September 23, 2019

Governor LePage Signs Bill to Increase Wages for Game Wardens

Press Release from the State of Maine:

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage today signed a bill into law bringing Maine law enforcement wages in the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Department of Marine Resources more in line with other New England states.

LD 1653, “An Act Implementing Pay Increases for Certain Law Enforcement Employees to Aid in Recruitment and Retention,” sponsored by Republican House Leader, Kenneth Fredette (R-Newport), provides for the upward adjustment of salary schedules in fiscal year 2015-16 by 12 percent to 18 percent for certain law enforcement positions in the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Department of Marine Resources.

“Law enforcement officers across Maine put their lives on the line every day to protect the Maine people, and the value of their public service ought to be reflected in a decent salary,” said Governor LePage. “To make the job even more difficult, wages throughout state law enforcement positions are not comparable to local law enforcement agencies or other departments in New England.”

Recruitment in law enforcement positions within State government remains a challenge. For example, the Department of Public Safety has a total of 324 Maine State Police positions with 32 now vacant. An additional 25 members of the Maine State Police are eligible for retirement this year.

According to the Department of Public Safety, there has been a dramatic decrease in applicants for the State Police and only 11 successful applicants in 2015. Troopers in other New England states average $6 to $14 more per hour compared to Maine. The State is also competing with local police agencies that pay higher salaries than the Maine State Police.

Maine’s commercial fisheries and hunting and fishing are highly dependent on the work carried out by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Marine Resources, and the bill adjusts wage parity issues accordingly for law enforcement positions within these agencies, as well.

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Gov. LePage, Budworm Task Force to release risk assessment and response plan

Press Release from Maine.gov

March 9, 2016
Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

AUGUSTA – Gov. Paul R. LePage and members of the Maine Spruce Budworm Task Force will unveil “Coming Spruce Budworm Outbreak: Initial Risk Assessment and Preparation & Response Recommendations for Maine’s Forestry Community” at a news conference in the Cabinet Room on Wednesday, March 16 at 9 a.m.

“Maine assembled an impressive team of experts in advance of this spruce budworm outbreak to learn from the last outbreak and take steps to help minimize damage from this one,” said Gov. LePage. “I commend members of the Maine Spruce Budworm Task Force for their time, expertise and recommendations on how to address the infestation. The last SBW infestation cost Maine’s forest-based economy hundreds of millions of dollars and had a devastating effect on the forest products industry in Maine.”

The eastern spruce budworm is believed to be the most damaging forest insect in Maine and North America. Outbreaks of the insect that kills balsam fir and spruce trees occur every 30 to 60 years. Severe defoliation already has occurred in an area the size of Maine in southern Quebec. An update will be provided at the press conference on the infestation’s progress toward Maine.

During the last outbreak, which lasted from 1970–85, the insect decimated up to 25 million cords of spruce/fir wood, 21 percent of all fir trees in the state, according to the Maine Forest Products Council. The infestation cost the state’s forest-based economy hundreds of millions of dollars and had lasting effects on forest management.

The Maine Spruce Budworm Task Force formed in 2013 to determine the economic and ecological effects another outbreak might have on the state and a strategy to minimize those effects. Leading the task force were Wagner, Patrick Strauch, executive director of the Maine Forest Products Council; and Doug Denico, director of the Maine Forest Service. Task force teams included about 65 experts who focused on wood supply and economic impacts; monitoring and protection; forest management; policy, regulatory and funding; wildlife habitat; communications and outreach; and research priorities.

A draft of the report was released for public review in November 2014. Task force team leaders presented the report to municipalities, environmental groups, the legislature, logging contractors and economic development consortiums. The report includes about 70 recommendations, several of which have already been implemented.

The report’s recommendations on preparing for the outbreak include increasing monitoring efforts, applying insecticides where needed, changing forest management strategies such as harvesting, and seeking markets for presalvage trees that likely would be lost.

Printed copies of the report, as well as an executive summary and a brochure will be available at the press conference and, at its conclusion, online.

Contacts:

  • Dr. Robert Wagner, Henry W. Saunders Distinguished Professor in Forestry Director, Center for Research on Sustainable Forests and Cooperative Forestry Research Unit, (207) 581-2903, robert.wagner@maine.edu
  • Doug Denico, Maine State Forester, (207) 287-2791, doug.denico@maine.gov
  • Patrick Strauch, Executive Director, Maine Forest Products Council, 207-622-9288, 207-841-6869 (cell) pstrauch@maineforest.org

 

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LePage, Medway Democrat team up against North Woods park

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage took a land-rights squabble with North Woods national park proponents back to the Maine Legislature on Tuesday, introducing a bill that would undo transfers of land that the president designated a national monument.

