Huts and Trails features high adventure, comfort, and great food

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New Portland
Kingfield
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Linda

                Okay, I was clueless about the Maine Huts & Trails system before this adventure. When George explained to me that we would hike in, maybe in the dark, and sleep in a “hut”, I may have been a bit apprehensive. He sweetened the deal by saying that was the weekend Bob Duchesne was leading a winter bird watch. I hadn’t been birding in so long, a winter bird hike sounded awesome to me.

        Then George explained that all we needed to bring were sleeping bags, and that all the meals were prepared for the guests at the lodge. We could snowshoe in - no problem.

        As it turned out, the gorgeous snowshoe in was extremely easy, even carrying in our gear. Walking up the well groomed Service Road was only 1 mile. A more scenic trial in along Flagstaff Lake is 1.8 miles. We decided to explore more trails once we unloaded our gear.

Washington County Senator Takes Aim at Heater Hunters

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 There was a lot of talk about “heater hunters” at the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee yesterday. LD 848, An Act to Increase the Safety of Hunting, sponsored by Senator David Burns of Washington County, sparked quite a debate on both sides of the issue.

Actually, we’re all on the same side, but we are looking in different directions. Senator Burns kicked off the debate by noting, “Deer hunting is something I grew up with since I was 7 or 8 years old… hunting is very important to me personally, just as it is important to the rural parts of our state especially.”

His bill would:

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Increase the minimum distance for discharging a firearm to 100 feet from the center of a paved road with a $500 fine for violations;

Avian Haven’s fascinating experiences with Maine’s injured wild birds

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I look forward to it every year: Avian Haven’s annual report and newsletter. Avian Haven is an animal rehab facility in Freedom, owned by Diane Winn and Marc Payne. With the help of a great staff and volunteers, they do provide great care for the state’s injured birds. This year’s newsletter, published earlier this week, is fascinating as well as troubling. It includes amazing photographs.

While Linda and I are avid birders, and that’s the primary reason I enjoy the Avian Haven newsletter, I want to be sure that hunters and anglers read this newsletter too, because many of the topics and reports are of interest and concern to sportsmen – even if you are not a birder.  I’m going to take a quick tour through the newsletter, and then give you access to the entire newsletter.

Lobsters and loons top moose and brook trout on Maine license plates.

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                 There are nine Maine license plates for which car owners pay extra in order to fund particular programs. Of those, 43,337 have the conservation “loon” plate, 27,348 have the lobster plate, 24,717 have the sportsman plate, and 23,232 have the breast cancer plate. The rest, in order, are agriculture (15,682), animal welfare (15,190), black bear (10,006), support troops (5,850), and University of Maine (4,507).

                Maine also offers many special designations for license plates. 33,877 car owners have chosen the veterans plate. That dwarfs all other plates in their category that ranges from fire fighters (4,090 plates) to handicapped (12,078). There is just one Medal of Honor plate, and good for that plate owner.

Legislature putting Mainers back into the citizen initiative process

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Following the second bear referendum in 10 years, both initiated by a wealthy national organization, the Humane Society of the United States, sportsmen’s groups arrived at this year’s legislative session determined to bring more integrity to the citizen initiative process and to make sure ballot initiatives were really coming from Maine citizens. And so far, so good.

I joined the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine’s Dave Trahan and others in testifying in favor of LD 176, An Act to Amend the Law Governing the Gathering of Signatures for Direct Initiatives and People’s Veto Referenda. The bill was drafted by SAM and sponsored by Representative Stan Short.

While the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs didn’t embrace all the new requirements proposed in SAM’s bill, both Short and Trahan told me they are very pleased with the amended version of the bill that won the support of the committee.

Amended Bill

Good news from the Maine legislature. Yes, believe it!

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NOTE TO READERS: Thank you for putting this column in the number one blogging spot with the most readers last week. Last year the topics that attracted the most readers to this blog were Lyme disease, rat snakes, and Paul LePage, so I guess I should not be surprised that last week’s topics, Lyme disease and Governor LePage’s refusal to allow the Land for Maine’s Future bonds to be sold so current conservation projects could be completed, put George’s Outdoor News in first place. And don’t worry. Rat snakes are coming soon! The legislature will tackle two bills governing exotic animals, and I’ll give you a preview of the issues sometime soon. But today, sister Edie Smith has asked for something positive, so here’s some good news from the Maine legislature, along with a beautiful photo by Pam Wells of a Bohemian Waxwing, to brightern your day.

Simpler laws and rules

Governor Paul LePage’s quote of the day. Read it and weep.

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 “He has no communication whatsoever with (the commission) in terms of decision-making. He puts people in place who are qualified for the task at hand and he has the utmost confidence in those commissioners.”

That’s what Adrienne Bennett, Governor Paul LePage’s spokeswoman, said yesterday when asked if the Governor has any role in the recent vote of the Public Utilities Commission that sharply cut funding for Efficiency Maine. According to a news report today by Steve Mistler and Kevin Miller of the Portland Press Herald, last year the Efficiency Maine Trust helped homeowners buy 2.5 million discounted low-energy light bulbs and 3,000 businesses reduce their costs for electricity with rebates or subsidies for a wide range of energy-saving improvements.

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