We Are Hiring!

Dream JobRiver Friends is searching for a new Executive Director, as our current Executive Director, Jim Pfiffer, is retiring this year. We are accepting applications for this amazing, part-time position through July 1, 2020. Check out the job description and qualifications here [PDF]. This is a dream job for friends of the river!

Memorial Day Safety Information & Free Boat Inspections and Giveaways for Chemung County Residents

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick-off of the summer boating season. In many areas, boaters are on the water. Some communities are already experiencing high boating traffic and expect an increase this weekend. The Safe Boating Campaign offers these safety tips for safely enjoying the holiday weekend on the water:

  • Wear a life jacket. Make sure everyone is wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. New innovative styles provide mobility and flexibility during water activities.
  • Check equipment. Make sure you have and know how to use all the essential equipment.
  • Make a float plan. Let family and friends know where you’re going and when you will return.
  • Use an engine cutoff device. An engine cutoff device is a proven safety device to stop the boat’s engine should the operator unexpectedly fall overboard.
  • Watch the weather. Always check the forecast before departing on the water and frequently during your excursion.
  • Know what’s going on around you at all times. Nearly a quarter of all reported boating accidents in 2018 were caused by operator inattention or improper lookout.
  • Know where you’re going and travel at safe speeds. Familiarize yourself with local boating speed zones and always travel at a safe speed.
  • Never boat under the influence. A BUI is involved in one-third of all recreational boating fatalities.
  • Keep in touch. Cell phones, satellite phones, EPIRB or personal locator beacon, and VHF radios can all be important devices in an emergency.
  • Practice social distancing. Follow state and local guidance from public health officials. Tips for social distancing + boating.

Life JacketMore information is at the Safe Boating Campaign website.

Jim has written an excellent article, The Dangers of Speedy High-Water River Currents. This is quite timely, as we have already had boaters have to be rescued from high waters, or in more tragic events, drown, in our local rivers. The rainy season presents challenges and dangers that you should recognize. Please read the article in our educational section of the website about flooding.

Warmer weather means more people boating on our rivers and lakes. Paddling a canoe, kayak or paddleboard is a great way to get some fresh air exercise, enjoy nature and still maintain safe social distancing. Like all water activities, boating requires common sense, proper equipment and wearing life vests.

We are in luck this Memorial Day weekend as Chemung County law enforcement officials will visit Park Station, ponds, streams and Chemung River boat launches in Chemung County. Chemung County Sheriff’s deputies and New York State Department of Conservation officers will be patrolling the waterways, from Saturday to Monday, to share safety advice, give away life vests and inspect boats and boating equipment.

“We are doing this to educate the boating public and enforce safe boating rules and regulations,” said Chemung County Undersheriff Sean D. Holley who will be participating in the safety checks.

Chemung River Friends urges everyone to follow safe boating rules, wear bucked up life vests when on the water and save the alcoholic beverages for after you have a fun time on the water.

Don’t forget to do your part to reduce the spread of invasive plant, fish and animal species. Please clean, inspect and remove all visible mud, plants, fish and animals from your boast, trailer, clothing, dogs, fishing gear or other equipment and dispose of in a suitable trash container on dry land. Clean your boat and equipment. Rinse everything that has come in contact with the water before leaving the boat launch.

“Chemung River Friends supports and thanks our regional law enforcement officials for taking the time to educate the public about safe boating and to enforce the laws that make boating safe and enjoyable,” said Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer. “It is up to all of us to keep our waterways, ponds and lakes safe and clean.

For more information contact Chemung County Undersheriff Sean D. Holley, sholley@chemungcountyny.gov or 607-737-2055.

River Friends

The river is the center of regional recreation including guided paddles, fishing, riverside hikes, cross-country ski trips, bird watching, nature photography and river festivals. The clean water makes for great fishing for walleye, bass, sunfish, and scores of other game fish. Many residents fish the river as a source of food, and fishing derbies draw both locals and tourists to the area.

Our waterways offer hands-on outdoor classrooms for environmental education, and a means to reconnect our residents, especially youth, to nature and our natural resources. River Friends has partnered with the Finn Academy charter school in Elmira to use the river as a hands-on environmental classroom and source of expeditionary learning. The community is discovering and accepting its role in protecting and preserving our waterways and environment.

Read more about our history here.

Chemung River Trail Assessment & Comprehensive Master Plan

Prepared for the City of Elmira, NY, & Chemung County Waterfront Advisory Committee. [PDF]

A Driving Guide to History Along the Chemung River

Explore the path of the Chemung River in Chemung County and learn about its historic significance. [PDF]

Osprey Live Cam

Osprey Live Cam

On June 1, 2019, Chemung River Friends announced our new live feed from the Osprey Nesting Pole on Clinton Island in Downtown Elmira, sponsored by Pump Doctors in Horseheads, NY. They are your well water experts, who have been keeping our water clean for over 30 years! To log in to the web cam, click below and use the word "guest" as both the user name and password.


Support River Friends

When you make a donation, ask us about how you can obtain our river map bandannas and our Susquehanna & Chemung River Guide Book—a great way to support our organization! Our bandannas are available for $10 and our Guide Book is only $40. The book is 116 pages of topographic maps of the Chemung and Susquehanna Rivers, boating regulations, paddling tips, safety info, river history, camp sites, and so much more!

Picture of the River

River Maps & Launch Sites

We have everything you'll need as you explore our rivers! You can view our interactive map, learn about water safety, and learn all about the history of our rivers. Explore the site menus above for more info. You can click on the button below to view current water levels.

Girl in a Kayak

Rent a Watercraft

One of our most frequently asked questions is where do you rent a canoe? If you're ready to explore the rivers and need a boat, canoe, or kayak, we've got you covered.

Members on the River


Guided canoe & kayak trips, river hikes, bike treks, cross-country skiing and riverbank cleanups, building boat launches, developing riverside education and safe boating programs for all ages, preserving and protecting our rivers, plants, and wildlife, and promoting the scenic beauty that is the Chemung River... You can support all that we do with your membership!

Trash in the River

Report Illegal Activity

"River dumping and littering is a continual problem in and along our waterways. That's why we work with law enforcement and the public to reduce it and find and prosecute the people who do the dumping. We are never going to stop the littering. But arrests, hefty fines, and public education can help reduce it." -Jim Pfiffer