A Riverkeeper is the eyes and ears and voice for the river that he or she works to protect. A key part of the job is patrolling the river, identifying pollution sources, and then working to stop the pollution. Riverkeepers patrol by air, by foot, by car, and by boat. All Riverkeepers live in the watershed that they work to protect and they all have a boat – but not all boats are created equal. The boat that a Riverkeeper uses to patrol can be a canoe, a kayak, a rowboat, a motor boat, or, if they are really lucky, they have a powerboat. Potomac Riverkeeper Network just became really lucky as a result of an extremely generous donation by retired Admiral Paul Reason and his wife Dianne. Admiral Reason knows boats. He is a retired four-star admiral and served as the Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet. So when he commissioned a the construction of a custom boat for his family to use for fishing trips on the Potomac River, he didn’t mess around. The boat, named Sea Dog, is a 42’ Chesapeake Bay Deadrise, which is a beautiful, comfortable powerboat that can be used to patrol, to do water quality monitoring, and to be a floating classroom for environmental education. It is exquisite. It has oak flooring, beautiful wood-framed windows, state of the art engineering with jet propulsion, and an incinerator for the waste. It is also in as pristine condition as one would expect for a boat from a former naval officer.
Admiral Reason could have sold the boat for more than a hundred thousand dollars, but instead, out of all the entities to whom he could have donated the boat, he chose the Potomac Riverkeeper Network. In this case, it wasn’t actually luck, but instead Admiral Reason’s support for our mission that prompted him to choose our organization. He wanted the boat to be used to help protect the Potomac River. When he heard about our mission for protecting and defending the river, stopping pollution, providing on-water experiences for our members, monitoring water quality, collaborating with scientists on research opportunities, and educating families about good environmental stewardship, he was hooked. His boat and our mission were a match made in heaven – if we could figure out how to pay for it.
That’s where the Petersons come in. The biggest expense for a large boat like this is where to dock it. And boat slips on the Potomac are expensive. The Petersons own National Harbor, which has a marina with a currently vacant slip large enough for Sea Dog. Another match made in heaven. The Petersons, also great supporters for river conservation, donated a slip for the next year, and we were in business.
So, now it’s ours, and we plan to make the most of it. We are so excited about the programming that we can do with it to show off our greatest asset – the Potomac River – and to step our efforts to find and stop pollution so that the river and everyone who uses it can thrive.