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.

DIFW testimony on brook trout bill was embarrassing and inaccurate

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DIFW testimony on brook trout bill was embarrassing and inaccurate

The testimony of Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on my bill to add new protections to our Heritage native brook trout waters was embarrassing, inaccurate, and very disappointing.

Better protection for native brook trout gets lots of support at legislature

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I was really pleased by the testimony and support of my bill to expand protection of our native brook trout in Maine’s Heritage waters. But the opposition of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was extremely disappointing.

Let’s start with the good news. LD 1018, sponsored by Representative Russell Black at my request, was supported by Maine Audubon, Trout Unlimited, the Maine Professional Guides Association, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, The Nature Conservancy, Emily Bastian who directed Maine Audubon’s remote trout pond surveys for 5 years, Bob Mallard a former fly fishing shop owner who now writes for and edits national fly fishing magazines, and other anglers who value these very special fish.

Important conference scheduled on Lyme Disease

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 An impressive list of speakers will participate in an April 29 conference on Lyme disease at the Wiscasset Community Center (242 Gardiner Road). And the really good news is that the conference is free and open to the public. All you need to do is show up for the conference which goes from 8 am to 5 pm.

My columns on Lyme draw lots of readers, so I know you are concerned about this growing problem, as I am. I encourage you to read this article from a recent edition of the Working Waterfront’s newsletter (a publication of the Island Institute) about ticks and Lyme disease on Maine’s islands.

The Wiscasset conference is sponsored by the Midcoast Lyme Support & Education group, a super-active organization that supplies me with lots of important news and information.

Sportsman’s Alliance proposes hike in fishing license fees.

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             The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine is proposing a hike in fees for fishing licenses to fund a new “Maine Outdoor Programs and Activities Fund.”

            SAM’s bill, LD 1179, has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing by the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. If the bill is enacted, resident fishing licenses will cost $26 and nonresident licenses $66. That’s a $1 increase in the resident fee and $2 in the nonresident fee.

Divided report issued on bill to allow Amish hunters to wear red

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                 The legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee issued a very divided report on LD 426 to allow Amish hunters to wear red instead of orange. With 7 committee members in favor and 5 opposed, the bill is far from certain of getting through the House and Senate and signed into law by the Governor.

                At the bill’s publi hearing, the Amish testified that their religion doesn’t allow them to wear orange (it’s too flashy) and asked for permission to wear red instead.

No need to study fish hatcheries, says legislature and DIF&W

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I didn’t catch much with my bill to create a Hatchery Commission. The legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee gave the bill a unanimous ought-not-to-pass vote, although they did direct DIF&W to report back to them on what the agency has accomplished of the recommendations issued in 2004 by another Hatchery Commission.

I can tell you that will be a short report. I served on that Hatchery Commission which worked for nearly four years, utilized the services of a national consulting firm, and issued many recommendations in a lengthy report in 2002, many of which have been ignored.

Warden and other positions restored to DIF&W Budget

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             The legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, which has been sharply critical of cuts in the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s new budget, voted to restore some of those cuts earlier this week.

            I joined others in testifying against the cuts in DIF&W’s Budget at an Appropriations Committee hearing a few weeks ago. Now, the IFW Committee’s recommendations will go back to Appropriations for final action before the entire House and Senate vote on the state’s new budget.

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