Legislature Tackles Tough DIF&W Issues

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Today we heard about DIF&W’s reorganization plan, spent hours debating the needs of Maine’s Game Plan for Deer, waded through many controversial sections of DIF&W’s omnibus bill, and won support for a new landowner relations program.

John Pratte, Wildlife Planner for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, presented a report this morning about deer population goals that was requested by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. It’s a sobering report, including a lengthy list of important tasks the department is currently unable to do because it doesn’t have the money.

Pratte presented the short and long-term deer population goals for each Wildlife Management District, while acknowledging, “the department can’t currently accurately assess the numbers.”

Grouse and Gill Netting - Coming Up Tomorrow

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Upland bird hunters and wild brook enthusiasts should be paying attention to this session’s DIF&W omnibus bill.

The “omnibus” bill submitted each session by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is supposed to include only minor technical changes in laws, but it’s often used for much more than that. And I need to confess that I’ve used it in the past to make significant law changes.

So I always pay attention to the bill – largely because most other people do not. LD 1732 is this session’s omnibus bill. In its printed form, it includes only four sections, all of which seem to be minor.

DIF&W Funding Gets Batted Around

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A full morning’s work faced the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee as they gathered this morning at 9 am. Up first: a study group’s recommendations to reverse the state’s decline in nonresident hunters. I’ll save my report on that for my DownEast outdoor news blog tomorrow.

Apparently my news reports are aggravating to some committee members, as I was informed this morning that some members of this committee and the Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee, that I also cover, instructed the committee’s clerk to inform me that I could no longer dip into the committee’s stash of candy. ARGGGHH!

I guess there’s a price to be paid for telling the truth!

Weekly Preview January 23 2012

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The legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife tackles significant issues this week, starting at 9 am on Monday (January 23) morning with a presentation of the recommendations of a study group tasked with figuring out how to reverse Maine’s decline in nonresident hunters. (See my previous January 18 blog post for more information).

Following that presentation, the committee opens public hearings on three bills. LD 1613, An Act to Strengthen the Relationship Between Land Users and Landowners” is sponsored by Rep. Andre Cushing on behalf of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine. Harry Vanderweide and I contracted with SWOAM last year – using a grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund – to create a new landowner relations program.

Find Italy in Downtown Waterville at Amici's Cucina

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The sense that we were in Italy overtook us shortly after we were seated at Amici’s Cuchina on Waterville’s Main Street. Well, perhaps with the exception that everyone was speaking English.

Mary and Angelo Carpinito have worked in the restaurant business for decades, but this is the first place they opened and operated on their own and they’ve hit a home run their first time up at the plate.

If you are looking for an authentic Italian dining experience, this is the place. We talked with two couples that night that have been to Italy several times and agreed with us on this.

Nonresident Task Force To Issue Recommendations

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Will Maine ever regain the nonresident hunters it lost over the last decade? Realistically, probably not. But credit for trying goes to the members of a legislatively-authorized Nonresident Hunter Task Force whose report – including an extensive list of recommendations – will be presented on January 23 to the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee.

The presentation is scheduled soon after public hearings on three bills, scheduled for 10 am, are completed. You can listen to the presentation online at the legislature’s website. I am told that the report eventually may be posted on DIF&W’s website. I will be there to post a report on the presentation.

LURC - ing at the Legislature

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Round Two.

When we last left them, the legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee was entertaining an ugly partisan free-for-all over proposed changes to the way Maine handles planning and governing in the state’s 10 million acres.

If you’ve been snoozing, here’s a quick synopsis of Round One.

Governor LePage proposed to abolish the Land Use Regulation Commission and give its responsibilities to counties. The legislature rejected that proposal and in its place, authorized a Study Commission to look at all of the issues and prepare recommendations.

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