Education: The centerpiece of Clearwater's public education program is the 106-foot wooden sailing sloop Clearwater, designed after the Dutch sailing sloops of the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1966, Pete Seeger had the idea that by learning to care for one boat and one river, the public could come to care for all our threatened waterways. He inspired a group of dedicated people who made the dream a reality. Serving as a movable classroom, laboratory and stage, the sloop Clearwater is now in her twenty-sixth sailing season. Across the country and abroad, more than a dozen programs have been successfully modeled after the programs pioneered by Clearwater.
Each year, Clearwater accommodates nearly 20,000 children and adults on-board their education sails teaching history, biology, environmental science and navigation along the Hudson, New York Harbor and Long Island Sound. Thousands more are reached on-land through classroom visits, field trips, community forums, teacher workshop programs and public exhibits.
Advocacy: Clearwater's environmental advocacy program addresses the increasing number of water quality and shoreline access problems demanding action. Over the past two decades, state laws and regulatory programs have begun to focus on our waterways -- but extreme development pressures, from the Atlantic to the Adirondacks, are eroding hard won gains in environmental protection.
Clearwater has had proven success in bringing about positive change. With help from volunteers, contract specialists and pro bono lawyers, Clearwater staff members pursue strategies with the goal to improve water quality, expand public access to the shorelines, promote regional water conservation, protect critical habitats, and clean up toxic wastes so that once again the Hudson River can safely provide food for the millions who live along its shores. The single greatest factor preventing the full use and enjoyment of the river's resources is PCB contamination in the upper Hudson. Because of high PCB levels in Hudson River fish, New York State banned all fishing in the upper Hudson from Fort Edward to Albany and closed the commercial striped bass fisheries on the Hudson River and most of Long Island Sound, costing the state's economy over $40 million a year.
Staff members work with concemed citizens, legislative committees, and state and federal regulatory agencies. As a last resort we litigate to protect the environment. Successful legal actions include Clearwater v. Conrail to protect a citizen's right to sue when govemment does not enforce pollution laws; Clearwater v. EPA to save $20 million for a demonstration project by New York State to remove PCBs from the river, and an intervention blocking an industrial consortium's challenge to New York State's promulgation of 95 water quality standards.
Celebration: Clearwater conducts dozens of waterfront festivals which attract tens of thousands of people annually for music, dance, folk arts, crafts, and environmental education. The Great Hudson River Revival alone attracts 20,000 people annually. The smaller shad, strawberry, corn and pumpkin festivals bring people to the river to celebrate the fruits of the river valley and remind them that the vitality of the region is tied to the health of the environment. These seasonal harvest festivals provide enjoyment for people in the area, opportunities for artists to perform and display their talents, and the chance for Clearwater to spread its message of care for the environment among an audience that might not otherwise attend a slide show or lecture.