Schalit Leaves Green Agitprop post at MPR for MaineRivers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMonday, April 14, 2003CONTACTS: BILL TOWNSEND, MAINE RIVERS PRESIDENT (office 474-9411, home 474-2557)NAOMI SCHALIT, MAINE RIVERS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR (207-622-3101, x 219)MAINE RIVERS LAUNCHED WITH FORMER MPR REPORTER NAOMI SCHALIT AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTORAugusta "“ Maine Rivers, begun in 1998 as a project of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, has been launched as an independent organization, and has hired Naomi Schalit, former Maine Public Radio reporter, as its first executive director."We had dozens of applicants for this position," said Bill Townsend, president of the Maine Rivers board of directors, "and we chose Naomi because of her passion for the environment, her knowledge of the issues that concern us, and her ability to communicate that passion and concern. We look forward to working with her to pursue our goal of collaborating with citizens and policymakers to restore, sustain and enhance the health and vitality of Maine's rivers.""While much has been done over the last thirty years to clean up our rivers, we should not be content to stop where we are," said Townsend. "Naomi understands that healthy flows are essential for our rivers; thriving migratory fish runs should not simply be a memory from the past; and that dams, while an important source of energy, also have hidden long-term costs in their impact on water quality and quantity.""The growth of Maine Rivers demonstrates the importance of Maine's 32,000 miles of rivers and streams," said Brownie Carson, executive director of the Natural Resources Council. "River protection is often organized in local communities or in a single watershed. Maine Rivers will help local watershed groups share their successes and challenges. We are excited about working with them on issues of statewide importance."Schalit, 45, of Damariscotta Mills, said, "there are very few jobs for which I would have left Maine Public Radio. Working for Maine Rivers is the opportunity of a lifetime. I have a particular interest in, and love for, Maine's rivers. I live next to the headwaters of the Damariscotta River. I have rafted the Penobscot, paddled a canoe down the St. John, and stood in chest waders in the St. Croix. Our rivers have played a major role in defining our culture, history, commerce, transportation routes, and most importantly, they have provided a diversity of life that is exceptional. It is that diversity and abundance that I want to help restore and protect."Schalit has been a reporter for almost two decades, working for the last five years at Maine Public Radio, where she specialized in stories about natural resources, winning both national and statewide awards. Prior to her career in journalism, she worked with non-profit advocacy groups in California, as a fundraiser, administrator and board member.While Maine has traditionally been home to a number of statewide environmental groups, and a growing number of local watershed groups, until Maine Rivers formed there was no statewide organization that directly advocated for the state's rivers. In the last few years, the organization, run by a volunteer board of directors, has successfully advocated for state water withdrawal policies that protect the ecology of Maine's rivers; forged alliances with watershed protection groups across the state; and run citizen workshops on water quality and river re-classification from Aroostook County down to Saco."Hand in hand with the policy and river protection work that awaits us," said Maine Rivers board President Townsend, "we must now begin the task of building an organization. Working cooperatively with grassroots organizations across Maine, as well as local, state and federal agencies, we intend to become a strong and effective advocate for Maine's rivers."Maine Rivers' office is housed in the Natural Resource Council of Maine's headquarters, 3 Wade Street, in Augusta. Recent funding for Maine Rivers has come from Atlantic Salmon Federation, Ben & Jerry's Foundation, Margaret B. Burnham Charitable Trust, Clarence and Anne Dillon Dunwalke Trust, Leonard C. and Mildred F. Ferguson Foundation, Fields Pond Foundation, Natural Resources Council of Maine, New England Grassroots Environment Fund, Sasco Foundation, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Anna Marie and John E. Thron Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, and Tom's of Maine.