State Agriculture Officials Say Washington D.C. Trip Shows Maine Delegation Support

October 22, 2012

For more information contact: Jeanne Curran at (207) 287-3156

AUGUSTA, Maine – State agriculture officials are calling their visit to Washington D.C. “an important step” in dealing with the issue of the expired 2008 Farm Bill and its damaging impact on several sections of the rural economy, especially Maine’s dairy farmers.

“Maine is involved in offering solutions and is partnering with interested office holders,” Commissioner Walt Whitcomb of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF) said about his visit. “We discussed with the entire Maine delegation the impact of expired programs that support research, senior citizens, organic certification and dairy. The trip showed how critical and engaged our Maine congressional delegation is.”

During the trip to the U.S. Capitol, Whitcomb met with Maine delegation staff members, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials, Senate Agricultural Committee staff, and delegation members of other states, to discuss Maine’s next options regarding the Farm Bill. The ACF commissioner said he also wanted to assure the continuing support for the Farm Bill amendment sponsored by U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) and co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.

The high cost of feed and fuel, coupled with the Midwest drought and a federal milk pricing system based on a speculative market system, have caused production costs to skyrocket for Maine dairy producers in recent months.

The recently expired federal Farm Bill has provided a price protection program known as the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program. Despite the efforts of such federal legislators as U.S. Sen. Snowe, no action was taken on the Farm Bill before Congress left for its recess, putting in limbo a number of programs critical in Maine, including the MILC program.

The Snowe-Gillibrand Amendment was passed in the U.S. Senate version of the Farm Bill by a vote of 66-33. The amendment requires the USDA to report back to Congress the impact of the current system of federal milk marketing orders, which is now based on cheese and butter futures sold at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Maine milk prices should have a local, not federal, origin, according to Maine agriculture officials.

Whitcomb said the official visit confirmed that the Snowe-Gillibrand Amendment still was supported -- not only by Maine’s delegation, which gave its unanimous approval, but also by other state delegations. It also gave the Maine officials an opportunity to express their concern over the devastating effects of milk prices on Maine and the region, he said.

While it is unknown what will happen in Congress following the November election, several options are possible in November and December.

“We went to Washington both to measure the level of support for the potential passage of the Snowe-Gillibrand Amendment, which is very strong, and to deliver the message that things are very difficult in Maine,” Commissioner Whitcomb said. “I think we were able to accomplish both goals and convey the message of urgency.”

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Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner to Speak at Regional Collegiate Dairy Event

November 1, 2012

For more information contact: Jeanne Curran at (207) 287-3156

AUGUSTA, Maine – Commissioner Walter Whitcomb of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will be the guest speaker this week at the Northeast Regional Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge in Waterville.

Commissioner Whitcomb has been invited to address the participants during their annual dinner at 6 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2, at the Waterville Elks Club.

“Encouraging these future dairy leaders and supporting this unique educational opportunity is an honor for the Maine organizers, and I am pleased to have the chance to offer my observations regarding Maine’s natural-resource economy,” Commissioner Whitcomb said. “This competitive, educational event will showcase some of Maine’s best farms in one of our largest agricultural industries.”

Maine has 306 dairy farms located throughout the state, ranging in size from 10 cows to 1,700 cows. Dairy farms manage 700,000 acres of farmland and woodland and support more than 5,000 jobs directly and indirectly. The dairy industry has an annual impact of $570 million on Maine’s economy.

The Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge is being held in Maine for the first time. The three-day event is cosponsored by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences. David Marcinkowski, associate professor and UMaine Extension dairy specialist, is host coordinator and lead organizer for the event.

More than 120 undergraduate animal and dairy science majors from 14 colleges throughout the Northeast U.S. and Canada will form five teams and evaluate local dairy farms, making and presenting financial management recommendations.

Three local farms — Stonyvale Farm, The Wright Place and Piper Hill Farm — are allowing the teams to analyze their records. Judges then will grade the teams on presentation skills, farm analysis and recommendations.

The event also will include a technology seminar for local dairy producers led by dairy industry sponsors and researchers who will attend the dairy challenge. The technology seminar will be 12 noon – 3:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2 at the Waterville Elks Club.

For more information about the event, go to: http://www.dairychallenge.org/

Or contact David Marcinkowski at (207) 581-2740 or 1-800-287-7170 in-state.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

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Maine Forest Rangers Help Distribute Supplies, Equipment in Hurricane-Devastated Areas of New York City

November 5, 2012

For more information contact: Kent Nelson at cell: 207-557-2253

NEW YORK – The Maine Forest Ranger Incident Management Team (ME-IMT), mobilized to New York City on Oct. 31, has been successful in helping with the relief efforts for survivors of Hurricane Sandy. For the last few days, the team, made up of seven Maine Forest Service (MFS) forest rangers, a chief deputy sheriff and a communications specialist, has worked in a coastal area of the borough of Queens that was devastated by the storm surge and still without power.

“We have seen a lot of devastated areas hit hard from Hurricane Sandy,” said MFS Forest Ranger Jeff Currier, ME-IMT incident commander. “We are glad to be here and helping those in need. If the tables were turned, I’m sure our friends in New York would help us with a large-scale disaster in Maine.”

Many federal, state and city agencies are working together to provide much-needed supplies to those affected by the storm. The Maine IMT members are using their expertise in managing large-scale incidents to help organize and distribute much needed supplies such as food, water and blankets.

MFS forest rangers, under the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, also have visited dozens of emergency distribution sites and helped solve problems, such as making sure an engine assigned to the incident was delivered to one of the coastal volunteer fire departments. In this case, the storm surge had ruined the fire department’s vehicles and local firefighters had nothing with which to respond to fire and rescue calls.

Despite the evacuation order from the New York City Mayor’s Office, thousands of people remain in these areas, trying to clean up the mess from the storm. With the recent colder temperatures, there have been several structure fires and medical calls from people being careless with candles and generators.

The Maine IMT currently is working out of its Mobile Command Vehicle, which is located at the Logistic Staging Area at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. Team members fortunately were able to get fuel for their trucks at this location. New York City residents currently are dealing with a gasoline shortage, due to the lack of power at the refineries.

For more information on the Maine Forest Service, go to: www.maineforestservice.gov

For more information about the MFS Forest Rangers, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/ffchome.htm Find the Maine Forest Rangers on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maine-Forest-Rangers/236154706462544?ref=tn_tnmn

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State to Receive Restitution for Big Spencer Mountain Fire Fight

November 7, 2012

For more information contact: Jeanne Curran at (207) 287-3156

AUGUSTA, Maine – The State will receive nearly $74,000 in restitution for its suppression of a fire that burned 2 acres atop Big Spencer Mountain in August.

A District Court judge in Dover-Foxcroft ordered restitution of $73,972.96 to be paid over five years by Richard Wes Coers, of Utah, who pleaded no contest on Monday to a summons of failure to extinguish the fire on the mountain, which is 20 miles north of Greenville. Coers will also pay a $490 fine.

The fire started when embers from an unpermitted burn pile of leftover construction materials on top of the mountain was blown by a helicopter airlifting a communications building to the site.

Maine Forest Service rangers and local volunteers led an impressive firefighting effort by ground and air – including dropping 44,880 gallons of water on the fire from helicopters – before eventually extinguishing it.

“This was an expensive mistake and the Maine Forest Service should be commended for quickly putting out the fire and bringing this case to a resolution,” said Commissioner Walter Whitcomb of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. “As a reminder, fire permits protect people and our natural resources and are easy to obtain.”

For more information on obtaining an open burn fire permit including an online permit application system, visit www.maine.gov/burnpermit or call (800) 750-9777. For more information on the Maine Forest Service, go to www.maineforestservice.gov.

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Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry: Maine Veterans Eligible for Free Maine State Park Passes

November 9, 2012

For more information contact: Jeanne Curran at (207) 287-3156

AUGUSTA, Maine – Maine residents who are veterans and were honorably discharged or received a general discharge under honorable conditions are reminded this Veterans Day that they are eligible for a free, life-time day-use pass to Maine state parks and historic sites.

“We are honored to be able to offer this small token of our gratitude to Maine veterans in recognition of their outstanding service to this country,” said Commissioner Walter Whitcomb of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, which oversees Maine state parks and historic sites. “We are very proud and thankful for all that our veterans have contributed to the security and freedom of our country.”

Maine has 48 state parks and historic sites, many of which have activities and are open even during winter months. The free pass for veterans is for individual day use for park entrance and must be presented each time in conjunction with appropriate identification. All park and historic site rules must be followed.

The park passes for veterans are available through the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, which will determine whether the veteran is eligible for the free park pass.

Veterans who would like to apply for the park pass can find the application form on line. The form must be completed and returned with a copy of the veteran’s DD214 form (military service record) and a self-addressed stamped envelope.

The application should be mailed to:

  • Bureau of Maine Veterans' Services
    117 State House Station
    Augusta, ME 04333-0117

This pass is not valid for the following locations:

  • Acadia National Park
  • Baxter State Park
  • Allagash Wilderness Waterway
  • Penobscot River Corridor
  • Penobscot Narrows Observatory
  • Maine Wildlife Park

For more information about the free, life-time day-use pass for Maine veterans, contact Maine Veterans Services by calling 207-626-4464 or email: mainebvs@maine.gov For a copy of the park-pass application and for more information on line, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/programs/veteranpass.html

For more information about Maine state parks and historic sites, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/index.html

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Maine Forest Rangers Return Home from Sandy Relief Efforts

November 15, 2012

For more information contact: Jeanne Curran at (207) 287-3156

AUGUSTA, Maine -- The Maine Forest Ranger Incident Management Team is returning to Maine today after helping with the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in New York City for the past 14 days.

Mobilized just two days after the devastating storm hit the city, the nine-member team spent this past week working with the New York City Department of Health and the New York National Guard in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn. The Maine team managed three separate medical-assistance teams comprised of security personnel from the National Guard, paramedics and New York City health officials that conducted more than 21,000 door-to-door health and wellness checks in nearly 200 high-rise buildings affected by the storm.

“Maine was very fortunate to be spared from Sandy, and it is our honor and duty to help our neighbors to the south as they recover and rebuild,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “I want to thank this team of forest rangers and the many other Mainers who have also stepped up to serve for their efforts and for representing the great and generous spirit of our State.”

Commissioner Walter Whitcomb of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, which oversees the Maine Forest Service, agreed.

“We are very proud of the much-needed assistance provided by our Maine forest rangers and are glad they are all home safe and sound,” he said. “I know their extensive experience alleviated some of the pain and suffering still being endured by Hurricane Sandy victims.”

The goal of the health assessments organized by the Maine team was to check on the well-being of residents who live in high-rise buildings and to determine if they had any health issues. The three teams also helped fill dozens of medical prescriptions for those unable to get to their pharmacies.

Many of these residents have been without heat, hot water or electricity since the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy ruined electrical systems and flooded basement furnaces.

The Maine team members supported restoration efforts by tracking the number of buildings visited and prescriptions filled, providing detailed digital maps of the locations and facilitating meetings with federal, state and city officials.

Emily Ashton, a New York City Health Department senior advisor, thanked the Maine Incident Management Team for their efforts and said that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg daily reviewed the data they produced.

“Before the Maine forest rangers and the National Guard arrived, we were unorganized and were limited to groups of volunteers for the wellness checks,” Ashton commented. “The forest rangers provided clear, crisp direction and helped us get the job done way ahead of schedule.”

Maine Forest Ranger Jeff Currier, team leader, said he was pleased to be part of such a meaningful mission.

“It truly was an honor to help the Hurricane Sandy victims and support the New York City Health Department and the New York National Guard,” he said. “While the setting may be different than we are used to working in, our skills with managing large-scale incidents such as wildfires and hurricanes were utilized and appreciated.”

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Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry: Wreath and Tree Shippers Should Be Aware of Out-of-State Plant Regulations

November 19, 2012

For more information contact: Jeanne Curran at (207) 287-3156

AUGUSTA, Maine – As part of its commitment to supporting the state’s farm- and forest-based businesses, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF) has established a website outlining other states’ restrictions on importing cut trees and wreaths.

Maine decorative-plant shippers who are sending Christmas trees and wreaths around the country for the holiday season can save money and lost products by noting important regulations enforced by other states.

States such as California are impounding and destroying shipments to prevent infestation by invasive insects and the spread of plant diseases, said Ann Gibbs, Maine state horticulturist.

“Import requirements for cut trees and wreaths with ornamental nuts and fruit arrangements exist to protect regional agriculture or other commodities from the risk of plant pests,” Gibbs explained. “Unfortunately, some Maine shippers have learned about these regulations the hard way and have had shipments impounded and destroyed. We want to prevent any losses by getting the word out now. Our best advice is to check out-of-state orders in advance, especially those headed to California, and to make sure they are free of scale on the needles.”

Distributors also should identify their products clearly through labeling, beginning with the statement, “Grown in Maine,” followed by the county of origin and the name and address of the shipper. Labels should indicate the contents of packages, including the different types of greenery, nuts, fruits and cones used to decorate wreaths.

“This information benefits the shipper by speeding along deliveries,” Gibbs said. “That is very important in this time-sensitive industry.”

An informational sheet, “Know State Regulations When Shipping Wreaths and Trees,” is available on the ACF website at www.maine.gov/agriculture/horticulture/ship.htm or by contacting Sarah Scally at (207)287-3891 or sarah.h.scally@maine.gov.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

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Commissioners Visit Innovative Program at Bolduc Correctional Facility That Heals Horses, Inmates

November 19, 2012

For more information contact: Jeanne Curran at (207) 287-3156

AUGUSTA, Maine – State officials and guests had the opportunity on Thursday to visit the new ShelterMe horse program that has inmates at the Bolduc Correctional Facility in Warren rehabilitating hard-to-adopt horses – and themselves.

ShelterMe – the first program of its kind in Maine to involve horses and prisoners – is a collaborative effort between the Maine departments of Corrections and Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF) that uses inmates at the Bolduc facility to care for and work with horses that are difficult to place in adoption.

Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte and ACF Commissioner Walter Whitcomb were joined by board members of the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals including Sen. Bill Diamond (D-Windham) and other visitors in meeting the first two horses being cared for by facility inmates through the innovative program and touring the renovated horse barn at the correctional center.

“This is a program that suits the needs of a specific group of offenders, and it is having a positive outcome for both them and the horses. It also is a chance to give back to the community,” Commissioner Ponte said.

“The ShelterMe program has so many positive aspects,” agreed Commissioner Whitcomb. “It gives the inmates confidence and it gives care to the animals, and it’s also reviving an historic Maine farmstead. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

Currently two older horses – Lincoln and Bradley – are living at the center, and two prisoners are caring for them. The program hopes to take in more horses in the coming months and can house as many as six, managed by three to four prisoner-caretakers who are paid a $150 stipend out of the prisoners’ account and is not from taxpayers.

DACF’s Animal Welfare Program provides funding toward veterinary costs and cost of special feed for the horses; hay is grown and provided by the prison, which also renovated and maintains the stable for the horses.

The Bolduc Correctional Facility was built in the early 1930s as a farm barracks for the Maine State Prison. Known then as the "Prison Farm,” it grew to be one of the largest dairy and beef farms in Maine. It closed in 1970, and the center became a vocational training center for prisoners.

Through a public referendum, Bolduc was transformed and renovated starting in 1990 into the current Bolduc Correctional Facility, with Ben Beal as the facility director. The center has 122 male prisoners, with a population capacity of 222, and 65 staff members. The custody level of prisoners is minimum/community for inmates with less than three years remaining on their sentences.

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Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry: Maine Forest Service Publishes Mount Katahdin Spider Report

November 28, 2012

For more information contact: Jeanne Curran at (207) 287-3156

AUGUSTA – A new report from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry reveals that there are 145 different species of spiders on and around Mount Katahdin, including five that have been previously unidentified.

The Maine Forest Service report is based on the scientific collection and identification work done by scientists Daniel T. Jennings, Charles D. Dondale and James H. Redner from Maine and Canada and provides scientific knowledge that could provide baseline information on habitat and recreational-use effects in the park, according to Charlene Donahue, MFS forest entomologist.

None of the 145 different species of spiders found were poisonous, as Maine has no native poisonous spiders, the MFS forest entomologist said. The five previous unidentified species are unique to the North American alpine environment found on Katahdin and some of them have also been found on Mt. Washington and in Quebec.

Some Katahdin specimens are available in the MFS insect collection, while others are being kept at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge, Mass.

As part of its mission, the state’s Forest Service frequently publishes technical reports on a variety of scientific subjects, from invasive insects to silviculture, as a way to support Maine landowners, forest managers and businesspeople.

A checklist of documented spiders is available at http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/idmhome.htm

For more information about the Maine Forest Service, go to http://www.maineforestservice.gov

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Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry:Commissioner Selects New State Veterinarian

November 29, 2012

For more information contact: Jeanne Curran at (207) 287-2156

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Commissioner Walter Whitcomb of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Michele Walsh as Maine State Veterinarian.

Walsh, who assumed her position this week, will work within the Division of Animal & Plant Health to monitor the health of domestic animals and diseases that affect both humans and animals statewide.

“We’re pleased to have Dr. Walsh join the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry team,” Commissioner Whitcomb said. “She’ll contribute her extensive experiences assisting individuals, as well as monitoring conditions impacting food safety, emergency response, and state and regional health responsibilities,”

“I’m looking forward to working closely with Maine’s diverse agricultural community,” Walsh said. “Proper animal care is the hallmark of Maine farmers, small and large. They are a great group of individuals, and I’ll learn from them as I share my diverse background in both clinical and on-the-farm settings.”

Among Walsh’s responsibilities is overseeing Maine’s certification and testing programs to ensure compliance with interstate and international requirements for the exportation of animals; assisting dairy producers to improve milk quality; preventing the introduction and spread of contagious, infections and parasitic disease among poultry and livestock; and monitoring Maine’s agricultural fairs.

A New England native, the new state veterinarian spent as much time as possible on her family’s dairy farms in Ireland. She moved to mid-coast Maine in 2001 after graduation from veterinary school. Walsh received her Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, in English and Irish literature from Brown University and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Tufts University of Veterinary Medicine.

