Affiliate of the Week: Environment Council of Rhode Island

In honor of our 80th Anniversary celebration throughout 2016, the National Wildlife Federation is recognizing each of our Affiliate Partners in a special “Affiliate of the Week” blog series that showcases the dedicated conservation efforts taking place across the country each day. This week we celebrate our affiliate, Environment Council of Rhode Island, and their commitment to wildlife.

ECRI logo

Who We Are

The Environment Council of Rhode Island (ECRI) is a coalition of over 60 Rhode Island organizations and individuals whose mission is to serve as an effective voice for developing and advocating policies and laws that protect and enhance the environment.

The Council embodies and promotes the vision that together we can build an ecologically healthy future in a sustainable economy for Rhode Island. ECRI provides its members with a forum for sharing information and technical expertise, and provides policymakers and the public with informed opinions and position statements.

ECRI was founded in 1972 and is the successor organization to the Rhode Island Wildlife Federation, which was founded in 1938.

Red fox. Photo by Tianne Strombeck, National Wildlife Photo Contest

Red fox. Photo by Tianne Strombeck, National Wildlife Photo Contest

What We Do

ECRI has two main functions that are divided amongst two sister organizations: ECRI advocates for conservation and environmental protection, and the ECRI Education Fund focuses on education, nurturing, educational events, and supporting environmental coalitions.

Advocacy

ECRI focuses on environmental advocacy. It provides a network for environmental organization staff and volunteers across the state to share information, support each other, and speak with one voice as they advocate for policies at the Rhode Island Statehouse. ECRI also supports the work of these advocates by bringing members with limited presence at the Statehouse together for a lobby day to amplify their voices, and by circulating a Green Report Card that grades legislators for their environmental votes.

Conservation

Burying beetles are found only in RI and MA. Photo by Cindy Maynard, USFWS

Burying beetles are found only in RI and MA. Photo by Cindy Maynard, USFWS

ECRI does much of its conservation work through its member organizations such as the Rhode Island Land Trust Council. One new place ECRI is making a difference is ensuring that wildlife and habitat issues do not fall off the agenda in the rush to green jobs. They are working with a variety of partners to move the state towards restoring amphibian habitat with rainwater runoff that is no longer polluted instead of just sending it into the ground.

This year, ECRI started the Rhode Island Nature Video Festival, which highlights nature videos created by local residents. More than 100 attendees came out to see the first year’s films, and the team looks forward to expanding the reach of this program and bringing in more partners, allowing them to connect to new wildlife watchers.

Partnerships

The ECRI Education Fund is a multifaceted project with the goal of fostering and nurturing the development of the environmental community.  They provide administrative services to environmental coalitions, such as the Coalition for Transportation Choices, the Green Infrastructure Coalition, and Energize RI. ECRI can provide support for these long-term coalitions without having to create entirely new organizations.

They also nurture young activists and people in communities coming under attack from the fossil fuel onslaught and mentor new and emerging environmental groups.  This includes helping activists in Burrillville where the community is opposing a fracking-gas power plant proposed for the neighborhood.

Education

Rhode Island schools are facing challenges in keeping life science labs and outdoor classrooms going due to pressure to trim municipal and state finances. Each year, the ECRI Education Fund organizes the Loraine Tisdale Environmental Education Awards which give small grants to schools for environmental projects. These awards honor the long time Rhode Island educator and environmental activist’s grassroots organizing spirit by supporting the entire venture with raffle ticket sales and donated prizes.

The Rhode Island Compost Conference and Trade show. Photo by ECRI

The ECRI Education Fund also puts on an annual Rhode Island Compost Conference and Trade show. Now in its 9th year, the conference has played an important role in the renaissance of the state’s agriculture. The Department of Environmental Management uses the conference to announce the next step for compost management in the state. This year, the agency announced plans to finalize rules that will encourage the development of neighborhood compost depots.

Get Involved

Visit ECRI’s website and join us. ECRI communicates with regular emails about hearings, key issues, events, and other interesting news items for environmental leaders and activists. They also provide an online calendar and a weekly calendar email of environmental issues. Their monthly meetings (except in the summer) are open to the public on the first Monday evening of the month, except when that day is a holiday.

Right now the biggest fight in Rhode Island is over building a power plant in Burrillville. You can help ECRI stop fossil fuels in their tracks. Connect with them today.

Connect with ECRI

Connect with ECRI to get their latest news and keep up with their conservation efforts by visiting their website.

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