Friends of the Chemung River Watershed, Inc.

Click here to find your most complete source of regional river recreation info -- from maps and water levels to boat launch amenities and scenic riverscape photographs. River Friends continues to work to make the Chemung River and its tributaries more accessible, safer and enjoyable.
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Mile Markers Will Improve River Safety

Mile markers will be placed along the Chemung River to help river users know their location on the water, and help emergency responders locate and rescue people in emergency situations on the river.

The 6- to 8-foot-tall markers feature brightly-colored signs on posts, set in concrete in 5-gallon buckets and placed along the riverbanks. Letters and numbers on the signs designate distances between the signs and the initials of the fire department that covers that area or the river. The signs will be removed prior to cold weather and ice flows, and returned to the river shore in the spring.

The signs will be installed in pairs (one on each side of the river) at mile intervals. Some signs will be posted at quarter-mile intervals along the hazardous river areas (islands, narrow channels, etc.). The signs will be located using GPS coordinates to better assist 911 emergency centers in locating callers who are in trouble on the river.

If paddlers or fishermen get into trouble on the river and they have a cell phone, they can call 911 for assistance and use the mile markers to help emergency responders find their location,” said Jim Pfiffer, executive director of the Chemung River Friends. “It’s difficult, even for experienced river paddlers, to know where they are on the river. These signs are great first step in making the river safer.”

When emergency responders – usually fire departments – don’t know the location of the incident, it can add hours to the response time.

The first signs are expected to be installed June 29 along both sides of the river in West Elmira between Winsor Avenue and an island just downstream from Fitch’s Bridge in Big Flats, said Peter Michalko, West Elmira Police Chief.

2015 River Friends public eco-recreation and cleanup events

River Friends and volunteers to clean Carpenter Creek in Big Flats on July 25

Chemung River Friends and community volunteers will clean a section of Carpenter Creek in Big Flats from 9 a.m. to noon. July 25.

The creek flows into the Chemung River, near Willowcreek Golf Club and Tag’s, both on State Route 352. It has not been cleaned in years and is littered with tires, cinder blocks, a barrel, a refrigerator, litter and trash. No additional volunteers are needed, as enough people have already signed up to help.

The creek flows behind the Islamic Association of the Finger Lakes at 62 Main St. The Islamic Association’s parking lot will be used as a staging area for the cleanup. Nearly 30 volunteers from the Islamic Association, local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, River Friends and the community will help with the cleanup. The Town of Big Flats will dispose of the trash removed from the creek.

The Islamic Association and Minier’s Grocery in Big Flats will provide a free picnic lunch for the cleanup volunteers.

We are neighbors to the creek, and we want to be part of the effort to preserve and improve the environment and our community quality of life,” said Sam Zoubi, president of the Islamic Association. “It benefits everyone.”

River Friends will provide work gloves, garbage bags, tools and supervision. Some of the volunteers will wade into the shallow creek to remove debris. All volunteers in or near the creek must wear life vests, provided by River Friends.

August 15 FREE Family Fun Fishing Derby: 9 a.m. to noon, Bring the kids to Brick Pond Park in Elmira to try for the $100 First Prize!  Open to all kids under 16 years old.  Register at Nickle Creek Bait and Tackle, 133 East Hudson Street in Elmira or on the day of the event.  Limit 200 children.  All proceeds benefit the Friends of the Chemung River Watershed.

2015 Nature Strollers River Friends walks: These free, short and easy walks (less than a half-mile) are designed for parents/grandparents and children/grandchildren to enjoy an easy walk or stroller ride along trails and waterways in nature and learn about our environment and local history. Sponsored by the Chemung Valley Audubon Society and the Horseheads Family Resource Center. The walks are led by River Friends staff and volunteers and include an educational theme, guest speakers and snacks and a rest on blankets at the half-way point.

July 30: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., White Wagon Boat Launch, town of Chemung. Short walk and talk about the around the boat launch (pavilion, benches, bathroom) and a walk on the nearby riverside nature trail. Snacks include hotdogs cooked on grill. Directions: take Wilawana Exit off of Interstate 86, turn left at end of highway off ramp and follow the road over the highway bridge and to the boat launch located behind the CVS distribution center. Educational theme: Local history of canals and future of White Wagon nature/education trail.

Aug. 13: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Lackawanna Rail Trail spur trail from Eldridge Park. Meet in the parking lot at end of trail. Short walk on a paved trail through marshland and meadows. Bring plenty of bug repellant. Educational theme: Local history of the marsh and Eldridge Park.

Sept. 10: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Draxler Park, Pine City. (details to follow)

Sept. 15: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Seeley Creek, behind Southtown Plaza (Tops Market) off of Cedar Street. Short walk to the creek side and/or along the grassy creek levee. Educational theme: Where does the water in the creek come from and where will it go (learn about the water cycle and watersheds)

Guided public paddles: All boats, equipment, transportation and guides provided. All paddlers must wear buckled up life vests during the entire paddle. Each paddle includes an educational theme and stops along the way to talk and learn about river history, ecosystem and lore. Water provided. Bring your own water bottles and snacks. Limited to the first 20 paddlers to register and pay the $25 fee-per-paddler. To register, contact Southern Tier Kayak Tours, 607-220-3642 or

Aug. 8: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., seven mile paddle from Bottcher’s Landing Boat Launch to Fitch’s Bridge Boat Launch, both in Big Flats. 

Sept. 13: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. seven mile paddle from Bottcher’s Landing Boat Launch to Fitch’s Bridge Boat Launch, both in Big Flats. 


Visit our new on-line driving guide! ...launches, historic markers and places to visit
access a map that will give you information about river boat launches, historic markers and places and other sites to visit along the river in your vehicle. ...more>>

Where to rent a canoe or kayak
Southern Tier Kayak Tours, Ithaca, N.Y. (607) 220-3642, or – specializes in guided tours and paddling instructions
On the River Canoe and Kayak Rentals, Big Flats, N.Y., (607) 215-6692 or - rents canoes and kayaks and leads river paddle tours
Endless Mountain Outfitters, Sugar Run, PA., (570) 746-9140,, rents and sells canoes and kayaks and leads river paddle tours,
Wilson Rental Center, Corning, N.Y., (607) 962-8611, - rents canoes
Summit to Stream Adventures, Watkins Glen, N.Y. (607) 535-2701 – rents canoes and kayaks and leads river paddle tours
Kim's Kayaks, Corning, N.Y., (607) 481-3925 or, rents kayaks

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Friends of the Chemung River Watershed • 111 N. Main St., Elmira, N.Y. 14901 • (607) 846-2242 •