The Chemung River is more than just a body of water.

It provides plenty to the area when it comes to our local economy and environment.

“It’s open 24 hours,” Chemung River Friends Executive Director. “It’s free. You don’t need reservations, and it’s a whole new environment.”

The Friends of the Chemung River Watershed hosted a free workshop at the Rockwell Museum today.

Teachers from all over New York State learned how to read topographical maps and aerial photos of landscapes.

It’s to better understand how the river impacts the economy, agriculture, and how communities grow up along bodies of water.

“These are educators who are going to back and get kids interested in the river and environment,” Pfiffer said. “It’s so important because they are our future stewards in taking care of it.”

After studying and inspecting the maps for a few hours, the group walked to the Chemung River to transform pictures into real life. One topic mentioned multiple times during the walk was the flood of 1972.

Pffifer mentions how a flood can do one of two things to an area’s economy: completely revive it or destroy it. He compared Corning to Elmira. After Hurricane Agnes, Corning was able to restore Market Street, but Elmira’s downtown hasn’t been the same since.

“This river provides recreation,” Pffifer said. “It provides drinking water for people, so it helps with the economy in bringing tourists to the area. It’s great for quality of life for folks here to go use it, to go down and use it as a classroom, or just use it as a nice, quiet place to go get away from all the stresses.”

Additionally, rivers actually minimize and reduce the risk of flooding. What happened in 1972 could have been much worse.

“The function of rivers is to move water downstream,” Senior Extension Associate Susan Hoskins said. “The faster the water can be removed from a flooded area, the better for the area. What we’re exploring is where that water comes from and why there might be flooding in a particular area.”

Pfiffer also mentioned that waste often ends up in the river, specifically cigarette buds, and that the best thing a person can do to help the environment is to pick up one piece of litter a day.