Scenic Hudson kicked off a new initiative by celebrating 15,000 Hudson Valley Heroes. The heroes are citizens who have accomplished extraordinary things and include participants in Scenic Hudson's Great River Sweep. Created in 1998 the annual event is the valley's largest volunteer happening, and this year alone it rallied 7,100 people to remove 93 tons of riverside trash.
Also heralded as Hudson Valley Heroes are citizens, business owners and public officials across the Northeast who shared a victory in stopping a monstrously scaled industrial and mining complex proposed by St. Lawrence Cement. Further acknowledged are those staying strong in the 30-year battle to have the General Electric Co. remove its toxic PCBs from the Hudson.
Hudson Valley Heroes are providing the power through their involvement. "Right now the voice of the people must be heard, in a rallying call for a healthy environment and vibrant communities. Citizens are taking responsibility for their Hudson River Valley, rolling up their sleeves for riverfront cleanups, leading school field trips to the water's edge and affecting the course of public policy as Internet-savvy advocates," said Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson.
While announcing its new campaign to recognize Hudson Valley Heroes, Scenic Hudson also highlighted immediate challenges that require concerned citizens, business owners and other community leaders to unite. The group has developed a special Web site to recruit and motivate Hudson Valley Heroes, www.HudsonValleyHeroes.org.
With the site's kickoff, Scenic Hudson will be mobilizing Hudson Valley Heroes to write and e-mail GE, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and key New York State officials to say that they will not have the environmental and economic health of their communities ignored by one of the world's richest corporations.
Counties in the region are facing some of the most severe growth pressures in the nation. Such runaway development has serious consequences. Working farms disappear, air and water pollution escalates and critical infrastructure such as health care, police, roads, schools and other community services is overwhelmed despite sharply rising taxes. To create sound, lasting economic progress and vibrant waterfronts throughout the valley, Scenic Hudson will inspire action from Hudson Valley Heroes.
Through a variety of e-mail activism and participation in the public planning process, these citizens will help advance Scenic Hudson's Principles of Sound Waterfront Development to bring common-sense solutions to growth challenges. Scenic Hudson will enlist help in reaching several goals:
* Entire Hudson River open to fishing and swimming without health risks from toxic pollution
* Clean air and drinking water that reduce risks of asthma, heart problems and cancer
* Every major waterfront community should have a riverside park filled with children exploring nature
* Countless valley experiences should enrich communities: a neighborhood stroll without fighting traffic, roadside stands offering local produce and museums and performing arts providing cultural energy
* Breathtaking vistas that nourish our souls being safeguarded forever.
The group was created in 1963 when a band of citizens took on Con Edison, prevented desecration of beloved Storm King Mountain in the legendary Hudson Highlands and won a voice for the people in government decisions affecting their community.