Advisory Council Meeting Minutes


December 3, 2009 – 9:30 a.m.
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
284 State Street, Augusta

 

Attending:

Roland D. Martin, Commissioner
Paul F. Jacques, Deputy Commissioner
Andrea Erskine, Assistant to the Commissioner
Mark Stadler, Wildlife Division Director                  
John Boland, Director of Fisheries Operations
Bill Swan, Director of Licensing and Registration
Regis Tremblay, Director of Information and Education
Shon Theriault, Warden Service Lieutenant
Becky Orff, Secretary and Recorder

Coundil Members:

Mike Witte, Chair
Ron Usher, Vice Chair
Stephen Philbrick
Al Goodwin
Dick Thurston
Frank Dunbar
Joe Clark
John Simko

Guests:
                                                                  
Katie Lisnik, HSUS   
Fern Bosse, Norway, ME
Fran McCozie, NWTF

I. Call to Order  

Mr. Witte, Council Chair, called the meeting to order. 

II. Introductions  

Introductions were made.              
                       

III.  Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Council Meeting

Motion made by Mr. Dunbar and seconded by Mr. Usher to accept the minutes of the previous Council meeting.

Vote: Unanimous - munutes accepted.

IV. Rulemaking

1. Step 3

1. 2010 Moose Season

Mr. Stadler stated there was a public hearing held in Greenville on November 12, 2009 and at the public hearing the Department presented its 2010 moose permit allocations proposal and also discussed the 2010 moose season dates.  In the rulemaking proposal most of the discussion at the public hearing dealt with WMDs 2 and 9.  The public was advised that as a result of a legislative resolve the Department had been directed to change its management strategy for moose in WMD 2.  We had previously been managing WMD 2 as a recreational management zone and that meant we were managing the moose population such that biologically 17% of the population or greater would be trophy animals; mature bulls for both hunting and viewing.  With the change in WMD 2 from recreational to compromise, compromise management required the Department to reduce the population by 1/3.  That meant we would be issuing more permits in WMD 2 to achieve the new management objective given by the Legislature.  The permits were increased from 95 in 2009 to 250 for 2010.  That increase was biologically based, and because the management strategy for that zone had changed, and with the change in management strategy, that provided for an increase in permits.

Mr. Stadler stated at the public hearing they also discussed WMD 9.  The original proposal we were considering was 50 permits in WMD 9 and increased to 80 based on an Advisory Council member recommendation.  Based on the public comment that was received the Department was proposing to go with 50 bull permits in WMD 9.

Commissioner Martin stated that although the moose season dates issue was still at Step 2, if he had the Council’s blessing he would like to discuss them concurrently.  It was only at Step 2 because of an oversight.  Since the comment period closed on December 4, he stated after the deadline unless he heard anything to the contrary, it was his full intent to recommend to the Council that they move forward with the 3rd week.  He hoped to have the Council’s consent.  He stated there was an issue as to when the 3rd week of hunting would be. 

Mr. Stadler stated in WMDs 2, 3, 6, and 11 as part of the discussion around Senator Jackson’s resolve, although it was not written into the resolve, discussion had occurred within the Fish & Wildlife Committee of establishing a 3rd week in that portion of northern Maine.  A couple of years ago a public hearing had been held in Caribou and at that time we were proposing a consideration of an increase in permits in that zone to help achieve management objectives in that compromise area more quickly.  The public stated that they weren’t opposed to more permits, but they thought if we issued more permits they needed additional hunting opportunity so that people weren’t stacked up in certain portions of those WMDs.  There was historical precedent from public input up there about wanting an additional week. 

Mr. Stadler stated at the Greenville public hearing the Department discussed the proposal that in WMDs 2, 3, 6, and 11 there would be a 3rd week of moose hunting opportunity and that 3rd week would occur the week immediately following the 1st October hunting week.  At the public hearing and comments we received we did get some comments suggesting that the 3rd week occur during the regular firearms deer season.  There’s the opportunity to have the 3rd week in October or to have it perhaps during the 1st week of the regular firearms deer season in November.  Mr. Stadler had checked with Warden Service and there were no law enforcement issues with the 3rd week being in November and as far as biological concerns, there were none.

