Emerging Leaders Network

Bronx River Canoe Trip

By Murray Lantner

On Saturday morning June 30th, 20 EPAers, friends and family, including the Regional Administrator, set out for a guided canoe trip down the Bronx River.   The 8 mile trip was organized by EPA’s Emerging Leaders Network, but the heavy lifting was done by the Bronx River Alliance, who provided the canoes, guides, shuttle, gear, and lots of history as well as current milestones in the restoration of the Bronx River.

The trip began on the river in the northern Bronx at E. 219th St., there we were introduced to our two (superhero like) guides, Damian Griffin the Education Director and Josue Garcia a Recreation Specialist from the Bronx River Alliance.

After receiving some brief canoe instructions and river history, we were on our way through a forested section of the river, we saw a black crowned night heron, egrets, and more. It was pretty easy to forget that we were in an urban watershed.    We then paddled through the New York Botanical Garden’s Old Growth Forest section and then portaged around a dam, that was used for powering a snuff mill, and around the Bronx River Gorge, a swift, steep portion of the river

On through the Bronx Zoo where we heard the sounds of peacocks, and saw turtle basking traps that were part of an ongoing research project on the river. After our third and last portage around the dam at River Park at E. 180th Street (the site of a proposed fish ladder), we gained Linda Cox, Executive Director of the Bronx River Alliance, another bundle of vision and energy.  We then entered the lower, tidal section of the river, that started with a swift moving and shallow, rapids section, it was an exciting run and one of our canoes actually tipped.  It was in this stretch that we saw large Combined Sewer Overlfow points, that fortunately, due to dry weather conditions during the trip, were not active.  We then paddled or were pushed (by our guides) over a tidal weir, and then a large NYCDEP floatables boom that is designed to capture CSO and other floatables –it seemed to be doing its job – it was filled with floatables.

We also floated underneath bridges that will be part of a bike/walking path along the Bronx River as well as a series of new parks such as Concrete Plant Park.  We ended the trip at Hunts Point Riverside Park, where another non-profit group was taking people out on the Bronx River in row boats. It was a fantastic trip and we are planning on doing it again next year.

About the Author: Murray Lantner is an Environmental Engineer in  EPA’s Water Compliance Branch who conducts enforcement of wastewater and stormwater permits under the Clean Water Act  at EPA’s Manhattan office.  Murray has worked for EPA for 20 years, and started in EPA’s Chicago Office.    Murray enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and paddling.  Murray  holds a B.S in Civil Engineering and a Masters in Environmental Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University and a Masters in Conservation Biology from Columbia University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Cleaning Up the River, Cleaning Up Lives

By Kiri Kroner
This week I joined several other members from EPA’s Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) to participate in the kickoff of our Chesapeake Bay Expedition. We volunteered at the Earth Conservation Corps (ECC) located in southeast DC and helped clean up a little trash along the Anacostia River. And by “a little” I mean we filled upwards of a dozen large bags with trash in the span of just two hours! We picked up garbage by land and by sea (I got to wear a pair of waders), and a few of us got a little wet in the process. One ELNer said that he’s now going to think twice before using a disposable plastic bottle since that was the most common item we saw during the cleanup. We were told that more garbage would end up in the same location after the next rain storm, but I felt our efforts were not futile. We made a difference that day improving the wetlands in our Nation’s capital, and if that feat were replicated many times here and in other places, well we’d be a lot better off.

I am passionate about ECC’s mission to help inner city kids rebuild their lives by cleaning up the Anacostia River. The thing about ECC that impressed me the most was that this is a community based organization. The at-risk youths are from the neighborhood – one of the toughest in the nation – working to clean up their neighborhood. Many then move on to fulfilling jobs armed with new skills to improve their lives. Not only is ECC empowering youth by cleaning up a river, they are in essence training the trainers, so these kids can help their peers learn too.

After we finished pulling as much trash out of the river as we could (I even found a baseball, possibly from the nearby National’s ballpark) we were joined by Bob Perciasepe, the Deputy Administrator of EPA, who came to wish us well on our Chesapeake Bay Expedition! I was thrilled at the chance to meet with him and discuss issues surrounding the Chesapeake Bay and the future of EPA. Bob is very interested in hearing about what we learn during our Expedition, so we better take good notes!

Follow the Expedition on:

About the author: Kiri Kroner is an Environmental Protection Specialist on the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Team in the Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water. She enjoys spending as much time as she can outside. In her remaining spare time, Kiri volunteers to help people in the developing world gain access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene education.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Expanding the Conversation about the Chesapeake

By Scott Fraser

ELN members kayaking

Would you kayak, bike and run over 100 miles in the sweltering August heat? OK, how about if it were for a good cause? Well we’ve got a few takers for such an adventure here at EPA.

An EPA employee  group called the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) is setting out on an Expedition from DC to the Chesapeake Bay to help raise awareness about one of our nation’s environmental treasures. This group of athletes and volunteers has been preparing for months not only for the physical endurance needed, but also to plan for listening sessions with the public along the way.

Now I like a good challenge and have raced in several Olympic distance triathlons over the years, so I was looking forward to joining the athletes. However, when ELN began planning the Expedition months ago I was already signed up to compete in the Timberman ½ Ironman the weekend before the Expedition. As it turns out, I had to withdraw from that competition due to a sore back. Let’s just say it’s important to use proper form when shoveling through feet of snow – thanks Snowpocalypse 1 and 2!

Back to the Expedition: it runs from August 26th through the 29th and the ELN Expedition Team will make their way through some of the Chesapeake Bay watershed – which covers over 64,000 square miles – to generate conversation about the environmental issues facing the Bay. The team will meet with citizens along the way to hear their ideas for protecting this vital resource. En route, athletes will describe their trek and what they’ve learned from the listening sessions through blog posts, Facebook entries, Flickr photo galleries, and Twitter. Check back to follow the Team and contribute to the conversation.

I think it’s so cool how this Expedition effort coincides with the work I’m now focused on in my new position with the Office of Public Engagement. So although I’m bummed I can’t endure the August heat exercising with the athletes, I’m excited to accompany this group and interact with the public on the lessons we’ll learn along the way (every successful expedition needs its sherpa).

About the author: Scott Fraser is currently working in the Office of Public Engagement in EPA’s Office of the Administrator. He has been with the Agency for five years and is fired up to expand the conversation on environmentalism! Stay tuned next year when he hits the triathlon circuit again and describes the joy of training outdoors.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.