I’ll be unable to post new pieces on my website, including in this Outdoor News Blog, this week (November 12-16), although the website will still be online and available to you.
My webmaster will be updating my software and making several important changes and additions to the website. I’ll begin telling you about my new services and initiatives next week.
This week, I will be posting news reports in my Outdoor News Blog on the website of the Bangor Daily News.
There is a lot of news ahead. I’m working on a preview of the issues I expect will dominate the outdoor agenda at the upcoming 2013 legislative session, which actually begins in early December.
My not so secret infiltration of the Maine Groundwater Summit resulted in a lot of interesting information, despite the fact the organizers initially declined my reservation, claiming the summit was full. I attended anyway and will tell you all about it soon.
I’m bugging John Pratte at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for a progress report on a special $80,000 landowner relations project, funded by a federal grant. Two foresters were hired to work with small landowners to protect deer wintering yards and other habitat. The grant was initially for $120,000, but DIF&W couldn’t raise the necessary matching funds to receive the full grant. Pratte promised the update two weeks ago, and I’m getting impatient!
I’ll continue to probe the merger of the Departments of Agriculture and Conservation. The Legislature’s ACF Committee gets a briefing this week on the merger, which could be overturned by the legislature in the next session. But in the meantime, nothing much has merged yet. I recently received all of the merger suggestions that Commissioner Walt Whitcomb solicited from the merged department’s employees. Got some really interesting ideas. I’ll share them with you.
I’ll also have a progress report on the much-trumpeted Maine Game Plan for Deer sometime before the end of the year. I’m especially interested to find out how the agency is using the $100,000 the Maine legislature added to its budget for coyote controls this winter, and the $35,000 the agency had left from its coyote control budget last winter.
Two controversial rules proposals will come to a vote at the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council’s December meeting: rules that will sharply reduce deer feeding in Maine, and rules to prohibit the use of live fish as bait on 16 wild brook trout waters.
I’m also expecting big news soon on the Crescent Beach issue, if you are interested in and following that.
And I’m tracking the impact of Governor Paul LePage’s zero-based budgeting process at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. There is a real possibility that the Governor will be turning back some federal dollars that DIF&W receives – something he is currently discussing and debating.
DIF&W will soon launch a new landowner relations program. I’ve been working on this with Tom Doak of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine and Mark Latti, DIF&W’s landowner relations staffer.