One morning last September Pete Nichols of Humboldt Baykeeper was up early working, listening to the radio in the background. Something on the BBC news caught his attention.
“I heard an interview with this Iraqi, Azzam Alwash, talking about his [river] restoration work for an organization called Nature Iraq.” Nichols recalled. “It was this fantastic story of restoring the wetlands that were supposedly the Garden of Eden.”
He decided to learn more. Now, six months later, Nichols is catching a plane to the Middle East — destination Iraq. He leaves this week to go meet Azzam Alwash in person.
Nichols established Humboldt Baykeeper seven years ago as part of the larger Waterkeeper Alliance, an advocacy organization started 15 years ago by Robert Kennedy Jr., initially bringing together likeminded groups on the East Coast. “The Hudson Riverkeeper group was the genesis of it all; that was started by commercial fishermen in the ‘60s,” said Nichols. “There are 192 groups right now, nationally and internationally.” And the next may be Waterkeeper Iraq.
Since Nichols serves on the Waterkeeper board, he’s among those responsible for what are known as site visits, basically checking out new chapters before they are brought into the fold. One such visit took him to China two years ago; this one is a bit different.
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