Walsh has had a long-term interest in disease ecology and agriculture, especially as they relate to animal husbandry and food safety. She was a veterinarian in clinical practice with mixed and companion animals and then worked five years with a Maine aquatic animal diagnostic laboratory. She has practiced in Maine, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and New Brunswick, Canada.

The state veterinarian has worked on disease surveillance programs in the U.S. and Canada and has performed regulatory work on some food animals and aquatic wildlife from all parts of the globe. She has also led biosecurity workshops for food animal producers throughout the U.S. and has experience with international animal and animal-product import and export policies.

Walsh and her husband live in Round Pond.

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Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry: AWW Winter Campground Registration to Open Dec. 8

November 30, 2012

For more information contact: Jeanne Curran at 207) 287-3156

AUGUSTA -- The Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW), the 92-mile-long ribbon of rivers, streams, lakes and ponds that winds through northern Maine's vast forests, is providing winter campgrounds at Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook.

Registration for the campgrounds will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Chamberlain Bridge ranger station.

The 48 camp sites available at Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook will be allotted on a first-come, first-served basis until the campground capacity is reached, which could occur as early as noon on opening day.

Campers should arrive at Chamberlain Bridge before 8 a.m. to be sure of getting a site.

“These unique winter campsites offer extraordinary access to some great winter ice fishing,” Matthew LaRoche, AWW superintendent, said. “We have visitors who return year after year to enjoy the beauty, camaraderie and winter sport that this part of Maine offers.”

Camp sites are available for a rental fee of $50 per month, plus a 7-percent meal and lodging tax. Eight sites are reserved in the parking lot for transient use at the regular camping fee of $4 per person per night for Maine residents and $8 for nonresidents. The water access campsites on the lakes are available for use in the winter as well as summer; the same fees apply to these sites.

The AWW provides public drinking water, vault toilets and snow plowing at the Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook winter campgrounds. A groomed snowmobile trail is marked from the parking lot to the south end of Chamberlain Lake and to Round Pond/Telos lakes.

For more information on Maine state parks, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com

For more information on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, call (207) 695-3721, Ext. 4, or (207) 941-4014.

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Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry: Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park Offers Winter Programs

November 30, 2012

For more information contact: Jeanne Curran at (207) 287-3156

FREEPORT, Maine -- Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, one of Maine’s popular coastal state parks, is offering nature programs at 2 p.m. each Sunday through the winter.

Park visitors are invited to enjoy the park with their families and learn something new from the park’s knowledgeable and dedicated staff.

Programs start at the circle of benches at the end of the second parking lot and may include walks, talks, and activities in a beautiful natural setting. The programs, which are based on the park’s natural surroundings, will last about one hour, weather permitting.

No reservations needed except for group use, and the nature programs are free with park admission. Admission is $1 for ages 5-11; $3 for Maine residents ages 12-64; $4.50 for non-residents ages 12-64; $1.50 for non-residents 65 and older. Children under 5 and Maine residents 65 and older are free. For more information or to arrange for group visits, call 865-4465.

Dec. 2 -- Ready, Set, Sleep! - Discover how nature prepares for winter in this program for children and fun-loving adults. 2 p.m., meet at circle of benches by second parking lot. One hour program, weather permitting. Free with park admission. Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport. 865-4465.

Dec. 9 -- Mammals of Maine - Add to your knowledge and appreciation of the ways in which the park’s mammals survive winter. 2 p.m., meet at circle of benches by second parking lot. One hour program, weather permitting. Free with park admission. Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport. 865-4465.

Dec. 16 -- Winter Birds at Wolfe’s Neck - Discover the needs and adaptations of the park’s birds and the ways in which people can help birds around their homes survive winter. 2 p.m., meet at circle of benches by second parking lot, One hour program, weather permitting. Free with park admission. Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport. 865-4465.

Dec. 23 -- Winter in the Woods – Increase your understanding and appreciation of some of the ways in which plants and animals survive winter. 2 p.m., meet at circle of benches by second parking lot, One hour program, weather permitting. Free with park admission. Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport. 865-4465.

Dec. 30 -- Plants alive in a Cold World - Learn the strategies of the park’s plants for surviving winter. 2 p.m., meet at circle of benches by second parking lot, 1 hour program, weather permitting. Free with park admission. Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport. 865-4465

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Maine Acquires Major Conservation Easement on West Grand Lake in Washington County

December 18, 2012

For more information contact: Jay Finegan at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, in partnership with the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, announces the completion of a major conservation project in Washington County. Effective today, the State of Maine has acquired an easement on more than 21,000 acres of land in and near Grand Lake Stream.

The West Grand Lake Forest Conservation Easement guarantees continued public access on popular recreation lands for hunting, fishing, trapping, snowmobiling, hiking, snowshoeing, canoeing, kayaking and other activities. It also ensures that the lands will continue to be available for sustainable timber and fiber production.

“Maine’s natural resources are the backbone of our economy,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The Grand Lake Stream area has outstanding fisheries, wildlife and scenic resources that make it an attraction for recreationists from around the world while supporting the highest concentration of Registered Maine Guides in the State.

“The historic working forests that have safeguarded these natural assets are now assured for the future,” the Governor added.

In total, the easement conserves 21,870 acres and is funded with State, Federal and private monies. It includes 17 miles of shoreline on West Grand, Big and Lower Oxbrook lakes, wraps around the village of Grand Lake Stream and conserves a quarter-mile on the west side of Grand Lake Stream above Big Falls. Moreover, it protects 93 miles of frontage on streams, including Big Musquash Stream and a number of native brook trout streams. Additionally, the easement provides an option for the State to construct a new carry-in boat access on the east shore of West Grand Lake.

“We are very pleased to be acquiring the public recreational access rights provided by this easement,” said Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. “These lands support traditional uses, including hunting and fishing, and the easement also guarantees continuation of the primary ATV and snowmobile trails that cross the property.”

The Downeast Lakes Land Trust partnered with the State to propose the project to the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program and the Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) Program. The Forest Service selected this locally led project as the number one national forest conservation priority in 2011. The project also garnered a top rating in the 2011 round of proposals considered by the LMF Board.

Maine’s congressional delegation was instrumental in securing the necessary funding. “As a long-time supporter of the Forest Legacy Program and a member of the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee, I am particularly pleased to see the completion of the West Grand Lake Forest Easement,” said U.S. Senator Susan Collins. “The priceless assets protected here are vital to Maine’s tourism. I’ve seen firsthand the strong support of the local community for this conservation effort, and I admire the dedication of the people of Grand Lake Stream to conserve the natural resources that sustain their economy and support Maine’s timber industry.”

The conservation easement will be held by the Division of Parks and Public Lands within the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. The Downeast Lakes Land Trust will establish a $200,000 easement stewardship endowment to support the Division’s ongoing responsibilities for the property.

“Our approach provides local people the opportunity to become stewards of the natural resources that support their economy,” said Mark Berry, executive director of the Downeast Lakes Land Trust and the State’s partner in the project. “By permanently conserving these lands, and guaranteeing they will always be open to the public for recreation, we’re protecting our local heritage and way of life for future generations.” ###

West Grand Lake Forest Easement Partner Information

About the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

The Division of Parks and Public Lands, within the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, manages 48 state parks and historic sites, 600,000 acres of public reserved land and 2.3 million acres of submerged land, and provides conservation oversight monitoring of 730,000 acres of conservation easements on private lands. Its multiple-use guidelines provide an extraordinary array of working forests, wildland preserves, outdoor recreation, and more than 20,000 miles of ATV, snowmobile, waterway and coastal trails.

About Downeast Lakes Land Trust

Downeast Lakes Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by local residents in Grand Lake Stream, Maine, with a slogan of “Forests and Lakes – For People – Forever.” The Trust contributes to the long-term economic and environmental well-being of the Downeast Lakes region through the conservation and management of its forests and waters. The Trust sustainably manages the 33,708-acre Farm Cove Community Forest for wildlife habitat, forest products, and public recreation, as described on its web site, http://www.downeastlakes.org. Downeast Lakes Land Trust received Down East magazine’s Environmental Award in 2006 and was named a 2006 Landowner of the Year by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. In 2007, it became the first local land trust in Maine to earn Forest Management certification from the Forest Stewardship Council.

Four Maine State Parks Will Feature Guided 'First Day' Hikes

December 24, 2012

For more information contact: Jay Finegan at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – Last year, more than 230 Mainers came out on New Year’s Day for short, guided hikes in four state parks. Park officials hope for an even stronger turnout this January 1, when guided hikes will take place at Sebago Lake State Park, Popham Beach State Park, Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park and Aroostook State Park.

“A healthy lifestyle for 2013 could perhaps start with a brisk outdoor hike in one of Maine’s outstanding state parks,” noted Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF).

“First Day Hikes is a national initiative through a group called America’s State Parks, with participation by all the State park systems in the country,” said Will Harris, Director of the Parks and Public Lands Division of the ACF Department. “Last New Year’s Day, there were some 400 outings across the country. This year, more than 600 are planned. It’s growing quickly.”

In Maine, the four First Day Hikes range from less than half a mile to 1.5 miles. Parks and Public Lands staffers will lead the outings and interpret the features of the surrounding natural habitat. All four trails are rated as easy or moderate hikes. Admission to the parks is free for participants and there is no charge for the guided hikes.

“This is a great way to start the New Year by getting out and enjoying some of the best of what Maine has to offer,” Harris said. “We hope it will encourage folks to continue to visit our parks all year long.”

Here are some basics on Maine’s First Day Hikes:

*Sebago Lake State Park (Naples) – The 1.5 mile hike begins at 10:30 a.m., starting at park headquarters at 11 Park Access Road. The degree of difficulty is rated moderate. An adult must accompany children, and dogs must be leashed. This hike will offer views of the Songo River, and guides will discuss the mixed woodland habitat and the geologic history of the park. Park contact number: (207-) 693-6231.

*Popham Beach State Park (Phippsburg) – This one-mile hike, rated as easy, begins at 9:30 a.m. and lasts about an hour. Adults must accompany children, but all ages are welcome. Hikers will explore the beach during the first low tide of the New Year. Hike leaders have created a “beach bingo” game so participants can “rove between our series of beach stations and learn about the creatures of the intertidal zone.” Hikers at this popular park also will learn about the ever-changing beach and dunes and the natural dynamics that form, destroy and remake them. Park contact number: (207-) 389-1335.

*Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park (Freeport) – This is the shortest of Maine’s First Days hikes, just one-third of a mile. Participants will meet at the picnic shelter by the second parking lot. The event runs from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and all ages are welcome, but dogs are not suitable for this guided walk. This hike provides views of Casco Bay along the way and discussion about how the plants and animals in the park survive the winter. Park contact number: (207-) 865-4465.

*Aroostook State Park (Presque Isle) – This easy to moderate 1.5-mile hike begins at 9 a.m. and runs until 11:30 a.m. Hikers will meet at the main parking lot. Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash at all times and are allowed on snowshoe trails but not on ski trails. Event organizers advise bringing snowshoes and cross country skis if there is enough snow to use them. The hike is planned as a woods tour through a typical northern Maine forest, with opportunities to see many types of birds and animal tracks. Park contact number: (207-) 768-8341. ###

Maine's 72nd Annual Agricultural Trades Show Set for Jan. 8-10

January 4, 2013

For more information contact: Jay Finegan at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – More than 5,000 farmers, woodland owners, livestock breeders, equipment suppliers and interested visitors will gather at the Augusta Civic Center next week for the 72nd annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show, one of the state’s largest agricultural events.

Hosted by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF), the show runs from January 8-10 and is free to attend.

Governor Paul R. LePage will be on hand for the show’s opening to meet Maine farmers and recognize agriculture’s vital contribution to the state’s economy.

“Food producers are some of our most valuable economic and community assets,” the Governor said. “Agriculture has always been a major pillar of Maine’s economy, and this show does a great job of showcasing the importance of our land-based agriculture and forestry enterprises. Thousands of Maine jobs are involved in the growing, transporting, processing and marketing of the widest array of produce in the Northeast.”

This year’s show will feature dozens of lectures, demonstrations and meetings involving some 40 major agricultural organizations and agencies, as well as more than 150 exhibits featuring the latest in agricultural and forestry products, equipment and services.

“The Trades Show provides an excellent opportunity for farmers, foresters and trade groups to stay current on a wide variety of issues, from cheese-making to the federal Farm Bill to maple syrup production to farm business management,” said ACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “The additional assets of the now-combined departments of agriculture, conservation and forestry give us more resources as we widen our expertise in the continuously growing fields of food and fiber production.”

The show also offers a wealth of knowledge for non-farmers to learn about agriculture and how locally grown food is harvested and processed. As more Mainers look to grow their own gardens and raise animals, workshops will be available for these beginning farmers to understand what it takes to start a small farm and get assistance in creating a plan.

The main auditorium will feature a stage with periodic floral design demonstrations presented by the Maine State Florists Association as well as the annual finals competition for the best home-baked pie as selected by agricultural fairs during the previous summer. The State Pie Baking Contest will be held on Wednesday night.

The show also provides an opportunity for growers, pesticide applicators and pesticide distributors to get up to speed on the latest developments in pest management and earn credits required for pesticide license recertification. The Maine Board of Pesticides Control and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer 11 one-hour training sessions.

Additional pesticide credits will be available at workshops run by the Maine Christmas Tree Association, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), the Maine Florists Association, the Maine Vegetable and Small Fruit Growers Association and the Maine State Pomological Society.

At the Commissioner’s Luncheon on Tuesday, which will feature Maine-grown food, Commissioner Whitcomb will honor the legacy of this year’s recipient of the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award. The 2013 award was presented to Russell Libby, longtime executive director of MOFGA, before he passed away in early December. The Governor is scheduled to offer remarks at the luncheon.

The show will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Tuesday, Jan. 8; from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., on Wednesday, Jan. 9; and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Thursday, Jan. 10. The complete program and schedule are available at: http://www.maine.gov/acf/. For more information, contact ACF by telephone at 207-287-3419 or email amy.allen@maine.gov.

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New Management Plan in Place for Allagash Waterway

January 7, 2013

For more information contact: Jay Finegan at 207-287-3156

By Matthew LaRoche - Superintendent, Allagash Wilderness Waterway

A 15-year management plan for the Allagash Wilderness Waterway has received final approval by senior officials at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF). The plan reflects changes made to the State’s Allagash statutes since adoption of the last plan in 1999, and presents policies, goals and strategies for the management and recreational use of the Waterway.

After two years of development and broad input from stakeholders, the new plan was signed on December 20 by DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb and Will Harris, Director of the Division of Parks and Public Lands. Five-year periodic reviews will keep the plan up to date.

The Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) is a spectacular, 92-mile long waterway that, in 1970, became the first state-administered river approved for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic River system as a Wild River Area. The State of Maine purchased the land along the waterway after Maine voters overwhelmingly approved a $1.5 million bond issue. The bond money, together with matching federal dollars from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, provided the funds necessary for acquiring the restricted zone – land within 400 to 800 feet on both sides of the waterway.

A 2005 attempt at updating the AWW management plan ended in failure primarily because the various parties could not agree on motor vehicle access points and the rebuilding of Henderson Brook Bridge. Legislation codifying motor vehicle access points and permanent bridge crossings, as well as designating the number of snowmobile access points, effectively settled the primary areas of contention.

The establishment of the AWW Advisory Council also paved the way for the recently approved plan. The Council’s initial task was to develop a first-ever strategic plan for the waterway. That work, completed in December 2010, followed the guidelines of the founding legislation, which directs the waterway to “preserve, protect and develop the maximum wilderness character of the watercourse.” That strategic plan, along with related legislation, forms the underpinning of the 2012 AWW management plan.

The waterway plan is broken into nine management policy sections with goals, objectives, and strategies under each section.

For instance, the plan directs the waterway to eliminate snowmobile access locations at Burntland Brook and Indian Stream and add snowmobile access at Smith Brook and Nugent’s Camps. This maintains the total of 19 snowmobile access locations as directed by statute. The wilderness character of the waterway is to be enhanced by several strategies, including the removal of directional signs that are not absolutely necessary and minimizing signage outside the concentrated use areas. The buildings at Telos Dam are slated for removal and the access road to the dam will be relocated. The parking lot next to the ranger station at Michaud Farm will be closed in favor of a new handicap accessible parking area that will be screened from the river.

Some other highlights of the plan are:

• The use of ATVs will be prohibited year-round but could be allowed by special exception when there is lack of snow in the winter by the posting of access trails.

• Three new campsites are to be built next to the Chamberlain parking lot to accommodate late arriving canoe groups.

• Multi-party campsites will be reduced in size or replaced with single party campsites where possible.

• Campsite standards will be developed and sites will not be allowed to fall below a base standard. Remedial action will be taken, such as hardening or relocation when problems are identified.

• Facilities at vehicle access points are to be improved to better accommodate use by persons with disabilities.

• Public information will be enhanced by using web-based tools to help users preview and plan trips to the waterway.

To download a copy of the AWW management plan, visit the Division of Parks and Public Lands website at the following link: http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/programs/planning/AWW2011plan.html

Requests for a printed copy of the AWW plan should be sent to: Maine Division of Parks and Public Lands, 22 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333 or by email to melissa.macaluso@maine.gov

For general information on the AWW, go to: www.maine.gov/doc/parks/ or call 207-941-4014, email heidi.j.johnson@maine.gov or write to the Division of Parks and Public Lands, 106 Hogan Road, Bangor, ME 04401. The Parks and Public Lands Division is part of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. ###

Governor LePage Greets Farmers at Agricultural Trades Show

January 9, 2013

For more information contact: Jay Finegan at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage walked the show floor at the Augusta Civic Center on Tuesday, stopping to speak with farmers attending Maine’s 72nd annual Agricultural Trades Show. He was joined on the floor by Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF), which is hosting the three-day event.

The Governor also took part in honoring the legacy of Russell Libby, who was named the recipient of the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award for 2013. Commissioner Whitcomb told a luncheon gathering of 350 that “for everyone in this room, the words ‘organic farming’ are synonymous with Russell Libby in the state of Maine.”

