George Smith's blog

Woodcock Selects IFW Team

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For the first time in its history, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s leadership team will include two women in the top four appointed positions. Commissioner Chandler Woodcock will officially announce his selections for his leadership team on Monday.

Colonel Joel Wilkinson will be reappointed to lead the Maine Warden Service.

Andrea Erskine will be appointed Deputy Commissioner.

Edith Smith will be appointed Director of the Information and Education Division.

Erskine is a well-respected long-time IFW staff member. She’s currently responsible for many key tasks, including the rule-making process where she works with the Commissioner and his Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council. Andrea also coordinates the department’s work at the legislature and is generally at all IFW Committee meetings.She is the first woman to serve as IFW's Deputy Commissioner.

Greenville Inn - a Special Place in a Special Place

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Greenville
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Quick. How long does it take to get to Greenville from Augusta or Waterville? Three hours? Four hours? Five hours?

It takes less than 2 hours, a quick run up I 95 to Newport, then a straight shot north to the foot of Maine’s largest lake. That’s right. You can get to Greenville in about the same time it takes to drive to Bangor. So why don’t you?

When you get to Indian Hill, poised to enter the town, the stunning view of Moosehead will take your breath away.

We spent a recent weekend in Greenville to attend the annual Chocolate Festival on February 20, and discovered – here in the heart of Maine’s outdoor playground – the elegant, formal, friendly and distinctive Greenville Inn.

Brook Trout Group Hears Report

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The Brook Trout Working Group of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife convened this morning to hear a presentation by Moosehead’s fisheries biologist Tim Obrey, and got a pep talk from new Commissioner Chandler Woodcock.

Obrey had a power point presentation on his Moosehead Lake Weir Project.

Information was gathered over the last 2 years. This was the first presentation of the info and no formal report has been written yet. Obrey is waiting for more data before writing a formal and final report.

NEXTera Energy, Plum Creek, and the Natural Resource Education Center in Greenville, were cooperators on the project. Plum Creek put in a road so DIF&W could access a test site on ATVs. NEXTera paid most of the $13,000 cost of weirs that were installed in remote locations.

Moose Day at the Maine Legislature

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It was moose day at the legislature where the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee hosted hearings on three moose bills.

LDs 163, sponsored by Rep. Mike Shaw and 450, sponsored by Rep. Steve Wood, would allow DIF&W to auction some moose permits to Maine guides or sporting lodges. LD 270 would reserve moose permits for Maine Tribes.

Rep. Steve Wood, sponsor of LD 450 that would set aside 100 moose permits for guides, presented a substantially amended version of his original bill that expanded the auction of 100 permits to incorporated guides and sporting camps.

Rep. Shaw presented his bill that limits the auction of 100 permits to sporting camps. He believes more money will be spent by customers if a lodge is involved.

Skip Trask of the Maine Professional Guides Association testified in favor of LDs 163 and 450.

Legislature Considers Saltwater Angler Registry Bills

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“What a difference a year makes,” Senator Dave Trahan said to me, leaning over from his table to my table in the State House cafeteria. Dave was sitting with officials of the Department of Marine Resources, who were collaborating with him on his legislation to create a free saltwater anglers registry. Last year DMR officials fought Trahan and other legislators who were trying to establish a free registry.

Senator Trahan, Representatives Jon McCane and Kerri Prescott, and I (on behalf of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine) battled dozens of people from DMR and saltwater interests on this issue last year. This year, DMR officials, including the new Commissioner Norm Olsen, with the encouragement of Governor LePage, endorsed Trahan’s free registry bill and his second bill to allow anglers that fish from docks and piers to avoid registration requirements.

Ritchie Briefs IFW Committee on Deer Action Plan

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DIF&W’s Sandy Ritchie, who has been selected to lead the department’s effort to rebuild the state’s deer herd, presented the legislature’s Fish and Wildlife Committee with a new 40-page Deer Action Plan this afternoon along with a briefing on the plan.

“There’s no question deer populations in central and northern Maine are very low,” Ritchie reported, noting that deer populations have been going down since the 1960s. She cited severe winters, predation by bears and coyotes, illegal hunting, and improper deer feeding as the reasons.

Ritchie said the new plan builds on the department’s existing deer management plan, the recommendations of their Deer Working and Deer Predation Working Group, and Senator David  Trahan’s December workshop and subsequent Deer Action Plan.

Tax Credit for Fisheries Investment

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For the third session in a row, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine proposed the creation of a tax credit for those who invest private dollars to improve Maine’s fisheries and water access. Senator David Trahan sponsored the bill on SAM’s behalf and presented it to the legislature’s Taxation Committee, which he serves as Senate Chair, on March 3.

 Matt Dunlap, SAM’s executive director, and I both testified in favor of the bill. Committee members asked many good questions and expressed a lot of interest in the bill.

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