Advisory Council Meeting Minutes

May 20, 2009 – 11:00 a.m.
Old Orchard Beach Town Hall
1 Portland Avenue, OOB


Roland D. Martin, Commissioner
Andrea Erskine, Assistant to the Commissioner
Ken Elowe, Director, Bureau of Resource Management
John Boland, Director of Fisheries Operations
Regis Tremblay, Director of Information and Education
Mark Stadler, Wildlife Division Director
Judy Camuso, Wildlife Biologist
Gregg Sanborn, Major, Warden Service
Adam Gormely, Lieutenant, Warden Service
Becky Orff, Secretary and Recorder

Council Members:

Joe Clark, Chair (by phone)
Mike Witte, Vice-Chair
Al Goodwin
Cathy DeMerchant
Ron Usher
Leo Kieffer 

Gary Lamb, Old Orchard Beach Town Planner

I. Call to Order                                    
Mr. Witte, Council Vice-Chair, called the meeting to order.

II. Introductions

Introductions were made.

III. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Council Meeting

Motion made by Mr. Usher and seconded by Mrs. DeMerchant to accept the minutes of the previous Council meeting as written.

Vote: 5 in favor, Mr. Kieffer abstained as he was not at the last meeting - minutes accepted as written.

III - A. Election of Chair and Vice Chair (**This agenda item was revisited at the 6/24/09 meeting. It was questioned that there may have been a lack of quorum at this meeting on 5/20/09 .)

Council Chair

Motion made by Mr. Usher and seconded by Mr. Kieffer to nominate Mike Witte as the new Council Chair.

Motion made by Mr. Goodwin and seconded by Mrs. Demerchant that nominations cease.

Vote: Unanimous - Mike Witte elected as new Council Chair.

Council Vice-Chair

Motion made by Mr. Goodwin and seconded by Mr. Clark to nominate Ron Usher as the new Council Vice-Chair.

Motion made by Mr. Kieffer and seconded by Mr. Goodwin that nominations cease.

Vote: Unanimous - Ron Usher elected as new Council Vice-Chair.

IV. Rulemaking

  • Step 3

1. 2009 Any-deer permits (**This agenda item was revisited at the 6/24/09 meeting. It was questioned that there may have been a lack of quorum at this meeting on 5/20/09.)

Mr. Stadler stated there were no changes since the proposal was presented at Step 2. 

Commissioner Martin stated there were no new changes.  A public hearing had been held in conjunction with a public informational meeting.  There were about a dozen in attendance for the public informational meeting but no one attended the public hearing in regards to the any-deer permits. 

Mrs. Erskine stated there were 4 comments that were received and they were included in the Council packet.

Commissioner Martin stated at Step 2 they had talked about the youth initiative, and he had shared with the Council that this year it would be inclusive.  Last year they had compromised and struck the youth portion out of the proposal.

A motion was made by Mr. Goodwin and that was seconded by Mr. Usher to accept the proposal as presented.  

Mr. Clark asked about the youth hunters.

Mrs. Erskine stated they would not be able to harvest doe deer in those WMDs with no any-deer permits.

Vote: 4 in favor, 2 opposed (mr. Kieffer and Mr. Clark) - Commissioner stated the motion did not carry.

Commissioner Martin stated there would be no any-deer permits issued as he did not have the votes of the majority of the Council.  The vote was a majority of those present and voting, not the majority of the Council.  The Council had defeated the proposal.

Mr. Kieffer stated he was not at the last meeting.  What brought about the change on youth day?

Commissioner Martin stated there was no change.  It was the same proposal other than the changes to permit numbers in some WMDs.  Last year’s proposal when it was discussed at Steps 1 and 2, there was an agreement reached because there was no consensus of the Council to keep the youth initiative so the Department took it out.  This year when it was discussed at Steps 1 and 2 there was some concern, but no vocal opposition to the youth initiative so the Department kept it in.  Council was told at Step 2 that what they would vote on at Step 3 was what was before them.

Mrs. DeMerchant asked if there was an opportunity to get votes from the members that weren’t present.

Commissioner Martin stated there was. 

A motion was made by Mr. Goodwin and seconded by Mr. Witte to reconsider the agenda item.

A motion was made by Mr. Goodwin and seconded by Mr. Usher to table the agenda item.

