News > News > Riverkeeper > Riverkeeper’s Patrol Boat Captain John Lipscomb to retire after 24 years of devoted service to the Hudson

Riverkeeper’s Patrol Boat Captain John Lipscomb to retire after 24 years of devoted service to the Hudson

Riverkeeper to welcome new Boat Captain Luis Melendez

June 12, 2024 (OSSINING, NY) – Riverkeeper today announces that Patrol Boat Captain and Vice President for Advocacy John Lipscomb, who has served as the eyes and ears of the Hudson River for 24 years, will retire in 2024. Lipscomb will train Riverkeeper’s next boat captain, the very experienced educator, conservationist, and vessel operator Luis Melendez.

Since 2000, Lipscomb has patrolled the Hudson, including New York Harbor, the Mohawk, and upper Hudson, searching out and deterring polluters, monitoring tributaries and waterfront facilities, supporting scientific studies, and taking regional decision makers and media out on the river so that, as he puts it, “the river has a chance to advocate for itself.”

“The Riverkeeper community is grateful to Boat Captain John Lipscomb for his unwavering and deeply felt commitment to the Hudson. If the river could talk, it would surely echo these sentiments tenfold. Though the numbers of miles patrolled, water samples taken, and polluters held to account speak for themselves, it’s also true that John’s contribution to Riverkeeper and the Hudson has been immeasurable,” says Riverkeeper President and Hudson Riverkeeper Tracy Brown. “I am thrilled to be welcoming our incoming captain, Luis Melendez, aboard to continue building on the strong foundation of Riverkeeper’s boat program. His years at the New York Harbor School, as well as his work with Billion Oyster Project, are proof of his impressive skillset and demonstrate his genuine commitment to our waters, communities, and the environment.”

“Working on and for the Hudson River has been wonderful. Protecting the rights of the Hudson River and the life it supports has been so much more than a job,” says Riverkeeper Patrol Boat Captain and Vice President for Advocacy John Lipscomb. “We are very lucky to have found such a capable and dedicated new captain to continue and build on Riverkeeper’s boat patrol program. I’m very much looking forward to working with Luis through 2024.”

In the coming months, Lipscomb will help train and onboard Melendez, who will start in the role at the end of June. In addition to his experience at the New York Harbor School and Billion Oyster Project, Melendez most recently served as Chief Dockmaster at Dyckman Marina for the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. He brings to Riverkeeper a wealth of knowledge of New York Harbor waterways, extensive experience piloting a wide variety of vessels, as well as a deep passion for education, habitat restoration, and advocacy.

“The work John Lipscomb and the Riverkeeper team have done with its patrol boat program has been instrumental in the protection and preservation of the Hudson. I’m honored for the opportunity to build on this impressive legacy,” says incoming Riverkeeper Boat Captain Luis Melendez. “This is a chance to merge my lifelong passion for our local waterways with my extensive experience navigating and restoring them. I can’t wait to embark on this journey, working alongside like-minded individuals dedicated to leaving our waters better than we found them.”

Running from late March to early December, Lipscomb’s patrols have covered 4,000 miles annually, from the Upper Hudson and Mohawk River all the way to New York Harbor east to Throggs Neck and south to the Verrazano Narrows. They have led to increased enforcement and improved compliance of environmental laws, as well as millions of dollars in fees, fines, and environmental benefit funding. Boat-centered initiatives have also helped establish and support core Riverkeeper campaigns including dam removal, habitat restoration, species protections, water quality monitoring, water infrastructure investment, citizen watchdog efforts, spill preparedness and response, limits on crude oil transport, defeat of industrial anchorage expansion, and the fight against potentially devastating storm surge barriers.

In 2008, Lipscomb founded Riverkeeper’s water quality monitoring program, conducting monthly sampling of New York Harbor, the Hudson Estuary, Mohawk River, and Upper Hudson, processing and recording test results in the onboard lab through 2020, when the program expanded into a lab space in Kingston.

On June 20, 2024, Riverkeeper will honor and celebrate Lipscomb at its annual Summer Splash with the Hudson Hero award.

On April 2, Riverkeeper launched the Captain’s Fund with the goal of creating a funding source that can cover the annual costs of the boat and its captain in perpetuity, ensuring the longevity and ongoing impact of the patrol boat program.


Riverkeeper protects and restores the Hudson River, and safeguards drinking water supplies through community partnerships, science, and law. Our core programs improve water quality, restore habitat for an abundance of life, and address the impact of climate change on our waterways. Founded in 1966 as the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association, Riverkeeper became the model for more than 320 Waterkeeper organizations around the world and helped establish globally-recognized standards for waterway and watershed protection. We continue to work toward the goal of a swimmable, fishable, and drinkable Hudson River for all. Learn more, get updates, and support our work by visiting