The vaguely mythic title of “Riverkeeper of the Wabash” is a good fit for Dr. Rae Schnapp, Ph.D., water policy director for the Hoosier Environmental Council. Schnapp’s got a vision for protecting the Wabash River — the largest undimmed river east of the Mississippi.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who serves as chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper organization, will be the featured speaker for HEC’s 20th anniversary gala on Oct. 18.
In 1841, artist George Winter wrote about the Wabash as “a clear and rushing stream, dotted by small islands which throw their images upon the glassy surface.” Today’s Wabash is much muddier, due to the loss of erosion-reducing wetlands and tree lines. Schnapp dreams of restoring the river’s gloss, by working with citizens and landowners to reduce agricultural run-off and sediments, and educating county managers on best drainage practices that prevent soil erosion. “I want to serve as a liaison between technical experts and citizens to promote responsible treatment of waste and sewage,” Schnapp says.
Schnapp’s counterpart for New York’s Hudson River is none other than Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who serves as chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper organization. HEC is hosting Kennedy for its 20th anniversary gala Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Indiana State Museum. Arguably the most visible environmentalist today, Kennedy has marshaled the law to fight corporate polluters and lax governmental enforcement, serving as senior attorney for the National Resources Defense Council. Gala tickets are available from HEC at 317-685-8800. Proceeds from the dinner benefit the council’s efforts toward safe water. Kennedy’s appearance is made possible by Colts owners Meg and Jim Irsay.
Earlier this year, NUVO honored HEC with a Cultural Vision Award for its 20 years of guardianship of Indiana’s natural resources and promotion of progressive environmental policies. Since 1983, HEC has led campaigns to manage and protect Indiana’s forests, wildlife habitats, water supply and energy resources. Continuing the watchdog tradition, HEC’s Action Fund (HEC’s separately incorporated lobbying arm) is running a municipal election candidate survey, to find just how green, or not green, your elected officials are. “We conduct this survey to serve voters, to stimulate discussion of environmental issues in the election and to provide a basis for endorsing candidates,” says Tim Maloney of the HEC Action Fund. In a preface to the survey, candidates can read exactly what HEC prescribes to improve Indianapolis’ environment. The platform calls for implementation of a water conservation plan for the White River and its tributaries by January 2005; a regional transportation plan, including an emissions-reducing mass transit plan; a plan to increase park land by 25,000 acres while protecting floodplains; and incentives for businesses to recycle and reuse. Candidates are invited to rank their commitment to addressing these land, air and water quality issues. The multiple choice questions have right and wrong answers, as far as environmentalists are concerned. The survey has been sent to a total of 86 City-County Council candidates and four mayoral candidates in Bloomington and Indianapolis; as of mid-September, 33 have responded. One glaring absence is that of Mayor Bart Peterson. The survey invites incumbents to describe their environmental records. Bring it on, Bart. HECAF’s candidate survey results and official endorsements will be posted on the Web prior to November.
What: Hoosier Environmental Council’s 20th anniversary gala Who: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. When: Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. Where: Indiana State Museum Tickets: Call 317-685-8800