Source: LePage, Medway Democrat team up against North Woods park — Politics — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

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Maine Governor Eating a Bit of Crow

LePage1

LePage2

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LePage’s bond freeze jeopardizes the economy of Somerset County

LepageMess*Editor’s Note* – Perhaps all is not lost in this effort to convince Governor LePage to change his mind. It seems that from the author of this piece, any hopes of anything worthwhile lies in the lap of Plum Creek and the deal that was struck for the Cold Stream project. It seems that Plum Creek negotiated this deal while in the midst of negotiating a deal with Weyerhaeuser. Does this mean Weyerhaeuser automatically drops the deal? Why would they? What is the reason that Plum Creek worked on this deal? Public relations might be a big reason. If Weyerhaeuser is buying up land and moving into Maine for the first time, perhaps in their effort to start off on the right foot, would be willing to propose an even better deal for the Maine people.

I know the old saying of “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” I wonder though if anyone involved in the negotiations with Plum Creek on the Cold Stream project, has made an attempt to contact Weyerhaueser to begin talks?

It seems that it is a better deal to sew up this agreement before the sale to Weyerhaueser, but if it doesn’t, better things might be ahead.

But, if it’s strictly about The Forks’ economy, and the author tells us that Weyerhaueser historically sells hunting leases (which can be big money), then the big money might come to the Big Woods. Then, businesses will have their dollars and the Maine sportsmen will be just plain hung out to dry.

“The Department of Conservation and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife shall take a proactive approach to pursuing land conservation projects that include significant wildlife habitat conservation, including conservation of deer wintering areas.”

As a direct result of this new law, the Cold Stream Project, one of the greatest conservation projects of my lifetime, was developed and proposed for the West Forks region. Working with Plum Creek and the Trust for Public Land, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry negotiated a deal that would sell 8,153 acres of critical wildlife habitat to the state, including 3,000 acres of prime deer wintering habitat, 30 miles of trout spawning streams and nine undeveloped ponds. This gem surrounds West Forks and would forever be managed for wildlife and guaranteed traditional public access.

Then, last year, Gov. Paul LePage announced that he would hold hostage Cold Stream and more than 30 other approved Land for Maine’s Future projects, representing more than $10 million in conservation bonds approved by voters, until the Legislature agreed to allow more aggressive cutting on public lands and until they appropriated $5 million generated from cutting trees to pay for his new, still undefined, home heating program.

Source: LePage’s bond freeze jeopardizes the economy of Somerset County – Central Maine

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Maine’s 2012 Deer Harvest Up 13% From Previous Dismal Performances

*Editor’s Note* – Below is a copy of a press release sent out by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) with more details on the 2012 deer harvest. Two things are noted in this release that I would like to put a bit more emphasis on. First, that there was a sharp reduction in “Any Deer Permits” issued for the 2011 season followed by a sharp increase in those same permits for 2012. This act alone will add to the 13% increase in deer harvest. The second issue is the fact that the 2012 season comes on the heels of two back to back mild winters. MDIFW is very quick to point out how it’s not their fault when severe winters cut into the deer population and justly so, in that we humans can’t always control the weather. But on the same token, MDIFW shouldn’t be so quick to take credit for more deer due to mild winters. There seems to be a little bit of back patting going on in this press release on the successes of MDIFW’s management attributing to the 13% increase. In the release below, it notes that Gov. LePage, “commended MDIFW on its management of the deer population and the results.” Congratulations and proper recognition are always due when deserved. Surely it is much too early to be seeing any results from a small predator control program that has yet to show much effectiveness in increasing the deer herd. I think the Governor was being a bit too hasty and kind in placing commendation on MDIFW for their management skills when these results are nothing more than the result of favorable winters and a marked increase in Any Deer Permits one year after having reduced them sharply.

Let’s keep our attention and focus on the meat and potatoes of the deer problems and save the back slapping for when the real job is done.

From the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Augusta, Maine –The 2012 deer season ended with a total harvest of 21,365 deer, representing an increase of 13% over the 2011 harvest of 18,839. Increases in the harvest were seen in all wildlife management districts. The highlight of the 2012 season, and testament to the recovering deer numbers, was the jump in the overall harvest of bucks between 2011 and 2012. A total of 15,271 adult bucks were harvested in Maine this past season, representing an increase of 2,473 deer over the 2011 season (i.e., 19% increase). Indeed, the overall buck harvest increased within all 29 Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs), including WMD 3, which experienced an overall buck harvest of 203 animals, the highest level of harvest seen in that District since 1963.

