Governor can’t stop gold dredging/brook trout protection bill

 

The emailed message from Maine Audubon’s lobbyist, Jennifer Burns Gray, was very good news.

“LD 1671, the bill that protects certain waters (that are special for brook trout) from motorized gold prospecting, has been enacted by both the House and Senate.  The Governor vetoed the bill and the veto was overriden by an impressive vote.  Kudos to our friend Jeff Reardon at Trout Unlimited and to his legislative allies, Sen. Tom Saviello, Sen. Jim Boyle, and Rep. Russell Black, for their outstanding work,” wrote Jenn, who has lobbied for Maine Audubon for 17 years.

The Senate over-rode the Governor’s veto unanimously, while the House did so by an outstanding vote of 119 to 23.

gold-dredge-istockAs I reported earlier, a battle between brook trout advocates, led by Trout Unlimited and Maine Audubon, and gold diggers, led by the Maine Gold Prospectors, ended in a great collaborative compromise amended version of the LD 1671.

For more about this process, you can read my blog posted here on March 21.

The Governor apparently vetoed the bill because he objected to making these changes in law. He thinks they should be made through the rule-making process.

I am wondering if anyone at DEP told him that they didn’t want to make this change through rule-making. They’re recommendation that legislature consider and enact the changes in law led to LD 1671.

Here’s a description of the amended bill, provided by the legislative staff:

This amendment, which is the majority report of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, changes the title and replaces the bill. This amendment prohibits motorized recreational gold prospecting in water classified as Class AA waters and certain stream segments that contain important brook trout and Atlantic salmon habitats. This amendment directs that by December 1, 2015, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Marine Resources shall review data, conduct site visits and collect any additional information necessary to determine whether these statutorily specified stream segments continue to represent critical or high value brook trout or Atlantic salmon habitat, and whether there are areas not listed that represent additional critical or high value brook trout or Atlantic salmon habitat that should be closed to motorized recreational gold prospecting. By January 15, 2016, each department is further directed to submit any recommendations for the addition or removal of areas of critical or high value brook trout or Atlantic salmon habitat on the list of areas closed to motorized recreational gold prospecting under 38 MRSA §480-Q, sub-§5-A, §G, sub-¶4 to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over environmental and natural resources matters, and the committee is authorized to report out a bill relating to the recommendations to the Second Regular Session of the 127th Legislature.

The bill’s restrictions on gold dredging apply to the following areas of critical or high value brook trout or Atlantic salmon habitat:

(a) Bemis Stream and tributaries in Township D and Rangeley Plantation;

(b) Bond Brook in the City of Augusta and the Town of Manchester;

(c) Bull Branch of Sunday River and tributaries in Grafton Township and Riley Township;

(d) Carrabassett River and tributaries in the Town of Carrabassett Valley, Freeman Township, the Town of Kingfield, Mount Abram Township and Salem Township;

(e) Cold Stream tributaries, including Tomhegan Stream, in Chase Stream Township, Johnson Mountain Township and West Forks Plantation;

(f) Enchanted Stream in Upper Enchanted Township and Lower Enchanted Township;

(g) Magalloway River and its tributaries, including Little Magalloway River, in Bowmantown Township, Lincoln Plantation, Lynchtown Township, Magalloway Plantation, Oxbow Township, Parkertown

Township and Parmachenee Township;

(h) Rapid River in the Town of Upton and Township C;

(i) Sheepscot River and tributaries, including the West Branch, in the Town of Alna, the Town of China, the Town of Freedom, the Town of Liberty, the Town of Montville, the Town of Palermo, the Town of

Somerville, the Town of Whitefield and the Town of Windsor;

(j) South Bog Stream in Rangeley Plantation.

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.