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Salvaging RiverQuest:Time to step up

| Thursday, April 24, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

Is RiverQuest about to be scuttled? That's what board president Jim Roddey says will happen to the long-running and highly acclaimed river education program at the end of June if it can't find a merger partner and/or a large infusion of operational cash. And what a shame that would be.

RiverQuest began life nearly two decades ago as Pittsburgh Voyager. Along with its Explorer boat that has plied Pittsburgh's three rivers, it has hosted thousands upon thousands of students from area schools, giving them the kinds of hands-on ecological experiences of which most kids could only dream. This year alone, more than 7,000 students from nearly 100 schools participated.

But the financial realities have not been kind to RiverQuest. Funding sources have dried up. And given that fiscal prudence has been one of Mr. Roddey's steadfast mantras, he refuses to allow the program to go into hock. RiverQuest will cease operations at the end of the fiscal year on June 30 without help.

The good news is that after the Trib's Bill Zlatos wrote of RiverQuest's plight, some have stepped up to the helm to help. The bad news is that much more help is needed and that elusive partner still must be found. And to that end, it's about time that those who have been given so much along the North Shore — where Explorer docks and now lists (figuratively) — to give back.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Pirates — which benefited from millions of public dollars in stadium subsidies and preferential development rights — surely have the financial wherewithal (if not a sense of shared responsibility) to throw RiverQuest the lifeline it sorely needs and deserves. How about it?

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