Protecting the water ways

As another summer in the Southern Tier comes to a close, it’s nice to look back at the good times enjoyed in the outdoors. We’re fortunate to have many beautiful and accessible rivers to use for recreation, education and connecting with nature. Unfortunately, we also have people who continue to litter and illegally dump at boat launches and in and along the rivers.

Some of the most commonly littered items are food and beverage containers, paper and dirty disposable diapers. The only thing worse than the dirty diapers are cigarette butts. They may be small, but their numbers and impact is large. They are the most littered item in the world. The discarded butts, composed of toxic chemicals and plastic fibers, end up floating in the river. Fish and waterfowl mistake the butts for food, eat them, get sick and eventually die. Those cigarette poisons in fish work their way up the food chain when fish are consumed by eagles, osprey and people who fish the rivers.

It’s also important to remember that what we do locally impacts water, wildlife, and people downstream. Our river waters end up in the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, more than 350 miles away. It’s our job to be good stewards of our waterways. Please, don’t litter your cigarette butts and packages. Same goes for electronic vape cigarettes. Don’t throw your spent cartridges on the ground. They too will end up in the river. Communities can help by adopting tobacco-free policies at parks, boat launches and other outdoor areas.

For more info about our river, visit

Jim Pfiffer

Executive Director, Chemung River Friends