Sportsman’s Alliance proposes hike in fishing license fees.

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine is proposing a hike in fees for fishing licenses to fund a new “Maine Outdoor Programs and Activities Fund.”

SAM’s bill, LD 1179, has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing by the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. If the bill is enacted, resident fishing licenses will cost $26 and nonresident licenses $66. That’s a $1 increase in the resident fee and $2 in the nonresident fee.

The bill also creates a Maine Outdoor Programs and Activities Fund Board, housed in the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, with five members including DIF&W’s Commissioner and Warden Service Colonel, and three public members chosen by the Governor and confirmed by the legislature.

The fund would be used for grants to DIF&W and other agencies, nongovernmental organizations or individuals, “for the sole purpose of supporting the mission of the department.”

It’s not clear to me how this would differ from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, which gets its money from an instant lottery fund. SAM and Maine Audubon, during my tenure at SAM, came up with the MOHF idea, got the support of then Governor Angus King, collected signatures to get it on the ballot, and then lobbied successfully to get it enacted by the legislature.  So it never had to go onto a referendum ballot.

For its first ten years, I served on the MOHF board. The program has awarded nearly $20 million in grants to outdoor recreation and conservation projects since its inception.

If SAM wanted to add money to support outdoor programs and activities, it would make more sense to provide that money to the already existing MOHF program, also housed in DIF&W. And I find it odd that they are only asking that fishing licenses, and not hunting licenses, be raised, because a lot of the grants would go to projects that support hunting (including SAM’s programs at its Augusta conference center that introduce kids to shooting).

I’m hoping you will share your opinion on this bill with me, in the Sportsmen Say Survey section of my website, so I can share that with the IFW Committee when this bill is heard.

PHOTO: SAM’s executive director David Trahan with a salmon.

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,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.