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.