2012 Turkey Hunt Starts Late

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Representative Steve Wood got the conversation started at a work session of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, asking Commissioner Chandler Woodcock if he’d consider starting the 2012 turkey season earlier.

 The department adopted a new rule governing the turkey season, calling for the spring season to always start the Monday closes to May 1. That means this year’s hunt won’t open until April 30 (April 28 is Youth Day). The last day of the hunt is June 2.

With the early spring we’re experiencing, turkey hunters are anxious to start hunting.

Chandler didn’t give Steve a definitive answer, so after the committee’s work was done, Steve pressed his case with the Commissioner. I took part in that conversation, arguing for an earlier start, something I’ve been advocating for years in discussions with DIF&W’s top bird biologist, Brad Allen.

DIF&W Financial Situation Continues to Deteriorate

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Early this afternoon I received a new Monthly Financial Update on the financial activities of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, prepared by Gilbert Bilodeau, Deputy Director of the Natural Resources Service Center. This report covers the year-to-date fiscal year from July 1,2011 to February 29, 2012.

The gap between the amount of revenue DIF&W projected and the amount it received continues to widen. Last month the department was $900,000 short of its projected revenue. This month they are a stunning $1,162,210 short.

Not long ago, the agency downgraded its revenue projections for the year.

Snowmobile registration revenue for the same period in the previous fiscal year was $190,063 more. Likewise for ATVs, with this year’s revenue $60,000 less than last year’s at this point.

Governor Shuts Money Door on DIF&W

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Governor Paul LePage has slammed the money door on Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, refusing to support Senate President Kevin Raye’s bill that was a final desperate attempt to come to the aid of this beleaguered agency.

Kevin stuck his toe in the door and has kept it open a crack, but he’s more likely to lose his toe than convince LePage to provide any funding to DIF&W.

Today, given the Governor’s refusal to support his bill, Kevin asked the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee to table, once again, his bill. It will be considered sometime next week, but for me, that’s just postponing the inevitable. It’s dead, going nowhere without the Governor’s support.

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!

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