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Waterkeeper History

The History of the Waterkeeper Movement

The origins of the Riverkeeper go back to England in the Middle Ages when villages would hire a private citizen to look after the trout streams, so that no one could abuse the waterways that were owned, utilized, and enjoyed by all of the people in the villages.

The Hudson River Fishermen's Association first introduced the "riverkeeper" concept in the U.S. in the mid-1980's when they hired John Cronin, a former commercial fisherman and congressional aide, to patrol the Hudson full-time. This blue-collar association of commercial and recreational fisherman had coalesced in 1966 to identify and bring to justice the Hudson River polluters that were destroying their family fishing grounds. They used the law and science to confront polluters and reassert community control over waters that had been damaged by years of pollution and neglect. Due in large part to the efforts of the Hudson Riverkeeper, the Hudson River has been brought back to life and is now regarded as one of the richest bodies of water on earth.

Today, the success of the Hudson Riverkeeper serves as a model for the nearly 200 Waterkeeper organizations that are patrolling rivers, lakes, and coastal waters on 6 continents around the world to protect public waterways from pollution and other threats. Ten years ago, the Waterkeeper Alliance was founded to support this global network of member organizations.  In 1999, St. Johns Riverkeeper was founded based on a philosophy rooted in a sense of public ownership of local water bodies.

St. Johns Riverkeeper was founded in 1999 by a diverse group of concerned citizens with a common belief in the public ownership and shared responsibility for local water bodies.

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