River News

Contact Emily Marino, Chemung River Friends, 607-846-2242 or riverfriends@stny.rr.com.

October 2020

New Signs on Walnut Street Bridge Warn Paddlers

New signs are being installed on the Walnut Street Bridge in Elmira to warn Chemung River paddlers about the hazardous Chase-Hibbard low-head dam 1,000 yards downstream.

Each of the four, easy-to-see, 8-by-4-foot aluminum signs read “Danger Dam Ahead” printed in white letters on a red background. The signs, purchased by the Chemung River Friends, will be installed on the four main sections of the side of the bridge facing upstream. Learn more on our Flood page.

Enjoying Outdoors During Pandemic

Cabin fever and warm weather encourage people to get outside and enjoy nature for recreation, education and an environmental adventure. It’s good for your heart, soul, and mental well-being.
It's important to consider the well-being of others during the new COVID-19 way of life. Rivers, trails, and parks provide plenty of room to stay socially distant and still enjoy yourself. Here are a few tips to increase that enjoyment:

  • Know before you go: Check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, don’t go. If it’s crowded, have a plan B. Visit this page for paddling and river level info.
  • Stay close to home: This is no time to travel long distances to recreate. Most places are only open for day use.
  • Plan: Prepare for facilities to be closed, pack lunch, and bring essentials like hand sanitizer and a face covering.
  • Practice physical distancing: Adventure only with your immediate household. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give others space. If you are sick, stay home!
  • Play it safe: Slow down and choose lower-rise activities to reduce your risk of injury. Search and rescue operations and health care resources are both strained.
  • Leave no trace: Respect public lands and communities and take all your garbage back home with you.
  • Be grateful for what we have: We are fortunate to have numerous and accessible waterways, ponds, lakes and trails to enjoy. Please respect our environment and do what you can to keep it clean and safe.

Source: American Canoe Association and Chemung River Friends in Elmira, N.Y.

Also check out Properly Sizing Children's Life Jackets.


September 2020

Welcome New Director, Emily Marino

Emily MarinoChemung River Friends is proud to announce that Emily Marino, of Corning, took over as the organization’s executive director on September 1, 2020, with the retirement of River Friends co-founder, Jim Pfiffer.

Emily will lead the 11-year-old Elmira-based nonprofit organization in all professional capacities, including collaboration with the board of directors, management of volunteers, business operations, and public contact, and spokesperson.

“As a long-time environmental advocate and supporter of the Southern Tier, I am thrilled to be able to contribute towards our region’s continued enjoyment, understanding, and stewardship of our precious waterways. With our world changing so much every day, I think it is crucial that we find more ways to engage children and families in environmental education, and create more ways for our community to embrace the natural resources that we have available to us. I look forward to leading the Chemung River Friends, and to working with our community to promote one of our greatest recreational, educational, and historical natural resources.”

Prior to joining River Friends, Emily served as executive director and consultant for CCS Fundraising in Manhattan. During her time with CCS, she offered consultative services to New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, partnered with Lincoln Center Theater on a fundraising campaign feasibility study, and developed an institutional giving infrastructure for the Catholic Foundation of Brooklyn and Queens. A 11-year veteran of the nonprofit sector and native of the Southern Tier, Emily has served with a variety of local nonprofit organizations in the Corning/Elmira area. She holds an MBA from the Simon School of Business with the University of Rochester (2019), an MA from Syracuse University (2010), a BA from Binghamton University (2004), and graduated from Corning-Painted Post East High School (2000).

“Emily has the leadership skills, experience, knowledge and regional contacts to continue River Friend’s mission to improve and protect our waterways,” Pfiffer said. “Her love of nature, passion and fundraising capabilities will assure the organization’s growth and success, while protecting our natural resources and improving the region’s quality of life.”

Emily is an avid runner, hiker, kayaker, and gardener, and is excited to be back in her hometown of Elmira.

New Law for Safer Boating

Under a new law, known as Brianna's Law, all motor boat operators will need a boating safety certificate. If you were born on or after Jan. 1, 1993, you will need the certificate to operate a motorized vessel effective immediately. If you were born in 1988, you will need the certificate by 2022. If you were born in 1983, you will need it by 2023. And if you were born on or after Jan. 1, 1978, you will need the certificate by 2024. All operators will have to have the certificate after 2025. Please view more information about these new requirements by visiting the NY Parks and Recreation website.

