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.

SAM Pulls Back From ATV Bill

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 The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine has abandoned its support for legislation that would allow game wardens to stop ATV riders on private land without “reasonable and articulable suspicion” that a violation of law has occurred.

As a member of the Natural Resources Network, SAM supported similar legislation in 2010.

“Board members were divided on the two bills (submitted this session) and on the issue of warden stops, so they decided to stay out of it,” reported SAM’s new executive director Matt Dunlap.

“I hope this is not an indication that SAM is pulling away from its alliances with landowners,” responded Tom Doak, executive director of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine, the group leading the charge for the ATV bill.

To All the Inns We've Loved Before

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We enjoy short get-a-ways to some of Maine’s outstanding inns in stunning settings where we’re pampered, fed well, and untethered from our every-day lives, chores, phones, computers, and television. And while we search for new places to tell you about in this column, we don’t want to ignore our old favorites. This column is dedicated to all the inns we’ve loved before (with apologies to Willy Nelson).


Free Saltwater Angler Registry Coming Soon!

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A dramatic change in the position of the Department of Marine Resources will give all Maine saltwater anglers a free fishing registry, something many of us have worked to achieve for three years since Congress enacted a federal mandate to establish a registry of saltwater anglers in each state.

 Norm Olsen, DMR’s new commissioner, with the strong support of his boss, Governor Paul LePage, has endorsed Senator David Trahan’s bill to create a free registry for saltwater anglers. Before today, DMR had vigorously opposed the free registry.

Last year the Maine legislature authorized a Maine saltwater registry, free for inland anglers but not for those who only fish in the saltwater. This action allowed Maine saltwater anglers to avoid a new requirement that they register with the federal government and pay $15.

Felt-soled Waders May Be Banned

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The legislature’s Natural Resources Committee hosted a hearing yesterday on a bill that could lead to a ban on felt-soled waders in Maine.

 LD 252, An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Aquatic Nuisance Species, is sponsored by Representative Jane Eberle, an environmental leader who has focused a great deal of attention on the problem of invasive plants and fish during her tenure in the legislature.

During her presentation of the bill, Eberle focused on the potential harm if Didymo, commonly called “rock snot,” gets into Maine’s rivers and streams.

Representatives of Maine Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, Congress of Lakes Association, Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, and the Departments of Environmental Protection and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, all spoke in favor of the bill. There were no opponents.

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