The River Project Merges into HRPT

Examining one of The River Project's traps aboard Lilac at Pier 25. Photo courtesy of The River Project

In what is being called a "strategic transition plan," The River Project, the marine science field station now based at Pier 40, is being merged into the Hudson River Park Trust. Cathy Drew, who founded The River Project in 1986 on Pier 26 in Tribeca, retired at the end of May. Richard Corman, a longtime Tribeca resident, recently succeeded her as The River Project's executive director. The change, which will occur in phases over the next 12 to 18 months, formally began on Thursday. 

The River Project was a pioneer in estuarine research and educational programming designed to promote the well-being of New York City's waterways. The protective designation by the state to protect the area's local waters as an estuarine sanctuary was in-part granted due to The River Project's fish ecology data.

"My vision in founding The River Project 33 years ago was to make scientific research publicly accessible and to offer hands-on, get-wet education for all ages," Drew said in a statement. "We believe that in connecting people to the Harbor and Hudson Estuary, they will come to appreciate and protect our rich and vulnerable marine life."

At the River Project's "Wetlab" a flow-through aquarium system uses water directly from the Hudson River to showcase numerous native estuarine species. From spring to early fall, it hosts field trips to thousands of schoolchildren as well as welcoming visitors of all ages. 

The River Project is already working with Hudson River Park's Estuary Lab, which also provides estuary-focused environmental education programming to school-aged children, as well as the general public. 

"Under Cathy Drew's visionary leadership, The River Project has played a vital role in protecting and promoting the long-term health of the river, wildlife and surrounding habitat," Madelyn Wils, the HRPT’s president and CEO, also said in a statement. "In this next chapter, we look forward to pooling our collective knowledge and resources to preserve Cathy's legacy and advance our work in the field."

During the transition period, the Trust would work with The River Project on “structurally unwinding” it as an independent non-profit, after which it will operate under the Trust’s leadership, the Trust said in a statement.