Down East 2013 ©
I hope he didn’t decide to retire just because I’m retiring. Brownie Carson at the Natural Resources Council never did follow my path at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.
The June 3 announcement that Brownie was retiring after twenty-six years as NRCM’s executive director followed close on the heals of my own announced retirement as executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. I only served for eighteen years, so Brownie’s got me beat.
I’m also envious of his 2005 environmental award from Down East magazine.
Brownie had a big staff and was able to float above the battlefield most of the time, while I had no staff and fought in the trenches.
Brownie and I did engage in battle a few times, but most of NRCM’s issues didn’t match ours at SAM. Or at least, we didn’t find ourselves working together, even when our interests did coincide.
For example, while sportsmen have greatly benefited from the removal of the Kennebec River’s Edwards Dam, Brownie led the battle while I remained on the shore (fishing).
Dams were big problems for Brownie, and he began to make his mark early in his tenure at NRCM by blocking the Big A Dam on the West Branch of the Penobscot. SAM was more involved in that campaign, but NRCM led the way.
I was amused that two of the three major accomplishments cited by one news reporter in Brownie’s retirement story were the defeat of the Big A dam and the blockage of a coal-fired power plant in Bucksport.
That reminded me that most of our effort is spent trying to keep bad things from happening. I am sure Brownie would agree.
He and I tangled on a couple of issues recently. NRCM strongly opposed Plum Creek’s
Moosehead Conservation and Development Plan and vigorously supported creation of a saltwater angler’s license.
SAM supported Plum Creek’s Plan that was approved by the Land Use Regulation Commission, and was the lead opponent of the saltwater license that was defeated by the Maine legislature and replaced by a (mostly) free saltwater angler registry.
Still, in the Plum Creek battle, Brownie tried to stop what he saw as a bad thing, and in the saltwater license fight, I fought to defeat what I saw as a bad thing.
Of course, those of us who lead environmental and sportsmen’s organizations do occasionally get to advocate for good things, and when we do, we often succeed.
Brownie has his share of successes, especially in the areas of clean water and clean air. We worked together this year at the legislature on new rules from the Department of Environmental Protection to assure that culverts are installed properly to allow fish passage.
Despite a significant effort by NRCM, Maine Audubon, SAM, and others, the legislature sent the rules back to DEP for more work (see earlier reports on the culvert issue  in this blog).
Perhaps we’ll both have to come out of retirement to finish that job.
Saltwater Registry Rules Update
Staff at the Department of Marine Resources is now developing the rules governing Maine’s new saltwater registry. The process includes discussions with staff at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife about the possibility of using DIF&W’s MOSES licensing system to register saltwater anglers.
DMR has set up a section on its Web site for anglers  who want to follow and participate in the rule-making process. The Web site includes the complete text of the new law.
By late summer, we anticipate DMR will publish its proposed rules, with a goal of having a test model up and running by December 1 at the latest. The new system must be ready to go on January 1, 2011.