Mountainkeeper Leads Teens on 150-mile environmental hike

(Original publication: July 28, 2007)

YONKERS - Twelve teenagers tracing the route of New York City's drinking water got a guided walk along the Croton Aqueduct yesterday on the next to last day of a 150-mile hike.

The trip marks the 10-year anniversary of an agreement between upstate communities and New York City to protect the source of the drinking water, which travels more than 100 miles to serve 9 million people in New York City and its suburbs.

Bob Walters, former director of the Beczak Environmental Center in Yonkers, led the teens from Brooklyn and upstate Sidney on the Yonkers leg of their journey.

"It's great to have this gang visit on their journey to the city," Walters said.

The three-week trek, which also included about 50 miles of rowing, started July 7 in the Catskill Mountains and ends today at Central Park in Manhattan. The group camped outside Beczak on Thursday night before continuing its journey yesterday. The hikers stayed in Ossining earlier in the week.

The hike is run by Catskill Mountainkeepers, among other environmental organizations.

"Water is going to be an issue of the future," said Wes Gillingham, 47, of Livingston Manor, N.Y., who is leading the trip to help educate the 15- to 18-year-olds on New York City's water source. "I would like to see this happen every year."

"It's one of the core things that we need to do," Rebecca Miner said of educating people about the water supply. The 17-year-old heard about the trip from her chemistry teacher at Sidney High School.

Gabe Torres, 18, of Brooklyn said he went on the hike because people are wasting water. "In the city, a lot of people abuse it or don't use it for the right reasons. It seemed like something I should do," he said.

Reach Marc Epstein at [email protected] or 914-694-5077.


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