January, 2021 - Friends of Lower Haw Presentation at Chatham Conservation Partnership Meeting
Friends of Lower Haw River State Natural Area presented "Conservation Through Recreation with a River Trail Concept" at the January meeting of the Chatham Conservation Partnership.  Our presentation was about how Chatham County can use a "conservation through recreation" strategy to develop a Haw River Trail that conserves land along the river corridor while also providing sustainable nature-based recreation that creates economic development opportunities. The Zoom recording of the January meeting is now available online on the CCP website.  Our Friends of Lower Haw presentation with Q & A lasts 21 minutes and occurs at the end of the meeting, so fast forward to 1:38:18 to view the recording of our presentation with Q & A.  The 21-minute recording contains additional information beyond what is on the presentation slides, especially from Guil Johnson during the Q & A with the audience.  Zoom recording of Friends of Lower Haw's presentation begins at 1:38:18 and ends at 1:59:09 at this link.

December, 2020 - Lower Haw Featured in Student Video
Clara Ison created this short video about recreation on the Haw River for a school research project. Clara is a high school junior attending Alamance Community College. She interviewed Gretchen Smith with Friends of Lower Haw River State Natural Area, and Haw River Trail Coordinator Guil Johnson with Alamance County Parks. The video features Haw River State Park in Guilford County, the Haw River Trail in Alamance County, and the Lower Haw River State Natural Area in Chatham County. Watch the video on our Facebook page at this link.

October 12, 2020 - Friends of Lower Haw Receives Clean Trail Grant
Friends of Lower Haw is pleased to announce that ExtremeTerrain has awarded us a $250 Clean Trail Grant for our stewardship work involving litter clean-ups and trash can project, and invasive plant species removal in our new pollinator meadow garden at Haw River access sites. The ExtremeTerrain Clean Trail Grant program provides grants to eligible groups to fund their next trail improvement related project, which could range from trail clean-up, trail restoration, trail expansion, or projects to clean up and maintain nature preserves, walking/hiking trails and public parks. Friends of Lower Haw appreciates this financial support from the Clean Trail Grant program. Read more about our volunteer stewardship projects on our Volunteer page.  

October 7, 2020 - Friends of Lower Haw Featured in Chatham News + Record
Friends of Lower Haw was featured in the October 1-7 edition of the Chatham News + Record. The full-page article with color photographs, written by Kim Hawks, featured our first volunteer workday in partnership with the North Carolina Wildlife Federation to give our pollinator meadow garden some much needed attention. The meadow garden, located at the US 15-501 Haw River access, was created in fall of 2019 as part of an Eagle Scout project. Read the article at this link. For information about future garden workdays, check our Volunteer page. Photo albums of our garden workdays are posted on our Facebook page.

August, 2020 - New Maps and Sedimentation Brochure
Check out our new maps and a new brochure on sedimentation by volunteer Reuben Wilson! Reuben used his GIS skills to create a new Lower Haw River SNA Map. There is also a version titled Lower Haw River SNA Map of Public Access Sites. He used his knowledge of soil science to create a new Sedimentation Brochure. Thank you Reuben! All of these new documents are available on our Publications page. 

July 1, 2020 - Chatham Marketplace Shoppers Round Up to $887 for Friends of Lower Haw
Friends of Lower Haw is the recipient of $887.66 in total donations from shoppers at Chatham Marketplace's Register Round Up during the month of June! We are grateful to Chatham Marketplace and shoppers who rounded up to support local nonprofits. Thank you!

June 1-30, 2020 - Friends of Lower Haw Chosen for June's Register Round-Up Charity at Chatham Marketplace
Friends of Lower Haw is honored to be chosen as Chatham Marketplace's Register Round-Up recipient for the month of June! Each month, Pittsboro's locally owned co-op grocery store ChathamMarketplace selects a local nonprofit for their Register Round-Up program. Shoppers can round up to the nearest dollar (or any amount of their choosing) at the register and 100% of round-up donations will go to Friends of Lower Haw. Chatham Marketplace is open to the general public - no need to be a member to shop there. Chatham Marketplace is located in the historic Chatham Mills building at 480 Hillsboro Street in Pittsboro. While there, be sure to check out the lovely pollinator garden. Thanks to Ed Bronson, Friends of Lower Haw member and co-op member, for suggesting our organization for the Register Round-Up program!

May 2020 - New Logo

Friends of Lower Haw has a new logo! Board member Anne Geer created the design, along with donated in-kind Adobe Illustrator assistance from Anne Kachergis of Kachergis Book Design in Pittsboro. A big thank you to both for our new logo! 

March 14, 2020 - Haw River Stories at Bynum Storytelling!

Join Bynum Front Porch for happy, toe-tapping, soul-filling good times on March 14th from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm for stories about the Haw River at the Bynum Front Porch Storytelling show! Founders of the Learning Celebration, boardies of the Haw River Assembly, swimmers and tubers, Friends of Lower Haw, Bynum and Saxapahaw residents - all telling river tales! Cynthia Raxter emcees. The Bynum Front Porch's famous storytelling shows are family friendly. There's always a beautiful refreshment table - bring a goodie to share if you wish. It's free - but they are passing the hat to support the Friends of Lower Haw and the Haw River Assembly nonprofit organizations. Bynum Front Porch Storytelling is held in the Bynum General Store at 950 Bynum Road, Pittsboro, NC. The historic building is a former general store, now a community center and well known gathering spot! Visit their website at

February 7, 2020 - Update from Chatham County Emergency Management

As of Thursday evening, Chatham County has closed the canoe/kayak access points at US 15-501, Bynum Beach, and US 64. Flood stage is 17.37 feet at USGS Bynum gauge as of 7:00 am Friday morning. Check the County's Twitter feed for reopening information.