Governor Paul R. LePage commended MDIFW on its management of the deer population and the results. “Maine has a long tradition of hunting, and I am pleased at the growth of the deer herd,” he said. “Hunting offers residents and visitors alike an opportunity to participate in one of Maine’s time-honored traditions, as well as the chance to enjoy our state’s natural resources.”

There was an increase in the Expanded Archery Zone harvest in 2012. Youth hunters also saw an increase in their overall harvest. Despite a soggy opening day, Maine’s youth harvested a total of 567 deer, representing a 5% increase over the 2011 season. Their harvest consisted of a total of 226 adult bucks, 223 adult does, and 118 fawns. Youth hunters were allowed to harvest antlerless deer without needing an Any-deer Permit in WMDs where permits were issued.

A strategic allocation of Any-deer Permits allowed the Department to control deer population growth while balancing the number of bucks and does on the landscape. Because of the exceedingly moderate winter and the 2011 decrease in Any-Deer-Permits, MDIFW determined that an increase in the number of permits in 2012 was appropriate for specific WMDs. The 2012 permit allocation resulted in a slight increase in the harvest of adult does (6% over the 2011 season), and overall population growth. Conversely, the fawn harvest dropped by approximately 8% across WMDs.

On the heels of another winter that didn’t significantly stress the deer population, the state should expect to once again see an increase in Maine’s deer population for the 2013 season. As in years past, Maine will continue to offer numerous opportunities for hunters whether they choose to use a rifle, bow, or muzzleloader, in their pursuits. With this in mind, Maine hunters should look forward to increasing opportunities for tagging one of the state’s whitetail deer in 2013.

For more information on deer hunting in Maine, go to www.mefishwildlife.com

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Day 39 – No Executive Orders

PRESTIDIGITATION?

Day 39 and we still wait. President Obama jumped through hoops to pretend to the American people he was signing 23 executive orders to ban certain guns and related equipment, among other actions, to further his demolition of the Second Amendment. Although he provided the public a summary of his intentions (he did not sign any executive orders) the actual executive orders that would contain details of his plans has yet to happen. How can the public, including the press, scrutinize Barack Obama’s plans for action if we don’t know any of the details? Is this by design?

Check on those nonexistent executive orders for yourself.

Just this week, Maine’s Gov. Paul LePage pushed through emergency legislation to temporarily prohibit the release of personal information of concealed weapons permit holders. The debate about guns continues in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In addition, this emergency legislation, seems prompted by events that took place shortly after Sandy Hood in New York, where a news agency there obtained the names and addresses of licensed gun owner in two counties and published that information, along with a map to locate each owner. The intent was obvious and the action created several backlashes, including a blow back of the publication of the names and addresses of the people who published gun owners’ information.

I have written previously that I believe that requesting this personal information has no good intents and purposes and will only result in putting innocent people in danger.

We are now hearing fallout from Gov. LePage’s emergency legislation and such fallout can be found in an editorial in the Journal Tribune. The editor appears to me to be up and down and self-contradictory in his position about this legislation. On the one hand he asserts the need to protect innocent people but on the other hand defends his perceived right to access private information for what seems no other reason than because he should be able to.

Part of what set off Maine’s action on emergency legislation was when the Bangor Daily News submitted FOIA requests for all concealed permit holders in the state. The Journal Tribune’s editor states his view of the events I wrote about above that took place in New York with publishing this information:

We believe The Journal News’ actions were in violation of the public’s trust and did a disservice to freedom of access advocates everywhere. While the paper was certainly within its rights to publish the information, even in map form, we feel they crossed the line. It is the media’s responsibility to use public information with care. There is a big difference between having to go to your town office or police department to see the list of concealed-carry permit holders and publishing a map in a major circulation newspaper of where they all live.

This information may or may not be in agreement with your own philosophies on access to private information but I believe the editor is completely missing the point in the reason why states and other municipalities have been forced to take the actions they have to block access to information.

I dislike laws probably more than the most people. Unfortunately, the reason we have to implement these laws is due to people and organizations like the Journal News in New York who, by the very words of the editor, “were in violation of the public’s trust” and as a result of that action, several events took place. Are we to trust each news agency or publication business that information they get through FOIA will never be published? A bit naive I think.

This action by Journal News immediately put at increased risk, every person whose name and address was included on that list. Did the Journal News consider the people attempting to live incognito, with a concealed carry permit, and probably a restraining order, to escape the dangers of stalking or abuse? This, of course, is but one example.

In addition, criminals used the opportunity to go to homes when the owners were away and stole their guns. People not on the list also became targets as thieves have a better sense of which homes don’t have guns making them easier prey.

But perhaps what the people at the Journal News didn’t expect was a return of the favor when others took it upon themselves to reveal, in the same public fashion, the names and addresses of the reporters who released that information. Consequently, these people had to hire body guards and security personnel to guard themselves and their homes. And all for what?

