September 2018 - Upcoming Free Events

September 23rd - Kick off Take a Child Outside Week by joining us for a family-friendly scavenger hunt nature hike for kids and their grownups!  Scavenger hunt hike led by naturalist Andy Upshaw will take place on Sunday, September 23rd from 1:00 to 2:30 pm. Wear sturdy shoes for walking on uneven ground and bring water and insect repellent.  Event is free and open to the public.  All ages are welcome but space is limited so pre-registration is required by contacting  More details and meeting location will be provided with registration confirmation. 

September 18th at 6:30 PM - Annual Membership Meeting

Learning to Love the Outdoors - Friends of Lower Haw annual meeting features Roads End Naturalist and nature photographer Mike Dunn as guest speaker.  Meeting is open to the public.  There will be a short business session before the guest speaker's presentation.  Join us on Tuesday, September 18th from 6:30 until 8:00 pm at the Bynum Ruritan Club in Bynum, next to the old Bynum Bridge in Chatham County.  Address is 28 Charlie Fields Road, Pittsboro NC 27312.  Light refreshments will be served.

Mike Dunn's talk and photos will examine why we need to encourage learners of all ages to explore outside and why this area is ideal for outdoor exploration.  A resident of Chatham County who lives near the Haw River, Dunn's professional experience as a naturalist and educator includes 8 years with NC State Parks, 24 years with the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, and now with the North Carolina Botanical Garden.

"Through photography, writing, and guided trips, I hope to share my love of nature with others and inspire people to conserve the beauty and diversity of this planet we call home.  Join me in this journey and see what lies just beyond the end of the road." - Mike Dunn

August 2018 - County Commissioners Adopt Resolution in Support of Lower Haw

Chatham County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution in support of the Lower Haw Trails Plan at their evening meeting on August 20th.  The resolution states that "the Chatham County Board of Commissioners supports the Lower Haw Trails Plan and urges NC State Parks to adopt this Plan as a priority implementation project to be funded by the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF)."  Friends of Lower Haw president Gretchen Smith gave a short presentation to the commissioners before they voted unanimously to adopt the resolution.  We appreciate our county commissioners' support of the new trails plan and the Lower Haw River State Natural Area. 

July 2018 - Educational Video on Trails Plan and Lower Haw River State Natural Area

Our new 5-minute educational video is now available for viewing!  Friends of Lower Haw hired Destination by Design to produce an educational video about the Lower Haw River State Natural Area and the recently completed Trails Plan. Funding for the video was provided by Triangle Community Foundation's Support for Places Awareness Program.  We appreciate Joe Jacob with Haw River Canoe & Kayak for taking the film crew on a morning paddle trip and Elaine Chiosso of Haw River Assembly for taking the film crew on an afternoon walk along the river.  Thanks to everyone who participated in the production, either on camera or behind the scenes!  We also want to thank Patrick Mueller, our web admin, for setting up the video on our new YouTube channel.  Watch the video from our Home page or Media page. 

June 2018 - REI Awards Grant for River Access Improvements
Friends of Lower Haw has been awarded a grant from REI to help support continued improvements at Hwy 15-501 and Hwy 64 sites managed or owned by Chatham County Parks & Recreation.  Friends of Lower Haw is collaborating with county staff and the Carolina Canoe Club to make improvements to help address safety and erosion issues at both sites. 

June 2018 - Improvement Projects Underway at River Access Sites

Based on feedback from our 2016 Canoe Access Survey, Friends of Lower Haw is undertaking improvements to the Hwy 15-501 and Hwy 64 river access sites managed or owned by Chatham County.  Some top concerns expressed by survey respondents included paddler safety and erosion issues.  Friends of Lower Haw collaborated with Chatham and Orange counties Swift Water Rescue and Alamance County Parks Haw River Trail Coordinator to design paddler advisory and paddle trail map signs.  Improvements include finishing the existing kiosk, building a kiosk addition, and repairing the shade shelter at Hwy 15-501 and building a new kiosk at Hwy 64.  The new signs will be installed at both locations.  Thanks to Andy McMahan of CCCC’s Sustainability Technologies for designing our new sheltered kiosk for the Hwy 64 site.  (If you’re wondering why the Hwy 64 kiosk is located within the parking lot, the county wanted to keep it out of the floodway.)  This project is being funded by a grant from Chatham County Parks & Recreation and our local Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Pittsboro.  Lowe's is providing the labor and materials.

