Make a Polar Plunge Pledge and Double Your Impact

Board Member Gary Burk will be joining a hearty group of community outdoor enthusiast taking the Polar Plunge on Saturday, February 27th, at 2:00 pm at Collamer Park on Hopkins Lake. In past years, Gary has not exactly dressed appropriately for such a chilling dip, but he sure has a singular flare for fun and the fantastic; including a crash test dummy and a hula girl. 

Gary Burk takes the plunge to support Owosso Parks and the Friends.....again! Gary will match your pledge of park support with a donation to the Friends. 

Contact Gary Burk to Pledge!

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Friends Celebrate River Champions and Set Ambitious Agenda for 2016

If you wanted to revel in all the good things happening on the Shiawassee River, the place to be was the Wrought Iron Grill in Owosso this past Tuesday night. The Friends welcomed new staff and board member, celebrated exceptional volunteers and their 20 year history of Caring, Sharing and Enjoying the Shiawassee River.


The Friends welcomed Lance Omer to the board and introduced Lauri Elbing, our new executive director, and Sarah Baker, our new Stream Team Coordinator, to the membership.  We also welcomed Tiffany Cooper, a digital media design intern from Baker College.  The Friends are building the necessary capacity to strengthen and expand the reach of the programs and the mission that has guided us for these past 20 years.  

Two board members stepped down, but pledged to stay involved with the Friends: Larry Johnson of Owosso and Nancy Krause of Chesaning. For each of us it is a labor of love, and we are grateful for their dedication and service to the Friends and to our watershed.

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Oil Spill Update

(12/03/15) The US Environmental Protection Agency has been working diligently to clean up the Thanksgiving Day oil spill in the Shiawassee watershed (see previous post below). The size of the "Wade Road Oil Spill" is now estimated to be between 500-1000 gallons (up from an initial estimate of 300 gallons of oil).  The source of the spill has been identified and the responsible party has assumed all costs for the emergency response and cleanup. As of Thursday, December 3rd, these costs are more than $80,000.  The the US Department of Environmental Protection is overseeing the cleanup, which will continue until they determine it to be complete.


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The Friends Commend Quick Action by Local Hunter to Report Oil Spill in Shiawassee County Drain and Prompt Response by Local, State and Federal Government to Contain and Cleanup the Spill
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2015 was a Year of Changes, Progress, and Great Fun

(12/08/15) Are you a member of the Friends in good standing? If so, you should have received your copy of the latest edition of The River View in the mail last week.  If you're a member and didn't receive yours, please get in touch with us so we can correct the oversight.

We have much to celebrate as we reflect back on the many accomplishments of 2015 and the tremendous opportunities ahead of us in 2016. The Fall 2015 edition of The River View shares the good news and extends our hearty and heart felt thanks to all of our Friends, donors, sponsors and partners. We couldn't do any of this without each one of you.


In 2021, when the Friends celebrate our 25th Anniversary, 2015 may be the year that stands out. We built foundations this past year: more Stream Teams in more places, more relationships with old and new Friends, and the realization of several goals from our strategic plan that have made us financially stronger, more organized, and better able to work with communities throughout the watershed. This has us all looking forward to great things in 2016.

The Friends continue to host impactful events, like our 18th River Cleanup this year and annual Wine-Tasting celebration. We have gotten better at raising funds, and held our first very successful kayak raffle. And we received grants to restore the river at old dam sites, to support Stream Team volunteers, and do other good work. But this year, we also worked on building what we need to be successful in the long run: an engaged board, committed donors, and a clear plan.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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