NY/NJ Baykeeper Kicks Off 30th Anniversary With Ramped Up Environmental Initiatives

Matawan, NJ–New and expanded environmental and education initiatives and programming will be the highlight of NY/NJ Baykeeper in 2019 as the Matawan-based environmental organization celebrates its 30th year.

The organization will also focus on community-based programs such as citizen science initiatives, workshops and expanded volunteer opportunities.

Founded by Andrew Willner in 1989, NY/NJ Baykeeper has fought to protect, preserve and restore the ecological integrity and productivity of the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary for three decades through advocacy campaigns and legal actions aimed at inappropriate development and pollution.

The organization fights to protect the health of local waterways by shaping and enforcing water quality, land use and coastal policies that impact the estuary and actively patrol the waterways through its extensive boat program to identify and stop polluters.

Through land acquisition and stewardship, NY/NJ Baykeeper’s conservation program has helped preserve more than 3,000 thousand acres of community-based urban natural areas.

Baykeeper was the pioneer of oyster restoration in New Jersey’s portion of the Raritan Bay, creating the Bayshore area’s very first living shoreline. NY/NJ Baykeeper has restored more than 3.5 million oysters back to NY-NJ Harbor waters with 200,000 – 500,000 new oysters introduced annually through its oyster restoration program

“Baykeeper has always been a first responder,” Willner said. “When everyone else is running away from the toughest issues, we’re running toward them. If I did anything in the 20 years that I was the Baykeeper, it’s that we converted hundreds of thousands of people to think of the lower Hudson, East River, New York Bay, Jamaica Bay, and Raritan Bay as their watery homes–places where they can go for recreation, fishing, and where they would identify with the waterfront within their community,”

Willner noted decades of work to prevent the loss of the area’s last urban open spaces to development, citing efforts in preserving wetlands near the Meadowlands, Jamaica Bay and Raritan Bay.

He also cited years of work advocating for Natural Resource Damages from corporate polluters, as well as fighting the issues of stormwater pollution, combined sewer overflows, and PCB pollution in the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary.

“Hardcore advocacy has always been the defining feature of Baykeeper’s work,” Willner said. “We love a good fight, even if some take decades to resolve.”

NY/NJ Baykeeper CEO Greg Remaud reflected on the environmental triumphs the organization has seen over three decades, including successful lawsuits against big polluters which forced the cleanup of Lower Passaic River and other waterways.

“It is both humbling and rewarding to reflect on the water quality improvements, toxic cleanups, community conservation and ecological restoration accomplishments of NY/NJ Baykeeper since its inception in 1989,” Remaud, said. “Even more so when considering our talented and dedicated staff, volunteers, supporters and conservation partners who made this happen. Perhaps most satisfying is that founder Andy Willner insisted that Baykeeper take on many of the toughest environmental challenges that most considered lost causes, and we have.”

“For 30 years, NY/NJ Baykeeper has sued polluters, advocated for legislation and regulations to protect and restore the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary, worked to preserve natural lands and open space on its shores, and re-established oyster reefs to improve habitat and reduce shoreline erosion,” said Judge John D’Amico, NY/NJ Baykeeper Board Chair. “These efforts, coupled with our pumpout boat programs, have produced measurable improvements in water quality in the bays, inlets and rivers of the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Area. We urge interested citizens to become members of Baykeeper to help us maintain and expand these programs and combat the adverse effects of plastic pollution, combined storm sewer outflows, and toxic waste contamination.”