George Smith's blog

Woodcock Chooses Three Fisheries Groups

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Three new fisheries groups have been chosen to provide DIF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and his staff with advice, another signal that Chandler is making fisheries a strong focus of his tenure.

Each group consists of activists who have had a lot to say in the past about fish and wildlife issues and programs. I know most of them and can report that they provide a wide diversity of thought.

The brook trout group includes Gary Corson of New Sharon, John Whalen of Canaan, Matt Libby of Ashland, Ted Koffman of Falmouth, Dan Tarkinson of Portland, Dave Allen of T8R11, and Bonnie Holding. The previous trout working group has been disbanded.

Mainers Surrounded by Art, Music, Theater, and Writing

City or Town: 
Brownfield
Farmington
Portland
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Maine is awash in great art, theater, music, and writing. Recent trips to the Portland Museum of Art and the new Emery Community Arts Center at the University of Maine at Farmington reminded us of this.
And we’ll soon be making another visit to Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield, the best place to listen to music in the state. Last Friday night we enjoyed Red, winner of the 2010 Tony Award for Best Play, at the Public Theater in Lewiston.
 Portland hosts the Maine Festival of the Book on Saturday. And we’re pouring through Janet Mendelsohn’s very informative book, Maine’s Museums: Art Oddities & Artifacts, making a list of places to visit this summer. Join us!
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Predation Control May Gain More Bucks

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They’re not the big bucks Maine’s deer hunters are hoping for, but the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife may get more bucks for its predator control program.

Yesterday the legislature’s IFW Committee informed the Appropriations Committee that its highest priority for funding is LD 372, An Act to Reduce Deer Predation. That bill calls for $100,000 each year for three years for the agency’s predator control program.

I can’t say that this new money is exactly in our scope yet, but it’s moving around back there in the trees. I am skeptical these particular bucks will emerge from the Appropriation Committee thicket, but, just like deer hunting, we go forward in eager anticipation.

Ok, enough with the strained analogies.

No Early Start for Open Water Fishing Season

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Opening dates for the 2012 fishing season won’t change. DIF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock, who expressed support for an early opening last week, couldn’t get the required legislative approval in time to open the season early.

Governor Paul LePage asked Chandler to pursue an early opening, and I had an interesting discussion with Chandler last week about the possibilities – especially the possibility of opening up brooks and streams early. That’s where the opportunities would be especially good in northern Maine.

“I’d like to give more opportunity if we can – especially in areas where snowmobiling was down this winter,” Chandler said.

Alas, there was no pending legislation Chandler could attach this law change to, and insufficient time to introduce and enact a completely new bill.

LURChing to an Amazing Finish

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One of the most contentious issues of the 125th legislature was resolved yesterday in an amazing display of good legislating.

When Governor Paul LePage proposed to abolish Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission, and give counties the planning and regulatory authority for the 10 million acres of unorganized territory, it unleashed what promised to be an ugly bitter battle.

And at times, that’s just what this appeared to be. Sometime soon I’ll be writing the inside story of how a unanimous ought-to-pass vote was achieved by the Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee.

Finding Hot Chilies in Portland

City or Town: 
Portland
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Impressed with the renovated Holiday Inn By The Bay, pleased to discover a new favorite at the Good Theater, and ecstatic to finally find the hot chilies we’ve been looking for, a recent weekend in Portland was, as always, a lot of fun.

It’s tough not to be drawn to Maine’s big city when you’re looking for the best in lodging, entertainment, food, and shopping. Our February visit hit all those notes and more.

Red Barn - Great Food with a Healthy Side of Generosity

City or Town: 
Augusta
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We knew the Red Barn was special. Friends and family members have raved about the food for years. But we had no idea that the real story here is one of generosity, community spirit, and family.

Red Barn has great food at low prices. Let’s get that right out there. But the real story is not what they have, it’s what they give.

Every month the staff directs all of their tips to charities. All the sales of whoopie pies go to charity too. And every other Monday night, Red Barn hosts a fundraiser for a worthy cause – with the staff donating their time and the restaurant donating all the food.

Go here for the food. Keep going here to encourage this generous and caring team of wonderful people.

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