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In January 2000, former Governor George Pataki announced his idea to establish a one-of-a-kind research and education institute on the banks of the Hudson River, dedicated to the study of rivers and estuaries worldwide. He established a commission of more than sixty experts and practitioners, including both regional and national leaders in science and education, plus representation from five state agencies, to develop a detailed strategic plan for the Institute.

Following the release of the strategic plan in 2001, the Institute solicited site nominations from Hudson Valley municipalities, as well as interested private individuals and organizations. An intensive review process of an initial list of over twenty proposed sites led to the 2003 announcement that Beacon, New York would become home to the Institute’s headquarters.

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In 2006, Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries (formerly known as the Rivers and Estuaries Center) adopted its present name, affirming its commitment to Beacon and the surrounding region.

In 2011, Beacon Institute formalized a strategic alliance with Clarkson University, becoming a subsidiary of Clarkson while retaining its separate 501(c)(3) designation.

Today, Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries of Clarkson University is leveraging science and technology to understand and protect rivers, estuaries and other important freshwater resources. By engaging citizens, student groups and others with affordable real-time technology, the Institute is working to ensure safe water for the health and vitality of local communities. As a multidisciplinary resource for collaboration, academic programs, public education and scientific research, Beacon Institute is helping to advance science, motivate environmental stewardship and inform long-term public policy.