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New Narragansett Leader

Posted on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019 | Posted in iWR-1-19,News,Rhode Island

Mike Gerel to be Program Director

Mike Gerel, an environmental scientist who has led or contributed to water-basin initiatives on both coasts, will lead the bi-state Narragansett Bay Estuary Program (NBEP) starting February 1.

He joins NBEP as it is developing programs based on a comprehensive study of the health of the bay and estuary that was released in late 2017.

A man kneels next to a dog in tall grass

Mike Gerel

The organization protects the estuary. It is one of 28 national estuary programs accredited by the EPA.

Gerel, who has New England roots, directed water programs on the West Coast for Sustainable Northwest and other organizations, following seven years as a staff scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

He was hired as NBEP’s program director after a national search.

Judith Swift, who chairs NBEP’s Steering Committee, noted Gerel’s work on “the study, recovery, and protection of some of the nation’s most important river basins from their headwaters to the sea.”

That experience, she said, “makes him the ideal person to further NBEP’s work” on “the bi-state challenges outlined in the program’s 2017 report, State of Narragansett Bay and Its Watershed.”

Susan Sullivan, the executive director of the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, also welcomed Gerel.

The interstate commission has been NBEP’s institutional “host” since 2012, providing programmatic and administrative support.

“Through science-based decision-making and authentic collaboration among diverse local interests, Mike will work with the Estuary Program’s partners to address and advance key issues in the Narragansett Bay watershed,” Sullivan said.

The estuary’s watershed includes most of Rhode Island and extends into Southeastern Massachusetts and along the Blackstone River as far as Worcester. Sixty percent of the watershed is in Massachusetts.

Experience on Both Coasts

Gerel has more than twenty-five years’ experience in ecosystem-based planning and restoration, facilitation and collaborative governance, and public policy.

He has held scientist and management positions with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Sustainable Northwest, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and other nonprofit groups, as well as with government agencies and private consultants.

His work has been in concert with those whose livelihood and culture are tied to the land and water, such as farmers and foresters, commercial and recreational fisherman, Native American tribes, developers and other business interests, and federal, state, and local government regulatory officials.

Gerel holds a Master’s in Environmental Sciences from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s in Biology from the University of Richmond. He is a graduate of the Virginia Natural Resource Leadership Institute.

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