The editor gives the excuse for continuation of access to private information in this way:

Restricting access to public records is a troublesome proposition. The government should be striving for more openness and accessibility, not less. No other permit issued by state or local governments is protected information, and while there are some concerns, we do not believe they rise to the level that would warrant exempting concealed-carry permits from public record.

Gov. LePage has said he does not see any reason why these records should be public, but it’s tough to argue that the public should not have the right to know how many Mainers are carrying concealed, as it is a public safety issue that is pertinent to every citizen. If the state is in the business of granting or denying these permits, the public should be able to see them if for no other reason than to gauge the efficacy of the state’s process.

Are you kidding me? I fail to see how endangering the lives of innocent people, as there will always exist irresponsible and agenda-driven non thinkers as was on display at Journal News, doesn’t measure up to anyone’s standards of in need of offering means to disallow this needless threat. It doesn’t measure up?

If, as the editor states, the public has a right to know due to a public safety issue, this totalitarian view is offering the expenditure of the lives and safety of gun owners in exchange for allowing the public to know who carries. Seriously, are people who don’t know if their neighbor carries or owns in any more danger by not knowing? Statistic say not.

And to top it all off, the editor then says that people have a right to know who carries, “if for no other reason than to gauge the efficacy of the state’s process.” If this editor really believes this then I would have to suggest he/she also would agree with the following; as was asked of me in an email:

It should be public information and published in any media platform that anyone wishes, in addition to concealed carry information:

*Personal and private information of everybody receiving any form of welfare, i.e. food stamps, heating assistance, aid for dependent children, etc.

*Personal and private information of everybody receiving Section 8 housing

*Personal and private information of everybody receiving Medicaid

*Personal and private information of everybody receiving free or reduced lunches for their school children

*Personal and private information of everybody receiving treatment for contagious diseases

*Personal and private information of everybody on prescription drugs for mental disorders

*Personal and private information of everybody receiving medical treatment, which doctors and hospitals or clinics they visit

*Personal and private information of everybody’s police records, past and present

*Personal and private information of every school child in public schools (certainly I have a right to know if my neighbor’s kids are a threat to me because they can’t pull the right grades.)

After all, shouldn’t we have the right to know this stuff in order that we can gauge the efficacy of our government to ensure they are doing a good job? This editor does and fascists/totalitarian-thinking people think so.

einstein

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It Appears Maine Gun Owners Say Leave Us and Our Guns Alone

It may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back when the Bangor Daily News(BDN) sought the names and addresses of every single concealed carry permit holder in the state. Such a request did not set well with those permit holders and even those not holding a valid permit. I wrote yesterday that requesting and use of that information can only be for all the wrong reasons. The Bangor Daily News has since rescinded their request.

The uproar has grabbed the attention of many, including the New York Times that made note this request for information followed on the footstep of another news agency in New York that actually published the list of names from two counties and included an interactive map to go along with it, intimating that BDN had the same intent. BDN stated they did not intend to publish the information.

BDN’s actions seemed to be enough to set off a domino effect and prompt others to take action. The Governor, Paul LePage, has submitted emergency legislation that would temporarily block the release of permit holders’ information. This may be a good and timely move as it appears another group has requested the same personal information as did BDN.

George Smith, a freelance outdoor writer and who happens to write articles for the Bangor Daily News, says that maybe it’s time to do away with concealed carry permits.

For years I tried to convince legislators to repeal the law requiring permits to carry weapons in a concealed manner. The concealed carry permit system is illogical, expensive, and a waste of time and resources.

I’m all for that! Requirement of a concealed carry permit is unconstitutional and is nothing more than a glorified form of gun registration. It has always boggled my mind that gun owners mostly oppose any form of gun registration but find no problem with submitting to licensed carry. Vermont does not require a permit to carry concealed and Maine should follow suit.

On a related note, some gun owners I’ve heard from say we need to compromise and seek more reasonable gun limits. I say why? I think it’s time to not only hold firm to our already diminished rights but to push back even harder and regain ground already compromised away. Make no mistake, the gun grabbers aren’t interested in compromise for themselves; only if gun owners are willing to do it.

And while all this posturing is going on, Maine has a backlog of about 3 or 4 months to get a permit; and that estimate may be very low as I am aware of one instance of a person seeking to renew, and it took at least 6 months.

Maine people are an independent lot and sometimes it takes quite a bit to stir a fire under them. It appears the BDN, along with a tyrant for a president and other fascist politicians have kindled a large enough flame to prompt many Mainers to say, enough is enough. You ain’t messin’ with me and my guns!

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