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Remembering Nancy Wallace and Her Legacy at the Alliance

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Nancy Wallace died on February 15 at her home in Massachusetts. She was 93. In important ways the Bronx River Alliance stands on Mrs. Wallace’s shoulders for the work she did in bringing the community together to clean up the Bronx River. In the 1970s and 1980, when she and Ruth Anderberg organized the Bronx River Restoration, the River was a mess. It was a dumping ground for all sorts of debris including unwanted cars. Not only did the River need to be cleaned up, its reputation as a free disposal site needed to be changed to the cherished amenity it is today not only for the local community, but for the city as a whole. That work of cleanup and mindset change began anew with the work of the Bronx River Restoration in 1973. Earlier cleanup efforts are notable with the completion of the Bronx River Parkway in 1925. Mrs. Wallace’s work brought earlier efforts into the modern period. The Bronx River Alliance when it was established in 2001 took over continues and expands the work of the Bronx River Restoration.

I met Mrs. Wallace in the late 1990s when as a high school teacher I joined her organization for training in river water testing. Their idea was to train teachers using “black box” testing kits so they could bring their students to the River. Mrs. Wallace’s organization offered continuing support for teachers wanting to do Bronx River education. Those receiving the training met periodically to discuss current river events – where were the dumping sites? How much was being removed? Where was the funding coming from? What is the River’s history? What could we do to help? What Mrs. Wallace started has now become the sophisticated river monitoring and data collection work that the Bronx River Alliance continues to do.

Nancy Wallace’s legacy is in the current structure of data collection informing the hard work of the Bronx River Alliance. It precedes the hard work of erosion control, the continued debris removal, the bringing community to the river, the frequent festive Bronx River events and the return of wild life to the River.

Thank you Nancy.

Written by Maarten de Kadt


About the Bronx River Alliance

The Bronx River Alliance is a coordinated voice for the river that works in partnership to protect, improve and restore the Bronx River corridor so that it can be a healthy ecological, recreational, resource for the communities through which it flows.

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