at Beczak Environmental Education Center, on the Hudson in Yonkers, NY

What's Canada's approach to Clean Water? Find out on Sept 29.

                Capital to Capital Canoe Expedition presentation in Yonkers on Saturday, September 29

1,000 mile Canadian and American canoe expedition advocates for clean, healthy rivers

Meet the 10 intrepid Canadian and American canoeists who are paddling over 1,000 miles from Ottawa, Ontario, to Washington, DC, in a 36-foot voyageur canoe. They’ll be joined by a rotating shift of locals along the way: Lenore Person, a Dobbs Ferry resident and Director of Development with Beczak Environmental Education Center, will paddle with them on the Hudson River.

The Capital to Capital Canoe Expedition RiverTalks presentation will share adventures and images from the Ottawa River to the St. Lawrence Seaway, Lake Champlain, the Champlain Canal and the Hudson River. Participants will learn about Canada’s approach to the problems their waterways face, and discuss what the paddlers have discovered from local residents and organizations about the waterways on which they travel. 

“This is the dream,” says team leader and long distance paddler Max Finkelstein. “That our two countries work together to transcend political borders to protect and restore our rivers.” To symbolize this idea, their cargo includes a bottle of Ottawa River water from the foot of the parliament buildings, to be mixed with the waters of the Potomac in Washington.

The Capital to Capital Canoe Expedition’s call for clean water is timely. Earlier this year, New York State Supreme Court Justice Joan Lefkowitz ruled that the Department of Environmental Conservation’s permit system failed to meet a federal mandate to protect the waters. “It is probably one of the most significant threats to water quality that we have today,” Kate Hudson, watershed program director with Riverkeeper, said of stormwater runoff. Eight environmental groups, including the Hudson Riverkeeper and the Long Island Soundkeeper, are locked in a battle with New York State, charging that a stormwater system permit that municipalities must sign onto fails to do enough to ensure that oils, fertilizer, animal feces and other pollutants are stopped on their way.
The Capital to Capital team includes Max Finkelstein from Ottawa, a long distance paddler and author of Canoeing a Continent; Nicholas Tilgner, a Yukon River Guide, Dot Bonnenfant, long distance paddler and artist, and Willis Elkins, trip leader/canoe instructor for the North Brooklyn Boat Club. Lenore Person, Beczak’s Director of Development, will be joining them for the Hudson River leg, paddling from Beacon to Yonkers.

The Capital to Capital Canoe Expedition is supported by the Canadian Wildlife Fund, and offered hospitality by Riverkeepers along the way. Canadian groups include Ottawa Riverkeeper, Canadian Heritage Rivers System, and Canadian Canoe Foundation; Hudson River groups including Hudson Riverkeeper, Hudson River Watertrail Association, Hudson River Valley Greenway, Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club, and Beczak Environmental Education Center; and mid-Atlantic groups including Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Raritan Riverkeeper and Potomac Riverkeeper.


Hudson River Sunset Sail July 12

Sail the Hudson River for two and a half hours on the A. J. Meerwald, a beautifully restored schooner and New Jersey’s official Tall Ship, Thursday, July 12, 6:30 – 9:00 PM

  • Tickets are $50 per person and support the work of Beczak Environmental Education Center. 
  • There are limited spots available:  register now / online advance tickets only 
  • Children are welcome with parents. 
  • Bring your own refreshments; beer and wine are permitted onboard. 
  • Free and secure parking at Beczak Environmental Education Center, 35 Alexander Street, Yonkers, NY. 
  • The ship departs from the Yonkers Pier, a short walk away. 
  • For more information contact / (914) 377-1900, ext. 13.

Sit back and relax. Watch the majestic Palisades and New York skyline glide by. Or take a turn steering the ship, raising and furling the sails, and handling the lines.

“The ship brings people back to a simpler time,” says Captain Jesse Briggs, a native of Virginia who has been working on boats since he was ten years old. “There’s no engine sound, and you travel at a leisurely pace. People relax and enjoy the scenery. How far we go depends on the wind and tide.”

Sailing on the A. J. Meerwald is an authentic living-history experience. Participants can participate in a discussion about the New York Harbor’s rich maritime heritage and the history of the A. J. Meerwald and the oyster industry. Or have an hour and a half of sea breezes and unwinding.

The A. J. Meerwald is an 85-foot schooner with over 3,500 square feet of sail. It’s a Tall Ship in demand—with music, art, and discussion sails for all ages. This summer her itinerary ranges from New London, Connecticut’s OpSail 2012 festival to programs in Philadelphia, Deleware and Atlantic City.

Launched in 1928, the Meerwald was one of hundreds of schooners built along South Jersey's Delaware Bayshore for oystering and clamming. Governor Christine Whitman added the A. J. Meerwald to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. On Earth Day, 1998, the Meerwald was designated New Jersey’s official Tall Ship.  Since 1989, the ship has been owned by the Bayshore Discovery Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to motivating people to take care of the environment, history, and culture of New Jersey's Bayshore region through education, preservation, and example.

