Amidst murder, mayhem, and tragedy, wildlife stories top the news state to state

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                 Whenever we travel, I like to pick up a copy of USA Today, principally for the State-By-State section that reports the top news story in every state. The April 22, 2015 edition was particularly interesting.

                In Alaska, I learned that the Division of Forestry was warning drivers to “limit their use of logging roads during the muddy breakup season.” Good advice for Mainers, too. In Arizona, the Four Forest Restoration Initiative has created a plan to “save swaths of forest from devastating wildfires” by removing small trees through logging and prescribed burning. Here in Maine, landowners are working on a similar plan to respond to an expected outbreak of spruce budworm.

Legislature hears twenty years of debate over St. Croix alewives – in one day!

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The 20-year fight over alewives in the St. Croix River returned to the State House today. Same issues. Same players. Very likely the same result. But there’s a hint of something more in the air – with an intriguing suggestion from Governor Paul LePage. More about that in a minute.

Like alewives returning to the St. Croix River, Washington County guides and sporting camp owners returned to the State House today to try to block sea-run alewives from getting into the lakes of the Grand Lake region. This issue has been kicked around at the State House since the mid-1990s and both sides remain passionate about their positions.

Currently the United States and Canada have acted together to open up the St. Croix River and Grand Lakes to alewives, causing the Down East guides to worry that the alewives will ruin their existing fishery, focused primarily on Smallmouth bass and Landlocked salmon, the principle fisheries in those lakes and the drivers of their regional economy.

Will the legislature kick landowner relations down the road?

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                We have spent 10 frustrating years trying to create an effective and comprehensive landowner relations program at a state agency. This is so important to our present and our future, for all of us who recreate on private land. And that is all of us, isn’t it?


The Bill


There's lots to do inside and outside the Bethel Inn

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                Western Maine is a particularly beautiful area and Bethel is one of our favorite towns to visit. There always seems to be something happening here. We've visited during peak fall foliage, and cross country skied here in the winter. We've come for their Harvest Fest celebration set up in the Town Common, and George loves to fish the river and ponds in this area. In fact, while I judged pies at Harvest Fest, he competed in a fishing contest. Bethel is a four season destination and the town capitalizes on this fact offering events throughout the year.

The Precipice by Paul Doiron

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If you’ve never read one of Paul Doiron’s novels, you are in for a summer of fun, because he just added novel number six to his group of engagingly fast reads of stories featuring a Maine game warden. And while I enjoyed every one of Paul’s novels, I do think he is getting better and better.

The plot in his new book, The Precipice, hits close to home with the disappearance of two girls on the Appalachian Trail’s Hundred Mile Wilderness. Warden Mike Bowditch is front and center in the search, along with his girlfriend Stacy, a wildlife biologist, and there are enough suspects to keep you guessing – and reading.

Will the legislature act to save Maine’s hunting and fishing economy?

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                The recent study by national experts, paid for by the Maine Tourism Commission, didn’t really tell us much that we don’t already know. Here’s what we read about hunting in the first paragraph of the 128 page report.

                The number of sportsmen who come to Maine to fish and hunt, particularly hunters, is of concern due to the declining numbers over the past decade. In the most recent five-year period from 2009 through 2013, the change in numbers of licenses to hunt and fish in Maine has been mostly negative. Among nonresidents, Maine has lagged New England and the United States with a 20% drop in the number of hunting licenses, tags and permits (Figure E1).


Can Maine reverse the decline in its hunting and fishing economy?

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                 Eleven years ago, Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife received a series of marketing recommendations from national experts. None of the recommendations were ever implemented. In fact, since the study was received, the agency abolished its marketing position and budget.

                On Tuesday, April 28, the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee has scheduled a hearing on LD 668, An Act to Market Maine’s Hunting and Fishing Opportunities, sponsored by Representative Bob Duchesne at my request. This bill would establish a comprehensive marketing program at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, led and coordinated by a dedicated marketing specialist.

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