August 2020

Kid-Friendly Outdoor Spots in the Finger Lakes

When school is out, it’s time for family fun outdoors. If hiking, swimming, biking, paddling, or camping is your thing, the Finger Lakes region has plenty of options for getting your kids outside. From state parks to nature centers and more, there is something for everyone. Here are a few of our favorite spots. Just a reminder: stay safe during the fall and winter hunting season! Wear bright colors (and make sure your dog is leashed and wearing bright colors, too). Be safe. Be seen.

We Need Your Support

Dear River Friend,

PaddlersWe are overcoming the COVID-19 virus and learning how to best deal with the “new normal” means of conducting business while still protecting and promoting our waterways and natural resources.

The virus has caused a major reduction in our municipal funding. We are reducing our expenditures and making other adjustments to deal with this financial downturn.

Your support is more important to us than ever. We are depending on our members to continue their financial help, and we are encouraging new members to give a gift today. We want you to become part of our team and our mission to make it easier, safer, and more fun to enjoy our waterways and trails for recreation and education.

On the plus side, the virus quarantine has caused a big increase in the number of people enjoying our rivers and trails for exercise, an escape from cabin fever and to gain a new appreciation for the outdoors and the many waterways and trails in our region. Many of those people are discovering nature’s waterparks in our back yards and the many trails and fishing sites available to all of us. We expect those folks to continue to paddle rivers, hike trails and enjoy quiet visits with Mother Nature.

That makes our mission even more important, as more people will be depending on River Friends to keep our trails and waterways clean, accessible, safe, and easy to use.

Bridge Over the RiverWe are developing social distancing plans to let us continue to lead eco-recreation events and public educational programs. It will mean more digital involvement, increased virtual programs and expanded use of our Facebook and website.

It is difficult to plan when no one knows how life will evolve in the future.  

That's why your support today is so important as we continue to grow and pursue important river and trail projects and nature education programs, and keep nature’s recreation available for the increasing number of people enjoying these resources in these difficult times.

To this end, we are developing a River Safety and Security program in partnership with the Chemung County Sheriff's Department, Elmira Fire Department, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. This team will regularly visit river boat launches and fishing sites to inspect boats, educate river users about paddling safety and rules, and give away life vests, whistles, and other necessary paddling equipment.

Girl Holding CrawdadWe will also install signs on the Walnut Street Bridge in Elmira to warn paddlers of the hazardous Chase-Hibbard Dam downstream from the bridge. We are working to improve existing boat launches and fishing access sites, install a restroom on the Lackawanna Rail Trail in Elmira, erect four osprey nesting poles on four Chemung County reservoirs, lead guided paddle trips and hikes and keep our rivers and trails clear of brush, litter and illegal dumping.

We are committed to these projects, but we can't achieve them without financial resources. That’s why we need your gift today -- a gift that gives back to you, your family and your community.

At times like these, we all realize the value of relationships, good health, and a safe and healthy environment. Our relationship with you is vital in providing you with clean water, outdoor recreation and a better understanding and respect for nature.

If you are not a member, please join us today. If you have given a gift in the past, please increase your donation to show your belief in and support of River Friends. Your gift stays in the community and is an investment in our future. You know of the great projects and programs that your gifts have made possible since our inception in 2009. With your continued support we will continue to make the most of our waterways and trails.

Please invest today in the future of our environment, community, and quality of life. Donations can be made online using the link below or with a check sent to Chemung River Friends, 111 N. Main Street, Elmira, NY 14901.

Thank You to Local Heroes!

Keeping our waterways safe and clean requires teamwork. That’s why The Chemung County Sheriff’s Department, Chemung River Friends, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation teamed up over the Memorial Day weekend to visit boat launches and fishing spots on the Chemung River and ponds in Chemung County.

We applaud Chemung County Sheriff William Schrom for starting the program to improve river safety, recreation and the environment. The team’s accomplishments included educating boaters about water safety, rules, and river conditions; giving away life vests to two kayakers who didn’t have any; stopping four youths, without life vests, from using an inflatable raft to paddle on the Chemung River near the hazardous Chase-Hibbard Dam in Elmira; giving away safety whistles and boat identification tags; checking for fishing licenses and talking with anglers about fishing regulations and fishing techniques; picking up litter; and reassuring citizens that public boat launches and fishing sites are being patrolled for safety and illegal activity.

The team plans to do more patrols in the future and asks that the public call 911 to report suspicious or illegal activity and dumping along our waterways.

We thank the team and the public for their support and respect for our natural resources, environment, and community.

Jim Pfiffer
Chemung County River Friends