DIF&W's Mike Brown Reports on Fisheries Initiatives

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Lots of information was gleaned at a March 13 evening meeting of SAM’s Fishing Initiative Committee. Mike Brown, DIF&W’s new Fisheries Division Director, was a guest, and spent about an hour telling the group about new fisheries initiatives at the department and answering questions. Here’s some of what Mike had to say.

Several new staff members are being hired, including a cold-water biologist who will provide hands-on management from Augusta to bring consistency to regional management of cold-water fisheries. This new position was a top priority for Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and John Boland, Director of the Bureau of Resource Management. It’s included in the agency’s reorganization plan.

Agriculture Conservation Merger Draws Lots of Testimony

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The public hearing on Governor LePage’s proposal to merge the Departments of Agriculture and Conservation drew a standing crowd to Room 206 this afternoon (March 13).

While Republican members of the Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation appear poised to whip this bill through the process (they asked no questions all afternoon), Democratic Committee members peppered DOC Commissioner Bill Beardsley with questions about the mission of the new department, and the cost and complexity of merging the two departments and all their divisions and bureaus.

Agriculture Commissioner Walter Whitcomb offered a little insight into how the merger would be accomplished, presenting a timeline and organization chart and suggesting functions that may be combined. Walt argued strongly that the merger makes sense and will strengthen each interest including agriculture.

Moxie is Maine in a Bottle

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If you take a certain pride in drinking Moxie, admittedly an acquired taste, and like to kid those who can’t man up and appreciate that bitter aftertaste, you’ll need to read Jim Baumer’s second book on the subject: Moxie: Maine in a Bottle. It’ll give you a lot of ammunition for those nonbelievers, and a ton of entertainment, taken preferably with a bottle or two of the brew.

Published in 2011 by Down East Books, and “dedicated to Moxie drinkers everywhere” as if Moxie drinkers exist outside of our state, the book is a wonderful trip down memory lane with astonishing photographs.

On page 27, the photo of Ted Williams jumped out at me. The photo is of a tin plate advertisement with an image of Ted Williams and a bottle of Moxie, and the words, “Ted Williams says… Make Mine Moxie.”

Lucerne Inn - Switzerland in Maine!

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The Lucerne Inn was established in 1800, ten years after our Mount Vernon home. We’re suckers for old places.

We’ve driven by this magnificent inn hundreds of times on our way Down East, but never stopped. We won’t make that mistake again.

Fifteen minutes east of Bangor, this is a good place to stay if you’ve got business or an event in the twin cities, but it’s an even better destination for a special getaway or celebration.

Some of the inn’s first guests, in the early 1800s, named the inn because its astonishing view of Phillips Lake and Bald Mountain reminded them of Lucerne, Switzerland. We’ve visited Lucerne, Switzerland, and they were right!

Russ Black Emerges As Hero on LURC Reform

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We’re getting to the end of the Book of LURC and may have been given a sneak peak at the story’s ending this week. It’s certainly obvious now that Representative Russell Black is the hero in this ongoing saga. It’s rare that one legislator can stand up to his or her leadership and governor and come out the winner. Black just did.

In Chapter One, Governor Paul LePage proposed to abolish the Land Use Regulation Commission, the regulatory and planning authority for the half of the state not organized into municipalities including what we fondly refer to as the North Woods.

In Chapter Two, the legislature rejected the Governor’s proposal and broke out into an ugly partisan battle over differing versions of a bill to create a task force to study the issues and make recommendations. Being in the majority, Republicans enacted their version of the task force.

Legislature gets briefing on DIF&W Reorganization

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Same number of positions. No new money. But the reorganization plan for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is a thoughtful restructuring that reflects the priorities of the agency’s new leadership: Commissioner Chandler Woodcock, Deputy Commissioner Andrea Erskine, Bureau of Resource Management Director John Boland, and Colonel Joel Wilkinson.

This afternoon, Chandler briefed the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife committee on what he called a “restructuring” plan, reporting that Governor LePage approved the plan “several months ago,” but the plan had to be “tweaked” quite a bit to meet Personnel System requirements.

The reorganization leaves the agency with the same number of positions, a few of which have been redefined – some tasks added, some eliminated.

Takings Tops Agenda At Legislature This Week

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A controversial bill that would require the state to compensate private landowners for actions that diminish a property’s value – the so-called “takings” bill – tops the legislative agenda this week. The Judiciary Committee will work on the bill at 1 pm on Thursday (March 9).

I just waded through a 14-page report from Peggy Reinsch, Legislative Analyst for the Judiciary Committee – and that’s just the summary of the public hearing! This is a very complex issue, with vocal proponents and opponents. The original bill has significant problems, so it’s sure to be amended, if it even emerges from the committee.

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