George's Outdoor News

George’s new outdoor issues blog. He goes all over the state. He listens. And he reports on issues of concern to sportsmen, conservationists, and environmentalists.

Don Kleiner gets caught in the Wildfire!

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 Don Kleiner got caught in the Wildfire!

We covered a lot of topics on the new episode of Wildfire, which begins airing May 3 on Time Warner cable station 9 and at www.vstv.me. Each show airs for two weeks on Time Warner on Tuesdays at 7 pm, Thursdays at 6:30 pm, and Sunday’s at 9:30 am.

My cohost James Cote and I enjoyed a vigorous conversation with Don Kleiner, executive director of the Maine Professional Guides Association. Don was once the very capable director of the Information and Education Division at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. He spends a lot of time now representing the MPGA from the legislature to the Steering Committees working with DIF&W to create new big game and fisheries management plans. And oh yea, he’s a hunting and fishing guide too!

This Maine six-year-old loves rabbit hunting!

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 When Tim Winslow sent me photos of his six-year-old daughter Laurelai with her gun and rabbit, I was entranced. So I asked Tim to write a story about their rabbit hunting experiences. And much to my delight, he asked Laurelai to write the story. And here it is!

Laurelai’s Rabbit Hunt

Hi, my name is Laurelai Winslow and I’m six.  We were sitting at the kitchen table when my Dad said, “What do you want to do tomorrow?”  And I said we would go bunny hunting tomorrow! 

 So the next day, we got my gun and we got dressed.  We got out of our PJs and got our masks.  Then we got in the truck and got to the place where we hunt the rabbits and we walked and walked and walked. 

An Amazing Arizona Adventure

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Two weeks roaming southeast Arizona, focusing on the wonderful birds there and enjoying the stunning scenery as well as the nice weather, put us in a very good post-winter mood. Our May 1 Travelin’ Maine(rs) column, published May 1 in the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, tells you about the first week and a half in Arizona. The column is available on the newspapers’ website.

In this column, I’ll tell you more about that part of our trip as well as what we did at the end of the second week in Arizona, before moving on to Terlingua and Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas. Our Travelin’ Maine(rs) column on May 15 will feature the Terlingua trip along with some travel tips.

Slaughter in Saddlebrooke

Legislature set to turn its back on Maine’s struggling outdoor industry

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 Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife must improve its communications with sportsmen, landowners, and the general public, and reinstate its marketing program. Our outdoor industry desperately needs DIF&W’s partnership and a bill endorsed unanimously by the legislature's Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee would get that partnership started. The bill, which reestablishes a marketing position and modest budget at DIF&W, was sponsored by Representative Bob Duchesne at my request.

Unfortunately, an amended version of the bill, which authorizes the marketing position for one year and takes the money out of the agency’s large surplus account, received a 7-6 ought-not-to-pass vote by the Appropriations Committee. Most Democrats supported it while most Republicans did not. The bill now goes to the full House and Senate, where – given that the governor is likely to veto the bill – it is going to take a super-human effort to win. This is very sad.

New law expands protection of Maine shooting ranges

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                 An amended version of a bill designed to protect existing shooting ranges has been enacted and signed into law by the Governor. “An Act to Protect and Promote Access to Sport Shooting Ranges” was proposed by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and sponsored by Representative Patrick Corey.

                The original bill sought to exempt shooting ranges from new rules and ordinances if they would cause the shooting range to close or substantially limit sport shooting there, and to give the ranges immunity from lawsuits. It would have also allowed the ranges to expand, including scheduling more events and increasing membership. Those provisions were set aside in the amended version of the bill. Here’s what the new law provides:

Hunting, fishing, and trapping get a boost from the legislature

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 The legislature has added 19 important words to the mission of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department that significantly strengthens the role that hunting, fishing, and trapping plays in the management of Maine’s fish and wildlife.

In mid-March I told you this story, which began with a proposal from the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine designed to discourage wildlife ballot initiatives like the 2014 bear referendum. DIF&W raised concerns about SAM’s proposal and it was set aside by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee.

Don Kleiner, lobbyist for the Maine Professional Guides, created new language that SAM endorsed, and the IFW Committee amended that language down to the 19 words that won the unanimous support of committee members and ultimately, the support of the entire legislature.

Here is the first paragraph In Title 12, Section 10051, titled “Department established,” with the new language underlined:

Cold Stream may be Maine’s last wildlife habitat conservation project

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 It was great news for sure. After years of work, Maine has purchased the Cold Stream forest, 8,159 acres near the Forks that includes more than 3,000 acres of deer wintering area and lots of fantastic wild brook trout habitat

For more than a decade ago, Trout Unlimited, and the state identified Cold Stream as a priority.  It protects the trout fishery in the Kennebec and Dead Rivers, seven undeveloped ponds which make up the headwaters of Cold Stream, and 5 miles of Cold Stream itself. 

The Trust for Public Land and Trout Unlimited made the purchase, using a variety of funding, and transferred the land to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, where it has become part of the state’s Public Reserve Lands.

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