Commissioner Martin stated there was no preference on which week it occurred.  There were public comments that would strongly suggest that it should be the first week of deer season. 

Mr. Clark asked how the hunt had been during the firearms deer season for the southern part of the state for moose?

Lt. Theriault stated as far as enforcement effort there had been no impact.

Mr. Witte stated it was a good idea and provided additional opportunity.

Mr. Philbrick stated to go with the extra week and keep permit numbers the same.

Mr. Thurston asked about the economy.  If you were a guide you could be guiding in October on that 3rd week and then guide deer hunters in November.  If you’re a motel owner you’re going to sell rooms in one month.  He felt it would be better to spread it out.

Commissioner Martin stated the Department supported the third week, but biologically it didn’t matter when it would occur.  Economically, the 1st week of November made sense to him. 

A motion was made by Mr. Goodwin and seconded by mr. Philbrick to move Step 2, 1. Moose Season Dates (Third week) into Step 3 so that it could be acted on.

Vote: unanimous, motion passed.

Mr. Clark stated that the comment period deadline had not ended.

Commissioner Martin stated that barring any additional comments contrary to what they already had in their packet, he was recommending that they move forward with the 3rd week.

Mrs. Erskine stated when we did the moose permit numbers the 3rd week was omitted as an oversight.  There was no way to get the comment deadline before that day’s meeting.  It was the Commissioner’s intent, he was the one taking the action to adopt barring no additional comments to the contrary. 

Commissioner Martin stated when looking through the comments in the Council’s packet there were no objections to the 3rd week.  There were just recommendations as to when the 3rd week ought to be.  Barring any objections he was asking for their consent to move forward.

A motion was made by Mr. Goodwin and that was seconded by Mr. Philbrick to move forward witht he 3rd week of moose hunting pending no major objections or comments.

Vote: unanimous - motion passed

Commissioner Martin asked when the 3rd week should occur.

Mr. Clark stated he would go with how the biologists saw it for the 3rd week.  The only repercussions he had about that was on the economy.  The hotels would need to fill up that 2nd week of October as well.  All they had was bird hunters really. 

Mr. Witte asked that they take a straw vote on it.  A show of hands was taken.

3rd week of moose hunting in October - 5; 3rd week of moose hunting first week in November - 3

A motion was made by mr. Clark and seconded by Mr. Usher to have the moose hunt the 3rd week of October.

Vote: 5 in favor, 3 opposed - motion passed.

Mr. Clark stated they had always heard from bird hunters to leave the first week of October for birds only, that’s why the moose hunt occurred in the second week of October.  If the third week of moose hunting occurred in October would it ravish the bird population even more?

Mr. Stadler stated they heard lots of concerns from bird hunters.

Mr. Philbrick discussed the ability to care for meat in October was more difficult granted November was a little bit cooler.

Mr. Goodwin asked if the broccoli hunt permits were included in the total.

Commissioner Martin stated he was not sure about that season and if it would occur again in 2010.  The permit numbers did not include special hunts.

Mr. Clark stated on WMD 9 he would like to thank the Department for bringing forth the 30 additional permits he suggested.  He was wondering if something could be done on the south end of WMD 9.  Once Plum Creek started cutting they would see moose again.  Flashing lights may be an option.

Mr. Simko stated he heard from lots of people in Greenville that they did not want to see the expansion of permits period.  They had serious accidents on Rt. 15 but they had leveled off the last 3 or 4 years.  Lights were effective where they fell.  He agreed with Mr. Clark if there was a problem on that tip they needed to find a way to address that. 

Mr. Philbrick asked if there was any information available through DOT…they did a pilot project on Rt. 4 between Madrid and Phillips and on the side of the road they built a rock formation that made it difficult, they suspected, for moose to traverse it.  It funneled them into specific locations where signage was beneficial.  Was there information to show that had worked?

