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.

Get ready for lively debates on 68 fish and wildlife bills

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 Interest in fish and wildlife issues at the legislature seems to be waning. While the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee traditionally gets over 100 bills each session, only 68 are coming their way this year. A few more may arrive late, including from the LePage Administration which can submit bills anytime during the session, but the committee is unlikely to consider more than 75 bills.

Representative Steve Woods gets the prize for submitting the most bills, seven (10 percent), although seven of the committee’s bills were also proposed by me. And yes, I know I am not a committee member, although I always joked that I’d like to sit in the vacant seat at the far end of the IF&W Committee’s table. I wrote about my bills, including a list of sponsors, in an earlier outdoor news post this week, so I won’t repeat any of that information here.

Legislature’s Environmental Agenda includes mining, lakes, LMF Bond

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                It’s mostly reruns of environmental issues this year at the Maine legislature, including another stab at two major issues that sharply divided the last session: mining and lake protection. Insiders expect another attempt on the part of the administration to increase wood harvests on public lands, a proposal that failed last session largely because of the size of the harvests and the fact the governor wanted to divert the money away from public lands.

                It’s the rumors that are always most interesting. I’ve heard from several good sources that Governor LePage will try to move state parks out of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, to the Tourism Commission in the Department of Economic and Community Development. Public lands would remain in the Ag Department.

Seven Super Bills for the 2015 Legislative Session

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 I have proposed seven bills for the 2015 legislative session. My wife Linda asked if it is normal for a private citizen to submit bills, especially seven of them, and, ahem, of course not! But I can’t help myself. I know it’s perverse, but I love the legislative process! Here are the summaries of my seven legislative proposals, sponsored by an outstanding group of legislators.

An Act to Establish a Comprehensive Hunting License, sponsored by Representative Mike Shaw. Description: Create a single comprehensive hunting license covering all hunting opportunities, and repeal all other hunting licenses and permits. This license will not include lottery applications or fishing licenses, except that a combination hunting and fishing license can be offered. Residents would pay $38 and nonresidents $144 for the comprehensive hunting license.

Comments due by January 25 on complete repeal and replacement of Maine’s boating rules

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 If you enjoy boating in Maine, you better check out proposed new boating rules – all 25 pages of them.

Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is proposing “a complete repeal and replace of the current boating rules” to bring them into compliance with the Code of Federal Regulations regarding the safe operation of boats.

Perhaps you think you are already operating your boat safely. Maybe not!

DIF&W and the Department of Marine Resources are working together to adopt these new rules under the Federal Boating Safety Act administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. It is comforting to know that our federal officials are looking out for us.

Coyote Advocate claims coyotes are a “lot like us.”

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 Give Geri Vistein credit. She is a tireless advocate for the coyote. And with a masters degree in wildlife biology, she is articulate and focused on her mission – to be the voice for the coyote.

Ironically, at about the same time on Wednesday morning that I am speaking at the annual meeting of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine at the Augusta Civic Center, Vistein will be speaking about coyotes in a different room at the Civic Center. The annual Agricultural Trades Show is scheduled at the Civic Center on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I speak at 10:20 am on Wednesday while Vistein’s talk is scheduled for 11 am.

I will be talking about my book, A Life Lived Outdoors, and the landowner relations legislation that I’ve proposed and Representative Ellie Espling has sponsored.

Vistein was profiled today in the Maine Sunday Telegram. Her remarks are stunning and provocative. Here’s a bit of what she told writer Mary Pols.

George and Harry debate moose – no, not literally!

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Wildlife biologists are flying over the north woods now, counting moose. Must be fun! Recently, Harry Vanderweide, former editor of The Maine Sportsman and my co-host on the TV talk show Wildfire, and I debated moose. Well, we didn’t actually debate moose, mostly because they can’t talk. We debated moose issues. Here’s how it went.

 

George: Moose populations are declining rapidly.

Harry: No they are not. That’s ridiculous.

George: Last winter Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife tagged 60 moose and half of them died of ticks, including 80 percent of the calves.

Will Governor LePage keep his promises to Maine sportsmen?

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 On Friday, Governor Paul LePage will present his new two-year budget. And the big question for Maine sportsmen is this: will he keep the promises he made to us more than 4 years ago?

                In his first campaign for governor, LePage promised the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine that he would fund 20 percent of the budget of Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife with General Fund money collected from all taxpayers. That would be a simple recognition that the agency does a lot of work for the general public.

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