Who are we?
Maine Rivers, begun in 1998 as a project of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, became an independent organization in the spring of 2003. Our mission is to protect, restore and enhance the health and vitality of Maine’s rivers.
Why does Maine Rivers exist?
Since the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, the health of Maine’s Rivers has improved dramatically. But there are still serious threats to our rivers – from the toxins that wash in with every rain storm, to the pollution discharged by paper mills, to water withdrawals by farmers and ski resorts.
So we organized to bring our voices together and become more effective, to find better ways to safeguard Maine’s countless miles of remarkable rivers. We’ll accomplish more by unifying our voices.
Statement on Justice, Equity, Equality, Health, January 2021
In Maine and now throughout the world we are seeing calls to confront systematic racist violence and injustice.
As we reevaluate the mission of Maine Rivers in this time of pain and turmoil, we recognize that the destructive impacts that colonization and industry have on our rivers also degrade and destroy human life. We recognize that these impacts have been more profoundly destructive on the lives of vulnerable and marginalized people, on the lives of Black people and Native Americans
Many of the original pre-contact place names along our rivers and streams are how lost, changed during Maine’s brutal colonial history. The Royal River that runs through Durham and Yarmouth retains that name of the Royall family whose grim legacy is bound and tarnished by the wealth they made through the enslavement and trafficking of humans.
We see that the forces that dammed, diverted and polluted our rivers have also dislocated people from their historical lands, degrading and destroying lives. We remember the Abenaki Chief Polin who in 1739 walked to the seat Maine’s government, then in Boston, to make a case for his people to have access to the Presumpscot River which he called “the river to which I belong.” Promises were made but not kept. Chief Polin was later murdered by Europeans settlers and much of his history lost.
We aspire for our work to restore river health to benefit all. We believe that access to clean water and access to the natural world are basic human rights. However, we recognize that these basic rights that are not shared by all, even in Maine, a state rich in clean water and natural lands.
We realize that there is strength in working to work for a common future with clean water and restored fisheries. We know that the successes of the Penobscot River restoration work came about because of the vision and advocacy of the Penobscot Indian Nation. The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and the Passamaquoddy Tribal Governments of Indian Township and Sipayik are leaders in efforts to restore fish passage in their respective watersheds, the Meduxnekeag and the Schoodic/St. Croix.
While we work to bring back life to our waterways, we acknowledge that we are working within systems that have excluded the voices and experiences of many. We commit to advocating to reduce the impacts of climate change in a way that no community disproportionately carries the costs. We aspire to bring more diverse voices into our river restoration efforts, we commit to finding opportunities to advocate together for our rivers and for environmental justice.
How are we doing our work?
In 2015 the Maine Rivers Board of Directors and staff began a strategic planning process to look back on our accomplishments and look ahead to plan to plan for current and future challenges. Here’s how we are working to meet our mission:
As part of our Strategic Planning we asked for your input with a survey. Here’s what we heard: