Lots of News From Deer Plan Briefing

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Eight of nine reports that Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife were required to present this session were delivered this morning in writing, accompanied by a verbal briefing for the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee.

DIF&W’s John Pratte provided an excellent briefing – the best I’ve heard from him in 3 deer plan briefings he’s presented recently, and I will report later on each of the nine reports – some of which will surprise you. Many call for more action, from stiffer regulations for the scents that hunters use, to increased funding.

A significant deficiency in the Maine Game Plan for Deer is funding, and Pratte’s report today provided a definitive listing of the new funding that his agency has been able to raise for the deer plan and the additional funds that will be needed in the future. Grants are the only significant source of funds so far.

Issues and Challenges for 2012 Aired at SAM's Sportsman's Congress

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The 17th annual Sportsman’s Congress, organized by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, met today at SAM’s Augusta conference center.

Topics ranged widely from deer to landowner relations to fisheries and legislative issues. The Congress is a by-invitation-only event that was created to give the state’s outdoor leaders and organizations a look at the key issues on their agenda in the coming year. Three dozen outdoor leaders – including DIF&W staff – attended this year’s Congress.

The governor of the state attended and spoke at the first 12 events, until Governor Baldacci stopped attending in his second term. Governor LePage missed the Congress last year and this year, an unfortunate indication of his lack of interest in outdoor issues.

Rangeley's Farmhouse Restaurant - Small Place, Big Flavors

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Rangeley
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The Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant in Rangeley is exactly the kind of place we hoped to find for you when we started writing this column: small, unique, with exceptional food, superb service, comfortable atmosphere, and wonderful hosts.

And it’s only a short drive away. We often travel 60 to 90 minutes to dine in Brunswick, Portland, Rockland, or Bangor, but seldom think about Rangeley, just an hour away from our home in Mt. Vernon.

Well, we’re thinking of it now, and the dinner we enjoyed in the Farmhouse’s cozy downstairs tavern is the reason. Wow!

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Deer, LURC, SWOAM, and DIF&W Reorganization

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While Governor Paul LePage dithers on DIF&W’s reorganization, we’ve got several interesting events coming up next week.

At 9 am on Monday morning (January 9), the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee gets a status report on the Maine Game Plan for Deer. If you want to know what they’ll hear, read my blog posts about the December meeting of DIF&W’s Deer Task Force (in the archives of this blog). I will be there and will post a report immediately following the briefing, although I don’t expect to hear anything new.

The Lobstering Life

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Let’s hope The Lobstering Life doesn’t turn out to be a nostalgic look at an industry and way of life that once defined Maine.

This exceptional book, published in 2011 by The Countryman Press, is a gorgeous photographic presentation of lobstering. David Middleton and Brenda Berry are professional photographers whose evocative photos may cause you to want to drop everything to become a sternman on a Maine lobster boat.

Well, look a bit closer, because it’s not all gorgeous sunny days on the water! Check page 22, for example, called “winter storm.” Oh yea, they lobster in the winter. Or page 29, “steaming out at dawn.” Oh yea, they are up well before the sun. Or page 107, “unloading the catch after a long day out.” Oh yea, the sun has set before they return to the dock.

IFW Committee Quickly Dispatches Carried-Over Bills

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The legislature’s Fish and Wildlife Committee gathered in work session this afternoon to tackle 7 bills carried over from the 2012 legislative session. The room was packed with staff of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, led by Commissioner Chandler Woodcock, and lobbyists for organizations ranging from the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to the Maine Forest Products Council. Chandler introduced Jim Connolly, IFW’s new Wildlife Division Director, and Mike Brown, the new Fisheries Division Director.

Of special note, Dave Trahan was attending his first F&W Committee member as SAM’s lobbyist, having recently resigned his Senate seat and membership on the committee, and Don Kleiner was there as the new lobbyist for the Maine Professional Guides Association. Skip Trask has stepped down from that position, although he will continue to lobby for the Maine Trappers Association.

Maine Legislature at the Starting Gate

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And they’re off! Perhaps way off.

The Maine legislature’s 2012 “short session” kicks off this week, sure to be dominated by significant financial problems, while a bunch of outdoor and environmental issues play out largely beneath the radar.

I will be there, to keep you posted.

The Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee holds a work session on Wednesday (January 4) at 1 pm in Room 206 of the Cross Building, to tackle carried over bills. Megan Jackman is back as the committee’s clerk and can be reached at 207-287-1338, or megan.jackman@legislature.maine.gov. You can also listen to hearings, work sessions, and House and Senate debates, at the legislature’s website.

Here’s the lineup for Wednesday’s work session.

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