Welcome 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.

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.

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.

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

Choosing the Right Kayak

Kayaks come in two basic styles: sit-on-top and sit-inside. Both are available as singles or doubles, hard shells or inflatables. But how to choose? Check out the video above and then visit paddling.com.