February 5, 2020 - Safety Notice from Chatham County Emergency Management

The most recent river forecast shows the Haw River at Bynum peaking at 16.5 ft on Friday afternoon (Moderate flood stage is from 15-17’).  Based on our discussions in November 2018, Chatham County will close County-maintained access points at Bynum Beach, US 15-501, and US 64 E if the Haw River reaches, or is imminently approaching Moderate Flood Stage, according to the Haw River Near Bynum gauge (  

Our goals are:

  1. Reduce/eliminate the need for high risk rescues on the Haw as a result of paddlers attempting to navigate during extreme conditions
  2. Prevent access and further damage to flooded parking lots and launches, and injury from submerged hazards
  3. NOT to prevent river access to paddlers unnecessarily

According to the current timeline we will place A-frame barricades with reflective Road Closed signage and scene tape across the boat launch or entrance at each location by 9am on Friday.  Signage will remain up until the river drops below 15’ (at Bynum), estimated to be by 12pm on Saturday or later if there’s damage found.  We will post to the County’s Twitter feed ( when it’s been closed/reopened.

January 2020 - Open House and Public Input Session on Brooks Creek Corridor

Chatham County Parks and Recreation is studying the Brooks Creek Corridor for a proposed greenway trail. The trail would start at NC-87 at Silk Hope Gum Spring Road and end at the Old Bynum Road Bridge. The public is invited to be a part of the conversation.  A connected trails and greenway network was highly desired in the Chatham County Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which was approved in 2019. Chatham County is working with McAdams, a design and engineering firm, to evaluate the feasibility of the proposed corridor. An evaluation is underway to analyze available data including publicly accessible property and rights-of-way, in coordination with willing property owners.  For additional information, please contact Tracy Burnett, Chatham County Parks and Recreation director, at 919-545-8555 or   Announcement at this link

WHAT:    Brooks Creek Corridor Open House & Public Input Session

WHEN:    January 21, 2020 from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

WHERE:  Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center, 1192 US HWY 64 West Business, Pittsboro, NC 27312

December 2019 - New Wildlife Camera and Improvements Continue at US 64

Photos from our wildlife cams are so popular, we've installed a third wildlife cam!  We also relocated one of our wildlife cams in hopes of capturing images of a wider variety of wildlife.  See photo albums on our Facebook page.  Work continues at the US 64 Haw River Canoe Access on the new paddle launch.  The concrete work has been done for the galvanized steel staircase that will be installed.  The paddle launch project is being funded by a grant from REI. 

November 2019 - More Improvements at US 15-501 and US 64 Access Sites

Friends of Lower Haw River State Natural Area has been making improvements over the past year to the river access sites at US 15-501 and US 64 managed by Chatham County Parks and Recreation.  These sites are popular access points for the Haw River and the Lower Haw River State Natural Area owned by NC State Parks.  Local Pittsboro artist Andrea Ward, owner of Picasso Paint Parties, volunteered to paint nature murals on the shade shelter at US 15-501 that our Friends group upgraded last summer with help from the Pittsboro Lowe's.  Before the mural work could begin, Boy Scout Ben Pickens of Bynum did a lot of scrubbing and sanding before applying primer to prepare the shade shelter for Andrea's artwork.  Ben, a member of Boy Scout Troop 951, is partnering with Friends of Lower Haw on his Eagle Scout project.  In addition to preparing the shade shelter for Andrea's murals, he installed patio pavers as flooring for the shade shelter and stained the kiosks at US 15-501 and US 64.  Ben installed a bird house and two bee houses in the area near the shade shelter that will become a pollinator garden.  Ryan Cadwalader with Friends of Lower Haw volunteered to advise and assist Ben with the pollinator garden.  Native wildflower seeds donated by the Ernst Seeds company were planted by Ryan and Ben in mid-November after first frost. We hope to have a beautiful pollinator garden blooming by next spring.  Thanks to Andrea, Ben, and Ryan for volunteering to make these improvements!  

March 2019 - River Access Improvements at US 15-501

Friends of Lower Haw received a grant from REI for river access improvements at US 15-501 and US 64.  After some unanticipated delays, the US 15-501 pathway improvement project is completed!  Our contractor worked on the informal footpath leading downhill from the parking lot, ending at the trash can near the dam.  These improvements are to reduce erosion and help make the footpath safer for public access.  Friends of Lower Haw collaborated with Chatham County Parks & Recreation, who manage the US 15-501 parking lot as a river access amenity.

October 22, 2018 - Pittsboro Commissioners Adopt Resolution in Support of Lower Haw

The Town of Pittsboro Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt a resolution in support of the Lower Haw Trails Plan at their evening meeting on October 22nd.  County commissioners adopted a similar resolution in August.  We appreciate the support of our local governments for the new trails plan and the Lower Haw River State Natural Area.
Read Chatham County's resolution at this link:  

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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!

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. 

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.