Chemung River Friends ...Friends of the Chemung River Watershed in Finger Lakes Region of NY


Squirrels are just plain nuts! Feb. 18 @ Finger Lakes House

Learn about our furry friends Feb 18, 6-8 p.m., Finger Lakes House, 389 W. Water St., Elmira.

Only $15 at the door.  No reservations required.

You get:

  • Squirrel videos, photos and an interesting and informative discussion about gray and red squirrels, how they remember where they hid their nuts and how they help sustain our forests.

  • To see and touch a stuffed grey squirrel.

  • A chance to win a squirrel-proof bird feeder door prize donated by Wild Birds Unlimited in Big Flats.

  • One free Finger Lakes Craft Beer or glass of wine and tasty snacks.

  • Support River Friends’ mission to protect and promote our natural resources.

  • 50/50 drawing.

  • Plenty of laughs, fun, knowledge and better understanding and respect for these nut-eating critters.                   

More info: Chemung River Friends, 607-846-2242;

Finger Lakes House, 716-708-9879;


2018 River Friends public eco-recreation and cleanup events

  Public education and outreach events.  We are done for the 2018 season, but look for these activities in 2019: 


2019 monthly Finger Lake House River Friends environmental education programs

Beer, porcupines, rattlesnakes and rain barrels at Finger Lakes House in 2019



You can see a live rattlesnake, a stuffed porcupine and a painted rain barrel while sipping tasty craft beers at this year’s monthly nature programs sponsored by Chemung River Friends and the Finger Lakes House in Elmira.


The monthly programs will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at 389 W. Water St. and are $15 at the door. No reservations are required. They include one free New York State craft beer or wine, snack foods and a chance to win a door prize. The fees helps River Friends continue to offer educational programs. The series takes holiday breaks in July and December.


“The Finger Lakes House is honored to support River Friends in their continuing education series,” said Bill Mott, co-owner of the Finger Lakes House. “The Chemung River is a valuable community resource that provides us with not only water, but beauty and recreation. Through River Friends’ efforts and our community support, we will ensure the Chemung River will be beautiful for many generations.”


One of the highlights of the series is the May 20 program on timber rattlesnakes that will feature a live rattlesnake demonstration by a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife technician.  


“We want to correct the misconceptions and fears many people have about our amazing wildlife like rattlesnakes,” Pfiffer said. “We want the public to better understand and appreciate our wildlife, and do it in a fun venue with good beverages, food and like-minded friends. You support River Friends, a local business and the river. Not bad for $15.”


February 18: Go Nuts Learning About Gray and Red Squirrels

Whether they are raiding the bird feeder, transplanting tulip bulbs, making themselves at home in the attic or delighting you with their antics, gray squirrels inspire joy and angst. They are the second most watched wildlife in North America after birds. Learn how and why these animals are so smart, creative and relentless. Learn the differences between the grays and reds and how and why our trees depend on squirrels for their survival. Get tips on how to squirrel-proof your bird feeder.

Door prize: Donated squirrel-proof bird feeder. 


March 11: Don’t Get Your Quills Up, Porcupine!

Uncover the myths and unfounded fears of these tree-dwelling pin cushions. Discover why these slow waddling rodents fear little, chew rubber tires, make weird sounds and should never be harmed because they can save the lives of people lost in the woods.

Get answers to nature’s burning question: How do porcupines make love? Ouch!  A North American porcupine can have 30,000 or more quills, they are found on every continent except Antarctica and they are excellent climbers and gnawers. 

There will be a PowerPoint presentation and videos by River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer.

Door prize: Growler of craft beer.


April 22 (Earth Day): Why You Should Hug a Tree.

We take trees for granted but they provide many benefits from making oxygen and providing wood to bearing fruit and limbs for tire swings and tree houses. Our lives depend on trees. Learn how you can help protect trees and use them to reduce flooding, erosion and global warming. Learn how to plant a tree in your yard or along a stream or river.

There will be a PowerPoint presentation by Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer and Paul Pietro, a New York Sate Nursery & Landscape Association professional and founding member of the Town of  Elmira Tree Board. Includes a tree planting demonstration.

Door prize: Potted tree to plant in your yard or along a stream or river.


May 20: Don’t get the shakes. It’s just a rattlesnake?

Learn how and why we are fortunate to have timber rattlesnake dens in our area. Discover the truth about these amazing reptiles, uncover their myths and gain a new understanding and respect. Learn how to be less fearful of these endangered creatures.