Commissioner Martin stated the Department had served on a Committee with the ME Turnpike Authority, DOT, especially on fatalities.  At the January meeting he requested that somebody from DOT meet with the Council and explain what worked and what didn’t regarding moose/vehicle collisions.

A motion was made by Mr. Dunbar and seconded by Mr. Thurston to accept the 2010 moose season including the 3rd week.

Vote: 7 in favor; 1 opposed (Mr. Clark) - motion passed.

Step 2

1. Moose Season Dates (Third week)

Combined with Step 3, see above.

Step 1
                       
There were no items under Step 1.

V. Other Business

1. Fishing Regulations Booklet Summary

Mr. Boland stated at the Council meeting in Rangeley they gave their blessing to a lot of changes to the rulebook, most of them in reference to consolidating ice fishing and open water lawbooks and one lawbook that would be good for 2 years.  It would help streamline fishing regulations and save money.  The number of pages would be reduced from about 120 to 92.  The next step was to look at all of the costs associated with printing and shipping the lawbooks.  We had explored going to a larger format than previous lawbooks but after much discussion settled on a size similar to the current book. 

Mr. Boland stated that one of the ways we would be saving money was instead of producing 250,000 – 300,000 books per year, we would be having 1 printing of about 325,000 lawbooks and it would be good for 2 years.  This would cut down our total production, shipping costs and it would be combined with an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at all the anglers notifying them that they would be getting one book that was good for 2 years.  More than likely we would run out of books the second year and hopefully the people would be well informed by then and if in fact they needed another book they would be able to get it from the website.

Mr. Boland stated other things that went into the decision making and changes that would be seen were the inside of the book was essentially newsprint and was the cheapest way to go.  The outside cover was a heavier, glossier page and we were going with straight newsprint.  It was all budget related and the cheapest way to go.  When color was added it was more money.  The new book would have no color.  The fold out with the S-codes on the last page which was handy would not be included in the new book to keep costs down.  He thought anglers would be very satisfied with the new condensed book.

Mr. Boland stated another part of the discussion was advertising.  Could we take it upon ourselves to notify the public that there was an opportunity to advertise in the new lawbook, coordinate that effort, etc.  We probably could do that but did not have enough staff to assign that task.  It would be a time consuming duty.  We were planning to move forward with no advertising.

Commissioner Martin asked Mr. Tremblay to explain how we were going to proceed, RFP vs. Requisition because that was an important part of why we were not recommending allowing advertising. 

Mr. Tremblay stated the advertising really didn’t benefit the Department very much.  Someone else did it and took 25% off the top.  The savings were negligible.  The amount of work that it took to get that kind of money was beyond our capacity.  In terms of an RFP vs. a requisition, an RFP went out as did a requisition but whoever was going to respond to that was going to offer different options.  There was a committee that reviewed that and made a decision, we would go back to Purchases and they would determine whether or not the selection was able to be used.  We would identify the specifications for the book and then it was bid on and we had to take the low bid.  It was a streamlined process.  We had been working with Purchases and it was determined that the way the book was prepared that requisition was the way to go.

Mrs. Erskine stated in the past we had a variety of contractors that worked very differently.  The last 4 or 5 years we had a contractor who subcontracted the sale of advertising to an individual that went out and tried to sell ads.  That was why the contractor kept a cut of the proceeds from ads.  Most printers did not want to sell advertising, there were very few that offered the entire package.

Mr. Swan stated what was happening before when this was going out with the advertising, printing and distribution most printing companies did not want to deal with the advertising so they didn’t even bid on the job.  The way we were proposing to do it, it was a print job and any of the big printing companies that printed on newsprint and were by far the cheapest would now be interested in bidding on this job.  This would drive the printing cost down because there would be more competition.

Mr. Philbrick asked if the website could be used for unified notification regarding advertising in future lawbooks.

Mr. Tremblay stated in terms of soliciting, in talking with Purchases, we would have to do an RFP.  He did not know if we would satisfy the RFP by using our website. 

Mr. Philbrick asked if it was determined that we satisfied the RFP by using the website, then use the Advisory Council to help bring in the required number of advertisers.  He asked what the cost per book was.

