May 31, 2023 - NC General Assembly Authorizes Haw River State Trail
On May 31st the NC General Assembly authorized the Haw River Trail as a State Trail, adding this regional trail to the State Parks system. The Haw River State Trail stretches about 80 miles from Haw River State Park on the Rockingham-Guilford county line to Jordan Lake State Recreation Area in Chatham County. As a State Trail, the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources "shall support, promote, encourage, and facilitate the establishment of trail segments on State park lands and on lands of other federal, State, local, and private landowners." Senate Bill 100 has been sent to Governor Cooper for his signature.
April 5, 2023 - Haw River Trail Study Interactive Input Map Now Available
The Haw River Trail Feasibility Study interactive input map and online survey are now available! Use the map and survey to share location-specific thoughts and ideas about trail development along the Haw River in Chatham County. View the map to enter your comments and take the online survey at this link. Read more about the trail feasibility study at this link.
March 29, 2023 - NC House Approves HB 124 Authorize Haw River State Trail
The NC House approved HB 124 Authorize Haw River State Trail by unanimous vote on March 29th. Representative Steve Ross introduced HB 124, the companion bill to SB 100 that was approved by unanimous vote in the NC Senate on March 21st. Although the two bills are identical, HB 124 has now been referred to the Senate for approval. Read about efforts to get State Trail authorization for the Haw River Trail in the March 22nd issue of the Chatham News + Record here. Reporter Ben Rappaport interviewed Friends of Lower Haw's past president Gretchen Smith, The Conservation Fund's NC Director Bill Holman, and Chatham County's Trails and Open Space Planner Ben Rippe for the article.
March 16, 2023 - Triangle Land Conservancy Acquires 108-acre Property in Haw River Corridor
Triangle Land Conservancy has acquired “Chicken Bridge Forest”, a 108-acre property in the Haw River corridor on Chicken Bridge Road. Although it is not riverfront, it has road frontage and the potential for parking and trails, meaning it could be an important step in what Friends of Lower Haw hopes will provide future connections with a Haw River Trail in Chatham County. Read TLC’s blog post about it.
March 15, 2023 - NC Senate Committee Approves SB 100 Authorize Haw River State Trail
Friends of Lower Haw's past president Gretchen Smith provided public comments before the NC Senate Committee on Agriculture, Energy, and Environment in support of SB 100 Authorize Haw River State Trail. Also speaking in support of the bill were Bob Brueckner with the Carolina Canoe Club and Alamance County's Assistant County Manager Brian Baker. Smith said in her comments, "Designating the Haw River Trail as a State Trail will provide prestigious status and recognition. This will in turn provide a much-needed boost to regional efforts by local governments, nonprofit organizations, and citizens to create a showcase regional trail network along the Haw River corridor. This trail network will provide public access to a scenic river corridor and economic opportunities for local communities while also helping to conserve this significant natural resource." The bill was introduced by Senator Amy Galey of Alamance County and co-sponsored by Senator Natalie Murdock of Chatham County. The Senate committee unanimously approved SB 100 so it is now on its way to the full Senate for a vote. No news yet on when the companion bill HB 124 will be considered in the NC House Committee on State Government.
March 2023 - Public Input for Haw River Trail Feasibility Study
The public is invited to drop by the project table at one of the spring pop-up events to learn more about the Haw River Trail Feasibility Study and share their ideas about the Haw River Trail in Chatham County. The first pop-up project tabling event will be at the Spring Ag Fest on March 25th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center in Pittsboro. The second one will be at the Eggstreme Spring Fling on April 1st from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Chatham County Community College - Pittsboro Campus. Drop by the project table sponsored by Triangle J Council of Governments and Chatham County.