June 2018 - Upcoming Free Events

Join us for the following upcoming events.  RSVP required since space is limited.

June 16th from 9:30 to 11:30 am:  Get the Dirt on Soil!  Come learn about soil with Rich Hayes and the Mobile Soils Classroom.  Suitable for children and adults. 

May 2018 - Upcoming Free Events
Join us for the following upcoming events.  RSVP required since space is limited.

May 13th from 2:30 to 4:00 pm - Nature Journaling for Kids ages 7-11 accompanied by parent. 

April 21, 2018 - Bynum Bridge Fest to Benefit Friends of Lower Haw

Each year, be PhilARThropy organizes the Bynum Bridge Fest as the primary annual event demonstrating their mission, and each year they also support a charitable organization. Recognizing that the Haw River has provided an inspirational backdrop for their festival, in 2018 they have selected the charitable organization of choice to be Friends of Lower Haw River State Natural Area.  Artists will be selling their artwork on the scenic bridge overlooking the Haw River in Bynum. There will be  food and outdoor fun surrounded by nature and art.  Show your support for artists and Friends of Lower Haw by attending the 2018 Bynum Bridge Fest on April 21st from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.   Stop by our Friends of Lower Haw booth.  Our treasurer, Matt Spangler, will be one of the many artists selling his artwork.  PhilARThropy is a North Carolina based volunteer organization created by husband and wife team, Craig and Amanda Greiner. Going beyond the mission of a conventional artist organization, be PhilARThropy strives to not only promote the arts but to also support charitable organizations through the arts. Visit  for more information. 

April 2018 - Upcoming Free Events

Join us for the following upcoming events.  RSVP required.

April 8 and April 22 from 2:30 to 4:00 pm - Nature Journaling for Kids ages 7-11 accompanied by parent. 

March 17, 2018 - Volunteers Needed for Haw River Clean-Up-A-Thon
Our Friends chapter will be participating again this year in the Haw River Clean-Up-A-Thon on Saturday, March 17th from 8:30 to 11:00 am.  Nancy Strong will once again coordinate our team of volunteers. Last year’s team had a lot of fun while doing a good deed!

March 2018 - Upcoming Free Events

Join us for the following upcoming events.  RSVP to since group size is limited.

March 18 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm (note this is rescheduled from March 11) - Spicebush Walk with popular naturalist Andy Upshaw

March 24 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm - Volunteer for a shift or stop by our Friends exhibit booth at the Agriculture & Natural Resources Spring Fest at Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center in Pittsboro

March 25, April 8, April 22 from 2:30 to 4:00 pm - Nature Journaling for Kids ages 7-11 accompanied by parent

February 18, 2018 - Conservation Hike
After rescheduling because of rain, we finally had a beautiful day for our guided hike with Tandy Jones and Jeff Masten of the Landspring Group to hear about the mechanisms of how land acquisition evolved for the Lower Haw River State Natural Area.  We learned about what’s involved in creating conservation projects.  We don’t really hear about all the work that goes on behind the scenes, we just hear about the end result.  Tandy and Jeff both worked for Triangle Land Conservancy at the time and were involved in the land acquisitions that created this state natural area.  Our Friends Debbie and Ken Tunnell were also there to talk about their involvement as volunteers and the role Haw River Assembly played.  We hiked on the former Pegg tract that is less familiar to the public. Visit our Facebook page to see photos of the hike. 

January 16, 2018 - Presentation to Chatham County Board of Commissioners

Friends chapter president Gretchen Smith and Alamance Haw River Trail Coordinator Guil Johnson presented an update on the Haw River Trail and the Lower Haw Trails Master Plan to the Chatham County Board of Commissioners at their January 16th afternoon work session.  You can watch the presentation on the county’s website by selecting Video for the Agenda Item Presentation on Haw River Trail and the Lower Haw Trails Master Plan.

December 2, 2017 - Geology Hike a Learning Experience

Geologist Phil Bradley led a hike along the west side of the river north of US 64 to show the geologic points of interest in this part of the Lower Haw River State Natural Area. Interesting features include steep slopes, outcrops, and the presence of Mountain Laurel, which is more commonly found in the mountains instead of the Piedmont.    