Mr. Tremblay stated the new book would be somewhere around $68,000 or $69,000, he did not know the cost per book. That included shipping.

Commissioner Martin stated the cost was about $70,000 and divide that by 325,000 (.21 per book).

Mr. Philbrick stated we could use MOSES to get contributions for shipping costs for extra books to cover costs.  This would be a check off when purchasing licenses.

Commissioner Martin stated there would be future discussions for a combined fishing and hunting lawbook.  We were considering this in the next couple of years.  There was a printer that did an 8 ½ x 11 book and did all of New England’s books.  He stated we may need legislation to charge a fee for lawbooks.

Mr. Clark stated the public, when going to municipal agents and buying a license, were always looking for their lawbook.  They were willing to pay a nickel to 10 cents more for an additional book.  Many did not have computer access to print an extra lawbook.

Mr. Swan stated there were 850 agents in the State, 300 were MOSES agents.  Those 300 agents sold 75% of our licenses.  We still had a large number of small towns and many businesses that sold licenses for us.  If we wanted a war we could force this.  We still had people voluntarily coming on to the system.  Those that were at the legislature when paying for lawbooks was discussed, that was a war.  The total number of items sold through MOSES was roughly 1 million.  If we talked about selling lawbooks that was another ½ million, or 50% more transactions.  It would be a burden to sell lawbooks.  How much would it cost to actually collect the money vs. just printing and distributing them. 

Mr. Simko stated as he understood it the book would have reduced content, no frills.  There would be a reaction to that from the public regarding things such as the back page S-code flap.  They would also notice there was no advertising.  He thought the public would say the frills could be put back in if we did some advertising.

Mr. Dunbar stated if they had to pay for a book they would be less likely to lose them.

Mr. Tremblay stated in terms of a future plan, we didn’t have the resource to manage the advertising component.  There was another possibility and we were exploring that, we couldn’t make it work for this book because it would have required combining all 3 lawbooks into one publication.  There was a company that was handling most of the Eastern United States 8 ½ x 11 book, high quality paper and their business model included regional advertising, they had an advertising staff that ran ads from Ford, Walmart, etc. and also small business.  They promised a significantly reduced cost and they would only do it once a year, not every 2 years.  Economically it looked liked it was going to be a better deal.  We were looking into it, but could not add the 3rd book at this time.

Commissioner Martin stated in regards to selling lawbooks, that discussion had taken place before Appropriations and did not go well.  In regards to exploring that option if we could legally do it without going through legislation we were going to explore that.  Mr. Swan was going to look into that.  In regards to advertising we were going to take another look at that.  He wanted to know from Purchases exactly what the stumbling blocks would be.

Mr. Usher asked when the deadline was.

Mrs. Erskine stated the next book was due to come out April 1, 2010 so it needed to go to printing soon.

Mr. Boland stated the actual format was still being worked on.  They wanted something final in the next couple of weeks.

Mr. Simko discussed how the Chamber of Commerce sold ads for key pieces of their publication (front and back covers) online through an auction.  Possibly the Department could hold a lottery for advertising slots.

Mr. Dunbar discussed a petition and asked if there could be any changes made to the rulebook.

Mr. Boland stated it was too late for rule changes to be added to the lawbook.

Mr. Clark asked why Purchases hadn’t given the Department guidelines for selling advertising.

Mr. Swan stated we did talk to Purchasing about advertising and their specific advise was if we did it we needed to put it out like a bid.  When Purchases put things out to bid they put it out on the Internet, but usually you did not see those types of bids come out from the State of Maine.  How many people would see or bid on it through that mechanism we did not know. 

Mr. Boland stated NH was one of the states entering into a contract with the new 8 ½ x 11 glossy booklet and he would be monitoring that to get a general idea on cost, etc.

VI. Councilor Reports

Councilors gave reports.

Commissioner Martin discussed the supplemental budget and stated that it appeared Natural Resource Agency consolidation may be back on the table.  There would be hearings on the issue before the Appropriations Committee.

VII. Public Comments & Questions

There were no public comments.

VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. at the Augusta Headquarters.  

IX. Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m.