February 15, 2023 - Bills Introduced in NC General Assembly to Authorize Haw River State Trail
Friends of Lower Haw is thrilled about two bills introduced in the NC General Assembly to authorize the Haw River Trail as a State Trail! We have been advocating for this designation and now we are two steps closer. SB 100 was introduced by Senator Amy Galey of Alamance County on February 14th and is also sponsored by Senator Natalie Murdock of Chatham County. A companion bill HB 124 was introduced by Representatives Stephen Ross and Dennis Riddell of Alamance County on February 15th and is also sponsored by Representative Robert Reives of Chatham County. Both bills have been referred to committee. Please thank these state legislators for supporting the Haw River Trail, a concept for over 70 miles of land and paddle trails from Haw River State Park to Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. State Trail designation must be authorized by the NC General Assembly and signed by the Governor. In addition to giving a trail more status and marketing clout, this designation means the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources "shall support, promote, encourage, and facilitate the establishment of trail segments" and "the State may receive donations of appropriate land and may purchase other needed lands for the Haw River State Trail". We are very grateful to Bill Holman, NC State Director of The Conservation Fund, for his role in working with state legislators to introduce these bills.
January 17, 2023 - Friends of Lower Haw Presentation to Chatham County Board of Commissioners
Friends of Lower Haw's Gretchen Smith (immediate past president) gave a presentation to the Chatham County Board of Commissioners during their afternoon work session about the Great Trails State Coalition, the 2023 Year of the Trail, and what Chatham County can do to support development of more trails. Friends of Lower Haw has been an active member of the Great Trails State Coalition since 2021. The coalition promotes and advocates for state funding for all types of trails. Trails are free to users, benefit health and well-being, help protect valuable natural resources, and provide positive economic benefits to communities. Ways that Chatham County can support trails is to join the coalition, include trails in their state legislative agenda, hold Year of the Trail events, complete and implement the Haw River trail corridor feasibility study, provide funding for trails, acquire land and easements for trails, and build more trails. Director of Parks and Recreation, Tracy Burnett, updated the commissioners about trail activities by her department. View the presentation agenda item #22-4638 at this link.
January 17, 2023 - Chatham County Trails and Open Space Planner
Chatham County has hired Ben Rippe to be the Trails and Open Space Planner. Ben started work on January 17, 2023. This is a new position commissioners included in the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 budget. The Trails and Open Space Planner is responsible for the management and coordination of the planning, design, and development of land and paddle trails, open space areas, and park land projects for the Chatham County Parks and Recreation Department. Duties include, but are not limited to, serving as the project manager for new and existing trail and open space project plans, including new construction, park land development and preservation; serving as the main contact for Chatham County’s portion of the American Tobacco Trail (ATT) working with other towns, cities, and counties on contracts and meetings pertaining to the ATT and trail connectivity; planning and facilitating meetings with community groups and other stakeholders; and working with landowners to acquire land for recreation and conservation purposes; preparing bid documents and other duties as assigned. Ben was formerly the Piedmont Region Trails Specialist with NC State Parks. Ben has also been a member of the Haw River Trail Steering Committee, a stakeholder partnership started by Friends of Lower Haw and Chatham County government to develop the Haw River Trail network of land and paddle trails in Chatham County. He will be involved with the Haw River trail corridor feasibility study funded by an EDA Tourism grant. Friends of Lower Haw has been advocating for a county position devoted to trails and is excited to welcome Ben!
January 2023 - Alta Planning + Design Hired for Haw River Trail Corridor Feasibility Study
Alta Planning + Design has been hired to begin a Haw River Trail Corridor Feasibility Study and Economic Impact Analysis for the Haw River corridor in Chatham County. This project is spearheaded by the Haw River Trail Steering Committee, a stakeholder group started by Friends of Lower Haw and Chatham County government to develop the Haw River Trail network of land and paddle trails in Chatham County. The project is being funded by an EDA Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation grant awarded to Triangle J Council of Governments on behalf of Chatham and Alamance counties. Jason Reyes is Alta's Senior Planning Associate in charge of the project.
December 2022 - Launching 2023 as the North Carolina Year of the Trail
The NC General Assembly has designated 2023 as the NC Year of the Trail to celebrate and promote all types of trails in our state - hiking, paddle, mountain bike, equestrian, and paved. This effort was led by Representative Hugh Blackwell and the Great Trails State Coalition. Friends of Lower Haw has been an active member of the Great Trails State Coalition since 2021. The coalition is launching the 2023 North Carolina Year of the Trail campaign. North Carolina Year of the Trail is the largest statewide celebration of trails and outdoor recreation in state history and will firmly establish North Carolina as "The Great Trails State". The campaign aims to inspire people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to use trails, boost outdoor recreation tourism, advance inclusion and diversity on trails, promote safe and responsible use of trails, and recognize the contributions of volunteers in building and maintaining trails. Join Friends of Lower Haw for our First Day Outdoors Hike to kick off the 2023 Year of the Trail!