Mr. Libby, a longtime executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, passed away in early December, and his family attended the Commissioner’s Luncheon as guests of honor. Governor LePage presented the award to Mary Anne Libby, Russell’s spouse, who was joined on the podium by Ronda Nichols of Stockton Springs, Russell’s sister, and two of his daughters, Anna Libby of Orono and Maisey Libby of Mount Vernon. They received a lengthy standing ovation by everyone in the Civic Center’s huge banquet hall.

In addition to honoring Russell Libby, the Governor also pointed out that our agricultural industry is part of Maine’s heritage and has a huge role to play in making Maine prosperous. “Ours is a beautiful state,” he said at the luncheon, “and with our forests, farms and coastline, there is no reason we cannot lead the nation with our thriving natural-resource based economy. We can compete globally with our products thanks to the hard work and innovation from farmers like the ones I see here today.”

The Governor and Commissioner Whitcomb also spoke to members of the agriculture community about the success of last year’s merger of the Department of Agriculture and Department of Conservation into one agency, which has already resulted in improved delivery of coordinated services to constituents and increased resources for agricultural programs.

“The additional assets of the now-combined departments give us more resources as we widen our expertise in the continuously growing fields of food and fiber production,” Commissioner Whitcomb said.

The Agricultural Trades Show, one of the State’s premier agricultural events, continues on Wednesday and Thursday and offers free admission. All told, organizers expect more than 5,000 farmers, woodland owners, livestock breeders, equipment suppliers and interested visitors. This year’s show features dozens of lectures, demonstrations and meetings involving some 40 major agricultural organizations and agencies, as well as more than 150 exhibits featuring the latest in agricultural and forestry products, equipment and services.

The show offers a wealth of knowledge for non-farmers to learn about agriculture and how locally grown food is harvested and processed. As more Mainers look to grow their own gardens and raise animals, workshops will be available for these beginning farmers to understand what it takes to start a small farm and get assistance in creating a plan.

One of the show’s highlights will take place Wednesday afternoon with the annual finals competition for the best home-baked pie, as selected by agricultural fairs last summer.

The show will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10. The complete program and schedule are available at: www.maine.gov/acf/. For more information, contact ACF by telephone at 207-287-3419 or email amy.allen@maine.gov.

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Governor LePage Greets Farmers at Agricultural Trades Show

For more information contact: Jay Finegan at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage walked the show floor at the Augusta Civic Center on Tuesday, stopping to speak with farmers attending Maine’s 72nd annual Agricultural Trades Show. He was joined on the floor by Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF), which is hosting the three-day event.

The Governor also took part in honoring the legacy of Russell Libby, who was named the recipient of the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award for 2013. Commissioner Whitcomb told a luncheon gathering of 350 that “for everyone in this room, the words ‘organic farming’ are synonymous with Russell Libby in the state of Maine.”

Mr. Libby, a longtime executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, passed away in early December, and his family attended the Commissioner’s Luncheon as guests of honor. Governor LePage presented the award to Mary Anne Libby, Russell’s spouse, who was joined on the podium by Ronda Nichols of Stockton Springs, Russell’s sister, and two of his daughters, Anna Libby of Orono and Maisey Libby of Mount Vernon. They received a lengthy standing ovation by everyone in the Civic Center’s huge banquet hall.

In addition to honoring Russell Libby, the Governor also pointed out that our agricultural industry is part of Maine’s heritage and has a huge role to play in making Maine prosperous. “Ours is a beautiful state,” he said at the luncheon, “and with our forests, farms and coastline, there is no reason we cannot lead the nation with our thriving natural-resource based economy. We can compete globally with our products thanks to the hard work and innovation from farmers like the ones I see here today.”

The Governor and Commissioner Whitcomb also spoke to members of the agriculture community about the success of last year’s merger of the Department of Agriculture and Department of Conservation into one agency, which has already resulted in improved delivery of coordinated services to constituents and increased resources for agricultural programs.

“The additional assets of the now-combined departments give us more resources as we widen our expertise in the continuously growing fields of food and fiber production,” Commissioner Whitcomb said.

The Agricultural Trades Show, one of the State’s premier agricultural events, continues on Wednesday and Thursday and offers free admission. All told, organizers expect more than 5,000 farmers, woodland owners, livestock breeders, equipment suppliers and interested visitors. This year’s show features dozens of lectures, demonstrations and meetings involving some 40 major agricultural organizations and agencies, as well as more than 150 exhibits featuring the latest in agricultural and forestry products, equipment and services.

The show offers a wealth of knowledge for non-farmers to learn about agriculture and how locally grown food is harvested and processed. As more Mainers look to grow their own gardens and raise animals, workshops will be available for these beginning farmers to understand what it takes to start a small farm and get assistance in creating a plan.

One of the show’s highlights will take place Wednesday afternoon with the annual finals competition for the best home-baked pie, as selected by agricultural fairs last summer.

The show will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10. The complete program and schedule are available at: www.maine.gov/acf/. For more information, contact ACF by telephone at 207-287-3419 or email amy.allen@maine.gov.

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Ski and Snowshoe Trailer Rolls into Sebago Lake State Park for Six-Day Stay

January 16, 2013

For more information contact: Jay Finegan at (207) 287-3156

AUGUSTA – If you’ve ever wanted to try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing but never had the chance, you are in luck if you live within a reasonable distance of Sebago Lake State Park.

The Ski and Snowshoe Trailer, run by the Maine Division of Parks and Public Lands, will be at the park January 17-22, providing free use of skis, snowshoes and all the accessories.

“Sebago Lake offers great cross-country conditions, with several miles of groomed trails and views of the Songo River and the lake,” said Gary Best, assistant southern region manager in Parks and Public Lands. “This is the second year for the Ski and Snowshoe Trailer, and it’s been a very popular program. We’ll be taking the trailer to state parks all over the state this winter.”

The trailer and its contents were provided by a grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, along with sponsorships by L.L. Bean, Wicked Joe Coffee and Healthy Hometowns, a program of the Maine Winter Sports Center. The trailer has 66 pairs of cross-country skis, boots, bindings and poles, and 44 pairs of snowshoes. When the trailer is at a state park during scheduled hours the equipment is free for use.

During the trailer’s six-day stop at Sebago Lake State Park, it will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. The park is located off Route 302 in Casco. For more information, call the park office at (207) 693-6231, or contact the department at www.maine.gov/acf/.

The Division of Parks and Public Lands is part of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

DACF Names New Deputy Commissioner and Director of Division of Animal and Plant Health

January 18, 2013

For more information contact: Jay Finegan at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – Commissioner Walt Whitcomb has announced that Aroostook County native Dave Lavway has been promoted to Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) and Ellis Additon has come on board as the new director of the Division of Animal and Plant Health.

“The Maine people who make a living from and enjoy the state’s exceptional natural resources will be well served by the appointment of these outstanding individuals,” Commissioner Whitcomb said. “We are fortunate to have such leaders from both the public and private sector on our management team as we are strengthening our ACF agency with an increased focus on marketing and adding a strong manager to the Animal and Plant Health team.”

Dave Lavway, director of Animal and Plant Heath since July 2011, becomes the first deputy commissioner for economic development and marketing. He has an extensive background in agriculture and administration, including seven years as executive director of the Maine Potato Board and eight years as state executive director of the Maine Farm Service Agency, a unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Mr. Lavway also served as director of government relations for the National Potato Council and as an administrative officer with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. He holds a B.S. in Agricultural Business and Economics from the University of Maine.

Ellis Additon comes to DACF from Feed Commodities International, in Detroit, Maine, where he served as general manager and grew the business by more than 60 percent over six years. He has also handled loan and leasing finance in the agricultural, forestry and construction industries in Maine as a district manager with Telmark Inc., a subsidiary of Agway Inc. His B.S. from the University of Maine is in Agriculture and Resources Economics.

As director of the Division of Animal and Plant Health, Mr. Additon will oversee a diverse operation charged with protecting the state’s plant resources from destructive insects and diseases and ensuring the proper and humane treatment of animals. The division also enforces pesticide laws and works to prevent the introduction and spread of contagious diseases among poultry and livestock. ###

Cobscook Bay State Park Set for Family Fun Day

January 23, 2013

For more information contact: Jay Finegan at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – The spectacular Cobscook Bay State Park will come alive Saturday, Jan. 26, with an abundance of Winter Family Fun Day activities. In addition to dog sled rides, sledding, ice skating, tote rides and more, the event will feature the Ski and Snowshoe Trailer, providing free use of cross county skis and boots, snowshoes and all the necessary gear.

The action runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and includes a hot lunch and a warming station.

Cobscook Bay’s third annual Winter Family Fun Day is part of the “Take It Outside” campaign run by the Parks and Public Lands Division, part of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. “The idea is to encourage Maine families to get outdoors for recreation, relaxation and health” said Will Harris, director of Parks and Public Lands. “We are able to keep the activities very affordable thanks to the support of our sponsors.”

The day’s activities, including lunch, are offered for the bargain price of $1.50 for anyone aged 12 to 64. For those older than 64 or younger than 12, the bargain is even better – it’s free.

The Ski and Snowshoe Trailer and its contents were provided by a grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, along with sponsorships by L.L. Bean, Wicked Joe Coffee and Healthy Hometowns, a program of the Maine Winter Sports Center. The trailer has 66 pairs of cross-country skis, boots, bindings and poles, and 44 pairs of snowshoes.

This is the second year for the Ski and Snowshoe Trailer, which will be making the rounds this winter, stopping at a number of Maine state parks. Besides Cobscook Bay, the upcoming schedule includes Mount Blue State Park, Bradbury Mountain State Park, Wolfe Neck Woods State Park, and Aroostook State Park. Cobscook Bay State Park management reports a good snow base and groomed cross-country trails.

Winter Family Fun Days enjoy the generous support of L.L. Bean, Poland Spring, Wicked Joe Coffee and the Maine Winter Sports Center. Local sponsors for the Cobscook Bay festivities include Bangor Savings Bank, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, Machias Savings Bank, the Bank of Maine, Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, RH Foster Energy, and Washington County Community College.

Cobscook Bay State Park is in Washington County’s Edmunds Township. For more information, visit take-it-outside.com or call the park at 726-4412. ###

State Park Campground Reservations System Opens Feb. 1

January 25, 2013

For more information contact: Jay Finegan at 207-287-3256

AUGUSTA – For those who enjoy camping at Maine’s many scenic state parks, a long-awaited day has finally arrived. The reservations system for the 2013 camping season opens at 9 a.m. on Friday, February 1.

On that first day, the Division of Parks and Public Lands will accept reservations only for Sebago Lake State Park and only for a minimum of four nights. However, on Monday, Feb. 4, the reservations system opens at 9 a.m. for all state park campgrounds.

“The Sebago Lake campground is one of the most popular in the state, and campers tend to stay there longer than at other state parks,” said Will Harris, director of the Division of Parks and Public Lands, part of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. “By spacing out the reservations over a few days, we’re trying to provide better and quicker service to our camping public.”

Campers have four ways to make reservations:

• Online at http://www.CampWithMe.com/ , open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

• By calling in-state at 800-332-1501; or out-of-state at 207-624-9950 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on business days.)

• By mailing reservations to: Division of Parks and Public Lands, ATTN: Reservations, 22 SHS, Augusta, ME 04333. Mailed Sebago Lake reservation requests must not be postmarked before Feb. 1, 2013 or Feb 4 for all other parks.

• By dropping off completed reservation forms, which will be processed during business hours at the Augusta office.

Parks and Public Lands officials say the online service allows the public to create or cancel a reservation at 12 different state parks and provides the ability for a user to reprint a campsite permit as needed. The current online system, launched in 2010, can handle heavy traffic. Last year, 1,185 campsite permits were processed online during opening day, peaking at a pace of 65 different reservations in a one-minute period. All told the online system booked more than 17,300 permits for the entire season.

For more information and complete registration details, as well as a tutorial to make an online reservation, go to: http://www.CampWithMe.com/. ###

Family Fun Day Set for Mt. Blue State Park on Feb. 2

January 30, 2013

For more information contact: Jay Finegan at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – Mt. Blue State Park, in the lakes and mountains region of western Maine, will come alive Saturday, Feb. 2, with a wide variety of Winter Family Fun Day activities. In addition to tote and sleigh rides, ice skating and much more, the event will feature the Ski and Snowshoe Trailer, providing free use of cross-county skis and snowshoes.

The action runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and includes a hot lunch and a warming station.

Mt. Blue’s Winter Family Fun Day is part of the “Take It Outside” campaign run by the Parks and Public Lands Division of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. “Fun Days have become very popular wintertime events at our parks,” said Will Harris, director of Parks and Public Lands. “The idea is to encourage Maine families to get outdoors for recreation, relaxation and health.”

Director Harris said the parks are able to keep the activities affordable for Mainers thanks to the support of sponsors. Saturday’s program, including lunch, is offered for the bargain price of $1.50 for anyone aged 12 to 64. For those over 65 or under 12, everything is free.

The Ski and Snowshoe Trailer and its contents were provided by a grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, along with sponsorships by L.L. Bean, Wicked Joe Coffee and Healthy Hometowns, a program of the Maine Winter Sports Center. The trailer has 66 pairs of cross-country skis, boots, bindings and poles, and 44 pairs of snowshoes.

This is the second year for the Ski and Snowshoe Trailer, which will be making the rounds this winter, stopping at a number of Maine state parks. The upcoming schedule, besides Mt. Blue, includes Bradbury Mountain State Park, Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park and Aroostook State Park.

Mt. Blue manager Bruce Farnham reports that all cross-country trails are groomed and in good shape and the sliding is excellent on Center Hill. The ice rink, often described as the most beautiful outdoor rink in Maine, is open for the season. The cross-country trails, ranging from a half mile to 10 miles, are for skiers of all abilities. The 10-mile Maple Trail traverses fields, old farmlands and several types of forest.

Mt. Blue, the largest Maine state park at approximately 8,000 acres, is in Weld, about 30 minutes west of Farmington, near the intersection of Maine Routes 142 and 156. For more information, contact the park at (207) 585-2261 or visit http://www.take-it-outside.com/ .

The Winter Family Fun Days program enjoys the generous support of L.L. Bean, Poland Spring, Wicked Joe Coffee and the Maine Winter Sports Center. Local sponsors for the Mt. Blue festivities include Northern Lights Hearth & Sports, Franklin Savings Bank, Irving Big Stop, Weld General Store and Skoolhouse Variety. ###

Ski and Snowshoe Trailer Rolls into Local State Parks (Wolfe's Neck Woods and Bradbury Mountain)

February 4, 2013

For more information contact: Jay Finegan at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – February brings new attractions to Bradbury Mountain State Park and Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, when both will welcome the ski and snowshoe trailer, a traveling outdoor exercise operation run by the Division of Parks and Public Lands.

The trailer, providing free use of cross-country skis and snowshoes, will be at Bradbury Mountain on February 8 and 9, open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days. It will move to Wolfe’s Neck in Freeport for four days, February 10-13, with the same hours of operation.

“Many Mainers don’t realize how enjoyable our parks can be over the winter months,” said Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, which includes Parks and Public Lands. “Our outstanding state parks get thousands of visitors in the summer, but they have a special appeal in the winter. I’ve been out there on cross-country skis and snowshoes, and there’s nothing like it. These are some of most scenic places in the state.”

The ski and snowshoe trailer and its contents were provided by a grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, along with sponsorships by L.L. Bean, Wicked Joe Coffee and Healthy Hometowns, a program of the Maine Winter Sports Center. It has 66 pairs of cross-country skis, boots, bindings and poles, and 44 pairs of snowshoes.

“We’re excited to have the trailer coming to Bradbury for the first time,” said park manager Frank Appleby. “For anyone who has ever wanted to try out cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, but never had the chance, this is a great opportunity. We even provide instruction for beginners.”

This is the second year for the trailer, which is making the rounds this winter, stopping at a number of Maine state parks. Under the motto “Take It Outside,” the Parks and Public Lands Division is encouraging Mainers to enjoy the state’s parks at all times of year.

Area residents may also be interested in the Great Maine Outdoors Weekend, set for Range Ponds State Park in Poland. A highlight is the Kids’ Ice Fishing Derby, scheduled from 8 a.m. to noon on Monday, February 18, when President’s Day will be observed. The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will stock the lake with brook trout, and the first 500 kids that register will receive free ice fishing equipment, compliments of Kittery Trading Post. ###

Maine Senior FarmShare Program Preparing for New Season

February 6, 2013

For more information contact: Jay Finegan at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – Maine’s Senior FarmShare program is gearing up for another season. Eligible seniors will once again be able to get free fruit, vegetables and herbs from local Maine farmers.

Last year, more than 19,000 seniors and 130 farmers took part in the program, which provides $50 worth of produce to each participant. Qualifying seniors contract directly with local farmers for pickup or delivery.

The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered in Maine by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF). Last year, Maine received just over $1 million to operate the program. The allocation for this year has not been finalized, but USDA anticipates receiving about $20 million to run the program nationwide, the same as in 2012.

“Our local farmers are the bread and butter of Maine’s agricultural community,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This funding will be used to leverage support to promote and support our farmers while helping our most vulnerable citizens.”

Application letters are now going out to farmers who took part in the program in the past. “We’re hoping for another strong participation level, so we can serve people all over the state,” said Julie Waller, the FarmShare program manager at DACF. “The people in the program, especially folks on fixed incomes, really appreciate the wholesome food the farmers provide.”

A survey of last summer’s participants turned up dozens of glowing reviews about the quality of both the food and the service. “The produce sure helps me get by,” wrote one senior.” I have only 42 percent of my heart, so picking berries is out of the question, but I can go to the farmer and get them.” Another wrote, “The farm stand where I shopped was very neat and clean. The people were friendly and helpful. I look forward to the next growing season. There is nothing more delicious than a red-ripe tomato from a local farm.”

