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


River Fun Calendar Contest CONTINUES!!!
Got your 2018 River Fun Calendar? Flip to NOVEMBER for ROUND 11!!!  Don't have one?? Check out NEWS for the NOVEMBER pages so that you can play!  Be sure to get your answers in by 5:00 p.m. NOVEMBER 19 to have a chance to win a $50 gift certificate from The Christmas House in Elmira.   Good Luck! 

Play the River Calendar Contest:NOVEMBER!!
Here are several of the November dates pages! (See the rules at the bottom of this page for details. See the next NEWS articles with more of the date pages)

Play the final November River Fun Calendar questions!
And here are the rest of the November questions!  Good luck!!

Rules for the River Fun Calendar Contest!!!
It is time to play the River Fun Calendar Contest!  Here are the rules!!  Good luck! 

2018 River Fun Calendar Contest Rules
Eligibility: You must be 8 years old or older to enter. No member of the Friends of 
the Chemung River Watershed board or staff or their families may enter the contest. 
No sponsor or their families may enter the contest for the month which they have
Where to find the Calendar Contest: No purchase is necessary.  A printed copy
of the 2018 River Fun Calendar is available to view at the River Friends office,
111 North Main Street, Elmira, NY. Each month the appropriate calendar pages will be
published on the River Friends Facebook page
and on the webpage  300 printed copies of the full 
calendar are available for a suggested donation of $15 each at various outlets. See the
River Friends webpage and Facebook page  for the list of outlets.
How to play the game: For each month, look at the full-sized photo and find "Ozzie
the Osprey." Read all of the questions written in red on the dates page. Describe Ozzie's
location and answer the questions. The drawing and maze on the first page of the calendar
are not part of the contest.  The July photo has no �Ozzie the Osprey.�  CORRECTION: 
The OCTOBER not September photo has two �Ozzies.�
How to enter:  Send your answers on a post card or in a letter to: Chemung River Friends,
111 North Main Street, Elmira, NY, 14901, or email your answers to Submit your entry between the first of the month 
and by 5:00 p.m. on the date shown on the calendar date page. Be sure to include 
the month of the contest, your name and mailing address on your submission. 
Please indicate if you wish to have your name published if your entry is drawn. 
Only one entry per person per month.

How winners will be selected:
All entries will be reviewed by the Friends of the Chemung Watershed board and those
entries with the correct answers and legible name and mailing address will be eligible 
to win. The determinations of the River Friends judges are final.  A random drawing will
be held by 5:00 p.m. on the day following the deadline for submissions. If no entry has 
all of the correct answers, then a random selection will be made from the remaining 
entries with the most correct answers until a winner is drawn.  The $50 gift certificate 
shall be mailed to the winner by the end of that month. 

Where to view the correct answers:  The correct answers will be published on the 
River Friends Facebook page and webpage and posted at the River Friends office 
on the last day of that month.  You may request a list of the answers by writing to the 
River Friends at their address noted above.


River Fun Calendar winners and answers

Susan Barton, of Murphy, NY was the January winner of the 2018 River Friends River Fun Calendar Contest. Susan's entry was randomly selected from those with the most correct answers. 

She wins a $50 gift certificate from Swarthout's Bait and Tackle Shop on Hudson Street in Elmira.

The correct answers are:
"Ozzie the Osprey" location: upper left corner of the full-sized photo.
Jan. 2 - Blue Jay; Jan. 3 - Coyote tracks; Jan. 4 - Dog tracks; Jan. 9 - Mink tracks; Jan. 17 - Muskrat tracks; Jan. 18 - Great Blue Heron; Jan. 22 - Beaver tracks; Jan. 25 - Otter; Jan. 27 - Mink; Jan. 31 - A "Blue Moon."

There was no winner for February.

The correct answers for February are:

  • Ozzie location: upper right corner of the full-sized photo. 
  • Feb. 1 - all of the above; Feb.4 - Chemung River @ West Elmira Woodland Apartments dead-end road; Feb. 7 - White-tailed Deer; Feb. 9 - 1300; Feb. 15 - Wild Turkey;  Feb. 21 - Ice; Feb. 25 - Watkins Glen on Seneca Lake; Feb. 23 - Dusk/Twilight.
There was no winner for March.

The correct answers for March are:

  • Ozzie location: Upper left corner of the full-sized photo.
  • March 4 - Presho on the Tioga River; March 9 - 1200 pounds; March 19 - Fox Sparrow; March 26 - C; March 31 - Blue Moon, Happened last in 1999.  Next time is 2037.
Calvin M. Davis of Elmira won the April contest.  He won a $50 gift certificate to Wild Birds Unlimited in Big Flats.

