Loved this Portland restaurant!

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                Union Restaurant opened in the spring of 2015. Located in the Press Hotel, it has a contemporary, edgy atmosphere. Slatted ceilings and nice lighting give it an open feeling. The restaurant is in a large space and they stagger reservations here so that service runs smoothly.

                You will notice the large open kitchen as soon as you enter. Several chefs work seamlessly to produce great dishes. There are no secrets in this kitchen - it's being produced right in front of the diners. Local and seasonal food is at the forefront here. They had recently changed over to a new spring menu when we visited. I was impressed at the level of creativity in the dishes presented.

Elegant Press Hotel holds onto its printing past

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                Walking into Portland’s Press Hotel for the first time was an awesome experience. I’d read a lot about the conversion of the Guy Gannett Building, which housed the Portland Press Herald, into a beautiful and luxurious downtown hotel, but seeing it was a special treat. They have managed to create a gorgeous and modern hotel, with tons of amenities, while keeping its history very much alive, starting with a wall of old typewriters just to the right of check-in desk.

                I loved the large and beautiful writing desk in our room, where I sat to write this column, and the famous sayings posted everywhere, including this one, on the desk, from Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” The staff must read this one every day, because they are super friendly and helpful.

The One-in-a-Million-Boy is a one-in-a-million book

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Monica Wood’s new novel is wonderful as well as compelling, no surprise from this amazing Maine author. I was a fan of her first four novels when I first met her while birding in Evergreen Cemetery in Portland. After introducing myself, Monica told me she was working on a new book, which excited me.

But then she said it was an autobiography about growing up in Mexico, Maine when the Rumford paper mill dominated the region and economy. I didn’t say anything, but that disappointed me. I wanted a new novel!

And then I got her autobiography, When We Were The Kennedys, and it was one of the best I have ever read.  I was so impressed with the book that I included a column I wrote about it in my own book, A Life Lived Outdoors, published in March of 2014 by Islandport Press.

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:

The Journey Within by Dinesh Patel

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 Astonishing Photos of African animals will mesmerize you!

From the cover photo of stampeding wildebeest, part of The Great Migration in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, to the last photos of a Somali Ostrich and Vulturine Guinea Fowl, Dinesh Patel brings 50 years of wildlife photography to a stunning close in The Journey Within.

He spent most of his life on safari, all over Africa, hoping to take each of us along to enjoy, appreciate, and hopefully save, these beautiful African animals. With advanced Parkinson’s disease, Patel is no longer able to travel the African continent, so he decided to turn this book into a conservation effort, hoping to bring global awareness to the needs of these amazing animals.

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:

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