To qualify for a Senior FarmShare, a participant must be a Maine resident, at least 60 years old and with a household income of not more than 185 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines. Last year’s thresholds were $20,665 for singles and $27,991 for a two-person household.

DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb said the program has proven to be an asset for farmers and seniors. “Under our innovative approach, farmers receive the $50 per customer in the spring so the program provides them with working capital for the summer growing season,” he said. “And it helps ensure that Maine seniors have access to healthy, nourishing food.”

Participating farmers offer a variety of methods for providing produce. Seniors pick it up at a specific farmers’ market, or at the farm or farm stand. Some farmers offer home delivery. Eligible produce includes fresh, unprocessed fruit, vegetables and herbs.

Seniors may contract the Area Agency on Aging at 877-353-3771 to find participating farmers once the list is complete, probably by mid-March. The list also will be available at http://www.getrealmaine.com/.

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Kids’ Ice Fishing Derby Set for Range Ponds State Park, Feb. 18

February 13, 2013

For more information contact: Jay Finegan at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – The “Hooked on Fishing” Kids’ Derby is set for Range Ponds State Park on Monday, Feb. 18, when the Presidents Day national holiday will be observed. This is the fourth Kids’ Derby at the park, located off the Empire Road in Poland.

The Derby runs from 8 a.m. to noon, and all that kids have to do is show up and drop a line in the water. Volunteers from the Sebago Lake Rotary will drill fishing holes through the ice early that morning, and other volunteers will be on hand to bait hooks, mostly with small shiners.

The event is an introduction to ice fishing, organized for children not familiar with the activity. “This is a wonderful opportunity to take your kids out for an enjoyable and educational experience,” said Walt Whitcomb, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), which includes the Division of Parks and Public Lands. “Ice fishing is a Maine tradition, and there’s no better way for kids to learn how to ice fish than by doing it.”

There is no charge for children 12 and under, and the first 500 who pre-register and arrive at the park by 10 a.m. will receive free ice fishing rigs, courtesy of Kittery Trading Post. Click here to download and print a PDF registration form or sign up online at 2013 Online Registration – KTP Kid’s Derby!

Lower Range Pond will be stocked with 500 brook trout. The stocking will take place close to Derby day, and event officials are asking that no “pre-fishing” take place. “Even if you do catch and release, it has an impact on how quickly fish will resume feeding,” said Francis Brautigam, a fish biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The Kids’ Derby follows a major ice fishing derby on nearby Sebago Lake on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 16 and 17, a free fishing weekend. Both events are part of the Great Maine Outdoors Weekend.

According to park officials, the recent cold weather should create ideal ice conditions. ###

Family Fun Day Set for Aroostook State Park, Feb. 23

February 15, 2013

For more information contact: Jay Finegan at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – Mainers of all ages are invited to “Take It Outside” on Saturday, Feb. 23, when Aroostook State Park will come alive with a wide variety of Winter Family Fun Day activities. In addition to tote rides, ice skating, nature walks and much more, the event will feature the ski and snowshoe trailer, providing free use of cross-county skis and snowshoes.

The action runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and includes a hot lunch, to be served by the Spragueville Ladies Extension. As an added attraction, the L.L. Bean “bootmobile” is slated to be on site during the event.

The park is located on Echo Lake, off U.S. Route 1 south of Presque Isle, in the heart of Maine’s potato country.

The Winter Family Fun Day is part of the “Take It Outside” campaign run by the Parks and Public Lands Division of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF). “Family Fun Days have become very popular wintertime events at our parks,” said Will Harris, director of Parks and Public Lands. “The idea is to encourage Mainers to get outdoors for recreation, relaxation and health.”

DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted that Aroostook State Park is the oldest park in the Maine system, dating back to 1938. “This is a spectacular place, with groomed cross-country ski and snowshoe trails,” he said. “Folks who come out for a Family Fun Day can enjoy a wide variety of activities and have an opportunity to try something they haven’t done before.”

Thanks to the support of sponsors, the event is very affordable. This year’s program, including lunch, is offered for the bargain price of $1.50 for anyone aged 12 to 64. For those over 65 or under 12, everything is free. Park manager Scott Thompson said the park will request a $3 donation for dogsled rides to defray the cost of transporting the dogs and equipment to the park.

The ski and snowshoe trailer and its contents were provided by a grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, along with sponsorships by L.L. Bean, Wicked Joe Coffee and Healthy Hometowns, a program of the Maine Winter Sports Center. The trailer has 66 pairs of cross-country skis, boots, bindings and poles, and 44 pairs of snowshoes.

Local sponsors of the event include Cary Medical Center, Graves supermarket, Katahdin Trust Company, MMG Insurance, TAMC (the Aroostook Medical Center), Haines Manufacturing and TD Bank.

For more information, contact the park at (207) 768-8341 or visit http://www.take-it-outside.com/ .

Hunters for the Hungry Program Supported

January 7, 2013

LEWISTON – Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb and representatives from Walmart met today to recognize the contributions of local hunters in support of a program to address hunger in Maine. Walmart employees from the Lewiston area presented Commissioner Whitcomb with a $14,750 check to support the Hunters for the Hungry Program.

Thirty-seven Walmart employees from the Lewiston area signed up for the program to hunt deer, bear, and moose and raise money. All told, the volunteers contributed 2,099 hours over a period of months hunting, raising awareness and money for the cause. Their contributions were part of a Walmart Foundation initiative, Volunteerism Always Pays (VAP).

Commissioner Whitcomb thanked Walmart employees, and spoke briefly about its importance. “Walmart’s contribution is symbolic of the type of support this program receives annually from hunters throughout the state. I can’t say enough about the role Maine sportsmen and women play in helping provide nutritious meals to hungry people across Maine. Events like this help build awareness of the great need for additional supporters and contributions that feed Maine families. Every day the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry brings citizens throughout Maine together in so many ways, and this is one of them,” said Whitcomb.

The Hunters for the Hungry Program is part of the Department’s Emergency Food Assistance Program. Established in 1996, it has grown steadily and provides thousands of nutritious meals to hungry people across the state. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry distributes donations to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households with a medical need. It is done in cooperation with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s wardens, Maine State Troopers and caring hunters, are all working towards a common goal of helping fellow Mainers.

The program accepts bear, deer and moose donations. Road kill donations are also accepted, provided the meat is not damaged. Hunters do not pay for the processing of donated meat. Meat processing costs are paid for by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry or the charity that receives the food. Hunters choosing to keep their game can still donate a few pounds to the program. Meat processors that are interested in getting involved with the program and learning how it works should call 207-287-7513.

For more information, to donate, or to get connected to a Hunters for the Hungry participating meat processor call toll free, 1-888-4DEERME (1-888-433-3763)

For more information about The Emergency Food Assistance Program:

http://www.maine.gov/agriculture/co/tefap/countysearch.html

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: www.maine.gov/acf

Commissioner Whitcomb receives $14,750 check from Walmart employees to provide meals across Maine

Hunters for the Hungry Program Supported

March 7, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Commissioner Whitcomb receives $14,750 check from Walmart employees to provide meals across Maine

LEWISTON – Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb and representatives from Walmart met today to recognize the contributions of local hunters in support of a program to address hunger in Maine. Walmart employees from the Lewiston area presented Commissioner Whitcomb with a $14,750 check to support the Hunters for the Hungry Program.

Thirty-seven Walmart employees from the Lewiston area signed up for the program to hunt deer, bear, and moose and raise money. All told, the volunteers contributed 2,099 hours over a period of months hunting, raising awareness and money for the cause. Their contributions were part of a Walmart Foundation initiative, Volunteerism Always Pays (VAP).

Commissioner Whitcomb thanked Walmart employees, and spoke briefly about its importance. “Walmart’s contribution is symbolic of the type of support this program receives annually from hunters throughout the state. I can’t say enough about the role Maine sportsmen and women play in helping provide nutritious meals to hungry people across Maine. Events like this help build awareness of the great need for additional supporters and contributions that feed Maine families. Every day the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry brings citizens throughout Maine together in so many ways, and this is one of them,” said Whitcomb.

The Hunters for the Hungry Program is part of the Department’s Emergency Food Assistance Program. Established in 1996, it has grown steadily and provides thousands of nutritious meals to hungry people across the state. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry distributes donations to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households with a medical need. It is done in cooperation with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s wardens, Maine State Troopers and caring hunters, are all working towards a common goal of helping fellow Mainers.

The program accepts bear, deer and moose donations. Road kill donations are also accepted, provided the meat is not damaged. Hunters do not pay for the processing of donated meat. Meat processing costs are paid for by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry or the charity that receives the food. Hunters choosing to keep their game can still donate a few pounds to the program. Meat processors that are interested in getting involved with the program and learning how it works should call 207-287-7513.

For more information, to donate, or to get connected to a Hunters for the Hungry participating meat processor call toll free, 1-888-4DEERME (1-888-433-3763)

For more information about The Emergency Food Assistance Program:

http://www.maine.gov/agriculture/co/tefap/countysearch.html

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Governor LePage Promotes Maple Sugar Season at Blaine House Tapping Event

March 7, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – To promote Maine maple syrup, Governor Paul LePage today joined Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb, Legislators and Maine Maple Producers on the Blaine House lawn for an annual tradition – the tapping of a maple tree.

The Blaine House tapping event also serves as a prelude to Maine Maple Sunday, which is held every year on the fourth Sunday of March. This year, Maine Maple Sunday will celebrate its 30th Anniversary on March 24th at more than 125 sugarhouses throughout Maine. Participating sugarhouses will be open for visitors to participate in syrup and candy sampling, demonstrations of making syrup, sugarbush tours, and a variety of other activities.

“The maple industry has a huge potential for job creation,” said Governor LePage. “This industry demonstrates the great opportunity Maine has to promote its natural resource-based economy, and promote prosperity for our citizens,” added the Governor.

Maine had 1.47 million taps and produced 360,000 gallons of maple syrup in 2011, a 14% increase from 2010. The latest yearly figures show that Maine generated nearly $13 million in revenue from the maple industry. In 2011, Maine was third in the nation producing 13 percent of maple syrup in the United States. Figures for 2012 are not yet available.

“Once again, Governor LePage is showing his support for the important role the maple industry plays in Maine’s economy by kicking off the maple syrup season right here on the Blaine House lawn,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “The maple industry demonstrates how Maine can have multiple uses of its natural resources and how a wood lot has an array of benefits – maple syrup, wood production, recreation and open space.”

Supporting documents


2013 Big E Applications Due March 22

March 7, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

OPPORTUNITY TO HELP SHOWCASE MAINE

For Immediate Release

March 7, 2013

Contact:

Jessica Nixon 207-287-3494 jessica.l.nixon@maine.gov

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is inviting Maine businesses and organizations to apply for exhibit space in the State of Maine Building at the 2013 “Big E”. The Big E will be held from September 13 thru September 29.

The Eastern States Exposition (Big E) takes place every September in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Last year’s attendance set a new record, with 1,365,896 fairgoers passing through the Big E gates over seventeen days. The State of Maine building showcases Maine foods and products, as well as features information on Maine’s many recreational and vacation opportunities. Built in 1925, the building is one of six exibition halls representing each of the New England States. The Department of Agriculature, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) oversees Maine’s participation in this annual event.

DACF is providing Maine businesses and organizations with the opportunity to rent commercial space in the State of Maine Building. More than 850,000 of the fairgoers visit the state buildings located on the Avenue of States, affording a tremendous opportunity to promote Maine and Maine products.

The Department’s goal at the Big E is to “exhibit, publicize, and advertise Maine’s products and resources in agriculture, industry, fisheries, wildlife and recreation.” By presenting fairgoers with a balance of educational and commercial exhibits, participants exemplify Maine and its unique way of life. Only items which are produced, grown, crafted, manufactured or significantly altered in Maine may be sold in the Maine building.

The deadline for completed applications to be received is Friday, March 22. All applications will be reviewed by a selection committee which recommends to the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry exhibitors best suited to meet the goals of the building. The exhibitors chosen to participate in this years’ event will be notified on Monday, April 1.

For more information about the Big E, please visit http://www.thebige.com/. Please call (207)287-3494 or e-mail jessica.l.nixon@maine.gov to receive a copy of the complete Application Packet.

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Crescent Beach State Park Lease Extended

March 8, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – The Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry, Division of Parks and Public Lands, and The Sprague Corporation announced today the signing of a five-year lease extension for a 100-acre parcel that is part of Crescent Beach State Park in Cape Elizabeth. The lease extension ends months of speculation as to the future of the Park and assures the thousands of users of the facility that it will be open for recreation for years to come.

“We are very pleased with the way this has turned out,” said Will Harris, Director of the Division of Parks and Lands. “This will give us significant time to seek an even more permanent resolution for Crescent Beach. I think both sides have worked well to reach this point.”

Seth Sprague, President of The Sprague Corporation said, “Our family is pleased that this parcel will continue to be part of the Park. Credit to all involved for persevering to find a positive outcome.”

The $100,000 per-year lease covers a 100-acre parcel that abuts current State ownership and has been used as a part of the Park since 1961. The leased portion includes approximately 1,000 feet of beach as well as the entrance road, control station, hiking trails and a portion of the parking lot.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Mainers Urged to Purchase Flood Insurance

March 11, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

For Immediate Release

Contact: Sue Baker, State NFIP Coordinator Maine Floodplain Management Program

207) 287-8063 sue.baker@maine.gov

AUGUSTA – The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Floodplain Management Program urges Mainers to consider purchasing flood insurance. If your home or business is located close to a water body, it might be a good idea to purchase flood insurance in advance of the spring rains. Standard home- and business-owners’ insurance policies do not cover flood-related damages. A separate flood insurance policy can be purchased through your local insurance agent.

Consumers are urged to act quickly, because there is a 30-day waiting period before any new policy goes into effect unless insurance is being purchased in direct connection with making, increasing, extension, or renewal of a loan. If consumers delay, they may be left without flood coverage when it is needed most.

March and April are historically the months when flooding occurs in Maine, but heavy rains can cause flooding any time of the year. It is estimated that up to 75% of homes and businesses in floodplains in Maine are not covered by flood insurance. The average annual premium is $930. As long as the community you reside in participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, flood insurance coverage can be purchased for buildings and their contents no matter where you reside in the community.

Property owners interesting in obtaining flood insurance should contact their insurance agency directly. Additional information about the National Flood Insurance Program is available through the Maine Floodplain Management Program by calling 287-8063.

Agriculture takes root in Maine classrooms

March 13, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Commissioner Whitcomb previews National Agriculture Week to Students at Augusta’s Farrington Elementary School

AUGUSTA – Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, visited the Farrington Elementary School today to talk about Maine farms and read aloud to fourth graders. The event kicks off National Agriculture Week, which begins March 18. Whitcomb, a dairy farmer himself, read this year’s book, “Dairy Farming for ME”, to students, then answered questions on a wide range of topics. The Farrington Elementary School fourth graders also learned how to make butter.

Students asked Commissioner Whitcomb a number of questions about cows, milk, and nature’s recycling process. When one girl stated, “It looks like a lot of technology,” Commissioner Whitcomb emphasized how today’s farmers are using technology every day. Whitcomb touched on many of the skills and attributes needed to produce food.

“I was impressed at how inquisitive the kids were about nutrition (human and animal), and how interested they were in learning more about food production,” said Whitcomb. “Events like this help build interest and awareness and, hopefully, future farmers.” The Commissioner concluded his visit by urging kids to “go visit a cow someday.”

“Read ME Agriculture” is an annual event sponsored by Maine Agriculture in the Classroom. Volunteers take Ag-related books and materials to grades Pre K – 4 across the state and volunteer their time reading to the students. This year the book, “Dairy Farming for ME” was written especially for the event with the help of The Maine Dairy Promotion Board and Maine Dairy Nutrition Council. Additional funding was provided by a grant from USDA and the Maine Agriculture specialty license plate. National Agriculture week begins March 18 and will involve 600 Maine classrooms with more than 12,000 students. Over 180 volunteers will conduct similar reading events across the state in every county.

For more information on Ag Literacy programs, visit <http://www.MaineAgintheClassroom.org>. To learn more about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: <http://www.maine.gov/acf>

Maine Maple Sunday celebrates its 30-year anniversary this weekend!

March 18, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – Commissioner Walt Whitcomb today urged Maine families to visit sugarhouses this Sunday, March 24, as part of Maine Maple Sunday. Maine Maple Sunday will take place at over one hundred sugarhouses across Maine. This annual event, held every fourth Sunday in the month of March, will celebrate its 30-year anniversary this year. Participating sugarhouses will be open for visitors to enjoy freshly made maple syrup and candy, demonstrations of syrup production, sugarbush tours, and a variety of other family activities.

Governor Paul R. LePage recently highlighted the start of maple tapping season with Maine Maple producers on the Blaine House lawn by following an annual tradition: the tapping of a maple tree. The Governor used the event to highlight the economic contributions of Maine’s maple syrup industry and its potential to create even more jobs. “This industry demonstrates the excellent opportunity Maine has to promote its natural resource-based economy, as well as to promote job creation for our citizens,” said Governor LePage.

“The maple industry highlights multiple uses of Maine’s natural resources and how a wood lot has an array of benefits, such as maple syrup, wood production, recreation and open space. It also demonstrates the potential of our newly merged Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry to highlight all aspects of our natural resource industries,” said Commissioner Whitcomb. Commissioner Whitcomb recently presented a bottle of Maine maple syrup to United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack during his recent visit to Maine (photo attached).

Maine had 1.47 million taps and produced 360,000 gallons of maple syrup in 2011, a 14% increase from 2010. The latest yearly figures show that Maine generated nearly $13 million in revenue from the maple industry. In 2011, Maine was third in the nation, producing 13 percent of maple syrup in the United States. Figures for 2012 are not yet available.

Some sugarhouses will hold events on both Saturday and Sunday. For a list and map of participating sugarhouses, visit the Maine Maple Producers website: <http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/>

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: <http://www.maine.gov/acf>

Supporting documents


Forest Rangers Warn Against “Mudding”

March 25, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA- Maine Forest Rangers urge motor vehicle operators to exercise caution and common sense when traveling on any unpaved areas whether it is on dirt roads, fields, public areas or other open spaces during “mud season.”

