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  • Writer's pictureEmily J. Marino

Southern Tier Life: Outdoors

Friends of the Chemung River Watershed Invite Community Participation For ITs Environmental Health

Guest writer -- Emily J. Marino, Executive Director of the Friends of the Chemung River Watershed

On April 22nd, the Friends of the Chemung River Watershed (FCRW) celebrated Earth Day, and tabled at an event for SUNY Corning Community College’s Annual Earth Day Farmer’s Market.

We met a lot of great community nonprofits who are working to keep our environment clean and healthy. We also had the opportunity to purchase goods from local micro-farmers who rely on the land for their livelihoods. We met students who were passionate about reducing plastic waste and reversing climate change, and it was a great opportunity to let the students know about what we do as an environmental stewardship organization.

Photo provided. Friends of the Chemung River Watershed table at SUNY CCC Earth Day Farmer's Market in Corning.

The day after, we partnered with the Corning Rotary to again clean-up litter from the riverbanks near the Chemung River in Corning. Last year, we had 12 volunteers, and gathered around eight large bags of garbage from this area. This year, we were fortunate to have students and FCRW members join the Corning Rotary, and we collected enough garbage from the riverbanks to fill 14 large garbage bags. It was a beautiful warm spring day, and we walked between the Bridge Street Bridge in Corning along the river to the Patterson Bridge further west.

Photos provided (left to right). 1. Volunteers from Corning Rotary, Friends of the Chemung River Watershed, and area students spent time cleaning up trash and litter along the banks of the Chemung River in Corning; 2. Tree planting at Eldridge Park as part of Upper Susquehanna Coalition's "Trees for Tributaries" program.

The following week, we joined the Upper Susquehanna Coalition, the City of Elmira, and Eldridge Park Preservation Society for a park clean-up and planting party. We removed around 12 large bags of litter (and could have gotten more if we had more time), and planted 180 trees along the waterways in Eldridge Park, which drains into the Chemung River. The planting efforts are part of a program with the Upper Susquehanna called “Trees for Tributaries”. The goal of this program is to create and plant trees and plants (or streamside buffers) along our waterways that will help decrease erosion, reduce flooding damage, improve wildlife and stream habitat, and protect our water quality.

The Chemung River accounts for 63% of our drinking water supply, and everyday we are learning more about the quantity of plastics in our bodies, our food, and our water. With all the litter we are encountering by the river’s edge and in the water, we see the majority of it collect around bridges and roadways. We can infer that this litter is not necessarily being dumped by hand, but is blowing out of cars or off the backs of garbage trucks, and getting into our food and drinking supply. The issue is not necessarily that people do not care about our environment and are actively littering, but that we are, in fact, as a society creating more and more waste in the interest of efficiency and ease.

Photo provided. Ducks seen battening down for warmth along the water's edge during a windy Earth Day Cleanup event at Eldridge Park, Elmira, NY.

In honor of Earth Day, and in an age where climate change is impacting our daily lives and safety, the Friends of the Chemung River Watershed looks to our community to help us to meet our mission of protecting our natural resources. This means we need your help to protect the waterways and riverbanks that make up the 2,600 square miles of our Watershed. We can do this together by:

  • Reducing air pollution on a local level with methods like taking the bus, biking to where you need to go, or finding a carpool.

  • Reducing water pollution by cutting down on the amount of chemicals that are used in lawn, home, or vehicle care.

  • Reducing micro-plastics in our food supply, by using only 1-2 reusable water bottles, and buying glass and tin instead of plastic at the grocery store, or if you can – buying organic.

  • Reducing the amount of carbon in our atmosphere that directly impacts drastic weather patterns, by substituting one meal per week for a plant-based meal, or by buying from corporations who make a clear dedication to Carbon Net Zero by 2050.

But most of all, we can ONLY do this together as a community! By making a dedication together to do all we can in our everyday lives to support environmental protection initiatives, we can imagine a clean and healthy river community for generations to come.

If you can choose one thing from this list to support everyday, you will be one of many who are dedicated to this work as a community, and there is power in numbers. And, of course, we would also ask that you support the work that Friends of the Chemung River Watershed does as your local environmental stewardship nonprofit through a donation or in giving of your time as a volunteer. The Friends of the Chemung River Watershed has a mission to protect the Chemung River Watershed while promoting the safe and responsible utilization of its waterways and riverbanks. We make the river safer and easier for people to use and enjoy, while protecting our natural resources for future generations.

We all want to live happy and healthy lives, and we cannot do it alone, especially if our environment is sick and polluted.

In honor of 2022 Earth Day, consider what you will do to protect our environmental resources, and volunteer with or donate to the Friends of the Chemung River Watershed today!


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