Hudson River Tugboat Day is June 23

Ride the Historic Tugboat Pegasus, Meet Captain Pamela Hepburn, and Enjoy Tugboat Films for the Whole Family

Celebrate the hardest working boats on the waterways at Hudson River Tugboat Day on Saturday, June 23, at Beczak Environmental Education Center. 

Hudson River Tugboats, a RiverTalks presentation by Pamela Hepburn, Captain of the Pegasus. June 23 @ 7 PM. $10 / $5 for students, teachers, and seniors, includes refreshments.

Captain Pamela Hepburn
No one knows the Pegasus like Pamela Hepburn--she lived on board with her daughter for several years! In Hudson River Tugboats, Hepburn gives a brief history of tugboats in the New York Harbor and their continuing importance today as well as tells her own story of working her way from tugboat cook and deckhand to captain, then purchasing the hundred year old Pegasus and renovating it inside and out. Plus enjoy Tugs, a documentary short by Jessica Edwards, which includes scenes of the everyday work life on tugs and ends with dramatic images from the 18th annual Great North River Tugboat Race. Read more about Pamela Hepburn, tugboat pioneer, here. 

John J Historic Fireboat
and the Tug Pegasus
Hudson River Tugboat Day activities are all free but for the evening RiverTalks, and all take place at Beczak Environmental Education Center and the Yonkers Pier, just two blocks away. Free and secure parking at Beczak.

11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • Enjoy the Disney classic Little Toot about “the little tug that could"
  • Explore how tugboats work and make your own out of recycled material
  • Take a dockside tour of the Pegasus at the Yonkers Pier

4:00 – 5:00 PM
  • Take a 1-hour ride on the Pegasus departing the Yonkers Pier. Participants are limited to the first 49 to register. Contact  Eva at  / (914) 377-1900, ext. 13.

    Historic 1907 Tugboat Pegasus
    The sturdy Pegasus was built in 1907 for Standard Oil. It transported oil products, docked tankers, and acted as a fireboat when needed. In 1995 it was abandoned, underpowered and too decrepit for active service. Thanks to downtown mom / tugboat captain Pamela Hepburn, this maritime icon was saved from the scrapheap, put on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Tugboat Pegasus Preservation Project guided its transformation to the unique New York educational experience it is today. The Pegasus is now docked at the Hudson River Park on Pier 25 in Tribeca. There, the 105-year-old Pegasus offers regular free dockside tours and educational river trips teaching visitors about the New York harbor’s value as a rich natural habitat, as a historic waterway that shaped this city’s history, and as a thriving commercial port crucial to today’s economy.

    Hudson River Tugboat Day is hosted by Beczak Environmental Education Center and made possible by sponsors Reinauer Transportation Company, Cashman Dredging, and Yonkers Downtown Waterfront BID. Captain Pamela Hepburn’s RiverTalks presentation is sponsored by Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club, and Hudson River Watertrail Association.

    Hudson River Dredging Update on April 14

    Look local this Earth Month – get on update on GE’s PCB Dredging as well as other Hudson River issues, threats and opportunities

    RiverTalks presents “Hudson River Dredging Update” with Clearwater’s Environmental Action Director, Manna Jo Greene, on Saturday, April 14, 7:00 PM. 

    We’re in the second year of Phrase 2 of General Electric's PCB remedial dredging upriver. Learn the EPA’s findings as well as the effects of last year’s flooding on the Hudson River Superfund site with Manna Jo Greene, Clearwater’s Director of Environmental Action.

    Clearwater, an environmental education organization started by Pete and Toshi Seeger, gained national recognition for its activism starting in the 1970s to force a cleanup of PCB contamination of the Hudson caused by GE and other companies. They continue to be actively involved in the PCB clean up.

    Manna Jo Greene says, “This presentation at Beczak Environmental Education Center is very timely because there are still 136 acres of PCB surface contaminated sediment outside the area delineated for dredging that need to be addressed.”

    “Although we have made a lot of progress including the PCB remediation in the upper Hudson, the River is still in danger from Indian Point leaks, the proposed Rockland desalination plant and other threats. Despite our best efforts, Hudson River fish are still in decline, so there is still much to do,” says Greene.

    More information about General Electric's PCB remedial dredging in the Hudson River

    Manna Jo Greene, Clearwater's Environmental Action Director since 2000, was formerly the Recycling Coordinator/Educator for the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency for more than 10 years and a registered Critical Care Nurse since 1976. She holds an AAS in Nursing, a BA in biology (pre-med) from SUNY/New Paltz, and completed course work toward a Masters in Environmental Sciences at Bard College. A lifelong environmental professional and community activist, Manna avidly supports collaborative land use planning and problem solving. Working to promote sustainable agriculture and green building and landscaping practices, she teaches communities how to integrate environmental preservation, economic prosperity (based on quality of life indicators), and social equity using effective communication. Manna also serves as Councilwoman on the Rosendale Town Board. 

    there's no better time to see Gasland than NOW!