“Unauthorized mudding on roads or private property is not good, clean fun,” said Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF). “Making the mud fly is more than likely causing a significant amount of private property, crop or environmental damage.”

Maine’s Forest Rangers are a part of the Forest Protection Program within the DACF Division of Forestry. The Rangers also warned that causing mudding damage could be a Class E crime, and they are on the alert to stop damage and catch violators. Widespread public education is the preferred method of Maine Forest Rangers to minimize that damage and protect property owners.

Every spring across Maine, forest and agricultural owners have their roads damaged by motor vehicles. The operators of these motor vehicles, usually in four-wheel-drive pickups, look for roads that are muddy and wet in order to slip, slide and spin in mud. As these landowners know, these activities are very costly to repair, can be highly unsightly and can cause lost productivity.

Maine’s Forest Rangers investigate numerous complaints of damage to forest lands, crop lands, ATV trails and roads each year and have worked successfully with District Attorneys across the state in numerous prosecutions. As a unit of Maine government charged with protecting the Maine, forest, Rangers urge the pickup drivers to understand that in a very short amount of time, a vehicle operating on wet forest roads or soft crop lands can cause thousands of dollars in damage and can also harm fish habitat with uncontrolled mud runoff.

“Maine’s Forest Rangers are vigilant in protecting our resources,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “I commend them not only for serving as stewards of our environment, but also for keeping Mainers safe. I encourage everyone to enjoy Maine’s outdoors, but ask that they act responsibly and respect private and public property at all times. ”

As stated in Maine law, a person who, as a result of operating a motor vehicle on farmland or forest land, damages or destroys crops, forest products, personal property or roads on that farmland or forest land, commits a Class E crime. Further, a “motor vehicle" means any self-propelled vehicle not operated exclusively on tracks, including all-terrain vehicles as defined in Title 12, section 13001, but not including snowmobiles.

Recently, a driver from Eddington was convicted in Bangor District Court for damaging a road owned by the Bureau of Parks and Lands in Bradley, after he drove on the closed road creating ruts and other damage. The driver was fined $250 for the offense. Along with fines, permanent trespass warnings are sometimes issued to violators, resulting in them being barred from returning to the property.

Forest Rangers will be joining all law enforcement over the next few weeks looking for people causing mud season damage with their motor vehicles. Rangers are often in close contact with landowners who have had past problems, in an effort to identify trouble spots and to concentrate patrol efforts.

People witnessing roads and crop lands being damaged are asked to call their local law enforcement or the Maine Forest Service at 1-800-750-9777.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Maine Forest Service, go to: <http://www.maine.gov/acf>

Grants available to enhance public recreational boating

March 27, 2013

For more information contact: George Powell at (207) 287-4964

AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Division of Parks and Public Lands is pleased to announce that it is seeking grant proposals to improve recreational boating access to the waters of the State of Maine for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1, 2013 and ends June 30, 2014.

“With 2,300 great ponds, 32,000 miles of streams and rivers and over 3,000 miles of coastline, the State of Maine offers unparalleled opportunities for recreational boating,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “However, with only 460 assured public recreational boat access sites, we need to do more to ensure the public has adequate access to these waters.”

The Maine Legislature established the Boating Facilities Fund in 1963, which is administered by the Division of Parks and Public Lands, Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and is funded with the state tax on gasoline used by recreational motor boats. The Division uses these funds to acquire, develop and renovate recreational boat access sites and to place and maintain navigational buoys on nearly 50 inland lakes and ponds.

The Division’s philosophy is that boating access sites are more efficiently managed on the local level and so accomplishes most of its mission of providing boat access through a grant process.

Projects are expected to be in the $30,000 to $250,000 range and must be completed by June 30, 2015. A 50% cash or in-kind match is required. Project proposals are due June 26, 2013. A pre-application inspection by Division staff must be completed before an application is submitted. Requests for pre-application inspections must be made no later than May 17, 2013.

For more information call 207-287-4952 or see the Division’s Boating Grant website: http://www1.maine.gov/doc/parks/programs/boating/grants.html

First Time Campers Program Offers Free Weekend of Camping to Lucky Maine Families

March 29, 2013

For more information contact: Frank Appleby at (207) 688-4712

AUGUSTA, Maine – The snow is melting, the robins are returning, and it’s not too soon to start thinking about summer camping fun.

In anticipation of this year’s camping season, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry’s Division of Parks and Public Lands (DPPL) is again offering its First Time Campers raffle program to Maine residents who want to try their hand at camping.

The First Time Campers program will randomly select forty-four (44) lucky Maine entrants to win a free weekend of camping this summer at one of eleven (11) Maine state park campgrounds. This raffle is open only to Maine families and individuals who have never before gone camping. Each selected winner will get the free use of camping equipment, receive gifts from sponsors and be supported throughout the weekend by park staff.

This year, one of those fortunate winners also will be the grand-prize recipient of a $1,000 gift certificate from the program’s major sponsor, L.L.Bean.

“This program is an exciting opportunity for more Maine families to get outdoors, get active, and experience the joy of camping,” said Maine Governor Paul R. LePage. “This is another example of how our state parks welcome new visitors.”

“Campgrounds at Maine state parks are located at some of the most beautiful places in Maine. There is no better place to learn to camp.” said Park Manager, Frank Appleby of Bradbury Mountain State Park, who this year is organizing the DPPL program. “I grew up camping, and I really enjoy sharing my camping experience with Maine families. The winning families will be introduced to the skills and equipment needed to have a comfortable experience in the outdoors. We want to dispel the thought that the outdoors is a scary and uncomfortable place.”

The program, part of DPPL’s “Take It Outside” initiative, is designed to encourage Maine families and individuals to experience the fun and rewards of summer camping at Maine state park campgrounds. This year, the program is sponsored by L.L.Bean, Kittery Trading Post, and Wicked Joe Coffee.

“All the winners need to do is arrive at the park and have fun” Appleby said. “The camping equipment is provided for their use, we make the campground reservation, and we even show them how to set up their campsite. They quickly learn that they can do this,” he said, about camping. “They know we are there to help them and by the end of the weekend they have the confidence to do it themselves.”

The Park Manager said the First Time Camper program clearly is successful, as many of the participants later make reservations at the state park campgrounds. They also become familiar with the state parks and return for day use.

Raffle applications are available on line and at Maine state parks. They will be accepted from April 1 to May 31. The recipients will be chosen in a random drawing held on Tuesday, June 4, with the winners notified the week of June 9. There will be four weekends of camping from which the lucky winners can choose, from the weekend of July 12-14 through the weekend of Aug. 2-4.

The state park campgrounds include: Bradbury Mountain, Pownal; Rangeley Lake, Rangeley; Aroostook, Presque Isle; Camden Hills, Camden; Sebago Lake, Naples; Mt. Blue, Weld; Cobscook Bay, Edmunds Township; Lamoine, Ellsworth; Peaks-Kenny, Dover-Foxcroft; Lily Bay, Beaver Cove; and Lake St. George, Liberty.

Each winning entrant will receive camping equipment they can use for the weekend, plus up to four sleeping bags which they can keep.

“There’s no question we hope the winners continue camping after this weekend.” Appleby said “We hope that during their First Time Camper weekend that they make great family memories and want to come back again and again”.

For more information about the First Time Campers program or to register to win, visit http://www.parksandlands.com or call Frank Appleby, Park Manager, Bradbury Mountain State Park, at: 207-688-4712

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Maine Forest Service, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf/

Smokey Bear statue in Kittery comes “out of hibernation” just in time to warn people to use caution: wildfire season is here

April 5, 2013

For more information contact: Kent Nelson at 207-287-4989 or 207-287-4990

Augusta – Now that wildfire season has started, Maine Forest Rangers are urging people to exercise caution with outdoor fires. Spring conditions have already resulted in nearly a dozen wildfires statewide. The largest wildfire was 4 acres and occurred in Clinton on March 31. It was caused by an escaped debris burn.

“Spring wildfire season has already started, and the recent winds have dried the fine fuels and grasses,” said Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF). “Our Forest Rangers are actively reminding people to be careful with all outdoor fires.”

This is the time of year that people are anxious to clean up fallen limbs and branches in their yards and want to burn their brush piles. During 2012, fires from machine use and escaped brush piles were the most common cause of wildfires. People intending to burn brush should obtain a burn permit from their local fire department or, if they intend to burn in an unorganized territory, from the Maine Forest Service.

“Maine’s Forest Rangers are vigilant in helping prevent and protect us from forest fires,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The health of our forest resources is extremely important to our economy and the vitality of our way of life. But we want to make sure we keep all Mainers safe during wildfire season.”

Yesterday, to mark the beginning of wildfire season, the cover was taken off of the life-sized Smokey Bear statue at the Maine Information Center in Kittery (mile 4 of the interstate, northbound). The fire prevention bear statue was installed last summer (see attached photo with Commissioner Whitcomb) to remind residents and visitors of Smokey’s message:

“Only you can prevent wildfires.”

In certain areas, the Maine Forest Service online burn permit system is available, and burn permits can be purchased for a minimal fee at www.maineburnpermit.com. For more information on how to burn safely, please contact your local forest ranger at 1-800-750-9777 or visit http://www.maineforestservice.gov

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Maine Forest Service, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Supporting documents


Maine Coastal Program previews Coastal Access Guide for boaters and coastal enthusiasts at Maine Boating Expo

April 9, 2013

For more information contact: Matt Nixon at (207) 592-5088

Augusta, Maine - The Maine Coastal Program will preview two exciting new resources at the Maine Boating Expo. The Expo, organized by the Maine Marine Trades Association, will be held at Brunswick Landing (former site of the Brunswick Naval Air Station) from 9 a.m. Friday, April 12 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 14. The Expo is sponsored by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF).

These two resources of special interest to boaters and coastal enthusiasts are the Maine Coastal Access Guide and the preliminary results of The New England Recreational Boating Survey.

The Maine Coastal Public Access Guide is a three-volume guidebook detailing more than 700 sites along Maine’s 5,300-mile, world-renowned coastline. The Guide provides geographic coordinates, amenities and facilities, parking and directions, and descriptions of each site. The Southern Maine, Midcoast, and Downeast editions will be released for sale by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry in early summer 2013.

“Coastal lands and waters and recreational boating play a major role in Maine’s economy,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This new guide recognizes that public access to the shore is vital to the survival of some of Maine’s most significant commercial and recreational enterprises, including fishing, marine transportation, tourism, boating and wildlife viewing.”

“I offer my sincere thanks to the hundreds of partners who helped create the Maine Coastal Public Access Guide,” said Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. “When it is completed and released, it will help residents and visitors navigate and enjoy Maine’s unique coastline.”

The New England Recreational Boating Survey was conducted in summer, 2012 by SeaPlan, a Boston-based organization, with the assistance of DACF’s Coastal Program. The preliminary survey results show the important economic impact of recreational boating in New England; informative maps of boating activity were also created.

The Maine Coastal Program is administered by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and is supported by an annual grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association at the federal Department of Commerce. The Coastal Program works with a variety of public and private partners like the Maine Marine Trades Association to balance the development and conservation of coastal resources.

For more information about the Maine Coastal Program and its work, contact Matthew Nixon at 207-287-1491. For information about Maine’s Boating Expo, see http://www.mainesboatingexpo.com/ or contact the Maine Marine Trades Association at (207)773-8725.

Predators of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid to be released at three Maine State Parks

April 10, 2013

For more information contact: Colleen Teerling at (207) 287-3096

AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s entomology staff will release more than 1,700 tiny, predator lady beetles at each of three Maine state parks in an effort to manage a highly invasive insect that is moving up the coast of Maine.

A total of 5,700 tiny, black lady beetles, known as Sasajiscymnus tsugae, will be released at Vaughan Woods State Park in South Berwick, Ferry Beach State Park in Saco and Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport to fight hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), an invasive insect that kills hemlock trees.

The biological-control effort won’t eradicate the infestation, but it should reduce the HWA population at the park, according to Allison Kanoti, forest entomologist, under the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF).

“It’s the best management tool we have in the forest at this time,” Kanoti said. “This is a long-term solution; results will not be immediate.”

Governor Paul R. LePage was quick to support DACF employees working to contain, eradicate and prevent invasive species. “The public has an important role to play in helping our professionals address the threats posed by invasive species,” said Governor LePage. “Once they have taken hold, they are very difficult to contain and/or eliminate.”

The beetles, which will come from a Pennsylvania lab, have been purchased with funds donated by park supporters including the South Berwick Conservation Commission and federal grants. Forestry staff will release an additional 10,000 beetles through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Protection and Quarantine program.

Those will be split between Cape Elizabeth and Wiscasset on easement protected forestland that cannot be converted to other uses. These beetles are compatible with forest harvesting, but not with the intensive human activity that can be associated with settled areas.

Hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is a small, aphid-like insect that is covered with white, waxy wool-like material. This wool-like covering makes the insect resemble miniature cotton balls. It is most visible from late-October through July, with woolly masses located on the undersides of the twigs at the bases of the needles. The insect begins its egg-laying in March.

The insect, which came from Japan in the 1950s, causes deterioration of infested trees, including loss of needles, crown thinning and tree death. The aesthetics and ecology of the affected state parks are threatened by this invasive insect. Hemlock trees, which are susceptible, are an important forest tree at all three locations.

Hemlock trees are a significant Maine tree species. Their presence along water bodies helps protect the forest floor from erosion and buffers water temperatures, which can affect such species as brook trout. Hemlocks also are important in deer wintering areas, are a favored landscape tree and contribute to the state’s forest products sector.

HWA has been found in at least 18 states. In Maine forest trees, it was first discovered in Kittery in 2003. It has spread and now has been found as far up the coast as Bristol.

HWA was first found in Ferry Beach State park by park ranger Janet Mangion in 2008 during routine maintenance operations. It was discovered at Vaughan Woods in December 2010 by a volunteer. The infestation at Wolfe’s Neck Woods was found by forestry staff as part of their annual detection survey in 2010.

For more information on invasive threats to Maine’s forest and trees, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/InvasiveThreats.htm

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day is May 4

April 12, 2013

For more information contact: Ann Gibbs at (207) 287-3891

AUGUSTA, Maine – Greenhouses, nurseries and garden centers statewide will be celebrating on Saturday, May 4 as the industry kicks off Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day.

For the fourth year, several dozen family-owned businesses will hold special events to highlight the fun and joy of gardening in Maine. Planned activities for the events include giveaways, door prizes, raffles, plants and balloons for children, container-planting demonstrations, personal tours, expert speakers and mini workshops. Participating greenhouses and nurseries also will preview spring introductions and share their expertise by offering gardening tips, information on plant varieties and ideas for window box and landscape design.

“Greenhouse and Nursery Day helps highlight the importance of horticulture to Maine’s economy,” Governor Paul R. LePage said. “In addition to providing thousands of jobs, the horticulture industry contributes over $280 million annually to Maine’s economy.”

“More than half of the plants sold in Maine are grown right here, and our greenhouses and nurseries work hard to promote the sale of their product locally,” said Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “I encourage Mainers to take advantage of this opportunity to visit their local garden centers on May 4 and enjoy the wonderful fun and educational events being offered.”

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry licenses and inspects more than 1,307 businesses selling plants in Maine. The Department also certifies plant exports, regulates imported plants and assists growers with plant pest problems.

Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day is supported by the Ornamental Horticulture Council and the Mid-Maine Greenhouse Growers Association.

For more information about Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day, go to: http://www.plants4maine.com/GreenhouseAndNurseryDay.shtml

For more information, contact Mary Lou Hoskins at (207) 848-5453, email: greenc@gwi.net

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

DEP, DACF expand funding to farmers for resource protection projects

April 17, 2013

For more information contact: Samantha Warren, Maine DEP Director of Communications at (207) 287-5842

-The partnership between the Maine Departments of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, the Finance Authority of Maine and the Maine Municipal Bond Bank will support implementation of projects that reduce agricultural impacts to water resources-

AUGUSTA – Maine’s Departments of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry are helping farmers who want to do their part to protect water quality by releasing $3 million for agriculture improvements loans.

The two State departments, in partnership with the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) and the Maine Municipal Bond Bank, have expanded the Nutrient Management Loan Program, developed to fund construction of containment and handling facilities for milk room and manure waste. Since its inception in 1999, that program has made 14 loans totaling $1.3 million.

The DEP-administered Clean Water State Revolving Fund will provide up to $3 million for FAME to finance the loans with farmers able to borrow up to $450,000 at a fixed interest rate of 2 percent for up to 20 years.

“Agriculture is a $1.5 billion industry in Maine, and the thousands of people who work in it have the important responsibility of stewarding 1.25 million acres,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “I thank these two agencies for coming together with FAME and the bond bank to increase the sustainability of Maine farms and our state. This expanded loan program is good news for our natural resources and for our economy.”

Loans will fund agricultural projects that mitigate nonpoint source pollution by reducing or treating agricultural runoff and improving or maintaining water quality through irrigation system improvements and the use of irrigation reservoirs to maintain in-stream flows and water levels.

Eligible improvement projects include repairs to or installation of roof runoff structures, water and sediment control basins, composting facilities, anaerobic digesters and irrigation system water conservation. DACF will review the proposed projects for eligibility and to ensure they are completed in accordance with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Services design criteria.

“Maine’s farmers know firsthand the great value of clean water and the importance of minimizing agricultural runoff,” said DEP Commissioner Patricia W. Aho. “Thanks to our increased funding commitment, these important partners in protection will be able to better steward the land and water they depend on for their livelihood while investing in the future of the farms that feed Maine people and our economy.”

“These loan opportunities will lead to investments in agricultural infrastructure,” added DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Long-term agricultural viability protects Maine water resources.”

Since 1989, the Maine Clean Water State Revolving Fund has provided over $650 million in low-interest loans for projects that improve water quality and protect environmental and public health, largely to publicly owned wastewater treatment facilities.

