Care, Share, Enjoy

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September 22, 2015, Owosso, MI – On a sunny day – the last day of summer - the Friends of the Shiawassee River (Friends) gathered along our river in downtown Owosso to announce a new initiative that will help ramp up and sustain the Friends’ efforts to clean and monitor stretches of our waterway as well as promote all the fun to be had out on our river. The Adopt-A-River program garners sponsorships from local businesses and organizations in the form of funding and volunteer opportunities.  Neighborhood Cinema Group Cinema (NCG), a chain of movie theaters founded and headquartered in Owosso, Michigan, made the first commitment to the Adopt-a-River program.

"I’m so glad Brad Kirkland approached me to be a part of the Adopt-A-River program.  I was born and raised here in Owosso, and grew up fishing and kayaking on this river, playing football down that way, going to the Curwood Festival," said Jeff Geiger, president of NCG Cinemas. "We are proud to be able to be a part of this program and help the Friends.  The hard work is done by all the people involved in this organization and we’re happy to help support that work."

Josh Adams, director of Owosso Main Street and a Friends of the Shiawassee River board member, thanked NCG Cinemas and the Geiger family for stepping up and leading the way on the Adopt-A-River program. “Sometimes the river gets overlooked, but a clean river is a key component to a vital downtown,” said Adams.  “Not only for the sights and sounds, but for the recreational opportunities it offers residents and visitors.  At Main Street we have a saying, ‘Together we can do more’ and I think that is the important part of the Adopt-A-River Program. It creates an opportunity for the community to come together around one of our community’s treasures.”

“On behalf of the Friends of the Shiawassee board and membership, I want to thank Jeff Geiger and the whole NCG family for this generous gift,” said Lauri Elbing, executive director of the Friends of the Shiawassee River. “Building on the Friends’ suite of education, cleanup, and water quality monitoring programs, as well as promotion of fishing and kayaking, NCG’s commitment -- and the others that follow -- will help unleash the potential of our mission and activities.  Our Shiawassee River is a little piece of up-north right here in our back yard.”

Business can become an Adopt-A-River sponsor for a commitment of $2,000 for two years ($4,000 total).  Non-profit organizations or service clubs can also become a sponsor for $1,000 for two years ($2,000 total) with a commitment to help maintain their stretch. 

For more information about the Friends of the Shiawassee River or the Adopt-A-River, contact the Friends’ Executive Director Lauri Elbing at (989)723-9062,  You can also visit to sign up for our newsletters and LIKE the Friends on Facebook.  You may also invite Lauri Elbing to be a guest speaker at your event to help Care, Share and Enjoy our Shiawassee River.


2015.09.08.Lauri_with_Tom_on_her_first_day_of_work_at_the_Friends.JPGLauri Elbing has taken on the role of Executive Director of the Friends of the Shiawassee River. Lauri brings significant experience in nonprofits and environmental policy to her role as staff leader of the Friends. She served most recently as the Communications Director at the Flint River Watershed Council.  Previously, she worked for The Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation in Michigan, and on the staff of Congressman John Dingell.  Lauri, of Flushing, has received training in volunteer water quality sampling and co-authored several publications on fisheries and water quality topics. In her free time, she is an avid kayaker, angler, and birder; she also enjoys a round of skeet when the opportunity presents itself.

Lauri succeeds Owosso native Devin Gill who began a graduate program in 2015 at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources.   Devin's excellent work with volunteers and local governments left a strong foundation for the future growth of the Friends.

New Canoe/Kayak Launch in Byron

The Village of Byron's Downtown Development Authority has embraced the Shiawassee River as a recreational and economic asset.  With the help of the Friends of the Shiawassee River, and with funding from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network (WIN), a canoe/kayak launch has been built adjacent to downtown Byron.IMG_7076web.jpg

The Shiawassee River gains size as it flow through Byron, where the south branch joins the main stem just upstream from the Village. The stretch from Byron to the Walnut Hills Campground is one of the more wild and beautiful sections of the river. Recently volunteers cleared downed trees from this area of the river, further improving access and use of this natural resource.

The new launch is just south of the Maple Street (Bath Road) bridge and is tucked away behind several ball diamonds.  The land was donated by the Byron Area School District, which has also recognized the value of the Shiawassee River.  A nature trail has been developed near the new launch site, and the Friends of the Shiawassee River has been working with local classes to conduct volunteer water quality sampling.

The launch was built by several volunteers, most notably Rob Vandermark and Ric Crawford who donated their time and use of equipment.  Friends member Phil Hathaway led up the effort, using a design that has been successfully installed in several other public parks in Shiawassee County. “We’re excited that the Village of Byron is working with these great partners to formalize this site along the beautiful Shiawassee River”, said Mike Kelly of the Conservation Fund, the coordinator of Saginaw Bay WIN, the project funder.

  Friends of the Shiawassee River

P.O. Box 402

Owosso, MI 48867

(989) 723-9062

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