Environmental action, advocacy, education, and legal action are the four pillars of the four-pronged approach that Hackensack Riverkeeper employs to protect the public trust resources within the Hackensack River Watershed. The organization uses this tactic to preserve the lives of humans and animals reliant on the river and the watershed it drains. Discover more.

Hackensack Riverkeeper aims to educate the people who live in the Hackensack River Watershed about environmental issues via various official and informal programs. These programs are meant to create awareness among the local population. In all that we do, we focus on protecting, preserving, and restoring the many habitats for fish and animals within the watershed.

Hackensack Riverkeeper encourages responsible and sustainable development as the citizen steward for the watershed. They are also the name of the organization. We collaborate with planners at the municipal, county, and regional levels to ensure that choices about land use reflect the most recent scientific findings and comply with all environmental laws and regulations that are currently in effect.

The Hackensack Riverkeeper has been working to repair the pollution and other environmental harm caused by human activity for many centuries. For this reason, we will never stop looking for the most effective answers to the many issues that have arisen due to the unrestricted population expansion and sprawling construction that have taken place inside the watershed.

Hackensack Riverkeeper is a resource that works to help local, state, and federal authorities identify pollution sources. We also collaborate with these agencies to guarantee compliance with and the enforcement of environmental laws and regulations. We take on the role of citizen prosecutor and effectively use the judicial system to ensure the people get justice. Ecosystems of the Hackensack River Watershed when government agencies show they cannot or will not uphold the rules and regulations to safeguard our natural resources. When this occurs, we can protect our natural resources.



After years of involvement in neighborhood environmental activism, I am volunteering with the New York and New Jersey Baykeeper Boating Auxiliary and earning her.

With the United States Coast Guard Master’s License, Bill Sheehan, a taxi dispatcher from Secaucus, New Jersey, who also used to play the drums and has been a lifelong fisherman, achieved a significant life milestone. The Alliance of River, Sound permits him and Baykeeper’s, the forerunner organization of the Waterkeeper Alliance, to name his group the Hackensack Riverkeeper. Captain Sheehan was honored with the Conservationist of the Year Award in 1996 by the New Jersey Audubon Society.


On Earth Day, the Keeper Vessel Robert H. Boyle, a 28-foot pontoon cruiser, will be christened by the same individual who aided in developing the contemporary Waterkeeper movement. Robert H. Boyle is named for the man for whom the boat is named. During that year, more than a thousand people on board the new flagship went on eco-cruises. By the end of the year, Captain Bill had received the financial assistance he needed from grants awarded by the Victoria Foundation and other organizations. With this help, he can give up the taxi company for good and focus on preserving the river. On the Fairleigh Dickinson University campus in Teaneck, the School of Natural Sciences extends a helping hand to the Hackensack Riverkeeper organization by providing it with a space to do business.


Federation of Women’s Clubs of the State of New Jersey supports the preservation efforts advocated by Hackensack Riverkeeper for the Meadowlands. Hugh Carola and Jared Eudell, a student at FDU, begin their volunteer work at the Riverkeeper office. At Laurel Hill County Park in Secaucus, the group will introduce the Hackensack Riverkeeper Canoe Project in July. This will be the first small boat livery established on the Hackensack River in almost fifty years. Eudell, a BSA Aquatics Instructor, has been recruited for the part-time role of Project Manager. Also, in July, Carola was hired by the Hackensack Meadowlands Preservation Alliance (HMPA), a coalition of public and private organizations to prevent the construction of a megamall with a proposed floor space of 2.5 million square feet on the 600-acre Empire Tract. On December 28th, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt will tour the Meadowlands with Riverkeeper and other guests.


Hackensack Riverkeeper intensifies their two-front battle in support of the river and the Meadowlands, its estuary. The group organizes resistance to the planned Special Area Management Plan (SAMP), which, if approved, may fill 1,800 acres of wetlands in its ongoing conflict with the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission (HMDC). And as Hackensack Riverkeeper leads a David vs. Goliath conflict with the Virginia developer, it’s “all Mills all the time.” The conflict culminates in a tumultuous and occasionally terrifying public hearing in September, where hundreds of construction workers square off against Riverkeeper and its HMPA allies. In addition to volunteering Lisa Ryan to organize and lead the Hackensack Riverkeeper River Cleanup Program, the group hires Kathy Urffer as its first Operations Director.


Hugh Carola joins the team as the year’s first full-time program director. When acting governor Donald DiFrancesco publicly states, “The day of filling marshes in the Meadowlands is done,” accompanied by captain Bill and Baykeeper Andy Willner, the tide in the Meadowlands finally starts to change. By withdrawing its support, the HMDC essentially ends the SAMP; Governor-elect Jim McGreevey advocates for creating the Meadowlands Estuary Preserve. The NJ Legislature renames the HMDC the NJ Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) and changes its purpose to one of protecting the District’s remnant wetlands at Hackensack Riverkeeper’s request. Jared Eudell begins working full-time after graduating, and Christine Hirt, the first of our AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassadors, joins the team in September.


For five individuals, the workplace at FDU is just too tiny. Hackensack Riverkeeper acquires 231 Main Street in Hackensack, the “Capital of the Watershed,” using $100,000 in court-ordered reparations from corporate polluter Columbia Terminals, Inc., as well as a $10,000 grant from PSE&G. 

Thanks to the Norcross Wildlife Foundation funding, the group can buy 12 kayaks for the newly renamed Hackensack Riverkeeper Paddling Center At Laurel Hill Park. Baykeeper’s citizen petition led to financing from the City of Bayonne, which allowed Riverkeeper to purchase a second pontoon cruiser.


The Mills Corporation eventually gave up on the Empire Tract after six years of steadfast resistance from Hackensack Riverkeeper and after spending more than $100 million on PR, shifting its focus to the Continental Arena, where they would construct Xanadu. Captain Bill and Riverkeeper start to push for establishing Category One safeguards on the river’s upper reaches. A federal court issued a $400 million remediation order because South of the Meadowlands is where The lawsuit that was going to be brought against Honeywell International by the Hackensack Riverkeeper was finally submitted.


The NJMC’s overwhelming adoption of the 2004 Meadowlands Master Plan, which conserves all 8,400 acres of the District’s wetlands and streams, marks the beginning of the year with a delayed but welcome holiday present. “I pronounce the War of the Meadowlands finished, and we are now policing the peace,” Capt. Bill declares on that day. Additionally, in January, NJ adopted Phase Two stormwater restrictions after years of activism and Riverkeeper-led education. American Rivers recognize Captain Bill as one of America’s River Heroes and the Person of the Year for Bergen County.


River Cleanup Program

Hackensack Riverkeeper’s River Cleanup Program mobilizes over 1,000 volunteers. It removes over 27,000 lbs. of garbage from their watershed every year from March through November, from New York State down to Newark Bay. Want to contribute to making the Hackensack River cleaner and healthier? Join us and put your hands in the air!

Their monthly community river cleanups, which take place on weekends in various communities along their watershed, are open to individuals and small groups. More volunteers are constantly needed, and there are always new places to clean up!

To learn more, check out their homepage or give them a call at (201) 968-0808. More information here.

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