Deer and Landowner Relations Initiatives Planned

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All eyes are focused on the State Capitol these days. And much of my work is now cast in that direction. Senators Dave Trahan (left) and Tom Saviello are among the outstanding sportsmen-legislators I am working with.


Last Thursday I hosted a conference sponsored by the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM) and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) to gather ideas for a comprehensive statewide landowner relations program. The conference, held at SAM’s Augusta headquarters, was funded by SWOAM and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and organized by my sister Edie Smith.


Beardsley Still In Abbott Still Out

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 Bill Beardsley Update

 After predicting the announcement that Bill Beardsley would be Governor-elect Paul LePage’s Conservation Commissioner, Dan Demeritt, LePage’s Communications Director, told me that LePage choose to go with “safety and security” with his first announcements of cabinet positions. I note that my prediction that John Morris would be Public Safety Commissioner was correct.

 Yesterday, Bill Beardsley delivered a brilliant speech at the landowner relations conference. The room was packed with landowners and outdoor recreationists. Nearly all believe Bill to be Governor-elect Paul LePage’s choice for Conservation Commissioner.

Abbott Turns Down IFW Post

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Steve Abbott has decided he doesn’t want to be Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, a position he was offered recently by Governor-elect Paul LaPage.

Insiders say LaPage has three other candidates for this important position at the top of his list: Chandler Woodcock, Craig McLaughlin, and Art Wheaton.

The popular Abbott was a candidate in this year’s Republican gubernatorial primary after giving up his long-time job as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Susan Collins. Abbott is currently serving as Athletic Director at the University of Maine in Orono. He is an enthusiastic and lifelong hunter and angler.

At the Orono Sportsman’s Show last spring, Steve had the best booth I’ve ever seen for a political candidate. The booth featured large photos of Steve, throughout his life, with deer, turkeys, and fish he had harvested. In the booth was Steve’s father, Walter Abbott, U. Maine’s legendary former football coach and athletic director. It was my privilege to stand there and listen to Walter’s hunting and fishing stories for about an hour. Steve comes from good stock!

Each of the three top candidates would unique attributes to the position.

IFW on LePage's Back Burner

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Apparently the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will simmer a while on Governor-elect Paul LePage’s back burner before he turns up the heat and starts looking for new leadership for this beleaguered state agency.

Transition teams are already at work on the state budget, energy, economic development, education, health care, workforce pensions, and regulatory reform. But nothing is happening for fish and wildlife.

Insiders tell me that it will be a couple of weeks before members of the Transition Advisory Team area asked to interview candidates for IFW Commissioner.

While the Governor-elect promised, “the most transparent transition in history,” he is falling short of that standard so far. I have asked repeatedly for a list of Transition Advisory Team members who are responsible for natural resource agencies, for notices and agendas of that team’s meetings, and for the opportunity to attend those meetings. I’ve gotten none of it.

Kennebec Pizza is out of this World.

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The pizza is otherworldly, but I’ve always considered Brooklyn to be otherworldly. Steve Deptula owns a restaurant, brick oven pizza place, and microbrewery in Brooklyn. And now he’s brought his scrumptious pizzas to Hallowell, Maine. Steve says the pizza he’s serving in Hallowell is common “all over New York City.” I’ll take his word for it. I’m not going down there to check it out. I will be checking out the pizza on a regular basis at Steve’s Kennebec Pizza on Hallowell’s Main Street. It just may be the best pizza in Maine. Understanding that a photo is worth 1000 words, take a gander at the lead photo with this blog. It’s a Pizza Naplitano, prosciutto with provolone and mozzarella cheeses topped with fresh Romano tomatoes. It was as good as it looks. Steve makes his dough from “the world’s finest Italian flour,” double ground. It’s like no flour I’ve ever handled, very delicate and soft. He also makes his own pesto sauce and mozzarella cheese. He regularly offers five varieties of pizza and always has one special pizza.

LePage Announces Transition Advisory Team - Beardsley Likely DOC Commissioner

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Thirty five Mainers have been tapped to serve as a “Transition Advisory Team” for Governor-elect Paul LePage who presented the team at a press conference this morning at the State House.

LePage surprised his audience when, in answer to a reporter’s question, he said he’d already chosen two members of his cabinet, the Commissioners of Conservation and Public Safety. He gave no hint about who those commissioners would be.

Speculation inside and outside the State House indicates that Bill Beardsley will be LePage’s Commissioner of Conservation. Beardsley attended this morning’s press conference and was announced as a member of the Transition Advisory Team.

Beardsley impressed many people, including his opponent Paul LePage, during his 2010 primary campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. While he is widely known for his 23 years at Husson College and his extensive work in the field of education, he also offers lots of experience in the fields of forestry and conservation.

It was my pleasure a few years ago to participate in a study by Beardsley of trends in forest land ownership and access. He’s extremely bright and capable.

Governor-elect Paul LePage's Promises to Sportsmen

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In his candidate survey submitted to the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, his interview with the SAM Board, and his Wildfire TV gubernatorial debate on conservation and environmental issues, Governor-elect Paul Page made the following promises.

To submit a budget that funds at least 20 percent of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s budget with General Fund tax money, and to oppose any budget that fails to do that.

To support an initiative from SAM, The Nature Conservancy, and Maine Audubon, to win a Constitutionally protected source of public funding for IF&W (by allocating a small percentage of the sales tax on outdoor gear to IFW).

To appoint, as IF&W Commissioner, “someone with knowledge, experience in managing natural resources, such as forest, water, hunting and fishing. Demonstrated skills in leadership and ability to see the big picture.” He also said he would appoint professionals to DIF&W’s top positions, rather than people from the political system, including former legislators.

To oppose any proposal to merge IF&W into a large natural resource department.

To defend existing hunting opportunities in parks and public lands.

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