PowerPoint presentations by Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer and state Department of Environmental Conservation Wildlife Technician, Madeline Wlasniekwski, who will display a live rattlesnake.

Door prize:  A free entry in the Finger Lakes House kayak package drawing.


June 10: Beer Barrels, Rain Barrels and Rain Gardens

Learn how and why rain barrels and rain gardens at your home or business can reduce flooding and erosion and save you money and help your plants and gardens.

See how to convert a 55-gallon plastic barrel into an easy-to-use-and-install rain barrel that collects rain from your roof.


Discover how a small rain garden can improve your landscaping and water runoff. Do it all while enjoying craft brews from local craft beer barrels.

There will be a PowerPoint presentation by River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer.

Door prize: Rain barrel from Chemung County Soil & Water Conservation District. (Additional barrels will be available for sale for $35 each).


July: No program.


August 12:  We’re Not Playing Opossum or is it Possum?

The oft-maligned marsupial has an image problem. Love ‘em or not, the opossum is often perceived as a giant, dirty, scavenging rat, rather than a cute creature of the wild. North America’s only marsupial has unique characteristics that might transform your aversion into affection. They’re smart, have a remarkable ability to find food and they kill cockroaches and rats. When threatened, opossums run, growl, belch, urinate and defecate. And when all else fails, they “play ‘possum" and act as if they are dead. It is an involuntary response (like fainting) rather than a conscious act. 

There will be a PowerPoint presentation by Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer.

Door prize: To be determined.


September 23: Leave it Beavers

Discover how and why beavers love to build dams and gnaw trees, car tires and axe handles. Learn about the value of beaver pelts in American history. Learn why beaver teeth have to gnaw and how they can cut down trees. Includes a large stuffed beaver.

PowerPoint presentations by Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer.

Door prize: A hand-made hiking stick made from a riverside sapling.


October 21:  How Rivers Improve our Lives and Communities

Rivers drain nearly 75 percent of the Earth’s land surface and carry water and nutrients around the earth. They play a vital part in the water cycle, acting as drainage channels for surface water. Learn why our lives depend on rivers and how they improve our economy, environment, community health and quality of life.

You will leave this presentation with more respect and a better understanding of how communities and civilizations originated and grew around waterways.

There will be a PowerPoint presentation by Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer

Door prize:  A 22-inch-square cotton bandana map of the Chemung River.


November 18: Where do All the Animals Go During Winter?

Aside from people, the creatures that occupy two-thirds of our nation’s land mass have just three choices when it comes to surviving the winter cold: resist, migrate or hibernate. Discover which animals stick it out, which ones go south and which ones hit the sack? The program will answer those questions and leave you amazed as you discover the adaptations and tools that animals use to stay warm, fed and asleep during the winter.

There will be a PowerPoint presentation by Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer.

Door prize: To be determined.


December: No program


For more information:


Guided Nature Stroller Walks

These short and easy walks are designed to introduce parents, grandparents and toddlers to area trails, parks, ponds, rivers, and streams where the public can hike and enjoy outdoor recreation and nature's beauty. Each walk includes an educational theme and snacks and water. 

Please dress for the weather-walks are cancelled only for thunder/lightning! 

The free walks are sponsored by the Chemung Valley Audubon Society. for more details about these walks, including directions to each site, please visit

    Guided paddle trips and hikes

Southern Tier Kayak Tours - done for the season.

Southern Tier Kayak Tours (STKT) provides kayaks, equipment and bus  transportation for most of our guided river paddles. During the 2-to-3-hour trips you will be joined by 15 to 20 paddlers of all abilities and experiences. We paddle on water that is relatively safe -- with ripples, not rapids. The experienced guides and r paddlers make the trips safe and fun (squirt guns are included).

FEE: River Friends pays $25 of the $50/paddler fee charged by STKT. You may bring your own canoe or kayak for a reduced fee. Contact STKT for more info and to register for the guided paddles: 607-220-3642 or

These tours are done for the season.  Check back next spring for another series!

 River, stream and trail cleanups

   More cleanups: Will be announced in 2019.

Upper Susquehanna Coalition

Welcome Partners River Trail Launch Sites Recreation Events Groups & Projects Susquehanna Watershed Paddling Guide

Chemung River Friends 111 N. Main St., Elmira, N.Y. 14901 (607) 846-2242 Facebook

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