The correct answers for April are:

  • Ozzie location: Upper left corner of the full-sized photo.
  • April 2 - Brook Trout; April 4 - Killdeer; April 12 - Bluebird; April 14 - A. Predators; April 17 - All of the above; April 20 - All of the above; April 23 - 1970; April 27 - Tree.

Calvin was also the winner of the May contest.  He won a $50 gift certificate to Field & Stream sponsored by Vulcraft of NY, Inc.

The correct answers for May are:

  • Ozzie location: Sitting on on the bridge, upper left part of the full-sized photo.
  • May 1 - past the underpass at the beginning of the trail toward Church Street; May 7 - Widow Skimmer; May 11 - Gosling; May 18 - NYS Threatened; May 25 - Osprey
Calvin won AGAIN in June! He won a $50 gift certificate to Hesselson's in Elmira.

The correct answers for June are:

  • Ozzie location: Upper left corner of the full-sized photo with reflection in the middle left.
  • First question: Beaver; June 12 - Water Lily; June 18 - Proboscis; June 19 - Moth; June 22 - Corbiculae; June 24 - 60%
There was no winner in July.

The correct answers for July are:

There was no "Ozzie" hiding in the night sky.

2 - Buckeye, 5 - Piebald, 9 - Wild Parsnip, 13 - Burdock, 15 - any kiosk at a boat launch site along the Chemung River, 21 - Dog droppings, 22 - B Non-venimous, but with bite, 25 - Curtis Road over the Cohocton River

Elmira FD / River Friends share new river rescue boat

The Chemung River will be safer, cleaner and better patrolled in 2018 thanks to the Chemung River Friends, which plans to buy and donate a new river rescue boat to the Elmira Fire Department.

The 14-foot, eight-person, inflatable boat and 40-horsepower jet-drive motor will be purchased by Chemung River Friends and donated to the fire department within a few weeks, thanks to a $9,600 grant from the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes. The fire department and River Friends will each invest $250 in the project.

The inflatable boat will make it easier, quicker and safer for firefighters to access the river. The propless motor will allow the boat to safely travel in shallow water over a rocky river bottom, where a propeller-driven motor would be damaged or destroyed. The Chemung River is especially rocky and water levels are low during the summer months.

As we increase recreational river use, we also have a responsibility to increase river safety, said River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer. Not all river rescues happen near boat launches where a boat trailer can quickly be backed into the water. The new equipment will allow firefighters to access the river closer to emergency scenes and respond faster in rough river conditions.

The Elmira Fire Department is part of the Chemung River Task Force, a response team of several fire departments along the waterway. The Elmira Fire Department is primarily responsible for water rescues in the city including those at the hazardous Chase-Hibbard Dam downtown -- but the firefighters will also use the new boat and motor for river emergencies throughout Chemung County, said Elmira Fire Chief Joe Martino.

The new boat and motor will be used for river safety education, Martino said. And it will make river rescues faster and safer for the firefighters and the people being rescued.

The boat and motor will be owned, maintained and stored by the fire department and will replace a 25-year-old solid hull boat and prop motor. The old boat will be repaired and used as a backup, if needed, Martino said.

The new equipment will be shared in partnership with River Friends for other uses, including:

  • Monitoring and cleanup of river pollution and dump sites.

  • Removal of paddling hazards (downed trees, flotsam piles and other obstructions).

  • Teaching public paddling and water safety classes.

Manufacturer, late volunteer honored at River Friends Annual Meeting

A Horseheads manufacturing firm and the late president of Chemung River Friends received awards at the organizations Nov. 14 annual meeting at the Chemung Valley History Museum in Elmira.

Thomas Beecher, who died suddenly in September, received the River Friends 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award for his dedication in serving as the board president and a volunteer.

Tom, and his wife, Judith, helped with many of our events, from guided paddles and safe boating classes, to river cleanups and youth fishing derbies, said River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer. They loved volunteering and helping people especially children -- learn to be safe paddlers. Tom guided River Friends with a quiet and friendly determination. He was an easy man to like and a comfortable leader to follow.

Employees at Eaton Corporation were awarded River Friends 2017 Business of the Year award for forming a company green team that promotes recycling programs and environmental education programs at the facility. The team raised $1,000 and donated it to River Friends. The money will be used to help build a concrete boat ramp in 2018 at the Fitchs Bridge Boat Launch in Big Flats. The company makes equipment that improves electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power sustainability.

The Eaton Corporation encourages its employees to learn to be more environmentally friendly at work and at home, and to help the community do the same, Pfiffer said. They share that knowledge and financial support with the community to make it better for everyone. Its a good example of a business and community partnership.

More than 20 people attended the meeting to learn what River Friends accomplished in 2017 more safety and river educational programs and the organizations plans for 2018 a Twin Tiers water paddling trail on the 45-mile river and plans for more boat launches in Steuben County.