November 21, 2017 - Anonymous Donor Gives $1,000

We got a Thanksgiving surprise!  Our Friends of Lower Haw chapter has received a $1,000 grant from the Anonymous Fund at Triangle Community Foundation.  We would like to thank the anonymous donor for their generosity in supporting our Friends of Lower Haw chapter and are grateful for their confidence in our organization.  We rely on the generosity of donors, volunteers, and grants to implement programs that make a difference for this special place.

November 4, 2017 - Fall Clean-up Event

Thanks to our clean-up crew and Nancy Strong, our event organizer, for a successful fall clean-up on November 4th.  Twelve volunteers hauled in 14 bags of trash, one metal tank, two tires and a TV.  Thanks to Clean Jordan Lake and Haw River Assembly for supplying grabbers and work gloves, and to REI for providing our volunteers with stewardship t-shirts and goodies. 

October 22, 2017 - Annual Membership Meeting and First Anniversary Celebration

Save the date!  This year's annual meeting will be Sunday, October 22nd at the Bynum Ruritan Club.  We're celebrating our first year anniversary!  Potluck lunch begins at 12:30 pm, so bring something to share. Meeting begins at 1:00 pm.  Our guest speaker will be Guil Johnson, the Haw River Trail Coordinator with Alamance County Parks & Recreation.  Optional guided walk from 2:30 to 3:30 pm on plants and animals of the lower Haw will be led by environmental educator Megan Lynch.

August 2017 - Friends of Lower Haw Awarded Grant from Chatham County Parks & Recreation

Our Friends chapter has been awarded a Recreation Grant to help fund projects at the parking lots for two popular paddle access points.  The grant will be used to support improvements to the shade shelter and kiosk at Hwy 15-501, new kiosk at Hwy 64, and informational signage at both locations.  Ideas for the projects came from responses to our online canoe access survey and from local residents.  
July 2017 - Friends of Lower Haw Awarded Grant for Lower Haw Trails Master Plan

Friends of Lower Haw River State Natural Area has been awarded a $25,000 grant from Triangle Community Foundation to support the Lower Haw Trails Master Plan project.  This project is made possible with a grant from Triangle Community Foundation's Support for Places:  Environmental Conservation Awareness program.  Although informal use by hikers and paddlers has occurred for years, this state natural area is considered undeveloped by State Parks since there are no authorized land and paddle trails.  The grant will be used to develop a trails master plan over the next year to plan for future sustainable development of official hiking and paddle trails and amenities.

June 2017 - Friends of Lower Haw Awarded Matching Grant from Friends of State Parks

Thanks to our treasurer, Matt Spangler, our Friends chapter has been awarded a $300 matching grant from Friends of State Parks to help with our ongoing trash can project.  Matt applied for the grant to match the $300 we raised in donations to purchase additional trash cans and supplies.  New locations for the trash cans will be US 15-501 and US 64 access points.

June 10, 2017 - Next Clean-up Event

Our next clean-up effort is scheduled for Saturday, June 10th, beginning at 9:00 am.  We will focus again on the area at US 64, including the hillsides by the small parking lot on the southeast corner of the US 64 bridge (river left).  Contact us if you would like to volunteer.

April 2, 2017 - Spring Membership Spicebush Walk

Great day for a hike on April 2nd!  We saw some wonderful elements of our universe as expressed in Piedmont riparian habitat.  We also saw a little Fowler's toad, a cormorant, goose, and canoeist on the water, and many more plants and rocks and things, including spicebush, and heard a variety of birds.  Thanks to our leader Andy Upshaw for a great walk, and to George Pauly for organizing it.  Visit our Facebook page to see more photos taken by George during the walk.

March 25, 2017 - Friends Chapter Exhibit Booth at Ag Center Grand Opening

Friends of Lower Haw River SNA had an exhibit booth at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center on Saturday, March 25th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  The Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center is located at 1192 US 64 W Business, just one mile west of the traffic circle in downtown Pittsboro.  Visitors enjoyed educational exhibits (indoors and outdoors), entertainmentfood, and tours of the new Agriculture & Conference Center. The Grand Opening Celebration was hosted by the Chatham County Center of NC State Extension, Chatham County Soil & Water Conservation District, USDA Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the North Carolina Forest Service.  The free event was sponsored by the Chatham County Farm Bureau and was open to the general public.  Visit our Facebook page to see photos of our exhibit.