For more information on Maine’s Nutrient Management Loan Program, visit http://www.maine.gov/agriculture/narr/ or contact Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Nutrient Management Coordinator Mark Hedrich at (207) 287-7608 or mark.hedrich@maine.gov

For more information on Maine’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund, visit www.maine.gov/dep/assistance/grants-loans or contact Maine Department of Environmental Protection Engineering Services Manager John True at (207) 287-7808 or john.n.true@maine.gov

“Feathers over Freeport” Offers Birding Fun for All Ages

April 18, 2013

For more information contact: Andy Hutchinson at (207) 865-4465

AUGUSTA, Maine – The third annual “Feathers over Freeport”, a unique event designed to appeal to birdwatchers of all abilities and especially to families and children—will take place the last weekend in April.

“Feathers over Freeport” will highlight special birding opportunities at Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal, including the Hawk Watch at the summit, and Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport, home to nesting ospreys.

Sponsored by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Division of Parks and Public Lands and the Freeport Wild Bird Supply, the two-day event will feature a wide variety of activities and presentations, including live-bird presentations, bird walks for adults and children, a hawk watch workshop and numerous children’s activities.

Details of the event are:

Feathers over Freeport:

8 AM to 5 PM, Saturday, April 27, Bradbury Mountain State Park, Pownal

8 AM to 5 PM, Sunday, April 28, Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport.

Park entry fees apply; all programs and activities included with park admission.

Two special programs will highlight the event, including a live bird presentation on birds of prey, scheduled for 3 PM, Saturday, April 27, at Bradbury Mountain and a live bird presentation on the extraordinary lives of owls, scheduled for 1 PM, Sunday, April 28, at Wolfe’s Neck. The programs, presented by Hope Douglas of Wind Over Wings, will feature a Golden Eagle on Saturday and a Great Horned Owl on Sunday, as well as other live birds.

New programs this year include a Vernal Pool Exploration on Saturday and a Landscaping for Wildlife presentation on Sunday. Bird-related activities geared toward children and families will be offered both days from 10 AM to 3 PM where birding basics will be presented through games, crafts, and hands-on activities.

For more information about “Feathers over Freeport” and a complete listing of activities, go to: http://www.maine.gov/feathersoverfreeport

Or by calling the parks: Bradbury Mountain State Park at (207) 688-4712 or Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park at (207) 865-4465.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Allagash Wilderness Waterway Headwater Lakes Free of Ice

May 1, 2013

For more information contact: Matt LaRoche at (207) 695-3721, Ext. 4

AUGUSTA – The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Division of Parks and Public Lands reports that the ice is out on most of the headwater lakes in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Waterway Superintendent Matt LaRoche reports: Telos, Chamberlain, Eagle, Churchill, Umsaskis and Long Lakes are all free of ice. Allagash Lake is still iced in, but should be out by this weekend.

“Ice out is an exciting time of the year in Maine,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “On the waterway, it is the symbol of a change in seasons. Our dedicated staff has been working hard to make sure campsites and other facilities are fire safe, clean and free of hazards.”

Early spring is traditionally the best fishing of the year on the waterway. “Lunker trout are a little easier to catch right after the ice goes out. The trout will be feeding heavily on spawning smelt as they congregate near tributaries streams,” said Waterway Superintendent Matt LaRoche.

Waterway Rangers urge all visitors to wear their life jackets when on the water.

The Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) is Maine’s magnificent, 92-mile-long ribbon of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams that runs through the heart of Maine’s vast commercial forest. The AWW was established in 1966 by the Maine Legislature to protect and develop the maximum wilderness character of the waterway. This unique area is managed by the Maine Division of Parks and Public Lands under the Maine Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry. In 1970, the AWW was named the first state-administered component of the National Wild and Scenic River System.

For information on the waterway, call the Division of Parks and Public Lands Bangor regional office at 207-941-4014.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Hunt for the Emerald Ash Borer

May 6, 2013

For more information contact: Colleen Teerling (207) 287-3096,Karen Coluzzi (207) 287-7551, Dave Struble (207) 287-4981 at John Bott (207) 287-3156

Public support even more critical after the insect is spotted in New Hampshire

AUGUSTA – State officials expressed concern even as they took steps to implement a comprehensive, statewide survey effort and enlist public support in helping locate the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an invasive insect that destroys ash trees. This year’s survey has taken on greater urgency because the elusive insect has been detected in neighboring New Hampshire, a mere thirty-two (32) miles from the Maine border.

“We must do everything we can to stop this damaging insect,” Maine Governor Paul R. LePage said. “The Emerald Ash Borer has already destroyed between 50-100 million ash trees in other parts of the country. If it takes hold in Maine, it will negatively impact the vitality of our forests and efforts to grow our natural resource economy.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb echoed the Governor’s concerns and expressed confidence in his Department’s combined, collaborative approach to locating the insect as soon as possible. “Our foresters, entomologists and plant health experts have put together a comprehensive survey to catch the very first EABs to invade Maine. We are hopeful none enter this season. We are also calling upon the public to help us in this effort,” said Whitcomb.

2013 Emerald Ash Borer Survey:

Maine’s 2013 National Cooperative Emerald Ash Borer Survey starts this month. It is a collaboration of federal, state and tribal agencies, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is also part of a national survey effort taking place in 44 states. In Maine, it is a combined effort between the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; and the Penobscot Nation Department of Natural Resources. Because of the insect’s potential adverse impact on Maine, the survey is also supported by numerous private businesses and landowners. Purple Traps - Starting this month, close to 875 distinctive, purple bug traps will be placed high up in the canopy of local ash trees at specified locations to see if the emerald ash borer (EAB) is present in Maine. The sites include trees at private businesses and lands, state parks, and campgrounds. Traps will be placed in high-risk zones based on their distance from known infested areas in other states, presence of ash trees, and proximity to travel routes.

The purple traps (EAB is attracted to purple) will be monitored in July and then again in September, when they will be removed. The analysis of the traps’ contents should be completed by December, according to state entomologists.

In addition to the purple traps that are utilized as part of the survey, Maine uses a number of other methods to detect the EAB. These other methods include:

Detection Trees – This method involves sacrificing a particular tree by removing a section of its bark. Egg-laying Emerald Ash Borer adults are highly attracted to weakened trees. If EABs are in the area, they usually can be found on these trees.

Biosurveillance – A native, non-stinging species of wasp is also being utilized to help locate the Emerald Ash Borer. This ground-dwelling wasp is highly adept at hunting the same family of beetles. Surveyors check these wasp nests for the bodies of EABs.

Outreach – All survey methods are important, but the DACF is actively working with the public through outreach and collaboration. The importance of this part of the effort cannot be overstated. Public awareness and support can make the difference, especially to help monitor areas that are not covered by official survey methods. In neighboring New Hampshire, the Emerald Ash Borer’s presence was discovered because a private citizen noticed a suspiciously symptomatic tree and reported it to state authorities.

For more information on the EAB, go to:

http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/InvasiveThreats.htm

http://www.maine.gov/eab

http://www.purpleEABsurvey.info

To report suspected findings in Maine call: (207) 287-2431 or 1-800-367-0223 (in state).

Supporting documents

Emerald Ash Borer adult

Parasitic Flies to the Rescue

May 7, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Release of biocontrol agent designed to combat the winter moth

AUGUSTA – Starting Tuesday, state entomologists from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) division of forestry will be releasing parasitic flies in an effort to try and control and minimize the damage to trees and shrubs done by the Winter Moth. The release is being conducted by Dr. Joseph Elkinton, University of Massachusetts Professor of Entomology. He is releasing parasitic flies, Cyzenis albicans, in conjunction with the DACF’s division of forestry.

“This is a long-term approach to limiting the damage caused by the winter moth,” Maine Governor Paul R. LePage said. “It is important that we protect our natural resource economy from invasive pests like the winter moth, which can also damage blueberry, apple and cranberry crops.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the collaborative approach being taken between Maine and Massachusetts. “We thank Dr. Elkington and the University of Massachusetts for collaborating with us on the timely release of these flies,” said Whitcomb.

The winter moth is the latest invasive insect to attack Maine forests with defoliation in Harpswell in 2012. A citizen supported survey of winter moth in December indicated winter moth could be found from Kittery to Bar Harbor. Unlike some of the other invasive insects on our doorstep, this one has a potential biocontrol agent that can hopefully control the insects spread and limit future damage.

Beginning Tuesday, parasitic flies, Cyzenis albicans, will be released at two release sites in Harpswell and Cape Elizabeth. Flies will be released again later in the week on either Thursday or Friday. A total of 800 flies will be released at each site with 400 flies released on each day.

People frequently ask, “Will the flies bother anything else (like people)?” The answer is no. These flies were released in Nova Scotia in the 1960s, brought the winter moth population under control and there have been no adverse effects in the intervening 50 years. Flies were also released in British Columbia again with no impacts on other insects or people. The flies are very closely tied to the winter moth life cycle and need winter moth to survive. There will always be some winter moth around, now that they have become established in Maine, but hopefully the flies will do their job and bring the winter moth population under control in a few years.

It take years before Maine will see the results of the biocontrol effort, as it takes time for the flies to become acclimated to a new location and build up their population. Once their numbers reach a high enough level, it will have a noticeable impact on the winter moth population. In the meantime people will see defoliation on hardwood trees and shrubs in May. It is hoped trees will not be too adversely effected before the parasite fly population catches up to the winter moth population and brings them into balance in Maine.

For more information on the winter moth and other invasive pests, go to:

http://www1.maine.gov/doc/mfs/InvasiveThreats.htm#wm

Northeast livestock expo

May 10, 2013

For more information contact: Cindy Kilgore at (207) 215-4968

This annual “kid friendly” event is here once again

AUGUSTA – The Northeast Livestock Expo is here once again. This annual event will celebrate its eighth year May 17-19 at the Windsor Fairgrounds in Windsor, Maine. The Expo will showcase a variety of livestock. The public is welcome; there is no admission fee.

“This is one of many great events from Maine’s agricultural community,” Maine Governor Paul R. LePage said. “This and similar events highlight the connection between local farms, local products, and consumers.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the Expo’s educational component. “This is a fantastic learning experience for everyone. They have added a Kid’s Day on Friday, followed by youth events and educational seminars on Saturday and Sunday. There will be many future agricultural leaders in Windsor the weekend of May 17-19,” said Whitcomb.

Schedule:

Friday is Kid’s Day, open to grades K-6. Activities will include: Smokey the Bear and his campfire safety Ranger; Northern Solstice Alpacas to explain fiber to clothing and read from a book on alpacas; and Western Maine Rabbits that give a spinning demonstration. Several local farms also will give demonstrations with Boer goats, beef cattle and horses, and the Historical Society will demonstrate the uses of old time equipment.

Saturday’s events include: a feeder calf sale; pulling certification seminar; Boer Goat sale and show; Rabbit shows and sale; and several youth shows and clinics.

Sunday will showcase youth events and educational seminars. Food, livestock equipment and educational vendors will be on the grounds all three days.

For more information on the expo, go to: http://www.northeastlivestockexpo.com/

Maine State Parks Passport Program adds new High-Tech Geocaching GeoTour

May 17, 2013

For more information contact: Gary Best at (207) 215-6351

AUGUSTA – The Maine State Parks Passport collaborative project is back for 2013 with a new way to explore Maine State Parks and historic sites. Beginning May 18, the Maine State Parks Passport will include a new high-tech Geocaching GeoTour. Geocaching enthusiasts and park patrons interested in learning about this high-tech treasure hunting game that is played throughout the world. Participants will also have the opportunity to win valuable prizes.

“Maine State Parks are finding new ways to create memorable experiences for residents and visitors alike,” said Maine Governor Paul R. LePage. “The Maine State Parks Passport collaborative project also highlights how Maine businesses benefit from and support our natural resource economy by helping sponsor events and activities like this.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the success of the Maine State Parks Passport project and its ability to promote new connections with visitors to Maine State Parks. “If your interest, like mine, is to see all our State Parks, the Passport project allows visitors to collect stamps at up to 48 State Parks and historic sites and receive rewards,” said Whitcomb. “Adding Geocaching (and a contest) to this project further enhances the quality of the experience. Exploring Maine has never been more fun.”

Background information of the Passport Program:

The Maine State Parks Passport is a collaborative project that was conceived in 2010 by the Maine Division of Parks and Public Lands to commemorate Maine State Parks 75th anniversary as fun way to encourage more people to visit Maine state parks and historic sites. The project involves giving children and adults a “parks passport” free of charge, available at participating parks and historic sites. This year, 40,000 have been printed for distribution with help from the various sponsors and at no additional cost to the state. There are 12 partners and sponsors, including the DPPL.

The passport contains a descriptive page for each of Maine’s 48 state parks and historic sites, with sections for a stamp, plus additional information about the Maine state parks system and the passport sponsors.

Passport participants go to each state park, open the passport station and then stamp their passports with a distinctive stamp for each park. As they accumulate stamps, participants can win park-related prizes, such as a park patch and a water bottle up to a free season vehicle pass for completing the passport.

Maine State Parks GeoChallenge 2013:

The Maine State Parks GeoTour starts May 18 and goes until September 3, 2013. Those who complete the tour have a chance to win one of 20 fantastic prizes, including a canoe, GPS units, collectable GeoCoins and more. A series of geocaches are hidden in a unique location at eight Maine State Parks and Historic Sites:

Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Aroostook State Park, Cobscook Bay State Park, Colburn House State Historic Site, Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site, Mount Blue State Park, Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park, Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park

Maine families and tourists become adventurers searching for these geocaches (cleverly hidden containers that hold a logbook, small trinkets for trade, and one unique first-to-find Maine State Parks collectable geocoin in each cache) using a GPS device or the Geocaching app for the iPhone, Android or Windows Phone. Geocaching is an exciting activity that combines the outdoors, exercise, technology, and fun. The series of geocaches in our Geocaching GeoTour helps visitors discover Maine State Parks and Historic Sites by conveying a historical story, revealing hidden vantage points, and bringing them to scenic locations.

Maine State Parks GeoChallenge 2013 Contest

Those willing to take exploring Maine State Parks to a higher level are invited to participate in the Maine State Parks GeoTour and the 2013 Geo Challenge! Geocaching is an outdoor adventure game similar to a treasure hunt, but is played with a GPS device. The GeoTour will enhance visits to Maine state parks and historic sites for years to come, but the GeoChallenge is a special contest for 2013 only. The object is to locate containers (called caches) hidden at eight specified parks, then obtain a Geocache Passport stamp. There are over two million geocaches around the world, and now with the 2013 Maine State Parks GeoChallenge you might “CACHE IN AND WIN”!

Sponsors and Partners: The complete list of Maine State Parks Passport partners and sponsors is:

Delorme Friends of Fort Knox Friends of Maine State Parks Geocaching.com Kittery Trading Post Let’s Go 5210 L.L. Bean Maine Division of Parks and Public Lands Maine Office of Tourism Old Town Canoe and Kayak Poland Spring Water Co. / Nestle Waters Wicked Joe Coffee

For more information on the Maine State Parks GeoTour and the 2013 Geo Challenge, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com or http://www.geocaching.com/adventures/geotours/maine-state-parks to download the gps coordinates of all eight new official Maine State Parks geocaches to your gps unit or smartphone and begin your adventure to find all eight geocaches.

Supporting documents

Sophie DeMaio with BPL Passport

Aroostook State Park celebrates birding festival's fifth year

May 23, 2013

For more information contact: Scott Thompson at 207-768-8341

PRESQUE ISLE — On Saturday, June 8, Aroostook State Park will host a day that's "all about the birds." For the fifth straight year, the Aroostook State Park Birding Festival will offer walks, displays, demonstrations, and educational programs from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. — all part of what organizers describe as "bird immersion" for those wanting to learn more about birds.

"It's for anyone who enjoys nature and being outdoors and wants to expand their knowledge of birding," said Park Manager Scott Thompson. "There will be opportunities for beginners to learn some birding basics, and also for experienced birders who want to add to their life lists. Plus it's a great family event."

Governor Paul R. LePage and his Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb expressed support for the event and Maine’s unique State Parks. “Events like this one contribute to the growing interest in the Maine outdoors. There are many new resources and opportunities for families to explore Maine this season. These include the addition of Geocaching and later a Coastal Resource Guide,” said Governor LePage. Commissioner Whitcomb was equally enthusiastic: “Our park employees and volunteers are passionate about the parks they serve and are committed to ensuring that our visitors go home with lifelong memories,” said Whitcomb.

This year's festival will feature activities such as guided bird walks, bird netting and banding demonstrations, hands-on use of spotting scopes and optics, as well as a talk on Maine's wild turkeys and a live-bird presentation, "Owls of Maine."

Early risers can catch the first guided bird walk of the day at 6 a.m., followed by 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. walks with members of Aroostook Birders bird watching club along the shoreline and through wooded trails in the park. Typically, around 40 different birds have been recorded throughout the day at past festivals. According to Thompson, as many as 100 different species of birds such as woodpeckers, songbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl inhabit or pass through Aroostook State Park in a given year. A pair of Bald Eagles has taken up residence again at the park.

Beginning at 8 a.m., Dr. Jason Johnston, Wildlife Ecology Professor at the University of Maine at Presque Isle will have mist nets set up and offer ongoing demonstrations on how researchers capture and band songbirds. At 9:30 a.m., the topic is "About Wild Turkeys," a talk by Regional Wildlife Biologist Rich Hoppe of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife describing the biology of these amazing birds and their presence here in northern Maine. At 11 a.m., educators from Maine's Chewonki Foundation will bring "Owls of Maine" to the festival — an opportunity for kids and others to handle real wings, skulls, feathers and feet, and to have a close-up view of a number of different live owls. This special presentation is sponsored by Aroostook Birders in memory of friend and fellow club member Kathy Braeuninger (Hunter).

A nominal fee is charged for entrance to the park; $2 for adults, $1 for children ages 5-11, all others free. Those who attend are eligible to win various door prizes. Participants are advised to dress appropriately and bring personal birding equipment such as binoculars, books, as well as sun screen and insect repellent. Several binoculars will be available for use through a Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund grant.

