It took 9 years to get the sportsman’s license plate

Nine years after the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine began advocating for a sportsman’s license plate, the plates were finally approved by the legislature and ready for purchase in 2008. I hope you have these plates on your vehicles.

Fifty percent of the money is dedicated to fish hatcheries, 25% to landowner relations, 15% to development of boat launches, and 10% to endangered species conservation.

In 2018 $561,578 was raised from the plates. $224,631 went to the hatchery maintenance fund, $179,705 to the boat launch facilities fund, $112,316 to the landowner relations fund, and $44,926 to the nongame endangered species fund.

Then-Senator Marge Kilkelly sponsored SAM’s first license plate bill, and then-Representative Matt Dunlap played a key role in getting the plate authorized. Then-Senator Bruce Bryant and then-Representative Troy Jackson finished the job in 2007, including leading a drive to collect 2000 signatures of sportsmen pledging to buy the plate – a requirement before it could be issued.

We also had quite a debate about the design of the plate. The state ultimately rejected SAM’s suggested design, in favor of the design we still have today, including a moose and brook trout.

It was ironic that by the time the plate was issued, Matt Dunlap was Secretary of State and in charge of issuing the plate.

In a press conference announcing that the plates were ready for purchase, Dunlap said, “Sportsmen from all over the country and world come here so they can enjoy world-class outdoor pursuits. Now sportsmen and others can display some of Maine’s amazing natural wonders right on their vehicles, thus celebrating our outdoor heritage while helping sustain the programs that benefit Maine’s lands and native species.”

If you don’t have these plates on your vehicles, please get them soon!

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.