The EMERALD COASTKEEPERŪ, INC. is a part of the Water Keeper Alliance group composed of 50 Keeper programs throughout North America. The Water Keeper Alliance is a 501c(3) not-for-profit environmental organization. The EMERALD COASTKEEPERŪ, INC. and the Water Keeper Alliance has its origins in the Hudson Riverkeeper also a 501c(3) not-for-profit environmental organization whose purpose is to protect those communities who depend on the Hudson River, its tributaries and it watershed. The organization was started by a coalition of commercial and recreational fishermen who mobilized in 1966 to reclaim the Hudson from its polluters. They constructed a boat to patrol the river ad hired the first full-time RiverKeeper in 1983. They modeled the program after the riverkeepers of the British Isle who looked after private trout and salmon streams, usually for estates and manors and private fishing clubs.
Over the years, Hudson Riverkeeper has evolved into an independent, member- supported organization that continues to prove itself as the premier guardian of the Hudson River, its tributaries and its watershed lands. By 1998, Riverkeeper had filed over 100 successful legal actions against Hudson River polluters forcing them to spend over $1 billion in remediation costs on the River. The Hudson's miraculous recovery (the river that was once dead for large stretches in 1966 is now one of the richest water bodies on earth) has helped make the Keeper program an international model for ecosystem protection.
The Keeper philosophy is based on the notion that the protection and enjoyment of a community's natural resources requires the daily vigilance of its citizens. The Keeper movement is an environmental "neighborhood watch" program a citizen's patrol to protect the community's waters. A Keeper is a full-time, privately funded, nongovernmental ombudsperson whose special responsibility is to be the full-time public advocate for a water body. At minimum, it is the Keeper's job to advocate compliance with environmental laws, respond to citizen complaints, identify problems which affect his or her body of water and devise appropriate remedies, serve as a living witness to the condition of the ecosystem, and be an advocate for the public's right to protect and defend the environment. Within those parameters each Keeper program is expected to represent the unique circumstances and needs of the Keeper's community waterway.
EMERALD COASTKEEPERŪ, INC. has a full-time CoastKeeper who upholds the Keeper philosophy in the Northwest Gulf Coast area. The Gulf CoastKeeper program also has an Executive Director whose duties are to carry out the directions of the Board of Directors and fulfills other administrative tasks.