The Aroostook Birding Festival is a rain or shine event. Contact the park office at 768-8341 for further information or notice of cancellation if the weather is severe.

Free on Father’s Day: Maine State Park Admission

June 6, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – All Maine State Parks and historic sites will treat Maine residents to a free admission on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 16.

“I encourage Maine families to explore and enjoy our wide variety of State Parks and historic sites on Father’s Day. There is a lot to see, and all visits are affordable every day, especially Father Day,” said Governor Paul R. LePage.

Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb was equally enthusiastic. “June is ‘Get Outdoors Month’ and Maine State Parks get you out there. Our park staff and devoted volunteers have the parks ready for visitors. Father’s Day could be a lot of fun at any of our parks and historic sites,” said Whitcomb.

DACF Division of Parks and Lands Director Will Harris encouraged Maine residents and visitors alike to explore the many offerings provided by Maine State Parks. “Each of our state parks and historic sites have programs suited for all ages and cover a wide range of outdoor interests. Many are using our Maine State Park Passport program as an incentive to visit all the parks, and the addition of our new Geocaching feature is very popular. We hope everybody comes out and has fun,” said Harris.

The details of the free parks admission are:

Maine Residents Day, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday, June 16; all vehicles bearing Maine license plates will be allowed free entrance to Maine state parks and historic sites. No rain date will be available. The open admission does not apply to Baxter State Park or the Penobscot Narrows Observatory in Prospect, though admission to Fort Knox State Historic Site will be free that day.

For more information about Maine state parks and historic sites, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Maine Maple Mania Spreads to Jackman!

June 14, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – Commissioner Walt Whitcomb today attends the 3rd Annual Maple Mania 2013 event in Jackman to help celebrate a successful maple syrup season and participate in efforts to educate consumers and increase the strength and impact of Maine’s maple industry in advance of 2014.

“Maine’s maple industry provides a unique product that is enjoyed around the world,” said Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Walt Whitcomb. “The Maine Maple Producers Association Board is actively growing the industry and planning for future opportunities. The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has the good fortune to work with members of the maple industry on important events such as Maine Maple Sunday, the Governor’s Maple Tapping event at the Blaine House, and of course Maple Mania. Governor Paul R. LePage’s support at the Blaine House Tree Tapping event last March really set the stage for a successful year.”

In a prepared statement, Governor Paul R. LePage highlighted the economic impact that the Maine maple syrup industry has on Maine’s economy and its potential for future growth. “This industry demonstrates the excellent opportunity Maine has to promote its natural resource-based economy, as well as to promote job creation for our citizens,” said Governor LePage. “I applaud their efforts and wish them great success in growing this industry.”

This past season, Maine produced 450,000 gallons of maple syrup, a 20% increase over 2011. The latest yearly figures show that Maine generated nearly $13 million in revenue from the maple industry. Maine was third in the nation, producing 14 percent of maple syrup in the United States.

Maple Mania History:

Maple Mania was created by the Maine Maple Producers Association Board, who recognized a need for more education. Attendance has grown each year, to approximately 150 attendees. In the first year there was a mixture of small and medium size producers and there were 80 attendees in the Central Maine area. Last year the number increased to 110 with smaller producers and bigger marketing producers who attended the event in Westbrook. This year’s gathering includes a mixture that includes a number of wholesale producers. The goal is to move the annual event around the state to allow equal access to members.

For more information on the Maine Maple Producers, visit their website: http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

LePage Administration Celebrates Small Business Week: Commissioner Whitcomb's Visits for June 20

June 19, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at (207) 287-3156, Cell: 207-485-8354

LePage Administration Celebrates Small Business Week; Commissioners to Visit Small Businesses Across State

Commissioner Whitcomb’s Schedule for Thursday, June 20

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage has signed a proclamation celebrating Small Business Week in Maine the week of June 17. To recognize the week-long celebration of the important role small businesses play in Maine’s economy and employment, commissioners from several state departments will take time out of their schedules to visit with several small businesses across the state.

“Capital goes where it is welcome and stays where it is appreciated,” said Governor LePage. “Maine appreciates its small businesses. Thank you for creating and keeping your business in Maine.”

According to the latest figures provided by the Small Business Administration, 97 percent of businesses in Maine have fewer than 500 employees, which classifies them as a small business. According to the Maine Department of Labor, 95 percent of all Maine business in 2012 employed 50 or fewer employees.

Commissioners taking part in the Small Business Week celebration include Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner George Gervais, Department of Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette, Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher, and Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Walt Whitcomb.

Commissioner Whitcomb’s Schedule for Thursday, June 20:

9:30 AM - Royal Rose, Biddeford Royal Rose is a syrup business that started in Brooklyn, NY and moved to Maine in order to expand their small business.

11:00 AM – Acorn Kitchen, Kittery Acorn Kitchen multipurpose, fully-licensed community culinary rental facility for creating and packaging food products for sale, conducting hands-on cooking classes, recipe development and testing, food styling photography, webcast and television production. This visit highlights Department support of small business startups.

12:45 PM – Cape Seafood, Saco Cape Seafood plans to process over 4 million pounds of Maine seafood in 2013. The company was founded to support Luke’s Lobster, restaurants that earned the title "Best Maine Ambassador Outside of Maine" from DownEast Magazine. Cape Seafood uses innovative technologies to promote food safety by shipping directly to the restaurants, shortening the supply chain and enhancing freshness and traceability

2:00 PM - Cozy Acres Greenhouses, North Yarmouth, ME Cozy Acres Greenhouses is a wholesale greenhouse leader in innovative gardening that celebrates independence through effective biocontrols and lowering energy costs through geothermal heating. With 21,000 square feet of greenhouse space, Cozy Acres is in the top 25 largest greenhouses in the State of Maine.

Thatchers are Adding a Roof to a Historic Replica Building at Colonial Pemaquid

June 21, 2013

For more information contact: Barry Masterson at 207-677-2423

Bristol, Maine -- It is nearly a lost art. Colonial fishermen and early settlers to this region wove marsh grasses and native reeds into surprisingly sturdy and durable roofs to protect their homes from the sometimes harsh Maine coastal weather.

For the next week or so, this craft will again be plied at Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site as professional roof thatcher Colin McGhee installs a thatched roof on the top of a replica of a 1600s dwelling at the site.

The dwelling project has so far been a two year project of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands and their partners, the Friends of Colonial Pemaquid. The structure is made of a timber frame with walls made of a mud and stick material known as “wattle and daub.” The exterior of the building is clad with rough clapboards and the new thatched roof will literally top it all off.

The thatching is done by hand by Scotland native Colin McGhee whose work can be seen at his Web site: www.thatching.com.

Colonial Pemaquid is situated at the mouth of the Pemaquid River in Bristol. Members of the media are invited to see the work in progress and discuss the art of thatching with McGhee at the historic site on Sunday and Monday, June 23-24, 2013.

For more information, contact Barry Masterson, park manager, at: (207) 677-2423 (park telephone).

For more information about Maine state parks and historic sites, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Scenic Fruit Company Recalls Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels Due To Possible Health Risk

June 27, 2013

For more information contact: Consumer at 877-927-3434

Recall -- Firm Press Release

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) posts press releases and other notices of recalls and market withdrawals from the firms involved as a service to consumers, the media, and other interested parties. DACF does not endorse either the product or the company. The Department is posting this because UNFI has a distribution center in New Hampshire and the product has been shipped to Maine.

Scenic Fruit Company Recalls Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels Due To Possible Health Risk

Contact: Consumer 877-927-3434

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - June 26, 2013 - Scenic Fruit Company of Gresham, Oregon today announced it is voluntarily recalling 5,091 cases (61,092 eight ounce bags) of Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels. Based on an ongoing epidemiological and traceback investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of an illness outbreak, the kernels have the potential to be contaminated with Hepatitis A virus.

No illnesses are currently associated with Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels and product testing to date shows no presence of Hepatitis A virus in Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels. The company’s decision to voluntarily recall products is made from an abundance of caution in response to an ongoing outbreak investigation by the FDA and CDC. The organic pomegranates are imported from Turkey.

Products were shipped from February 2013 through May 2013 to UNFI distribution centers in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington State. UNFI distribution centers may have further distributed products to retail stores in other states.

Woodstock Organic Pomegranate Kernels are sold in eight-ounce (227 gram) resealable plastic pouches (see image) with UPC Code 0 42563 01628 9. Specific coding information to identify the product can be found on the back portion of these pouches below the zip-lock seal. The following lots are subject to this recall:

C 0129 (A,B, or C) 035 with a best by date of 02/04/2015

C 0388 (A,B, or C) 087 with a best by date of 03/28/2015

C 0490 (A,B, or C) 109 with a best by date of 04/19/2015

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from exposure to the hepatitis A virus, including from food. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Illness generally occurs within 15 to 50 days of exposure and includes fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool.

Hepatitis A vaccination can prevent illness if given within two weeks of exposure to a contaminated food. In rare cases, particularly consumers who have a pre- existing severe illness or are immune compromised, Hepatitis A infection can progress to liver failure.

Persons who may have consumed affected product should consult with their health care professional or local health department to determine if a vaccination is appropriate, and consumers with symptoms of Hepatitis A should contact their health care professionals or the local health department immediately.

For more information about the outbreak, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/Outbreaks/2013/A1b-03-31/index.html or call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636), TTY: (888) 232-6348.

Consumers with the product should not consume the product. The product should be disposed of immediately. Please keep proof of product purchase.

For questions or more information, contact the Scenic Fruit Company at 877-927-3434 or email to info@scenicfruit.com from Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. PDT

Loon Plate Weekend at Maine State Parks

July 8, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at (207) 287-3156

Loon Plate Weekend at Maine State Parks

Free Admission for vehicles with a Maine Loon License Plate

AUGUSTA – All Maine State Parks and historic sites will offer free admission to vehicles bearing Maine Loon License Plates the weekend of July 13 and 14.

Loon License Plate Weekend is a way of saying thanks to residents that purchased Maine loon plates. Since the program’s inception by the Maine Legislature in 1993, more than $17.5 million in loon plate proceeds have gone to support conservation and wildlife efforts.

“I encourage Maine families to explore and enjoy our wide variety of State Parks and historic sites this summer and throughout the year. There is a lot to see, and all visits are affordable every day, especially if you have a Loon License Plate the weekend of July 13 And 14,” said Governor Paul R. LePage.

Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the financial contribution that Loon License Plates and other specialty plates make toward worthy causes. “This is a way to say ‘thank you’ for supporting conservation and wildlife efforts in Maine. The weekend of July 13 and 14, a Loon License Plate provides free admission to 48 state parks and historic sites,” said Whitcomb.

DACF Division of Parks and Lands Director Will Harris encouraged Maine residents and visitors alike to explore the many offerings provided by Maine State Parks. “Each of our state parks and historic sites have programs suited for all ages and cover a wide range of outdoor interests. We hope everybody comes out and has fun,” said Harris. The details of Loon Plate Weekend are:

Loon Plate Weekend, Saturday and Sunday, July 13 & 14; all vehicles bearing Maine Loon license plates will be allowed free entrance to Maine state parks and historic sites. No rain date will be available. The open admission does not apply to Baxter State Park or the Penobscot Narrows Observatory in Prospect, though admission to Fort Knox State Historic Site will be free that weekend.

For more information about Loon license plates, go to:
http:// www.maine.gov/doc/parks/volunteer/loonplates.html

For more information about Maine state parks and historic sites, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Supporting documents


Coastal Public Access Guide now available to coastal enthusiasts

July 8, 2013

For more information contact: Melissa Anson, John Bott at (207) 592-5689, (207) 287-3156

The Maine Coastal Program releases Southern Region Guide with more to follow

Augusta - The Maine Coastal Program will showcase an exciting new resource for coastal enthusiasts at the Maine Beaches Conference on July 12. The Southern edition of The Maine Coastal Public Access Guide will be publically unveiled at the Maine Beaches Conference, July 12 at 8:00 AM. This year’s Conference is being held at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.

The Maine Coastal Public Access Guide is a three-volume guidebook detailing more than 700 sites along Maine’s 5,300-mile, world-renowned coastline. The Guide provides geographic coordinates, amenities and facilities, parking and directions, and descriptions of each site. The Southern Maine edition (South Berwick to Freeport) is now available for purchase by the public. The Midcoast and Downeast editions will be released later this year by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

“Coastal lands and waters and recreational boating play a major role in Maine’s economy,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This new guide recognizes that public access to the shore is vital to the survival of some of Maine’s most significant commercial and recreational enterprises, including fishing, marine transportation, tourism, boating and wildlife viewing.”

“I offer my sincere thanks to the hundreds of partners who helped create the Maine Coastal Public Access Guide,” said Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. “It will help residents and visitors navigate and enjoy Maine’s unique coastline.”

The Maine Coastal Program is administered by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and is supported by an annual grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association at the United States Department of Commerce. The Maine Coastal Program works with a variety of public and private partners to balance the development and conservation of coastal resources.

For more information about the Maine Coastal Program and its work, please call (207) 287-2801.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Maine Open Farm Day - Sunday, July 21

July 16, 2013

For more information contact: Jessica Nixon at (207) 287-3494

Maine farms will open their gates to the public this Sunday

AUGUSTA – Visit select Maine Farms this Sunday, July 21. All across the State of Maine, close to one hundred farms will open their gates to the public for a family adventure. Held each year, Open Farm Day is an opportunity for consumers to learn about Maine and Maine food producers.

“Events like Open Farm Day help bring attention to all our farms have to offer,” Maine Governor Paul R. LePage said. “Not only do our farms provide fresh food, but they strengthen communities as well. Maine farms maximize the potential of our natural resource-based economy and provide jobs and economic prosperity to Maine people.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb urged families to take advantage of this unique event. “All across Maine you can visit dozens of small farms; farms with vegetable stands and market gardens; farms with hay rides and home bakeries; farms with sheep, cows, horses, rabbits, pigs or chickens; farms and farm owners who want to show you a fascinating cross section of life growing out in the Maine countryside. The Department is pleased to help organize this family oriented event that encourages better understanding of how food happens and how hard working Maine farm families contribute to both the local economy and the locally grown food supply.” said Whitcomb.

Open Farm Day is an annual family adventure in which farms throughout the State of Maine open their gates to offer the public an opportunity to learn about the business of agriculture. Many farms will have demonstrations, displays, farm-raised products for sale and animals and crops to experience. Activities may include barn and field tours, milking, hay rides, petting zoos, nature trails, beautiful scenery, samples for tasting and refreshments.

A list of participating farms is available at: http://www.getrealmaine.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/calendar.detail/event_id/186/index.htm

Supporting documents


Listening session on proposed FDA produce safety rule August 19th

July 19, 2013

For more information contact: Ron Dyer at 207-287-7522

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry’s Division of Quality Assurance & Regulations to hold listening session on proposed FDA produce safety rule August 19th

AUGUSTA – Produce growers and packers can learn more about the federal government’s proposed food safety rule at a listening session August 19th at the Augusta State Armory. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed in January 2011 represents the most comprehensive reform of food regulation in more than 70 years. A key component of the FSMA is a mandate to shift food safety efforts from reaction to prevention.

Individuals will have the opportunity to ask questions about the Produce Safety Rule during the session, which will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“The produce safety rule will mean big changes for Maine produce growers and packers,” said Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Commissioner Walter Whitcomb, who will be the meeting’s host. “This is an important opportunity to hear from the Food and Drug Administration and offer comments.”

The Act directs the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish science-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of raw agricultural commodities. In response to this directive, FDA developed a proposed rule known as the Produce Safety Rule which focuses on measures that produce farmers and packers should take to prevent the contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables. The rule proposes five sets of standards designed to address significant routes of microbial contamination of produce. The five sets of standards are: (1) agricultural water; (2) biological soil amendments; (3) employee health and hygiene; (4) animal intrusion into growing areas; and (5) equipment, tools and buildings.

On January 4, 2013, the FDA released the proposed rule for public comment. The agency has been strongly encouraged by most of the New England Congressional members, including Maine’s delegation, to hold listening sessions such as this to hear from more farmers. At the meeting, Michael Taylor, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods & Veterinary Medicine, will present information about the rule.

State Agriculture Departments will be active partners in implementing food and safety programs to help growers comply with the new rules.

More detailed information regarding the August 19th listening session agenda will soon be available. Questions about the event can be answered by contacting the Department’s Quality Assurance and Regulations Division at (207)287-3841. For those not able not attend the listening session, comments can be made directly to the FDA at www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm261689

Archaelogical Dig at Colonial Pemaquid

July 23, 2013

For more information contact: Tom Desjardin, Historian at 207-677-2423

The annual archaeological dig at Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site will take place from Monday, July 22 through Friday, July 26 at the site in Bristol, Maine. Professional archaeologists will begin excavating the enlisted men’s quarters from two seventeenth century forts on the grounds. The officers’ quarters of these forts were fully excavated in the 1970s but the enlisted quarters have never been explored. Retired State Archaeologist Leon “Lee” Cranmer is the principal archaeologist for the dig.

Members of the media are invited to visit the site, see the latest discoveries, and speak with the archaeologists on Thursday afternoon, July 25th from 1:00pm on.

The first day of the dig yielded a foundation wall along with coins, buttons, a cannon ball, a trunk lock and other items.

The dig is sponsored by the Friends of Colonial Pemaquid http://www.friendsofcolonialpemaquid.org/

Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site is at the location of a 1600s village, fishing station and the site of three different forts from that time period. It is listed as a National Historic Landmark because of its rich archaeological resources. The site is three miles north of the Pemaquid lighthouse just off of Route 130 in Bristol, 12 miles south of Damariscotta.

For more information about the site visit: http://www.maine.gov/colonialpemaquid

Lime Equivalent Available for Farmers Fields

August 6, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207 287-3156

Dragon Cement offer could strengthen farm productivity

AUGUSTA– Maine farmers could see their liming agent costs reduced and their profitability increase as a result of an alternative liming agent that is being made available by the Dragon Products Company. Representatives from Dragon Products and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) are seeking to make farmers aware of the availability of K-Lime for use as an agricultural liming agent.

