Blogs > Keeping Current > Riverkeeper’s first annual Summer Splash: Celebrating the Hudson & honorees at Boscobel

Riverkeeper’s first annual Summer Splash: Celebrating the Hudson & honorees at Boscobel

Revisiting 'Summer Splash'

View more images on our Flickr site

Super Law Group and Jon Bowermaster receive honors

Photos by Ann Billingsly

Riverkeeper’s annual gala moved upriver and out of doors to the stunning scenic overlook at Boscobel House and Gardens this season, to celebrate the Hudson and some of our most treasured fellow activists and partners.

Honorees Jon Bowermaster, left, and Reed Super

The first annual Summer Splash brought 275 guests to the lawn at Boscobel in Garrison on June 16, 2022. With the river in full, glorious view, moving through the Hudson Highlands, we celebrated two honorees at the historic grounds. It was a fresh take on our traditional Fishermen’s Ball, the first of many more to come.

Super Law Group accepted our “Big Fish” award, honoring the firm’s many years of legal service to the Hudson River and its work upholding the Clean Water Act. Jon Bowermaster received the “Hudson Hero” award, a tribute to his work as a filmmaker, storyteller and activist who has explored some of the most pressing environmental issues of our time while building support for protecting our beloved Hudson River.

Hudson Hero and Big Fish awards

Our thanks to the two artists who created the awards: noted artist and sculptor Bruce Larsen, for the Big Fish award, and celebrated photographer Carolyn Marks Blackwood, for the Hudson Hero award, a beautiful photograph of the Hudson River with Riverkeeper’s patrol boat coming out of Rondout Creek.

Adding to the evening’s fun and relaxed atmosphere was the one and only Funkrust Brass Band, bursting onto the scene with their exuberant disco-punk brass band sounds and megaphone vocals.

Addressing the gathering, President and Hudson Riverkeeper Tracy Brown recalled visiting the very same site with her husband and young children for Riverkeeper Shad Festivals. “We came to build a stronger connection with the river and to get to know the work of its protector the Hudson Riverkeeper,” she said. “I would have never guessed back then that those festivals would need to be canceled because the fish whose return to the Hudson they celebrated, the Shad, would become too scarce and vulnerable to harvest and eat on that scale.

President and Hudson Riverkeeper Tracy Brown

“I would have also never guessed that I would one day be standing here as the Hudson Riverkeeper. The first Mother to hold this role. A mother who co-parented with this river. And that is honestly what I moved here to do, because I wanted my children to have two mothers that they truly know and love, and they do. And I owe the River and the Valley an eternal debt for its parenting skills. I have called on them to shore me up more than once.”

Proceeds from the sold-out event and auction provided vital support for Riverkeeper, which is a member-supported, independent, nonprofit organization that relies entirely on fundraising for our annual budget.

You can learn more about ways to support Riverkeeper throughout the year here.

‘Big Fish’

Reed Super, founding partner, Super Law Group, accepted the Big Fish award on behalf of his entire team at Super Law Group.

“We have brought many dozen Clean Water Act enforcement cases from Albany down to the Gowanus Canal, and equally importantly we’ve plugged up loopholes in federal and state clean water regulations,” he told the gathering.

“My favorite expression for the legal work that Riverkeeper does goes like this: ‘If you have a law and you don’t enforce it, you don’t have a law.’ We have environmental laws – you all have environmental laws – laws protecting the Hudson River and its tributaries and the drinking water for millions of New Yorkers, because Riverkeeper enforces those laws. And if any of you were wondering how ordinary citizens – how a nonprofit membership organization like Riverkeeper – can step in and enforce environmental laws when the government doesn’t; and how we can serve as private attorneys general, as we’re sometimes referred to – that actually started right here on this stretch of the Hudson River. If you look out at that spectacular view, across Constitution Marsh and the main stem of the river just to the north at Storm King Mountain … it was there in the 1960s that Riverkeeper, then known as the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association, and its allies defeated a proposal by Con Edison to blast a 6 billion gallon reservoir right out of the top of the mountain for a hydroelectric project that would have decimated the river’s fishery.

“And that was defeated because of Riverkeeper and its allies and this entire movement. It was the battle for Storm King that gave rise not only to the National Environmental Policy Act – that’s the law that requires environmental impact statements – but also the citizen’s suits. That’s the provision in the Clean Water Act, in the Clean Air Act and dozens of other laws that allows ordinary citizens to haul polluters into court. So it’s a very ideal place to celebrate here what Riverkeeper’s accomplished since 1966, and what we’ve had the privilege to assist with and be a part of for the last 22 years. It’s been a great journey, and we still have more work to do.

“And let me also say there’s another way to have an environmental law enforced, and that’s to get the Legislature to pass it in the first place. We have a vitally important state law known as the Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act. And we have that law because Tracy Brown, in her first tour of duty at Riverkeeper, was instrumental in the campaign to get that law enacted in Albany in 2012. So we all have Riverkeeper and Tracy to thank for that one, as well.”

‘Hudson Hero’

Jon Bowermaster and his Oceans 8 Films created two film series, River at Risk and Hope on the Hudson, which are available to view online at no charge, at

“These films speak for the river. They’re the voice of the river, which cannot defend itself,” Riverkeeper’s John Lipscomb said. He thanked Bowermaster for his integrity, devotion and service to the river: “We so appreciate your art, and your heart.”

“I wrote a book, it was published 1990 on the anniversary of Earth Day, and it was called Saving the Earth,” Bowermaster said in receiving the award. “It was about the causes and effects and solutions to a dozen different environmental issues of that time. I get that book out every Earth Day and look back through it to see how we’re doing. And I gotta admit, we’re not moving as fast as we need to.

“And whether it’s in print, or for film or on the radio show, I’m always asking you guys, environmentalists, where it is that you find hope and optimism, because often I find that hard to find, myself. And I’m extremely impressed. My favorite kind of environmentalist is what I’ve dubbed an ‘accidental environmentalist’ – somebody who’s stumbled into it because they find their water’s been polluted by PFAS, or there’s a pipeline running through their backyard, across the street, or a kid’s gotten sick from asthma, from bad air. And I regard most of you at Riverkeeper as accidental environmentalists in a way, in a really good fashion. I’m extremely impressed that you guys stay out there.

“I’m a storyteller, I’m not a hero. I help tell your stories, so there’s a heroism involved, and it’s yours, not mine. And I feel extremely proud to be able to associate with you guys, and to be out there. And to that end, and to this notion of being an accidental environmentalist, I’d kind of like for you guys at Riverkeeper to give yourselves a pat on the back, tonight, every once in a while.

“I fully believe that there are more environmentalist activists in the Hudson Valley per capita than anywhere else in the country. I have absolutely no empirical data to back that up, it’s just a feeling. But I know it’s out there.”

Visit to view the film series and visit our YouTube page to view an online discussion with Jon Bowermaster and Riverkeeper’s John Lipscomb and Dan Shapley.

View an album of photos of the Summer Splash, by Ann Billingsly.

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