Commissioner Martin stated they would next discuss under Step 2, item 3, Piping Plover Essential Habitat.  He would call Council members that were not present regarding the any-deer permit initiative.

  • Step 2

3. Piping Plover Essential Habitat  
Mr. Stadler stated they had been discussing this issue for the last 6 or 7 months.  The Council had an opportunity to visit a site, and hear Judy Camuso talk about the importance of the nesting areas and the biology of the species and the importance of essential habitat.  We had used essential habitat for the restoration of the bald eagle.  In all the time essential habitat had been in place he thought the Department had denied one permit and that was an after the fact permit for a violation that occurred. 

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Usher stated due to the fact that he was the one that probably led to the hold up on the process, his concern was the Hills Beach area which was where they had just visited.  His concern was he thought it was near Camp Ellis a little more.  He explained at the last meeting that he had taken a tour with the biologist and he was satisfied with the tour and as far as he was concerned, they could continue with the initiative.

Mr. Witte stated Judy Camuso had clarified several issues for him on the site visit.  It was not as big a deal as it was made out to be.  The people that were out there were cooperating with the Department.  He didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary to ask people not to shoot fireworks or build fires or run bull dozers or whatever in those areas.  He felt it gave the Department more input and a little more position in regards to protecting the birds.

Mr. Goodwin stated there was a list in the packet of essential habitats.  Was that entire list part of the package that was being proposed?

Mr. Stadler stated only the ones that were underlined.  Everything else currently existed.  There were only 4 areas that were being added in Biddeford, Cape Elizabeth and Old Orchard Beach.

Mr. Goodwin stated he had discussed at great length at the last meeting nesting sites at various beaches.  He later received an e-mail from Leo Kieffer, a memo, regarding piping plover season and actions being taken by the Department.  Why did we need to put it in specific rule, which was going to cause undo harm to the abutting landowners.  We were already doing it, working with folks who owned the shore. 

Mr. Witte stated essential habitat gave the Department the option to sit in on the permit process for things such as dredging.  Without essential habitat designation we may not be part of the loop.  It gave the Department more input.

Mr. Kieffer stated when Mr. Goodwin called him, he had just received the e-mail and it was from Deborah Turcotte dated April 29th and it dealt with conservation partners with towns teaming to ensure safe piping plover nesting season.  Mr. Goodwin said he did not receive the e-mail, did other Council members receive the e-mail? 

Mrs. DeMerchant stated she had.

Mr. Kieffer read from the e-mail and asked about the “community based team” that was referenced.  Who was heading up that team and how did that fit in with the essential habitat proposal.  Why weren’t they at the meeting?

Judy Camuso stated it was not necessarily a group.  The Department was working cooperatively with all the partners as we did every year and in the past.  The e-mail was highlighting that we were working cooperatively with all the area towns, with Maine Audubon, with private landowners, municipalities, state parks.  We worked with all of those partners on the project every year, it was not new.  The e-mail was a press release that was sent out as a kick off to the season, that the plover season had started and we were working with these agencies to do the day to day management.  The day to day management that we did cooperatively with the towns and the municipalities and the private landowners would continue to happen.  Essential habitat designation would give the Department a seat at the table with permitted activities.  Putting up the enclosures was separate from the essential habitat designation. 

Mr. Kieffer asked if Mr. Archibald and others that were in opposition were in favor of the proposal now.  Mr. Archibald had attended Council meetings in the past.

Judy Camuso stated the private landowners we met with were on a 1 on 1 basis as we were doing the project on a day to day basis.  A lot of that work happened preseason.  After getting ready for the piping plovers to come back they reestablished their network of communication with landowners.  There were 100’s of landowners that we dealt with each year. 

Commissioner Martin stated he did not know where those people were that had been in opposition.  He did not think their opinions had changed.  They had collectively decided that another public hearing on the issue was not necessary.  Commissioner Martin asked the Council if it was their desire to move the initiative to Step 3.

Mr. Goodwin stated that before the next meeting he would like to know what the cost of the piping plover program had been for the last 3 years.  If for the last 3 years we had spent $50,000 each year, where did the money come from and where was it spent?

