August 24, 2019

Stay Off My Land You SOB Part II

It’s absurd if you think about it and I predict in time it will become even more absurd. What am I talking about? I’m talking about a Maine proposed piece of totalitarian law, LD 128 (shown below as it currently is written) that would require anyone to obtain written permission from the landowner to forage for wild edibles, whether for personal or commercial use. If you happen to be wearing a sidearm at the time of your “arrest,” you’ll go to jail and have your birthday taken away from you. Adding that bit to the legislation makes you wonder exactly who the SOB was behind such a stupid bill.

I had written previously about this proposal back in December 2016, stating that there already exist laws on the Books that provide the legal means of keeping people off your private property. I pointed out that a better approach would be some kind of education program that helps people understand about respecting the landowner and seeking permission before deliberately entering private land for the purpose of foraging for wild edibles, or for any other purpose.

There are other serious repercussions such a bill would cause. As is explained by Maine Sen. Paul Davis, “I wouldn’t want to see somebody that was out brook fishing catch a trout, pick a few fiddleheads to go along with the trout, have a gun with him and get arrested for a felony.”

Outdoor writer, V. Paul Reynolds says that, “Don’t kid yourself, LD 128 will be the death knell for those of us in Maine who enjoy gathering wild edibles.”

It would do even more than destroy the long-time tradition of foraging for wild edibles. It is also the beginning of what Mainers would recognize as “reverse land posting.” This has been voiced by the current Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, David Trahan. At present, private land in Maine is open for access unless the landowner legally posts his land. Hunters and some other outdoor sportsmen understand the vital importance of maintaining that access and as such have gone out of their way to educate the sportsmen to always get permission before hunting, etc. Of course, in the example given by Sen. Paul Davis, one might end up fishing a stream and in the process enter onto someone’s land where things like fiddleheads are found. This can only be complicated by existing laws in water rights of way.

At the end of this piece, I’ve posted and made available, the current proposal. Already the sponsor of the bill is trying to bail himself out, because the bill is extremely totalitarian, and change the wording to include only commercial harvesting of wild things. In addition, looking over the bill, someone took the lazy man’s approach to this bill and it appears they didn’t really fully understand what the intent of an amended existing bill would do….or did they?

LD 128, as written, is nothing more than amending the current law on the prohibition of stealing Christmas trees. Anyone with half a brain should be able to understand that there is a huge difference between stealing millions of Christmas trees, to satisfy the Pagan’s, false religion, and rummaging through the forest looking for mushrooms, fiddleheads or dandelion greens.

Now to my prediction. Judging by the direction this country is headed, I would suspect that the fascists in government will see this is an opportunity to pounce in order to further tax the worker drones, while appeasing the large landowners. In this case in Maine, the Maine Woodlot Owners favor this bill. So what might this “pouncing” look like? First, anyone wishing to “forage” for wild edibles would need to be licensed. A license would have to cost at least the same amount as a hunting or fishing license would. If you are from out-of-state prepare to pay in excess of $100.00 to pick up a handful of dandelion greens for supper.

But, before you can get the Foragers License, one must take a course from a registered and certified professional forager, i.e. Environmentalist. This may or may not cost the forager money.

For each trip into the forests, by first obtaining written permission from the landowner and paying said landowner a fee, the amount of which is up to the landowner but there would be a tax paid to the government as part of the fee, each “harvest” item would have to be tagged and registered with the state…another tax and fee. Mind you having such regulation would not change anything as it pertains to the landowner, fearful someone might be getting something to eat off his land. Crooks, who steal now, will continue to steal. But don’t go look!

Sound ridiculous? Well, it isn’t. This is exactly what the same clowns calling for bills like LD 128 want to see as far as land access goes – paying to play on private land and giving the landowner the freedom to charge whatever amount the market will bear and limiting access to only the chosen few…who have the most money.

The future.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://tomremington.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Maine-128-SP-47-item-1.pdf” title=”Maine 128 – SP 47 item 1″]

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An Act to Abolish the Maine Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council

LD 128, An Act to Abolish the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Advisory Council, is the brainchild of George Smith, former executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and present writer/activist in outdoor affairs in the State of Maine. He got Senator Anne Haskell to sponsor the bill.

On Smith’s blog he publishes his testimony before the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Smith’s attempt in his testimony is to point out the reasons why the Advisory Council should be abolished but I think what he should be doing is giving good reasons as to why it’s authority and function should change in order to make it more effective. More on that in a second.

Disturbing to me in Smith’s testimony is he says the following:

And there are two other problems. There has never been a nonsportsman on the advisory council, even though the department serves all the people of Maine, not just those who purchase hunting and fishing licenses and permits.

Smith has a history of giving away the power that license-buying sportsmen need to continue a department that will manage game species for surplus harvest. That power struggle is already weighted heavily on the side of environmentalists and giving them more power will do absolutely no good for fish and game issues. While it may be easy to state that the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife works for everyone, everyone doesn’t pay the bills. Therefore, “nonsportsmen” do no deserve a spot on the Advisory Council, nor should we be seeking tax revenue in order to make this happen.

But back to the restructuring of the Advisory Council (AC). I will agree with many of the things Smith says about how the current structure of the AC is working or not working. Restructuring it, rather than abolishing it would be better, I think, for sportsmen.

It is my opinion that the worse thing that can happen for fish and game departments is to establish what would be a dictatorship. The commissioner should not have complete or too much control over the aspects of operating the department; neither should he or she have all authority stripped away.

advisorycouncilThis same dynamic can and does exist in other states where the commissioner is hamstrung and can’t do anything without legislative approval. This hinders timely wildlife management. There needs to be a balance of power between the fish and game commissioner, the Legislature and the Advisory Council.

If the commissioner holds the majority of the power to make all decisions related to fish and wildlife management, then any person, lobbyist, non governmental agency, etc. can focus all their efforts on a single commissioner to achieve their personal agendas. This same can occur if a legislature has all the control. All one need do is have an audience with the ranking member(s) and I’ll guarantee the results will not be in the best interest of all sportsmen. We need checks and balances….unfortunately.

And of course this same dynamic can exist within the Advisory Council if that board is given too much power. The key here is to keep a healthy division of power without hamstringing the commissioner, that will insure that all sportsmen, from all corners of the state can be heard and represented. Members of the Advisory Council should have enough influence that when sportsmen contact them on issues, those council members will be heard.

It is for these reasons, mostly, that I would suggest keeping the Advisory Council but change the power structure in order to make them effective and worthwhile. The separation of powers is essential.

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