Governor-elect Paul LePage's Promises to Sportsmen

Blog Showcase Image: 

In his candidate survey submitted to the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, his interview with the SAM Board, and his Wildfire TV gubernatorial debate on conservation and environmental issues, Governor-elect Paul Page made the following promises.

To submit a budget that funds at least 20 percent of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s budget with General Fund tax money, and to oppose any budget that fails to do that.

To support an initiative from SAM, The Nature Conservancy, and Maine Audubon, to win a Constitutionally protected source of public funding for IF&W (by allocating a small percentage of the sales tax on outdoor gear to IFW).

To appoint, as IF&W Commissioner, “someone with knowledge, experience in managing natural resources, such as forest, water, hunting and fishing. Demonstrated skills in leadership and ability to see the big picture.” He also said he would appoint professionals to DIF&W’s top positions, rather than people from the political system, including former legislators.

To oppose any proposal to merge IF&W into a large natural resource department.

To defend existing hunting opportunities in parks and public lands.

To oppose any additional state restrictions on ownership, possession, sale or use of firearms.

To oppose any new restrictions on trapping.

To implement the recommendations of a 2004 outside professional assessment of DIF&W. Among dozens of recommendations were a call to create a culture of customer service, increase public involvement, expand information, education and marketing services, and establish performance reviews that hold regional staff accountable for implementation of goals and policies.

To support a proposal to allow nonresidents to hunt with residents on the first day of the fall firearms season on deer.

To support a proposal to allow landowners to hunt on their own land on Sundays and establish some limited Sunday hunting opportunities such as turkey hunting.

To reactivate IF&W’s animal damage control program with intensified coyote harvests around wintering yards from December through March and in coyote denning areas from March to July.

To establish year-round open water fishing on all waters, with sustainable fisheries regulations.

To change the focus of IF&W’s fisheries staff from hatcheries and stocked fish to habitat protection and enhancement. He elaborated, “Frankly, private hatcheries and habitat protection and enhancement will get us there quicker!”

To support legislation to establish tax credits for private investors who pay for IF&W-designated improvements in fisheries, fish habitat, water access and infrastructure that serve the recreational fishing economy.

To privatize IF&W’s fish hatcheries.

To support the Maine Fishing Initiative – created and coordinated by SAM’s Fishing Initiative Committee – including its ambitious goals to create great fishing statewide, double fishing license sales, and triple the economic contribution of recreational fishing. The principles of this initiative are: 1) recognize the quality of fishing experiences in Maine and protect that quality; 2) make it easy to fish; 3) maximize fishing opportunity; 4) manage for big fish; 5) maximize the economic value of fish and fishing; 6) make native and wild fisheries the highest priority for sustainable management; 7) secure appropriate access to all Maine lakes, ponds, rivers and streams; and 8) establish accountability for fisheries managers, decisions, and policies.

To oppose creation of a Maine Woods National Park or any additional acquisitions of Maine land by the federal government. He added, “No!!!”

In his SAM PAC survey, LePage reported that he is a member of the National Rifle Association and the Maine Forest Products Council. When asked about the experiences that shaped his thinking about Maine’s outdoor heritage, he wrote, “spent 25 years in forest products industry, logging, lumbering, paper.”

When asked to list outdoor activities he personally enjoys, LePage listed hiking, boating, biking, snowshoeing, skiing (water and snow), and logging.

On other key issues, LePage wrote:

“LURC needs less power and strength. Favor instead county authority.”

“I support private ownership over public ownership of natural resources. Sustainable resources are key to future prosperity for Maine.”

“Believe current (environmental) laws are too restrictive and adversarial to good private stewardship of sustainable resources. Private stewardship has a direct stake in the game. Large landowners did a far more efficient job managing Maine’s resources than the state is currently doing.”

During his interview with SAM’s Board of Directors, candidate Paul LePage said, “Forestry, farming and fishing are the major components of our state’s economy,” and expressed the opinion that “private management of the state resources” is best. “All four (forest industry) companies I worked for were better stewards of the land than the government.”

LePage also said that instead of using regulations, he would “incentivize” private landowners to protect deeryards and other wildlife habitat. His top three acts for sportsmen would be to “manage the resource, be an intermediary to improve communication between sportsmen and landowners, and brand Maine as a place to hunt and fish.”

Site by Fieldstone Media