Sportsmen have a great reason to vote Yes for the Land for Maine’s Future bond issue on the November 6 ballot. It’s all about deer!
Well, almost all about deer. Thanks to the good work of Dave Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, and SAM Board member Gerry Lavigne, language was added to the bond proposal that focuses the program on wildlife habitat, especially deer wintering areas. Here’s the specific language:
“Because portions of the State have deer populations that are struggling and deer wintering habitat is vital to the survival and enhancement of these populations, projects that conserve and protect deer wintering areas are considered to have special value and must receive preferential consideration during scoring of new applications to the State.”
The bond issue also includes language that requires state agencies to actively seek deer yards for LMF funding. Here’s the language, also developed by Trahan and LaVigne:
“The Department of Conservation and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife shall take a proactive approach to pursuing land conservation projects that include significant wildlife habitat conservation, including conservation of priority deer wintering areas. Priority deer wintering areas are of at least 500 acres or contiguous with existing conservation land so that the combined acreage constitutes at least 500 acres, have been historically used by deer at some point since 1950, and are capable of providing shelter for deer on the effective date of this Act or within 20 years. The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife shall include in conservation negotiations under this section provisions for the appropriate management of priority deer wintering areas.
“Land and interest in land purchased by the State that contains wildlife or fish habitat must be managed by the Department of Conservation using protocol provided by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and land and interest in land that is subject to a conservation easement and that contains wildlife or fish habitat must be managed using protocol provided by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.”
It should be noted that LMF has already protected 15,000 acres of deer yards since its inception. These new provisions should add substantial acreage – in key places – to that total.
The LMF bond issue also contains language requiring land purchased with LMF funds to be open to hunting, fishing, trapping, and public access. Along with Kay Rand, chief of staff to then-Governor Angus King, I wrote this language, and it has been included in every LMF bond issue since that time. Here’s the language:
“Hunting, fishing, trapping and public access may not be prohibited on land acquired with bond proceeds, except to the extent of applicable state, local or federal laws, rules and regulations and except for working waterfronts and farmland protection projects.”
The LMF $5 million bond issue is Question 3 on your ballot. Vote Yes!