The Friends of the Chemung River Watershed (River Friends) is starting a river recreation program to show people how easy, fun and educational it is to paddle our waterways.
Our new River Rangers program will feature four guided kayak tours on the Chemung River in Steuben and Chemung counties this spring and summer, including two free paddles that will be open to the public. The two other paddles will be invitation-only for local elected officials and a Steuben County youth group.
The free paddles are June 29 and Aug. 22.
The River Rangers goals: Get more people of all ages and paddling experience to paddle with a group with experienced guides and to discover how easy it is to use and enjoy our waterways.
All the paddles are free to participants (paid for by River Friends) and include kayaks, equipment, transportation, supervision and experienced guides from Southern Tier Kayak Tours LLC. Each paddle will include educational information about the river’s history, plant and animal life, and the natural environment.
“Our region is rich in rivers that are great for paddling, but unfortunately, more than 95 percent of residents don’t have kayaks or canoes and they are not likely to ever paddle the river,” said Jim Pfiffer, executive director of the River Friends. “The River Rangers program will make it easy for people to experience a river paddle and see how easy, safe and fun it is. Hopefully, they will return for other paddles or buy their own kayaks and paddle the rivers with their families and friends.”
The River Rangers program kicks off with a May 31 invitation-only paddle for our public officials that begins at the Toll Bridge Boat Launch in Wellsburg and ends at the White Wagon Boat Launch in the town of Chemung.
“We’ve invited our congressman, state assemblyman and senator county officials and elected officials in our towns and villages,” Pfiffer said. “It’s an opportunity for our elected officials to discover how important our waterways are in providing recreation and a connection with nature. A river paddle is the best way to remind our elected officials of the importance of protecting and promoting our rivers to benefit our communities.”
The River Rangers program also includes an Aug. 3 invitation-only family paddle to encourage more children – our future river stewards – to learn more about protecting our waterways. Children and their parents from the Corning YMCA are participating in this paddle.
All the paddles include instructions on river safety. Each paddle teaches basic paddle strokes, kayak use and safety tips in and around the water.
“We want people to realize that paddling on a river can be safe, easy and enjoyable; as long as you use common sense, wear a life vest and don’t overestimate your paddling abilities,” Pfiffer said. “We want to teach people to enjoy and respect our rivers, not fear them.”
Space is limited for the two paddles open to the public on June 29 and Aug. 22. No more than 20 kayaks will participate in each paddle. For more information and to register for the two public paddles, contact Southern Tier Kayak Tours at 607-220-3642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The complete River Rangers paddle schedule:
· May 31, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.: (Not open to the public.) Elected officials paddle. Our elected state, county and local municipal leaders will paddle on the Chemung River from Toll Bridge Park in the town of Ashland to the White Wagon Boat Launch in the town of Chemung. Spectators are welcome
· June 29, 1 to 3 p.m.: Guided River Rangers kayak paddle from Bottcher’s Landing Boat Launch in Big Flats to Fitch’s Bridge Boat Launch in Big Flats. Arrive by 12:30 p.m. Transportation available between boat launches. You must register in advance.
· Aug. 3, 1 to 4 p.m.: (Not open to the public.) Guided family paddle from Kinsella Park boat Launch in Painted Post to the Cohocton Street Boat Launch in Corning. Corning YMCA summer camp students and parents will participate in the paddle. Spectators are welcome.
· Aug. 22, 6 to 9 p.m.: Guided 3-mile public kayak paddle from Fitch’s Bridge Boat Launch in Big Flats to the Grove Street Boat Launch in Elmira. Arrive by 5:30 p.m. Transportation available between boat launches. You must register in advance.
To paddle on your own, anytime, pick up a copy of the guidebook “Take A Paddle – Finger Lakes NY Quiet Water for Canoes and Kayaks.”