November 2022 - New ecoEXPLORE HotSpot for Lower Haw River State Natural Area
Friends of Lower Haw is pleased to announce a partnership with ecoEXPLORE, an incentive-based citizen science program for children in grades K-8 developed by The North Carolina Arboretum. This innovative program combines science exploration with kid-friendly technology and the ability to earn badges and prizes to foster a fun learning environment for children while encouraging them to explore the outdoors and participate in citizen science. The Lower Haw River State Natural Area has been designated as a HotSpot location for this program. Kid scientists are encouraged to record their natural discoveries and submit them via the ecoEXPLORE website. Chatham Community Library is a designated LoanSpot location for the program and library users can check out ecoEXPLORE Discovery Packs that contain kid-friendly binoculars, bug net, birdcall, trail camera and more.
September 24, 2022 - Annual Membership Meeting
Friends of Lower Haw held its annual membership meeting and elections on September 24th. The following slate of nominations were elected by members present:
President - Anne Geer
Vice President - Megan Lynch
At-large Director - Daniel Cohen
At-large Director - Leah Purvis
At-large Director - Matt Spangler
At-large Director - Reuben Wilson
They will join current Board of Directors who include Catherine Deininger as Secretary and Sam Jackson as Treasurer. Former president Gretchen Smith has reached her term limit and transitioned to her new role as ex officio immediate past president on the Board of Directors. Congratulations to our newly elected officers and at-large directors!
August 2022 - NCWF Governor's Conservation Awards
NC Wildlife Federation has announced the 58th Annual Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award recipients for 2022. Honorees include agency professionals, elected officials, volunteers and organizations committed to the state’s wildlife, habitat and natural resources. This year's Public Lands Conservationist of the Year recipient is Friends of Lower Haw's president, Gretchen Smith. NC Wildlife Federation will honor the award recipients at a banquet on Saturday, September 10th, in Cary. Read about the award recipients here. The August 4-10 edition of the Chatham News + Record features an article about Gretchen and her conservation volunteer work. Read the article here.
July 19, 2022 - RFQ for Haw River Trail Corridor Feasibility Study & Economic Development Impact Analysis
Triangle J Council of Governments (TJCOG), in partnership with Chatham County and Alamance County, is seeking to engage in a multi-jurisdictional effort to develop a corridor feasibility study and economic impact analysis for undeveloped portions of the Haw River Trail Corridor, primarily in Chatham County. The corridor feasibility and economic impact analysis area extends from the Chatham County/Alamance County line to Jordan Lake, and includes land, water, and other nature-based and economic-based resources. The selected consultant will assist with the facilitation of relevant stakeholders, examine the potential economic impacts of trail development, complete a community analysis for nearby towns and neighborhoods, and identify prioritized planning efforts and implementation strategies. Responses Due by 3:00 p.m. on August 23, 2022. Virtual Pre-Proposal Meeting (optional): Friday, July 29 at 9:00 a.m. Email Lindsay Whitson, email@example.com if you are interested in attending and you will be provided with a link to join the meeting. More information available on TJCOG website here.
June 2022 - Recruiting for Fall Openings on Board of Directors
Friends of Lower Haw has several upcoming openings this fall on our Board of Directors. We are looking for potential Board members who are willing to help us advance our vision and mission.
Vision: We envision a Lower Haw River State Natural Area that is expanded in size, strategically developed, well maintained, and connected to local and regional trail systems.
Mission: The Lower Haw is a special place that we're committed to conserving and enhancing for current enjoyment while creating a legacy for future generations.
If you are interested in being considered, we would like to talk with you! Please complete our online board application form and our Nominating Committee will follow up with you. Contact us if you have questions.
