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Affiliate of the Week: Natural Resources Council of Maine
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, Natural Resources Council of Maine, and their commitment to wildlife.
WHO WE ARE
The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) is the leading environmental advocacy organization in Maine. Founded in 1959, NRCM has played a leadership role in most major environmental debates in Maine for over five decades. NRCM now represents more than 16,000 members and supporters from Maine and beyond.
WHAT WE DO
NRCM 25-member staff works at the local, state, and federal levels, harnessing the power of the law, science, and citizens. Their efforts help the state and make a national impact by supporting healthy and sustainable habitats for wildlife and communities.
NRCM pairs staff expertise with the voices of thousands of Maine people and businesses who engage in the policymaking process. They keep their members and supporters informed and involved on current environmental issues through on-line action alerts, videos, mainstream and social media; informational films and speakers in communities; and by encouraging testimony, letters-to-the-editor, and communications with policy makers. NRCM‘s staff is involved in over 100 public information venues each year.
Climate and Clean Energy
Maine communities and wildlife face high asthma rates, “bad air” days, rising sea levels, and impacts to the area’s fall foliage, skiing, and tourism-based industries as a result of climate change and air pollution. NRCM works to improve Maine’s air quality and reduce this pollution throughout the state and region by focusing on cleaner cars and trucks, renewable energy production, and energy efficiency.
NRCM promotes solar energy policy, electric vehicle charging stations, and works to ensure that Maine takes full advantage of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) by continually lowering power plant emissions and steering funding to energy efficiency. The RGGI provides an effective model for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, for which NRCM has advocated to Maine’s Congressional delegation in conjunction with NWF and the Climate Action Campaign.
For decades, pollution from paper and other mills along Maine’s rivers have prevented native fish such as Atlantic salmon, alewives, and shad from thriving. This pollution has also impaired the quality of life for the people who live in nearby communities. Many dams still choke waterways across the state, destroying fisheries resources that are worth more than the small amount of power generated.
Additionally, Maine has metallic mineral deposits that have become the focus of debates about making open pit mining easier. This kind of mining could threaten Maine’s waterways and the wildlife that depend upon clean water. Maine taxpayers still foot the bill for past mining clean-ups, too.
To protect and restore Maine’s lakes, rivers, streams, and coastal waters from these threats, NRCM works with partner organizations to successfully ensure strong shoreland zoning protections; restore fisheries runs in the Kennebec River as well as in 2000 miles of spawning habitat in the Penobscot River; and prevent the enactment of weak mineral mining laws.
Forests and Wildlife
NRCM works to protect Maine’s natural areas and wild character, particularly in the “unorganized territories” of Maine’s iconic North Woods, the largest undeveloped forest in the East. More than one-third of the North Woods has changed ownership in recent years. Corporations are buying up thousands of acres in order to extract new kinds of profit, which could lead to the destruction of Maine’s natural character forever. Wildlife such as moose and Canadian lynx live in the North Woods and rely on the area for important habitat and resources.
NRCM promotes responsible land development, sustainable forest practices and increased public ownership of Maine lands. NRCM has won many significant victories over the years, like helping to establish the Allagash Wilderness Waterway; legally limiting irresponsible clear cuts; establishing the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument; thwarting efforts to overharvest on public lands; and pushing for Land for Maine’s Future funding to conserve forests, wildlife, working waterfronts, and farms across the state.
NRCM helps community groups working to promote sustainable practices in their towns and schools, such as reducing the use of plastic bags, Styrofoam packaging, and pesticides. Staff is available to consult with local leaders, provides an on-line toolkit, and shares sustainability successes of Maine communities.
At the state policy level, they support sustainable materials management strategies that limit the amount of waste to be landfilled. NRCM promotes policies and programs that increase access to—and participation in—recycling and composting programs, with a new focus on food waste, in order to stop the waste at its source.
They also promote state policies that require producer responsibility for the end-of-life of products that have toxic outputs, such as electronic waste and household paint.
NRCM is also making investments in the next generation of environmental advocates who may go on to help their communities, state, and the nation.
- NRCM Rising: A year-round program of citizen engagement and outdoor activities for young professionals in their 20s and 30s.
- Tomorrow’s Leaders: An internship program for undergraduates and graduates seeking field experiences in environmental advocacy.
- Middle School Grant Program: A competitive grant process, awarding seed grants to middle school teachers doing a variety of environmental programs with 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students during the school year.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine invites you to become involved by getting their action alerts.