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Riverkeeper is back on patrol!


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Capt. John Lipscomb completed his first Hudson River patrol of 2012 this week, traveling about 500 miles over 10 days, from Riverkeeper’s home port in Ossining, to Newtown Creek in Brooklyn, then to Troy and back.

While on patrol, Capt. Lipscomb is the eyes and ears for the river. When he observes potential problems, he seeks to correct them – whether by working with the people responsible for the problem, with law enforcement or with Riverkeeper staff. He also relies on your help; Riverkeeper was born as a group of citizens who banded together to clean up the river, and that legacy continues today with the help of citizen watchdogs, who help by reporting pollution violations.

You can meet Capt. Lipscomb Saturday at the Haverstraw Boat Show, or follow his work throughout the year on the patrol boat blog. You can support Riverkeeper patrols by making a donation today.

Here are a few snapshots from the first patrol of the 2012 season:

Cleaning up Illegal Dumping
Riverkeeper’s patrols of the Newtown Creek helped identify and secure the commitment to cleanup one of the world’s largest underground oil spills. Routine patrols help keep tabs on pollution of all types. After spotting Styrofoam waste dumped near the Newtown Creek on the first patrol of the year, a call to the management of the business nearby was all it took to solve this problem. “This stuff doesn’t belong to us but we’re going to take care of it right away,” we were assured. A few days later, the boat hosted a WCBS film crew documenting illegal dumping on the Newtown Creek and Harlem River. As Capt. Lipscomb says, “Patrolling pays off.”

Calling Out Indian Point’s “Security Charade”
Three days later, as Capt. Lipscomb piloted the boat past the Indian Point nuclear power plant, he documented and reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that there was no apparent security protecting against a terrorist attack by water, not even buoys to mark off the security zone. Riverkeeper and other legitimate boaters have been harassed by armed men on Naval Militia boats in the vicinity of Indian Point for years, even while trying to perform state-permitted research into fish populations affected by the annual slaughter of 1 billion organisms in the plant’s cooling water system. Even that show of force was largely that – a show. “The buoys are the last piece of the Indian Point security charade to go,” Capt. Lipscomb said.

Documenting Threats to Habitat
Erosion creates problems on land and in the water, through the loss of topsoil and vegetation, and the muddying or destruction of habitat important to fish, as in the case pictured above on April 18, which is one of two Capt. Lipscomb reported to authorities on his first patrol. This landslide near Milton, in Ulster County, sent a cascade of dirt, rock and debris into the wetland between the CSX railroad tracks and the bank. It’s not uncommon for property owners to cut trees on the ridgeline to give themselves river views, but the consequences can be severe–for wildlife, and for those viewing the river from another vantage point, including commuters on Metro North trains, in this case. As Capt. Lipscomb put it, “We’ve all heard the expression, ‘death by a thousand cuts.’ This is one.”

Working with Volunteer Water Quality Monitors
On April 19, Riverkeeper staff joined Capt. Lipscomb for a workshop in New Paltz with volunteers from Ulster and Orange counties who have stepped forward to help test for fecal contamination in the Rondout Creek and Wallkill River, which together make up the tidal Hudson’s largest tributary. As part of its Water Quality Program, Riverkeeper is working with eight volunteer monitoring teams throughout the watershed to define and remedy sewage contamination. (If you are interested in volunteering on this project, contact Dan Shapley at [email protected].)

Riverkeeper relies on your contributions to support its programs, from our Close Indian Point campaign to our Water Quality program and of course our patrol boat. Please become a member today.