May 2022 - Economic Development Specialist Job Listing with Triangle J Council of Governments
Triangle J Council of Governments seeks an individual passionate about empowering rural communities to grow their outdoor tourism and associated small business sector. The selected candidate will utilize a highly regarded, nationally recognized framework, Trail Towns, to aid in the sustainable revitalization of trail towns positioned along the Haw River corridor. The Economic Development Specialist must have a positive, customer-focused orientation, be able to deliver high-quality products in a timely manner and have an ability to collaborate with local government staff, stakeholders, and nearby business owners. This position is funded by a grant award from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA). As part of this investment, an Economic Development Specialist will be hired to support the Haw River Trail Towns initiative. Under a 20-month contract, the Economic Development Specialist will provide technical assistance throughout the Haw River region to augment opportunities in the retail, accommodation, food and beverage, tourism, outdoor recreation, and entertainment sectors to help them recover from the COVID pandemic. The position will have an office in Graham (Alamance County), Pittsboro (Chatham County), and Durham, (Triangle J Council of Governments), in addition to hybrid opportunities as able. Read the full job description, salary, and qualifications at: https://www.tjcog.org/sites/default/files/uploads/planner_i_economic_development__1.pdf
How to Apply:
1. Download TJCOG employment application at https://www.tjcog.org/about/our-job-opportunities
2. Send completed application package (cover letter, completed application and resume) by email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Planner I – Economic Development". Incomplete applications will not be considered. Position is open until filled; initial review of applications begins June 6, 2022.
April 2022 - Chatham County Awarded EDA Grant for Haw River Trail Corridor Feasibility Study
Chatham and Alamance counties have been awarded a competitive Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) for the Haw River corridor. EDA received an overwhelming number of grant applications from across the country for only $240 million in available funds, so we are thrilled that the Chatham-Alamance joint application has been selected to receive a grant. The EDA Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation grant program is funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Friends of Lower Haw River State Natural Area submitted a letter of support for the grant application. Chatham's portion of the grant is for a Haw River trail corridor feasibility study and economic impact analysis. This project will assist the Haw River Trail Steering Committee with creating the groundwork needed to build a Haw River Trail in Chatham County that will connect to a regional Haw River Trail network. The RFP for a consultant will be issued sometime in May with work on the study anticipated to begin sometime in July.
February-March, 2022 - Advocates Speak up for Spending American Rescue Plan Act Funds on Haw River Projects
We would like to say thank you to all of the advocates who provided public input at the February and March Chatham County Board of Commissioners meetings and the ARPA Community Engagement Sessions in support of spending ARPA funds on the Haw River corridor. Five advocates for the Haw River signed up to speak during the commissioner meeting's ARPA Public Comment Period on February 21st. Watch the video of comments by Gretchen Smith, Susan Crate, JC Garbutt, Bob Brueckner, and Joy Hewett on the county's website at this link. Click on "Video" for the 02/21/2022 meeting, then click on "ARPA Public Comment Period" to watch the video of that segment of the meeting. Recording starts at timestamp 58:22 and ends at 1:25:00 timestamp. One advocate for the Haw River signed up to speak during the commissioner meeting's ARPA Public Comment Period on March 21st. Watch the video of comments by Anne Geer on the county's website at this link. Click on "Video" for the 03/21/2022 meeting, then click on "ARPA Public Comment Period" to watch the video segment of that meeting. We expect to learn more in April or May about the commissioners' plans for APRA funds.
February 17, 2022 - Friends of Lower Haw Featured in Earth Care Champions Blog
Friends of Lower Haw is honored to be featured by the Creation Justice blog in its "Earth Care Champions" series about area organizations committed to caring for the earth in various ways. Thank you to blog authors Gary Simpson and Connie McAdams! Connie is one of our trail camera volunteers, who wrote the lovely article about us and her volunteer experience. Read the blog post here.
November 6, 2021 - Chatham Marketplace Round-Up Raises $1,251 for Friends of Lower Haw
Chatham Marketplace's round-up at the register in October raised a total of $1,251 for Friends of Lower Haw River State Natural Area! We are thankful to Chatham Marketplace and its shoppers for their generous support of our stewardship, education, and advocacy work on behalf of the Lower Haw River State Natural Area.
