After landing at JFK International Airport just outside New York City, we loaded our rented Chevy Suburban with all of our equipment and luggage, then piled in for a 90 minute drive to Peekskill, N.Y., a picturesque village situated on the Hudson River about 40 miles north of Manhattan.
The following morning, for day 1 of filming, we conducted our first official interview of the trip with Paul Gallay, executive director of the Hudson Riverkeeper, a grassroots environmental protection organization now in its 50th year of existence.
Gallay, an attorney by training who spent several years doing environmental work on behalf of the state of New York, has held his current position for eight years. He explained that the Hudson was a lifeline to the early European settlers who used it for drinking water, for transportation, and for industry.
But 400 years of abuse and neglect began to take its toll on the Hudson, which became fouled with pollutants and contaminants.
“People used the Hudson as sewer,” Gallay said. “The modern environmental movement was started on the Hudson. We’ve got this huge responsibility and we’ve got to keep the momentum going forward.”
Much of the momentum Gallay refers to is associated with the Clean Water Act (CWA), a set of federal laws approved by Congress and enacted in the early 1970s. Just like the Hudson, other major rivers, including the Mississippi, the Cuyahoga and others across North America, faced similar threats, all requiring swift and forceful action.
We will be learning more about the CWA with our other resources throughout the trip. Stay tuned for more insights!
To see more photos of our time near the Hudson River, please visit our Hudson River gallery page.