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Riverkeeper mourns the passing of a giant — founder Bob Boyle

Bob Boyle and the Hudson Valley

Bob Boyle and the Hudson Valley
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Robert H. Boyle, 1928-2017

The Riverkeeper family is saddened by the recent loss of Robert H. Boyle, who was instrumental in the founding of the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association — Riverkeeper’s predecessor — 51 years ago.

An ardent fisherman and outdoor writer for Sports Illustrated, Bob Boyle was dedicated to protecting the creatures that inhabited the Hudson River and encouraged all who used our waters to treat them as prized possessions. He originated the principles by which Riverkeeper still operates today: support the grassroots; be data driven; and, don’t flinch when the going gets tough.

In March 1966, Boyle met with a group of fishermen, concerned citizens and scientists at a Crotonville American Legion Hall with the intent to reverse the decline of the Hudson by reclaiming it from polluters. There, Boyle announced that he had discovered two forgotten laws that forbade pollution of navigable waters in the United States, imposed fines for polluters, and provided a bounty reward for whoever reported the violation. After listening to Boyle speak, the audience agreed to organize as the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association, and dedicate themselves to tracking down the river’s polluters and bringing them to justice.

A long string of legal victories followed, which provided the HRFA with bounties for turning in polluters. These bounties funded the creation of the Riverkeeper program in 1983. Three years later, HRFA merged with Riverkeeper to form one group to protect the river. Since then, Riverkeeper has brought hundreds of polluters to justice and forced them to spend hundreds of millions of dollars remediating the Hudson.

So much of the what Riverkeeper has accomplished is the result of Boyle’s vision. He is a perfect example of how one person can change the world.

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