October 7-13, 2021 - Friends of Lower Haw featured in Chatham News + Record Article
The October 7-13 edition of the Chatham News + Record newspaper featured an article about Friends of Lower Haw's advocacy efforts to persuade Chatham County to invest in a Haw River Trail along the river corridor. Read the article at this link.
October, 2021 - Friends of Lower Haw is October Recipient of Register Round-Up at Chatham Marketplace!
Friends of Lower Haw is honored to be chosen as Chatham Marketplace's Register Round-Up recipient for the month of October! Each month, Pittsboro's locally owned co-op grocery store Chatham Marketplace 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. Stop by our table outside the store to visit us on October 2nd from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and October 16th from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon.
September 29, 2021 - Friends of Lower Haw Guest Speaker at Pittsboro Rotary Club
Friends of Lower Haw was invited to give a presentation to the Pittsboro Rotary Club about our organization.
September 20, 2021 - Friends of Lower Haw Presentation to the Chatham County Board of Commissioners
Friends of Lower Haw gave a presentation to the Chatham County Board of Commissioners at their afternoon work session. Here is information on how to watch the video from the Chatham Board of Commissioners afternoon work session that began at 2:00 pm on September 20th. Link to video and click on "Video" at far right (be sure to select the month of September 2021). You can go directly to a specific section of the video by clicking on the agenda item shown on the left side underneath the video. Friends of Lower Haw's presentation on the Haw River Trail is the second agenda item under Board Priorities. Click on agenda item 21-4020 in the video to watch the presentation and follow up discussion by commissioners. This part of the video is from timestamp 43:50 to 1:18:24. Slides will not be visible in the video, but you can find the PDF of the slide presentation at this link.
Two citizens presented comments on the Haw River. Click on Public Input in the video to watch both speakers comments, including the discussion by commissioners that follows the second public input speaker. Public Input is from timestamp 02:20 to 10:42.
August, 2021 - Haw River Trail Steering Committee
This spring, a Haw River Trail Steering Committee was formed and is being led by Chatham County Assistant Manager Bryan Thompson and Friends of Lower Haw president Gretchen Smith. Partners representing town and county governments, state agencies, land trusts, and trail/paddle organizations are working on an implementation strategy to develop land and paddle trails in Chatham's Haw River corridor. Extending from the Chatham/Alamance County line to Jordan Lake, the Haw River Trail is an element included in the Lower Haw Trails Master Plan; the Chatham County Comprehensive Plan; the Chatham County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan; and the Town of Pittsboro's Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The county is preparing to issue an RFP for a consultant to help facilitate the steering committee meetings and develop the Haw River Corridor plan. We are excited to be part of this initiative!
May, 2021 - Friends of Lower Haw Joins Great Trails State Coalition
The Great Trails State Coalition is a grassroots effort to give North Carolinians the trails they've been asking for by advocating for trail funding at the state level. Friends of Lower Haw has become a member of the Great Trails State Coalition, working together with partners from across North Carolina. Learn more about this initiative and how you can get involved at this link.
April, 2021 - Friends of Lower Haw Featured on Chatham 250 Website
Friends of Lower Haw is featured in the Chatham County Changemakers web page for the Chatham 250th Anniversary Celebration website.
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 http://www.bynumfrontporch.org
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 (http://www.lowerhaw.org/river-levels).
Our goals are:
Reduce/eliminate the need for high risk rescues on the Haw as a result of paddlers attempting to navigate during extreme conditions
Prevent access and further damage to flooded parking lots and launches, and injury from submerged hazards
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 (https://twitter.com/ChathamCountyNC) 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 email@example.com. Announcement at this link https://www.chathamnc.org/Home/Components/News/News/13547/19
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 Pittsboro's resolution at this link: https://pittsboronc.gov/vertical/sites/%7B512CE168-4684-4855-9CD9-7D209FE775E3%7D/uploads/Lower_Haw_River_Trails_Plan___102218.pdf
Read Chatham County's resolution at this link: http://www.chathamnc.org/home/showdocument?id=41426
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 http://www.bephilarthropy.com/ 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: facebook.com/lowerhawfriends (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 “www.lowerhaw.org” 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.