George's Outdoor News Blog Archive 2010
Spring is like taking a beautiful heirloom quilt off the bed and finding a tattered blanket and stained sheet underneath.
When the beautiful blanket of white snow is off the land, the ugliness underneath can be shocking.
We were busy last winter fouling our nest, and one can only despair that Mother Nature will be able to put another pretty cover over our mess. Nature can only cover up so much and the ugly stains of our detritus will remain, sometimes visible, sometimes hidden beneath the bushes.
In late March Commissioner Dan Martin of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife made inaccurate and inflammatory charges against Senator David Trahan and me. Those charges were part of a response the Commissioner made to my DownEast blog of January 19, 2010.
A lobbyist’s job is sometimes like that of the guy who follows the elephants in a parade with a shovel. There is a lot of mess to clean up, particularly at the end of a legislative session.
One of the biggest messes was a new rule from the Department of Environmental Protection to require that natural stream flow be maintained when culverts are repaired or replaced.
If your time is limited, here’s the end of the story.
Thanks to an intensive month-long lobbying effort by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine aided by a few key legislators, freshwater anglers will not have to purchase a new, separate saltwater fishing license.
The decisive vote came in the Maine Senate at 8:30 p.m. on March 25, after Democratic senators emerged from a caucus with an agreement to support a substantial amendment to the bill. The amendment also won the support of SAM.
The culvert bill is hung up at the legislature. Just as fish are blocked from moving upstream by tens of thousands of poorly installed culverts, the Department of Environmental Protection’s culvert rules appear unable to migrate through the legislative process.
Maine’s next governor will be challenged to wring more money out of our natural resources while protecting critical habitat and our traditional recreational opportunities. That’s one reason I was listening carefully when most of the major candidates showed up for a March 11 forum sponsored by the Natural Resources Network.
All of the critical issues of concern to outdoor recreationists remain unresolved at the legislature, although some will be debated this week in the House and Senate.
The list of unresolved issues includes: ATV stops by game wardens; installation of culverts to allow fish passage; a saltwater anglers’ license; invasive plants; guns in Acadia National Park; the merger of natural resource agencies and the budgets of those agencies.
Last year the legislature directed each of the state’s natural resource agencies to adopt a policy regarding entering private lands for nonemergency purposes.
You may not think this is important. But it is very important to private landowners and to state agency staff trying to collect data on everything from bird populations to vernal pools. And that makes it important to every one of us who recreates on private land and enjoys the resources we find there.
This is not about fishing. It’s about relationships.
For more than a decade, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine’s Fishing Initiative Committee (which I chair) and the Fisheries Division at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife have been at war over fishing issues.
We see the waters of Maine as half empty of fish, while DIF&W sees them as half full. That’s the simplest way to describe this disagreement.
Seventy five percent of Mainers are benefiting from the work of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife without paying a nickel for that work. And three major state organizations have launched a campaign to change that.
Two reports to the legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife last week brought clarity to the problem and hope for the future of this under-funded and over-tasked agency.