IF&W Committee Committed to SAM’s Agenda
Most members of the legislature’s Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife joined Governor Paul LePage in endorsing the ambitious legislative agenda of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine in a candidate survey distributed by SAM’s political action committee prior to the November 2010 election.
IF&W Committee members are: Senators Thomas Martin, Dave Trahan, and John Patrick; and Representatives Paul Davis, Ralph Sarty, Dale Crafts, Eleanor Espling, Stacey Guerin, Stephen Wood, Herb Clark, Jane Eberle, Sheryl Briggs, and Michael Shaw.
All but two members of the committee, Representatives Stacy Guerin and Jane Eberle, completed SAM’s survey. Each member who completed a survey gave the answer noted at the end of the question, unless otherwise noted.
SAM PAC Survey Questions for Legislative Candidates
Q) Do you support any additional state restrictions on ownership, possession, sale or use of firearms? No
Q) In the past, did you support any effort to restrict the ownership and/or use of firearms? No
Q) In the next fiscal year the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will receive almost no public support from the state’s General Fund tax dollars. Sportsmen will pay all the bills, despite the documented $8 million of work that DIF&W does for the general public. Would you work to fund at least 20 percent of DIF&W’s budget with General Fund tax money? Yes
Martin: “I am concerned with funding for DIF&W. I am open to considering a funding mechanism.”
Clark: Didn’t answer the question.
Q) SAM is partnering with the Nature Conservancy and Maine Audubon to win a Constitutionally protected source of public funding for DIF&W. Our proposal would allocate a small percentage of the sales tax on outdoor gear to DIF&W and require that this money stay in DIF&W. Can we count on you to support this initiative? Yes
Esplin: “Would need to know more.”
Q) Will you insist that Maine’s next governor appoint professionals to DIF&W’s top positions, rather than people from the political system? Yes
Briggs: “I would support the best candidate possible.”
Q) Can we count on you to oppose any proposal to merge the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife into a large natural resource department? Yes
Q) A professional outside assessment of DIF&W in 2004 issued a series of recommendations, most of which have not be implemented. Among dozens of recommendations were a call to create a culture of customer service, increase public involvement, expand information, education, and marketing services, and establish performance reviews that hold regional staff accountable for implementation of goals and policies. Would you support implementation of these recommendations? Yes
Q) Will you defend existing hunting opportunities in parks and public lands? Yes
Q) Do you support any new restrictions on trapping? No
Q) Coyote predation on adult deer limits the ability of wildlife managers to rebuild the deer herd in northern Maine. Recently a DIF&W Deer Task Force — created at the direction of the legislature — recommended a comprehensive approach to limiting deer predation, including reactivation of the department’s animal damage control program with intensified coyote harvests around wintering yards from December through March and in coyote denning areas from March to July. Do you support this recommendation? Yes
Q) To increase fishing opportunity, would you support year-round open water fishing on all waters, with sustainable fisheries regulations? Yes
Trahan: “Only exception would be on spawning fish.”
Q) Should DIF&W’s fisheries staff focus on habitat protection and enhancement, to create self-sustainable fisheries, rather than on hatcheries and stocked fish? Yes
Sarty: “I believe we should continue with the state hatchery system managed by IF&W. However, habitat management and protection toward an effort to support self-sustainable fisheries in many areas and waters should be given a priority.”
Martin, Wood, Clark, Briggs, Shaw: “Both.”
Q) Would you support privatization of DIF&W’s fish hatcheries? Yes
Shaw: “Probably not.”
Sarty: “I would aggressively support the consideration to supplement the current hatchery program through contracts with private hatcheries and in some cases look at the feasibility of private contractors operating existing state hatcheries. I would only support this if oversight remained the responsibility of IF&W.”
Trahan: “Begin with a pilot project and expand if successful.”
Q) SAM’s Fishing Initiative Committee has created and is coordinating an ambitious new Maine Fishing Initiative, with the goals and principles listed below. We are gathering endorsements from organizations and individuals throughout Maine for this initiative.
a) Will you endorse the initiative’s goals and principles, listed below? Yes
b) May we publicly list you as an endorser of the initiative? Yes
Maine Fishing Initiative Goals: 1) Create great fishing statewide; 2) Double fishing license sales; 3) Triple the economic contribution of recreational fishing.
Maine Fishing Initiative Principles: 1) Recognize the quality of fishing experiences in Maine and protect that quality; 2) Make it easy to fish; 3) Maximize fishing opportunity; 4) Manage for big fish; 5) Maximize the economic value of fish and fishing; 6) Make native and wild fisheries the highest priority for sustainable management; 7) Secure appropriate access to all Maine lakes, ponds, rivers and streams; 7) Establish accountability for fisheries managers, decisions, and policies.