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!