Mr. Stadler stated the cost was approximately $50,000 each year for piping plovers.  Roughly $40,000 of that went to a contract we had with the Maine Audubon Society that employed several biologists that worked with IF&W to do the outreach on the beach and also scouting.  When they plovers came back they talked to landowners about fencing and monitored the sites.  Another $5,000 to $10,000 went to Warden Service and local police departments to do patrols on the piping plover beaches for vandalism of nests and dogs on the beaches, etc.  The vast majority of the money went to management and the remainder went to law enforcement and then odds and ends went to purchasing stake and twine and materials. 

Mr. Elowe stated that all of the money came from money dedicated to nongame and endangered wildlife. 

Mr. Stadler stated that all came from dedicated funds; the sportsmen did not pay for that.

Mr. Goodwin stated he would like to have written information on the cost of the program.

Commissioner Martin asked Mr. Stadler to put that in writing and send it to all Advisory Council members.

Mr. Witte stated the initiative would move to Step 3 for a vote at the next meeting.

2009 Any-deer permits

A motion was made by Mr. Usher and seconded by Mrs. DeMerchant to revisit the 2009 any-deer permit proposal.

Vote: Unanimous - 2009 any-deer permit proposal revisited.

Commissioner Martin stated prior to voting to table the pending motion to adopt the 2009 any-deer permit initiative the votes were 4 in favor and 2 opposed, therefore, lacking a quorum.  He tried to contact the 4 absent members and could not reach Mr. Dunbar or Mr. Philbrick.  Mrs. Erskine spoke with Mr. Simko and he voted in favor and Commissioner Martin spoke with Mr. Thurston and he voted in favor.

Vote: 6 in favor, 2 opposed, 2 abstained - motion passes.  

Mr. Witte stressed the fact that if Council members were not able to attend a meeting, they should let either he or Ms. Orff know as soon as possible.   

1. 2009 Expanded Archery Season
Mr. Stadler stated expanded archery was a special deer season that provided hunting opportunity for archers in areas that had over abundant deer populations and that were restricted by firearms discharge ordinance.  The proposal addressed 3 areas.  The first was a portion of WMD 24 and the changes were simply updates to road names for I95, I295, etc. 

The second area was the Camden/Owls Head/ Rockland/Rockport common.  In talking with Ken Bailey, a prior Council member and resident of the area, he advised Mr. Stadler that the town of Camden had modified its firearms discharge ordinance and had included more of the town in the discharge ordinance area.  He wondered if that could be included in the expanded archery area.  Mr. Stadler spoke with the Chief of Police in Camden, the town spokesman on the issue, and Chief Roberts indicated that he wanted to talk to Mr. Bailey.  Mr. Stadler had not yet heard back from Chief Roberts.  In the absence of an ok from Chief Roberts, that would take out the top half of the Camden area.  That would add in the area recently added to a Camden firearms discharge ordinance area.  Also, in using the DeLorme Atlas when we originally designated the area, we had a section of road that was missing and should be the Hosmer Pond Road, and that update was included in the proposal.

The third item was a discrepancy in road names in the expanded archery area in Rockville.  In the towns of Bangor, Hamden, Hermon, Old Town, Orono and Veazie, we were adding a small area on the southern extreme portion of the expanded archery area and dropping it one road to the south.  The boundary was the Hopkins Road and we were dropping it one road to the south to the Kincade Road to take in an agricultural area.  The Hamden town manager was agreeable.

Mr. Witte stated that the only addition or correction to the proposal would be when Mr. Stadler heard back from Camden.  Everything else would stay the same. 

2. Significant Wildlife Habitat Rule (Definitions)
Mr. Stadler stated this was a housekeeping matter to update IF&W definitions to conform to DEP rules.  It would prevent a duplication of language.  We simply reference the text that currently existed in DEP rules.  This went through an extensive rulemaking process with DEP and then it was also reviewed by the legislature. 

4. Marsh Island Controlled Deer Hunt
Mr. Stadler stated last year when voted on, this was for a one year season and then it terminated.  Based on the success of the season, the towns of Orono and Old Town were interested in pursuing it as an annual hunt.  Based on letters received from the towns the Department was proposing the hunt as an annual one.

Council Member Questions and Comments

Mr. Usher asked how many people applied for the hunt last year. 

Mr. Stadler stated the first week there were 17 archers, and 14 the second week.

