George Smith's blog

Bears and bows prowling the legislative halls today

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While animal rights groups were down the hall supporting a bill to ban “puppy mills,” the audience at the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee was dominated by bear and bow hunters. But before I get to that, let me tell you this.

If you want some insight into the legislative process, tune in to Representative Bob Duchesne’s radio show, Wild Maine, that airs on 92.9 FM on Saturday at 9 am and Sunday at 8 am. The show can also be accessed online at 929theticket.com. Bob taped a public hearing hosted by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee on issues including moose ticks, hunting with slingshots, and wearing hunter pink. The show includes testimony I gave on the tick issue.

Crossbows

Angry Birds and Beehive Hair

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I’ve been spending an afternoon each month teaching writing to 25 fourth graders at Mount Vernon Elementary School and it’s been a lot of fun. The kids are enthusiastic and really enjoying our afternoons together.

So far they’ve written about their favorite old things (I told them this story could not be about their parents!), their favorite animals, their favorite after-school activity, and their favorite places outside of Mount Vernon. In the fall we went into the woods behind the school, took notes, and came back to write about what we saw there. It took quite an effort to get them out of the woods! I have tried to make writing fun for them.

The kids have written news stories and editorials. I especially liked the news story by one of the girls who wrote about the shooting contest she’d won recently at the Augusta range. And their editorial opinions were very interesting!

Hunting and fishing rules are too complicated and confusing

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Most everyone who hunts and fishes will agree that the laws and rules governing our favorite outdoor sports are far too complex. If you agree, it’s time for you to step up and help us address the problem.

On Thursday, March 12, at 1 pm, the legislature’s IFW Committee hosts a hearing on LD 157, An Act to Create an Advisory Committee To Review and Make Recommendations Regarding Hunting and Fishing Laws, sponsored at my request by Representative Matt Pouliot.

If you can’t get to the hearing in Room 227 of the State Office Building (next to the Capitol) to testify in favor of the bill, you can submit your comments via email to Heather.Maclin@legislature.maine.gov. Be sure to title your message: Testimony in favor of LD 157.

Pink moose and slingshots are debated at legislature

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Well, the moose weren’t pink – but the clothing moose hunters wear would have been. Today’s work session of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee debated the impact of winter ticks on moose, the pink clothing proposal, hunting with slingshots, and one long-fought fishing bill.

Two months into the 2015 legislative session, the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee had acted on only a single bill, LD 22, An Act to Require Removal of Mooring Equipment. The committee adopted an amended version of the bill, sponsored by Representative Mike Shaw, authorizing a harbor master, code enforcement officer, or a county commissioner in the unorganized territories to direct the owner of a boat to remove that person’s mooring or floating dock from a great pond if the mooring “would create a public safety hazard.”

Deer Herd Recommendations Rejected But Still Needed

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Three dozen outdoor leaders spent December 13, 2010 at the Augusta conference center of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to help create recommendations to rebuild and sustain a large deer herd throughout the state. The group gathered at the invitation of Senator David Trahan. I organized and facilitated the meeting.

Dave and I continued to work on the plan, gathering ideas over the next two months, and created what was called the Trahan/Smith Deer plan.  The plan was consistent with the recommendations of DIF&W’s Deer Task Force, issued in December of 2007, and DIF&W’s Deer Predation Working Group, issued in January of 2009. Dave and I recognized and applauded their work while noting that our plan proposed a much more aggressive effort in all areas and a greater emphasis on some elements.

Travis Ferland is restoring the historic Rangeley Inn to greatness

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Rangeley
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George

                It takes a brave soul to tackle the restoration of an old historic inn, and Travis Ferland is a brave soul. He also has the credentials and work ethic to do it. Travis purchased the Rangeley Inn two years ago at a foreclosure auction and has been working tirelessly ever since to bring this landmark on Rangeley’s Main Street back to its glory years.

                So far, so good. We stayed in the renovated section of the Inn and were impressed with how Travis has retained the historic aspects while modernizing the building. The entire Inn is full of old photos, memorabilia, and furniture, as well as mounts of moose and bear. My friend Bill Pierce, executive director of the Fly Fishing Museum in Oquossic, loaned the Inn some amazing photos from the museum’s collection. The common rooms at the entrance are particularly beautiful.

Let’s make sure Maine’s citizen initiatives really come from Maine citizens

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It’s called the citizen’s initiative because it is supposed to come from the citizens, not national well-funded or even state well-funded groups who buy their way onto our ballot.

Over the years we’ve tried to take the money out of the process, including making it illegal to pay people to gather signatures. The Maine Supreme Court overturned that law in 1988. So we were back at the legislature yesterday, with a new attempt to improve the integrity of the process.

Dave Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, led the way in support of a bill he drafted that was sponsored by Representative Stan Short. Dave presented the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee with excellent testimony, including a lot of specifics about the most recent bear initiative by the Humane Society of the United States.

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