Lots of Outdoor News Ahead!

There’s so much news ahead in the next two months, I may have little time to hunt deer. Here are the stories I’m working on right now, to be posted in this blog and the blog on my website over the next month.

I’m working on a preview of the issues I expect will dominate the outdoor agenda at the upcoming 2013 legislative session, which actually begins in early December.

My not so secret infiltration of the Maine Groundwater Summit resulted in a lot of interesting information, despite the fact the organizers initially declined my reservation, claiming the summit was full. I attended anyway and will tell you all about it soon.

Next week I’ll get a progress report from John Pratte at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on a special $80,000 landowner relations project, funded by a federal grant. Two foresters were hired to work with small landowners to protect deer wintering yards and other habitat. The grant was initially for $120,000, but DIF&W couldn’t raise the necessary matching funds to receive the full grant.

My first-ever moose hunt was an amazing experience, which will be told in a series of  blog posts. And you may enjoy the account of my North Dakota pheasant hunt.

I’ll continue to probe the merger of the Departments of Agriculture and Conservation. It could be overturned by the legislature in January, but in the meantime, nothing much has merged yet. I recently received all of the merger suggestions that Commissioner Walt Whitcomb solicited from the merged department’s employees. Got some really interesting ideas. I’ll share them with you.

I’ll also have a progress report on the much-trumpeted Maine Game Plan for Deer sometime in November – timely when so many of us are out after a Whitetail. I’m especially interested to find out how the agency is using the $150,000 the Maine legislature added to its budget for coyote controls this winter.

Two controversial rules proposals will come to a vote at the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council’s December meeting: rules that will sharply reduce deer feeding in Maine, and rules to prohibit the use of live fish as bait on 16 wild brook trout waters.

I’m expecting big news soon on the Crescent Beach issue, if you are interested in and following that.

I’m also tracking the impact of Governor Paul LePage’s zero-based budgeting process at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. There is a real possibility that the Governor will be turning back some federal dollars that DIF&W receives – something he is currently discussing and debating.

I expect DIF&W to launch a new, exciting, and comprehensive landowner relations program. I’ve been working on this with Tom Doak of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine and Mark Latti, DIF&W’s landowner relations staffer.

And finally, shortly after election day, I’ll present an analysis of what the results – particularly the legislative results – will mean for sportsmen and other outdoor recreationists.

So little time. So many issues!

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. George also hosts, with Harry Vanderweide, a TV talk show called Wildfire, now in its 13th year and focused on hunting, fishing, environmental, and conservation issues. The show is owned and produced by Maine Audubon and seen on its website as well as on the Time Warner cable TV station throughout the state.