George's Outdoor News

George’s new outdoor issues blog. He goes all over the state. He listens. And he reports on issues of concern to sportsmen, conservationists, and environmentalists.

Landowner Relations Conference Draws A Crowd

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 “I don’t think the relationship between landowners and land users has ever been better.”

That comment by Tom Doak, executive director of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine, provided a great opening for this year’s landowner relations conference cosponsored by SWOAM and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

But Doak’s comment was tempered by SAM’s executive director Dave Trahan, who said, “There has never been a strong commitment to landowner relations,” as he welcomed the group to the LL Bean Room in SAM’s Augusta conference center.

Both men are right, but Trahan aptly summarized the problem. We’ve talked about good landowner relations for decades, with little follow-up, to the point that we have jeopardized Maine’s tradition of free public access to private land. We need a little less talk, and a lot more action.

Maine Deer Game Plan Examined by Task Force

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After nearly 6 hours spent hearing a status report on the Maine Game Plan for Deer from staff of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, comments from the members of the state’s Deer Task Force were remarkably modest, if not downbeat.

“Its pretty much status quo, where we were two years ago,” said Aroostook County’s veteran DIF&W Regional Wildlife Biologist Rich Hoppe.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” said task force member Matt Libby, a sporting camp owner, who asked some of the most pointed questions about the lack of progress in protecting deer wintering area.

“It’s coming. They’re doing something. But I know I’m too old to see it happen,” reported Don Dudley of Mattagamon, a leader of the Maine Professional Guides Association.

This perfect ice shack could be yours!

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Cianbro built the best ice shack in Maine. And you can buy it.

On November 18, The Maine Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors hosted its first annual Maine Super Shack Build at the Augusta Civic Center. I was one of the judges, along with Harry Vanderweide, editor of The Maine Sportsman, Doug Denico, Director of the Maine Forest Service, Pat Sirois, Director of the Maine Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and State Senator Tom Martin, an ABC member.

ABC Maine President James Cote escorted us through four imaginative shacks constructed by competitors RJ Grondin & Sons, IRC Industrial Roofing Companies, Cianbro, and Storey Brothers Excavation.

Deer Predation System Needs Fixing

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The system governing the killing of deer and other animals that are damaging property or crops is a mess, sloppily managed, and lacking many of the required reports.

I asked Colonel Joel Wilkins of Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for a chance to look at all of the required permits and reports for 2010, waiting patiently for several months while the material was collected at the agency’s Augusta headquarters, and finally receiving copies of the documents a few weeks ago.

Pickering Commission Recommends Hunting Law Changes

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SAM’s Pickering Commission to Reduce and Clarify Maine’s Hunting Laws was organized in 2011 with the help of a grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund. I was hired to organize and lead the Commission.

A distinguished group of Commission members met twice and did a lot of work before, between, and after meetings. Included were three legislators who serve on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, two members of DIF&W’s Advisory Council, DIF&W’s Deputy Commissioner, a Captain of the Warden Service, and a good cross section of sportsmen from state organizations and local fish and game clubs.

The Commission’s final report and recommendations are attached to this column.

DIF&W Reorganization and New Hatchery May Be Coming in 2011

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Commissioner Chandler Woodcock says his meeting last Friday (November 18) with Governor Paul LePage went well. Woodcock presented his plan to reorganize his agency, in the form of a chart, and said the Governor asked good questions and was supportive.

The Governor will ponder the plan for a while, with no particular timetable for the adoption and implementation of the plan, although it will certainly be moving forward in 2012. Woodcock expects to meet again with the Governor to answer any additional questions he may have about the plan.

Woodcock also has some interest in a proposal from Poland Spring to turn over the Dead River fish hatchery to the department. Poland Spring got the hatchery when it purchased the land for a new source of spring water, and has kept the hatchery going, at a minimal level, with the hope that the department – or a private entity – would have an interest in it.

Ice Shack Contest Scheduled for Friday

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Who can build the best ice shack in Maine?

We’ll find out on Friday when the Maine Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors hosts its first annual Maine Super Shack Build at the Augusta Civic Center.

ABC Maine President James Cote reports that five competitors have put their reputations on the line:  RJ Grondin & Sons, Coutts Bros., IRC Industrial Roofing Companies, Cianbro, and Storey Brothers Excavation.

I’ll be one of the judges and will looking for ice shacks that are comfortable and fishable. Size matters, too, although James has restricted the competition to shacks no larger than 8 feet by 8 feet. 

The shacks will be entirely constructed at the Civic Center, starting at 9 am, while judging begins at 3 pm. The event is open to the public. Bring you cameras.

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