurants’ view of the water. He decided to place a mirror so guests could watch the water while enjoying a meal.
Roundin’ Third, a sports bar and restaurant at 255 W. Water St., has also capitalized on the river’s beauty by offering the public a view from its second-story deck, said owner Dain Reese. The deck brings in return business more than new business because he hasn’t had time to promote the deck as much as he would like. However, the second story has a banquet room and the deck contains four tables any restaurant visitor can use.
“It’s beautiful out there, and the people who come see it, they come back,” Reese said. “Every single person that has been here and has taken the time to go see it absolutely loves it. I think people should start utilizing the river a little more. (We) should do more up (on the deck) anyway, maybe just to bring people up there.”
Restaurants aren’t the only businesses drawn to the river as a selling point. Gina and Mike Mitchell own Riverside Suites, a building at 231 W. Water St. that contains office spaces, apartments and two retail storefronts, including one for Copy Express, which the Mitchells own.
Gina Mitchell said 75 percent of the Riverside Suites building is occupied, including a counseling office that rents an office suite. The couple currently has offices for rent.
“We like the view from the offices and we think that’s what attracted people who want to work in an office with a view,” Mitchell said.
Views of the river appeal to the apartment tenants, too, Mitchell said. One tenant takes advantage of his riverside location to go fly fishing.
“He walks out the back door, crosses the (Main Street) bridge, does his thing and can walk home from there,” Mitchell said. “He likes that he can do that right there and doesn’t have to go anywhere.”
Another tenant has a back deck where he likes to sit and watch the river and a third tenant moved in because he wanted to be able to walk to work each day, Mitchell said. The couple is working to expand river viewing options
“We’re still working on a plan for the rooftop deck that would have another view of the river,” Mitchell said.
Ahmad has ideas for better viewing of the river in the future, too. He said he would like the city of Elmira to break a little bit of the wall or build a staircase going over the wall so Water Street pedestrians wanting to see the river up close can do so.
“No one can go see the river unless they go far, a mile away, drive back and they lose their energy,” Ahmad said.
Luckily for Ahmad and other Elmira residents, the city of Elmira and the Friends of the Chemung River Watershed are working to give downtown Elmira better public access to the river. Tentative plans include a viewing platform on the flood wall overlooking the river near the Riverfront Park on Water Street in downtown Elmira.
Other options include installing a stairway over the flood wall to give the public access to the river. When the river is low, hikers can trek along the banks; it provides great exercise and an up-close view of the river and nature.
Plans also include building a multi-use recreation trail adjacent to the flood wall but high enough to give users a scenic view of the water.
“Providing visual and physical access to the river in downtown is one of the most popular requests by the public,” said Jim Pfiffer, director of the Friends of the Chemung River Watershed. “That’s why we are partnering with the city and other organizations to make the river more accessible and enjoyable.
“It’s a beautiful waterway that flows through the center of our city. The river not only attracts businesses to the area, but also provides us with an opportunity to connect with nature and learn more about our environment.”
Ruth Harper has lived in Elmira since she was a toddler. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from St. Bonaventure University. While pursuing a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from St. Bonaventure, she works as a freelance writer and marketer. Her email address is email@example.com. ...more>>
Source: Southern Tier Central Regional Planning & Development Board, www.stcplanning.org
Flooding is a fact of life in the Southern Tier Central region of New York. Flash floods may occur quickly with little or no warning. Since the devastating flood caused by Tropical Storm Agnes in June of 1972, various government agencies and other organizations have made efforts to improve flood warnings and reduce the damages caused by flooding. STC provides technical assistance for a variety of flood risk management activities.
After every flood, the tendency has been for residents to rebuild their lives and pray that "this is the last destructive one." Structural projects have been built in hopes of controlling future flood waters. As time passes, people tend to forget about flooding and become complacent. Additional development occurs in flood-prone areas. Deforestation and upland development increase the amount of runoff. Stream channels are allowed to become clogged with debris. In short, residents of the Southern Tier Central region continue to grossly underestimate the destructive powers of their rivers, streams, and lakes. If future flood damages are to be reduced, flood mitigation measures will need to be incorporated into programs that will outlive the all-too-short memories of area residents.
Things you can do to manage flood risks include:
Pay attention to flood warnings and obey evacuation orders.
Never drive through flooded roadways: Turn Around Don't Drown!
Do not dump or throw anything into ditches, streams or other waterways.
Maintain undeveloped vegetated buffers along rivers, streams, and lakeshores.
Protect flood control structures: Do not operate motor vehicles on an earthen levee or engage in other activities that might damage the vegetation.
Make sure that land use activities do not increase the amount of runoff and thus contribute to increased flood hazards.
If you live in a high flood risk area, take steps to protect your property from flood damage.
Purchase flood insurance for buildings and contents in order to protect your financial investment.