Mrs. DeMerchant stated the hunters had to be BLIP certified to participate.

Commissioner Martin stated there was some opposition, some e-mails from folks that were archers but not in the BLIP program.  They wanted the hunt opened up to the general public.  Old Town and Orono would not allow that and we had compromised.  It seemed to be working quite well.

Mr. Witte asked if there was a visible reduction of deer.

Mr. Stadler stated there were a number of ways at measuring a successful hunt.  There probably had not been a drastic reduction in deer/vehicle accidents but he thought that we had been successful in the fact that the people that were hunting and the public was growing more acceptable to that.  The hunt went well, the BLIP archers did very well, and there were no incidents.

Step 1

1.  Wells Archery Hunt Season Dates

Mr. Stadler stated this was similar to Marsh Island.  This was another controlled hunt area that the Department had been involved with for a number of years.  Drakes Island in Wells was a sanctuary that had an over abundant deer population.  The proposal would give the Department an additional month as a sideboard to when deer could be hunted in the sanctuary.  The Council was being asked to consider giving the Department the authority to have a deer hunt in the Wells Sanctuary between November 1 and January 30 annually.  That didn’t mean there would be a hunt those full 3 months, but it gave the Department the authority to allocate permits when we thought appropriate during those sideboards.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Goodwin asked if this was like a depredation hunt.

Mr. Stadler stated the hunters that participated in the Wells hunt were screened and selected and then placed.  It was predetermined where they would hunt.  The Department got landowner permission to be able to hunt on those areas.  It was a controlled hunt.  His understanding of a depredation hunt would be where we would issue a depredation permit to someone to protect an orchard or something of that nature. 

Mr. Goodwin asked why we went to January 30.

Mr. Stadler stated the biologist there wanted an additional month to have the hunt.

V. Other Business         

1. Fishing Regulations

Mr. Boland stated last summer we went through rulemaking on some rules that would not take effect until April 1, 2010.  We were combining the open water law book and the ice fishing law book into one book that would be published every 2 years.  Last summer’s rulemaking laid the ground work for the transition.  He briefed the Council on what would be before them at Step 1, probably at the August meeting.

Mr. Boland gave an overview of what they covered last year.  The state was divided into the southern and eastern counties and now there were 11 ½ counties; not taking effect until April 2010, the general law fishing season in 11 ½ counties would be year round fishing.  If the water was not listed (lakes and ponds) it was open to fishing year round.  Bag limits would apply until fall (Oct., Nov., Dec.) when you would not be able to keep any salmon, trout or togue.  In all waters open to ice fishing, you could open water fish as well.  B waters were still in existence in western counties.  A waters had clear cut dates, 12/1 – 4/30.  There were some problems when the books were combined.  S-codes, many were the same summer and winter, but many were not.  Those had to be revisited and rewritten.

Mr. Boland stated that regions were meeting regarding policy changes to be more consistent around the state and how we managed different groups of waters.  Stocked waters being open in the fall, B waters, wild trout conservation (use of live bait) and continuing to allow bass harvest in the fall were all being discussed.  The next step was a regulation committee meeting to discuss a compilation of all the regulations into one draft as well as management changes they thought should be applied in terms of the data they collected and the anglers they’d interviewed over the last few years. 

Mr. Boland stated it looked like Step 1 would be in August and they would be proposing to move forward with a complete repeal and replace of the fishing lawbooks.  The Council would be receiving a copy of the new law book and given a thorough overview of all the types of changes that went into it.  There would also be a list of other proposed management changes that would be aired at public hearings.  Once the final draft was prepared the Council would receive a copy to view before the August meeting.  Also, a new format for the book was being looked at.  A more standardized format that may reduce printing costs.

2. HSUS Letter
Commissioner Martin discussed a letter he had received from the Humane Society of the U.S. requesting bios for Advisory Council members.  Advisory Council member information that was posted on the IF&W website was discussed and the Council agreed that if they were contacted individually they could present their own resume and information to the HSUS.

VI. Councilor Reports

Councilors gave reports.

VII. Public Comments & Questions

There were no public comments or questions.

VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. in Bucksport.

IX. Adjournment

Mr. Usher motioned to adjourn the meeting and Mrs. DeMerchant seconded that.  The meeting was adjourned at 1:30 p.m.