March 18, 2017 - Friends Participate in HRA's Clean-Up-A-Thon

Members of Friends of Lower Haw participated in Haw River Assembly’s Clean-Up-A-Thon on March 18th.  Our chapter’s Secretary, Nancy Strong, organized a team to work the Haw River below US 64 down to Robeson Creek.  Friends members Ryan Cadwalader and David Everage, and David's daughter and her friend participated along with other volunteers on Nancy’s team.  All of them working in that area hauled in about 20 bags of trash, 2 bags of recyclables, one tire, one soggy couch cushion, and one scorched and sodden sleeping bag.  They also identified two large tanks for removal at a later date.  Although it was raining that Saturday morning, everyone on Nancy’s team showed up ready to do what needed to be done.  What a bunch of troopers!  It was a bit wet and chilly but the river and the woods were quite beautiful.  Everyone said it was fun.  David says the two girls worked for a solid two hours and made him proud!  Thanks to these dedicated volunteers for their good deed to help clean up the Haw River.  Visit our Facebook page to see more photos of the clean-up team.  Our Friends chapter is planning more clean-up events this year.  The next one is June 10th.

December 9, 2016 - Volunteers Tackle Trash Problem

Friends of Lower Haw, together with State Parks, has been busy on its first project: the installation of permanent trash cans at popular Lower Haw SNA access points. On December 9, 2016, a team of six dedicated Friends—Ryan Cadwalader (board member), David Everage, Megan Lynch, George Pauly (board member), Matt Spangler (treasurer), and Jimmy Wood—installed three trash cans on State Parks property. One can is located at the “upper” parking lot on Bynum Road near the bridge, another is located at the “lower” Bynum parking lot near the old mill site, and the third can is located on the southeast side of the US-64 access (river left, downstream of the overpass). Friends of the Lower Haw is currently evaluating options for installing additional trash cans at other access points along the Lower Haw, including above Bynum dam off of 15-501 and at the southwest access off of US-64.  State Parks funded these three cans and Ranger Brock Martin helped coordinate the project and select sites, and Friends of Lower Haw has assumed responsibility for installing and periodically emptying the cans. A big thanks are due to Jimmy Wood, Megan Lynch, Matt Porter, and Daniel Cohen for volunteering to empty the cans in December and January. On that note, we are looking for more volunteers interested in helping empty the cans—please contact us if you’d like to get involved!

September 20, 2016 - Friends of Lower Haw River State Natural Area Membership Meeting

Join us for our chapter meeting on September 20th from 6:30 to 8:00 pm at the Bynum Ruritan Club on 28 Charlie Fields Rd.  Agenda includes business session, guest speaker, and planning discussion on future activities for the Lower Haw River SNA.  Guest speaker will be Hillary Pace with the Chatham County Planning Department, who will give a presentation on the  "Comprehensive Plan:  Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources". 

August 9, 2016 - Friends of Lower Haw River State Natural Area is now official!

We are official!  On July 30th, the Board of Directors of Friends of State Parks approved our application to become a local chapter. We are now Friends of Lower Haw River State Natural Area.   Our chapter will have tax-exempt 501(c)3 status under the Friends of State Parks organization, so donations to our chapter are tax deductible.   Our Executive Committee continues to make progress on our organizational setup, with help from our Friends.  Some more updates:

We have a mailing address:  PO Box 65, Bynum NC 27228

Like us on Facebook:        (Thanks Erin for setting us up!)

A big thank you goes to Patrick Mueller for creating our website and for his generosity in paying for five years of our new domain name “” that should be ready for viewing soon.  Keep checking!
Peter Theye is collaborating with Patrick Mueller on a place to share and upload photos and videos.  (Thanks Peter!)

More news to come!

Executive Committee Members:
Gretchen Smith, President
Erin Jobe, Vice President
Nancy Strong, Secretary
Matt Spangler, Treasurer

July 12, 2016 - Friends of Lower Haw River State Natural Area Informational Meeting 

This was the first meeting to organize the Friends of Lower Haw River State Natural Area chapter of the Friends of State Parks group.