The History of the Waterkeeper Movement

The origins of the Riverkeeper go back to England in the Middle Ages when villages would hire a private citizen to look after trout streams so that no one could abuse the waterways that were owned, utilized, and enjoyed by all of the people in the villages.

The Hudson River Fishermen’s Association first introduced the “riverkeeper” concept in the U.S. in the mid-1980’s when they hired John Cronin, a former commercial fisherman and congressional aide, to patrol the Hudson full-time. This blue-collar association of commercial and recreational fisherman had coalesced in 1966 to identify and bring to justice the Hudson River polluters that were destroying their family fishing grounds. They used law and science to confront polluters and reassert community control over waters that had been damaged by years of pollution and neglect. Due in large part to the efforts of the Hudson Riverkeeper, the Hudson River has been brought back to life and is now regarded as one of the richest bodies of water on earth.

Today, the success of the Hudson Riverkeeper serves as a model for more than 215 Waterkeeper organizations that are patrolling rivers, lakes, and coastal waters on 6 continents around the world to protect public waterways from pollution and other threats. Ten years ago, WATERKEEPER® Alliance was founded to support this global network of member organizations. The Alliance provides a way for communities to stand up for their right to clean water and for the wise and equitable use of water resources, both locally and globally. The vision of the Waterkeeper movement is fishable, swimmable and drinkable waterways worldwide. In 2014, Snake River Waterkeeper was founded based on a philosophy rooted in a sense of public ownership and citizen stewardship of local water bodies. Our belief is that the best way to achieve this vision is through the Waterkeeper method of grassroots advocacy.

Snake River Waterkeeper is a 501(c)(3) public charity licensed by IRS to receive charitable donations.