    Gasland—the award-winning documentary about frackinghas a timely message for New York State

    Explore the connection between gas drilling and drinking water. Discuss the current status of New York State decisions on fracking with a Riverkeeper attorney who represents our drinking water and the environment.

    RiverTalks presents a screening of Gasland, the award-winning documentary about fracking, followed by a conversation with Riverkeeper’s Kate Hudson, on Saturday, March 10, 7:00 PM, $10 / $5 for teachers, students, and seniors. 

    The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a “Saudia Arabia of natural gas” just beneath us.

    But is fracking safe? Could it happen here?

    New York State’s citizens have barraged state environmental officials with an unprecedented 60,000 comments on this issue, and just last week the state Supreme Court upheld the right of two towns to prevent fracking for natural gas in their town. Yet, New York State’s DEC says they will release the final phase of work on their proposal to allow hydrofracking of natural gas in spring 2012.

    On the eve of New York State’s decision making on this issue, Beczak Environmental Education Center presents Gasland, an award-winning documentary about frackiing, followed by a conversation with Kate Hudson, the Riverkeeper attorney who is challenging New York State’s Department of Conservation.

    Gasland is a Sundance award-winning documentary on the surprising consequences of natural gas drilling. When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. Variety magazine calls Gasland  “ of the most effective and expressive environmental films of recent years.”

    Gasland’s Honors include:
    •         Nominated for Best Documentary OSCAR 2011

    •         Won EMMY for Best Non Fiction Directing

    •        Won Planet Defender Award from Rock the Earth

    •        Won Manayunk Eco-Champion Award (Josh Fox)

    •         Won Environmental Media Award for Best Documentary

    •        Won John Lennon/ Yoko Ono Peace Prize 2010 (Josh Fox)

    •         Won Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize

    •        Won Big Sky Film Fest Artistic Vision Award

    •         Won Yale Environmental Film Fest Grand Jury Prize

   Listed as one of Current TV 50 Docs to see before you die 

    •         Listed as Outside Magazine 25 most influential Docs of all time

    A rocky formation under parts of New York State, the Marcellus Shale, holds some of the largest natural gas reserves in the nation. To break up shale formations and release the gas, energy companies use a process called high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, which involves injecting millions of gallons of chemically treated water underground..

    Since 2010, New York State has created a moratorium on fracking. The Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York wants the state to speed its decision so that new drilling permits can be issued this year.

    Major environmental groups including Riverkeeper have hired their own technical experts to review the state proposal argue that the state is far from done. Looming large, they say, is the lack of a detailed plan to dispose of the millions of gallons of wastewater per well that the new drilling will produce.

    If the State Department of Environmental Conservation issues a final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on hydrofracking this spring, it will lead to a flawed proposal, according to environmental group Riverkeeper.

    Watershed Program Director Kate Hudson said there would be “glaring gaps” in the process.

    “In light of the fact that they have 60,000 comments to read and respond to, we are astonished that they are proposing to do that and what it tells us is that they are going to be releasing a flawed document that does not address many of the issues that we and other people have raised and this will only ultimately lead to further delays,” Hudson said.

    Those delays would come in the form of lawsuits filed by Riverkeeper and others challenging the findings of the environmental documents.

    Kate joined Riverkeeper in February 2011 as the NYC Watershed Program Director after nearly 25 years spent in Government protecting the environment of New York State. 

    Kate has served as Assistant Attorney General in New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation’s Environmental Protection Bureau. She was a member of the Bureau’s Hudson River Team, and was responsible for preparing the State and Federal Trustees natural resource damage claim against General Electric, for their contamination of the Hudson River with PCBs.

    Building upon that experience, in 2007, Kate rejoined the NYS DEC where she created and staffed a ten person unit dedicated to pursuing claims for natural resource damages against a wide variety of polluters for their discharges of hazardous substances and petroleum. As Director of the unit, she developed policy and budgetary documents in support of the Department’s natural resource initiatives, represented the Department in the development of claims, coordinated assessment and litigation activities with Federal Trustee agencies and Indian Tribes, and negotiated settlements with responsible parties.

    Kate is a long-time resident of Gardiner, NY, living in the shadow of the Shwangunk Ridge, where she is an active outdoorswoman who enjoys hiking, biking, skiing and rock climbing. She is also an experienced sailor, who races on the Hudson River, and has twice competed in the Race around Long Island.


    GASLAND's screening at RiverTalks has been made possible by Food & Water Watch