Many years ago, when Angus King was governor, I decided to try to get some public money for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. I worked for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine at that time and recruited Maine Audubon to be our partner.
Chris Potholm did a poll for us, showing that the public’s first choice for funding was an instant lottery game. So we went with that, to create the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund. We collected signatures to put our initiative on the ballot, but the legislature surprised us by enacting it, and Angus signed it into law. It was one of only two citizen initiatives to be enacted by the legislature rather than put on the ballot.
I served on the MOHF Board for its first ten years, and I’m very proud that the Fund has provided more than $20 million for conservation and outdoor recreation projects. Here are a few projects that received funding in the last round.
Maine Brook Trout Coastal Stream and Pond Survey
With funding from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, Trout Unlimited and its partners—the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), Maine Audubon, and many volunteers successfully completed their seventh year of volunteer remote pond surveys and their 4th year of coastal stream surveys for brook trout. In 2017, 31 volunteers contributed 461 documented volunteer hours, accessing 34 ponds and surveying 32 of them and surveying 33 coastal streams. Brook trout were caught in 10 of 32 ponds and 12 of 33 streams.
Extensive volunteer effort was conducted on streams in the Yarmouth-Wiscasset area, particularly tributaries to Casco Bay. Several streams in this region were sampled regularly by anglers, who also deployed 14 continuous temperature data loggers on 5 different streams, documenting temperatures highly suitable for brook trout in Frost Gully Brook in Freeport, Mere Brook in Brunswick, and Montsweag Brook in Wiscasset and Woolwich.
MDIFW crews from the Bangor office completed net surveys of 28 remote ponds where brook trout were caught or where volunteer results suggested they might be present, confirming the presence of brook trout in 14 of them. MDIFW-Bangor crews also completed electrofishing surveys of 50 sites in 23 watersheds where volunteer results suggested brook trout were present.
Brook trout were documented at 31 of 50 sites in 21 of 23 watersheds. MDIFW staff from the Gray regional office also electrofished 14 sites in the Frost Gully Brook and Mill Stream watersheds in Freeport, documenting brook trout at 10 sites, including tidal sites on Mill Stream.
|Reconstruction of Rainbow Dam to Protect Artic Charr and Brook Trout|
|Working with Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists, Tolman Construction, Wright Pierce Engineering and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, The Nature Conservancy completed during winter of 2017-2018 the re-construction of the historic outlet dam built on Rainbow Lake on The Nature Conservancy’s Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area in Rainbow Township, Piscataquis County, Maine. The justification for replacing the dam was to continue to restrict fish passage into Rainbow Lake, thereby protecting a rare and endemic population of Arctic charr from competition and predation from introduced landlocked salmon found downstream, the presence of which had been confirmed by state fisheries agencies. Other project objectives included maintaining the current lake level, ensuring continued water flow downstream to Rainbow Deadwaters, and retiring the old Rainbow Road access road following completion of the project.
|Trail Enhancements for Year Round Recreation and Stewardship Promotion|
|MOHF recently awarded Maine Huts & Trails a grant for trail enhancements for year round recreation and stewardship promotion. This project exceeded expectations with the building of a new youth educational program partnership in conjunction with progress toward one of the project’s targeted trail development goals. Additionally, the project has improved the safety of access to Maine Huts & Trails’ facilities and their surrounding natural wonders. For more information about Maine Huts & Trails, go to www.mainehuts.org|
And here’s more good news. On October 25, more grants will be awarded by the MOHF Board.
Please help support MOHF and the wonderful projects like those reported above by purchasing MOHF lottery tickets! The current ticket is the Lucky Catch ticket. And be on the lookout for the “Moose Money” ticket coming this fall!Y ou can’t lose with the MOHF ticket as all proceeds got to wildlife and conservation!