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Maine Audubon cuts jobs, programs, budget

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Maine Audubon cuts jobs, programs, budget

FALMOUTH — Maine Audubon has laid off 20 percent of its 60-person workforce and cut its operating budget by 40 percent to counteract the effects of a sagging economy, reduced grants and private contributions and investment losses to its invested assets.
The organization informed its employees of the reductions in a series of staff meetings Monday, Treasurer Jeff Skaggs said Tuesday. Though he was unable to provide a breakdown, Skaggs said most of the dozen people laid off are full- and part-time employees, as opposed to seasonal help.
"Some of (the layoffs) will take effect relatively soon, but there's also a staggered phase based on the program cycle," Skaggs said. "It depends on the programs scheduled."
All 12 jobs will be eliminated, with a severance package, by September, he said.
The organization also faces the challenge of maintaining its core programs and refining or eliminating others to fall within an operating budget that will be slashed from $3.5 million to $2.1 million, a decrease Skaggs said "coordinates with the drop in endowment earnings and fundraising abilities."
The board has been facing the possibility of reorganization for close
to a year, he said. But with the recent downturn in the economy, it
became inevitable.
Though no previously scheduled programs and trips will be cut, the organization plans to make reductions and changes to those it would normally schedule. More specifically, Skaggs said, unless funding can be secured, some short-term educational programs will be eliminated in order to maintain "in-depth experiences," such as day-camp and in-school programs.
In addition, the group's World Tours will change its focus to stay closer to home, rather than continuing its offerings of national and international trips.
The organization plans to maintain public access to its four key education centers, which include Gilsland Farm Audubon Center in Falmouth, Fields Pond Audubon Center outside Bangor, Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center in Scarborough and Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary south of Greenville. At the same time, it will cease to make seasonal facilities available to the public year-round.
Maine Audubon has a 160-year history in Maine. The announcement to restructure comes shortly after its
decision to hire Theodore Koffman, of Bar Harbor, as its new executive
director, a position he will begin May 1. Koffman is a former state legislator who
co-chaired the Committee on Natural Resources.
"This has been very difficult for us, but we need to focus on our core projects to continue to promote the work we've done for wildlife," Skaggs said. "We believe this will keep us stronger. ... This should allow us to continue for another 160 years."

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.