The Rhinebeck Rotary, at a regular meeting at The Beekman Arms on Monday, August 3rd, hosted Jeremy Cherson, a Riverkeeper fellow and a specialist in the state of the Hudson River and its tributaries. Mr. Cherson is a graduate of Bard College and holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Policy.


Riverkeeper, a not-for-profit environmental agency whose mission is to be New York State’s clean water advocate, began in 1966 and was formed out of the Hudson River Fisherman’s Association. Charged with monitoring over 200 miles of waterway, Riverkeeper regularly tests the quality of water in the Hudson and its tributaries and ensures that it is safe for public consumption. In addition, Riverkeeper monitors the health of native fish species and currently advocates a “catch and release” policy.


Mr. Cherson reminded Rotarians of General Electric’s responsibilities regarding PCB cleanup of the Hudson under the terms of the Super Fund Agreement and assured all present that the river is gradually returning to life, with but a few remaining “hot spots” to be cleaned by GE. Much time is spent, according to Mr. Cherson, monitoring raw sewage contamination from storm drains located in a variety of villages and towns on the Hudson’s tributaries and most areas are safe to swim in provided there hasn’t been a major rainstorm for a 48-hour period.


Another task of Riverkeeper, said Mr. Cherson, is to examine current and proposed strategies for the transportation of crude oil on the Hudson. Currently, no less than one fleet of tank cars, one barge, and one tanker are active on the river each day and the risk of a spill is high. Riverkeeper is concerned about cleanup plans, particularly since most rescue facilities and craft are located many hours away from Hudson Valley communities.


Riverkeeper is funded by memberships, individual donations, and a handful of foundation grants with but a small percentage of funding made available by New York State, which funding is earmarked for education and testing.

The Rhinebeck Rotary Club meets on Mondays at 12:15 pm at the Beekman Arms throughout the year and is a humanitarian organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of others through local, national, and international service projects. The weekly meetings typically feature speakers covering a variety of human-interest topics. Interested guests are welcome to attend. Upcoming speakers include:

  • August 10th – Rob Raylman, Executive Director for Gift of Life International who will speak about the foundation’s work in supporting cardiac surgery for children in need;
  • August 17th –- Hon. Jonah Triebwasser, Host of Radio Rotary and a Red Hook Rotarian
  • August 31st – Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program participants Mikela Holt, Dean Kaknis, Elle Ping, Alex Selchert, Grace Steele, Serena Toback, and Mia Tsang.


For more information on becoming a member, attending as a guest to hear a particular speaker, or to reserve a speaker’s spot at an upcoming meeting, please call Lou Trapani at 845-876-3088, ext. 14.

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