River Friends is a nine-year-old nonprofit organization headquartered in Elmira, N.Y. that works to protect and promote our waterways for recreation, education and relaxation.

New Program helps children learn about science, arts, math and the environment

A new educational program is bringing local arts, environmental, scientific and cultural organizations together to provide a years worth of unique and fun learning opportunities for children in underprivileged communities in Chemung County.

The STEAM Ahead Chemung Partnership is a team of nonprofit organizations that provide free and unique educational programs to several hundred children at three Elmira youth community centers. The program theme is birds and will be featured during the one-year pilot program that begins in September. The educational series will be taught at the Frontline, Transformations and Southside community centers and include visits to museums, the Chemung River and a science center.

The eight program partners include; Arnot Art Museum, Corning Museum of Glass, Chemung County Historical Society, Chemung River Friends, Community Arts of Elmira, Namaste Event Spa and Wellness Center, Science and Discovery Center and Tanglewood Nature Center and Museum.

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math, and the program is financed with a $4,682 grant from the Triangle Fund in Corning and a $500 grant from the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes.

The first program was Sept. 20th at the Southside Community Center when the Science and Discovery Center, in Elmira, taught the children at the center how to build cardboard and wooden ribs, that when joined together, form a lightweight, but sturdy wing.

Examples of some of the other 90-minute programs:

  • The Chemung County Historical Society will focus on birds and local history, like the story of the last Labrador Duck killed in Elmira; or the heavy use of birds and feathers in ladies hats during the Victorian era. Students will create their own hats.

  • Tanglewood will introduce students to two live owls and a hawk and discuss how birds live, eat, nest, fly and migrate.

  • Community Arts of Elmira will help the students use birds as inspiration for art and poetry projects to be displayed at a public reception at the end of the program.

  • Chemung River Friends will teach the students about the fish hawks that live and nest on the Chemung River, and lead students on a guided hike to a river osprey nest.

  • At the Corning Museum of Glass students will go bird watching in the museums galleries, indentifying birds in glass and exploring how birds inspired glassmakers throughout history.

I believe this is the largest collaboration of its kind in Chemung County offered by non-profits purely to give our at-risk children experiences that they likely would not get any other way, said Elaine Spacher, executive director at Tanglewood Nature Center. The program will keep kids excited and engaged and allow them to grow academically and personally.

The students will be given program-related books to keep, and be encouraged to continue to read and learn. STEAM Ahead is modeled after a similar successful program in Steuben County, called the Garden of Fire, and is expected to be successful in Chemung County.

We are excited to be partnering with these other great organizations to help fill a need in the lives of Elmiras youth, and have the chance to introduce them to new ideas and opportunities, said Bruce Whitmarsh, executive director of the Chemung County Historical Society.

STEAM Ahead is planning a fall kickoff program at Community Arts of Elmira that features a display of the students artistic creations and technological creations.

If successful, the program will continue and expand into 2019 and beyond.

STEAM Ahead educates children about science, art and culture, and does it with a theme and local examples, said River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer. And it demonstrates how organizations can work together to improve the community and create more knowledgeable and better skilled young citizens.

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 conservation laws.

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 Bottchers 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 Bottchers Landing swing offers a scenic view of the river at the rivers 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 Toms 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. Its like a free and quiet amusement park ride in nature, but you dont need a ticket or a seat belt. Whats not to like?

For the Corning Rotary Club, the project was part of the groups 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 reflect."

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 Elmira.

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 Sayre, Pa.

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 its beautiful and easy to get too, and we want people who dont 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 too.

West Water Sports is one of four kayak and canoe outfitters doing business on the Chemung River (the others are: Kims 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 organizations board of directors to each serve two year terms:

  • Hal Sisson, of Addison, N.Y., a retired secondary art instructor at Addison Central School District.

  • Board 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 OBrien 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.

The 16-foot-square, 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.

Its a great way for kids to learn and feel what its 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, dont pollute cleanup was part of Elmira schools 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 Academys 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 on.

Thanks to the schools 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. Thats a great lesson to take through life.

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 regions native wildlife.

River Clean-ups!

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.

        Saturday, 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 barrels.

Fourth-grade student, 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 experience.

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 and lives.

The 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.

The 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 success.

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

The 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 trails.

The 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.

Every 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.

The 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.

River 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.

Contact: Jim Pfiffer


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 survive.

This generous New Years 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 path.

"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 said.

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.

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 municipal plans.

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 the path.

River Friends, Kiwanis and Realtors do spring cleanups on Chemung, Cohocton Rivers

River 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.

For 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 of life

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 work included:

  • Removing trash, 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 repairs.

  • 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 improvements.

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.

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