“This opportunity has the potential to lower production costs for farmers and increase their profitability. I commend Dragon Cement and Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry experts for promoting its availability and seeking ways to strengthen businesses,” said Governor Paul R. LePage.

Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb was equally enthusiastic. “The DACF continues to work with Maine businesses to try to pursue strategies that lower costs, improve efficiencies and strengthen our natural resource-based economy. Our staff worked with Dragon Cement to identify and publicize an opportunity that can benefit local farms and Dragon Cement,” said Whitcomb.

“It’s a win-win situation for Dragon and local farmers. I’m glad we’ve been able to work with the Maine Dept. of Agriculture to make the availability of this product more widely known,” said Raymond DeGrass, Plant Manager for Dragon Products.

What is K-Lime:

K-Lime is a by-product of portland cement manufacturing. As a partially calcined material, it contains activated calcium compounds having higher solubility than ground limestone. K-Lime provides rapid acid neutralization from highly soluble calcium compounds. It can also provide long-term acid neutralization from calcium and magnesium carbonates. As such, it is suitable as an agricultural liming agent, and for compost and soil blending.

K-Lime provides alkalinity to the soil that is needed to maintain optimal pH levels. The enriched levels of potassium and sulfur contained in the product are valuable plant nutrients that are often deficient in soils.

Transportation:

K-Lime for beneficial and agronomic use is distributed in bulk as is from the Dragon cement manufacturing facility in Thomaston, Maine. Customers seeking K-Lime should contact Dragon prior to pickup at (207) 593-0100.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Its National Farmers Market Week, August 4-10!

August 8, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Maine farmers markets continue to grow and thrive

AUGUSTA– National Farmers Market Week is here to help celebrate the growing consumer demand for healthy, locally grown foods. Throughout Maine, farmers markets are in full swing, delivering farm-fresh, healthy products to meet growing demand. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 8,144 farmers markets are now listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, up from 5,000 in 2008. The same trend is at work in Maine, where the number of farmers’ markets has also increased.

“Farmers’ markets strengthen communities and are business ‘incubators’ for small farmers and entrepreneurs. Many participants expand their retail or wholesale businesses, creating even more jobs in our rural economy,” said Governor Paul R. LePage.

Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the importance of farmers’ markets for farmers, consumers, and entire communities. “Communities are recognizing the value of assisting markets in their towns and supporting agricultural activity in their immediate and surrounding area,” said Whitcomb. “The recent growth of farmers’ markets, locally and nationally, has been good for both farmers and consumers. For many people living in more populated areas, identifying the farmer, or farm source of their food is important.”

Maine’s DACF promotes growth and sustainability of farmers markets:

There are currently between 109-120 farmers’ markets in Maine. The number in 2012 was approximately 100, up from 63 recorded markets in 2007. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) supports and promotes the growth of farmers markets as a means of connecting local consumers and Maine food and farm products. In 2000, the Agricultural Resource Division initiated the popular “Get Real, Get Maine” promotional campaign to encourage consumers and wholesale buyers to purchase Maine food and farm products. That website, http://www.getrealmaine.com features a searchable database of farms and a listing of farmers markets.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

MDACF announces agenda and speakers for the August 19 listening session on proposed FDA produce safety rule

August 15, 2013

For more information contact: Ellis Additon at 207 287-7574

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry announces agenda and speakers for the August 19 listening session on proposed FDA produce safety rule

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) has released the agenda and speakers list for the August 19 listening session on the federal government’s proposed food safety rule at the Augusta State Armory. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed in January 2011 represents the most comprehensive reform of food regulation in more than 70 years. A key component of the FSMA is a mandate to shift food safety efforts from reaction to prevention. The focus of the proposed safety rule is fresh fruit and vegetables.

The proposed Produce Safety Rule will impact Maine produce growers and packers, and individuals will have the opportunity to ask questions. DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb will convene the three hour session at 9:30 a.m. The session will feature remarks from members of Maine’s congressional delegation, Michael R. Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods & Veterinary Medicine, and others (SEE BELOW).

“The proposed produce safety rule will change product handling procedures for certain Maine fresh fruit and vegetable growers and packers,” said Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Commissioner Walter Whitcomb, who will be the meeting’s host. “This is an important opportunity to hear from key individuals from with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration who are preparing federal rules and for Maine farmers to offer comments.”

The Act directs the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish science-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of raw agricultural commodities. In response to this directive, FDA developed a proposed rule known as the Produce Safety Rule which focuses on measures that produce farmers and packers should take to prevent the contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables. The rule proposes five sets of standards designed to address significant routes of microbial contamination of produce. The five sets of standards are: (1) agricultural water; (2) biological soil amendments; (3) employee health and hygiene; (4) animal intrusion into growing areas; and (5) equipment, tools and buildings.

On January 4, 2013, the FDA released the proposed rule for public comment. The agency has been strongly encouraged by most of the New England Congressional members, including Maine’s delegation, to hold listening sessions such as this to hear from more farmers. At the meeting, Michael Taylor, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods & Veterinary Medicine, will present information about the rule.

State Agriculture Departments will be active partners in implementing food and safety programs to help growers comply with the new rules.

Questions about the event can be answered by contacting Ellis Additon at (207) 287-7574. For those not able not attend the listening session, comments can be made directly to the FDA at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm261689

AGENDA:

Maine Listening Session on Proposed Produce Rule Augusta Armory August 19, 2013

9:30 a.m.
Welcome/Opening Remarks - Walt Whitcomb Maine Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

9:40 a.m. -
Remarks by Members of Maine’s Congressional Delegation

9:50 a.m. -
Opening Remarks - Michael R. Taylor FDA/Deputy Commissioner for Foods & Veterinary Medicine

10:10 a.m. - Presentation on Proposed Rule for Produce Samir Assar, Director, Produce Safety Staff, FDA

10:30 a.m. - Presentation on Proposed Preventive Controls Rule Jenny Scott, Senior Advisor, Produce Safety Staff, FDA

10:50 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. Q&A

12:15- 12:30 p.m. Closing Remarks

2013 Maine Farm Days, August 21 and 22

August 19, 2013

For more information contact: Jessica Nixon at (207) 215-7388

Misty Meadows Farm in Clinton hosts one of Maine’s largest agricultural events

CLINTON– One of Maine’s largest agricultural events will be held this year on August 21 and 22. Maine Farm Days will take place at Misty Meadows Farm on the Hill Road in Clinton. This exciting event features activities for both farmers and non-farmers alike, and takes place between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. daily. Admission is free and open to the public.

Maine Farms Days has a wide range of agribusiness exhibits, equipment dealers, wagon tours, children’s learning center, craft tent, farmers market and educational speakers and presentations. It is a virtual cornucopia of animals, farm information, interesting people, equipment, food and entertaining displays. A chicken lunch, sponsored by Pine Tree Camp, will be served each day.

“I hope you will join me in attending and celebrating Maine Farm Day. Agriculture is a large part of Maine’s economy and our shared heritage. This is an excellent opportunity to learn how much of our food is produced and where it comes from,” said Governor Paul R. LePage.

“Farms around the state work hard every day to bring food to our tables and ensure the viability of agriculture,” Whitcomb said. “This annual event gives the public a chance to experience how farms operate and for farmers to showcase and share innovation. It all is done in a fun educational atmosphere.”

Misty Meadows Farm is owned and operated by John and Belinda Stoughton of Clinton. The farm currently ships 38,000 pounds of milk daily to Oakhurst Dairy in Portland, with an average of 87 pounds per cow for their 530 cow herd. The Stoughton’s have a total of 850 dairy animals, and manage over 900 acres of cropland to produce feed for their herd.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Public Informational Meeting on the Moosehead Lake Region Non-motorized Trails Project to be held on September 11

September 4, 2013

For more information contact: Rex Turner, Outdoor Recreation Planner at (207)-287-4920

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry’s Division of Parks and Public Lands will hold a public meeting on September 11, 2013 to seek public input on a multi-year initiative to enhance non-motorized trails in the Moosehead Lake Region. The public is invited to participate in this meeting, learn about planning that has been done to date, and share ideas on how to enhance non-motorized trails in the region. Time and Place: • 6:00-8:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 11, Greenville Town Office, 7 Minden St. Greenville.

The trail development and enhancement concepts being explored are made possible by funding and easement donations from Plum Creek, who is a partner in the initiative. As directed by the Moosehead Lake Region Concept Plan (approved by the Maine Land Use Planning Commission), one-hundred and twenty-one acres of trail easement may be located on Plum Creek’s 363,000-acre Moosehead Region Conservation Easement. Furthermore, one million dollars will be available to support trail planning, creation, and improvement on the easement lands and on Parks and Lands properties or interests in the Moosehead Lake Region. Five trailhead locations will be donated to the Division of Parks and Public Lands. Trail enhancements will be implemented over a five-year period, with construction beginning in 2014.

The exact types and locations of trails to be included in this initiative are to be determined during the planning phase; which includes the September 11 public meeting. The Concept Plan Trail Easement and Implementation Agreement serve as the foundations of the initiative and both limit trail projects to primitive, non-motorized trails available to the public. A range of non-motorized trails ranging from easy walking paths to strenuous backpacking circuits are candidates for development or improvement. Hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, canoe/kayak portaging, and wildlife/environmental observation are all potential trail activities targeted through this effort.

More information is available at: http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/programs/planning/moosehead.html

THE EASTERN STATES EXPOSITION “BIG E” STARTS NEXT WEEK

September 6, 2013

For more information contact: Jessica Nixon and John Bott at 207-215-7388, 207-287-3156

-MAINE DAY IS SEPTEMBER 28-

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) encourages people to attend “New England’s Biggest Celebration,” starting September 13 and ending September 29 in West Springfield Massachusetts. The Eastern States Exposition, also know as the “Big E,” helps develop and promote argriculture, education, industry and family entertainment while preserving New England Heritage.

The “Big E” is the largest fair in New England, with participation from all six New England states (Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hamspshire, Vermont and Maine). Each state has its own exhibition hall. The State of Maine building (built in 1925) showcases Maine foods and products, as well as features information on Maine’s many recreational and vacation opportunities.

“The ‘Big E’ is a great opportunity to highlight Maine products and what makes Maine truly special,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “I commend this year’s participants for their williness to help represent Maine.’”

The DACF oversees Maine’s participation in this annual event. DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed the importance of participating companies, organizations and state agencies. “Our exhibitors will help publicize and advertise Maine’s products and resources in agriculture, industry, fisheries, wildlife and recreation,” . “ said Whitcomb. “Fairgoers will experience a balance of educational and commercial exhibits that showcase Maine and its unique way of life. Only items that produced, grown, crafted, manufactured or significantly altered in Maine are featured in the Maine building.”

Maine Day at the “Big E” is September 28 and features a Mardi Gras parade. Governor Paul LePage, DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb and numerous state officials are scheduled to attend that day.

The “Big E” takes place every September in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Last year’s attendance set a new record, with over 1.3 million fairgoers passing through the “Big E” gates over seventeen days. More than 850,000 of the fairgoers visit the state buildings located on the Avenue of States, affording a tremendous opportunity to promote Maine and Maine products.

Maine Exhibitors:

Alan Claude – Farmingdale – Maine Lighthouse Collection Series Bartlettyarns, Inc. – Harmony – Mule Spun Wool Yarns and Finished Products - NEW Bunting Hill Arts – Buxton – Glass Bead Jewelry - NEW Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company – Topsham – Maine Lobster Rolls, Poland Spring Water Historic Pittston Farm – Pittston Academy Grant Township – Destination, Campground, Restaurant, Farm Lovell Designs – Portland – Nature Inspired Jewelry, Ornaments Maine Aquaculture Association – Hallowell – Smoked Salmon On A Stick Maine Garden Products – Friendship - Heirloom Quality Home and Garden Accessories Maine Office of Tourism – Augusta – Maine Tourism Information Maine Potato Board – Presque Isle – Maine Baked Potato Maine Wood Products Association – Belfast – Maine Wood Crafters Prospect Harbor Soap Company – Prospect Harbor– Handmade Soaps and Skincare products The Maine Highlands – Bangor – Tourism for Greater Bangor, Moosehead Lake & Mt. Katahdin Wicked Whoopies by Isamax Snacks, Inc. – Gardiner – Whoopie Pies Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine – Orono – Wild Maine Blueberry Products Woods Mountain/Rib Truck – West Manland – Barbeque, BBQ Pork Parfait

Harvest New England Day/Maine Day front lawn exhibitors:

MOFGA Gold Star Honeybee Congrčs mondial acadien Capt n’ Elis Nature is Me Wicked Joes – Offering free coffee sampling all day

For more information about the Big E, please visit http://www.thebige.com For more information on Maine’s participation in the event, contact Jessica Nixon at (207) 215-7388.

Volunteers Wanted for Landowner Appreciation Cleanup Day, Saturday, September 14

September 6, 2013

For more information contact: Jeff Currier at 207-441-2580

AUGUSTA- Landowner Appreciation Cleanup Day is September 14. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Division of Forestry is seeking volunteers for this year’s effort. Forest Rangers working in cooperation with the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM), Maine Snowmobile Association (MSA), ATV Maine, the Boy Scouts of America and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW), as well as other recreational groups, are seeking to clean up more than 100 illegal dump sites in Maine.

In other parts of the country, most undeveloped forest land is posted, and recreationists are required to pay club fees to use locations. Maine landowners have a history of sharing their forest and farm lands with responsible outdoor recreationalists. Millions of acres of working farms and forests are open to the public for enjoyment throughout the year. Unfortunately, the Maine privilege of enjoying access to private lands is threatened every time irresponsible people litter or illegally dump trash.

“Landowner Appreciation Cleanup Day is a way to say thank you to property owners for allowing Mainers and visitors access to private lands for outdoor activities, recreation and enjoyment,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Efforts like this demonstrate that most Maine people understand that public access to private lands is a special privilege to be respected and cherished, not a right.”

Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb urged outdoor enthusiasts and organizations to support the effort by volunteering their time and energy. “Department staff and our partner organizations have worked hard to make this annual effort a success,” he said. “It is also symbolic of efforts made throughout the year by people and individuals to help ensure future access to private lands by keeping them clear of trash and debris. The goal is to avoid the posting of ‘no trespassing’ signs and the installation of gates that block access to outdoor recreation.”

The Forestry staff, in cooperation with other state agencies and outdoor recreational groups, has been working with landowners to identify specific dump locations and enter them into a database to track progress on site cleanup. It will supply trucks and trash bags for the cleanup effort, but needs volunteers to help load the items. Dump sites vary from a single piece of discarded furniture, a washing machine or discarded tires to several pickup-truck loads of shingles and mattresses. To make it easier for cleanup volunteers, dozens of maps have been created that show the exact dump site locations. Cleanup volunteers who live near an illegal dump site may have to spend only a half hour or less to help clean it up.

To volunteer for this project, please contact Jeff Currier at (207) 827-1800, or the Maine Forest Service at 1-800-750-9777.

Community Forestry Grants Available

September 12, 2013

For more information contact: Jan Ames Santerre at 207-287-4987

AUGUSTA, Maine – Project Canopy, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s community forestry program, will award $100,000 in grants to local governments and municipalities, educational institutions and non-profit organizations that support community efforts to develop and maintain long-term community forestry programs.

Funded by the U.S. Forest Service, the Project Canopy grants are available in two categories: planning and education grants and tree planting and maintenance grants. The average grants range from $6,000 to $8,000 and require a 50-percent cost-share with cash or in-kind services. Since 2003, Project Canopy has awarded more than $1.4 million in funding for community forestry projects.

“This partnership increases community awareness of the benefits of our forests and trees and promotes sustainable community forest management practices,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Project Canopy also supports Maine jobs by benefiting local landscapers, nurseries, foresters and loggers.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb also highlighted the economic impact of this segment of the Maine economy and the supportive role of Project Canopy grants. “Maine’s horticulture indutry has a total economic impact of $286 million annually, and the industry supports 7,826 jobs,” said Whitcomb. “Partnerships like Project Canopy support and enhance jobs in this growing segment of Maine’s economy and overall economic growth.”

Project Canopy is a cooperative partnership between the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry’s Division of Forestry and GrowSmart Maine. It encourages communities to develop project proposals that support sustainable community forestry management, increase awareness of the benefits of trees and forests, and increase the health and livability of communities through sound tree planting and maintenance.

Project Canopy Director Jan Ames Santerre provided recent examples of community projects that can benefit from Project Canopy grants. Projects of note in 2012 include a grant of $8,100 to the Town of Yarmouth for a shade tree inventory and management plan for street trees, and two projects in Kittery ($8,000) and Brownville ($7,961) that allowed those towns to plant trees in gateway and park areas. “In addition to helping communities with general maintenance planning, these grants allow them to respond to threats from invasive pests such as the emerald ash borer. They can also support community beautification through street tree planting,” said Santerre.

The planning and education grants have a maximum award of $10,000, while the planting and maintenance grants have a maximum award of $8,000. To be eligible to apply for a 2013 assistance grant, all applicants must attend a grant workshop before submitting an application. Grant workshops will be scheduled in September and October at various locations around the state. The workshops will cover such topics as grant writing, project development, sustainable community forestry management and grant administration.

Grant applications are due by 5:00 p.m., Monday, December 2.

To learn more about the Project Canopy Assistance program and to sign up for a grant workshop in your area, contact Project Canopy Director Jan Ames Santerre at (207) 287-4987.

More information is available on the web at http://www.projectcanopy.me

Mainers Urged to Sign Up for Free Disposal of Banned, Unusable Pesticides

September 18, 2013

For more information contact: Henry Jennings at 207-287-2731

Reminder: September 27 deadline approaching

AUGUSTA—Mainers are urged to take advantage of a free opportunity to dispose of banned or unusable pesticides that they may have in their homes or elsewhere on their properties. This October, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) will team up with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to dispose of banned pesticides or pesticides that have become caked, frozen, or otherwise rendered unusable.

This free disposal program is open to homeowners, family-owned farms and greenhouses. All people need to do is register by September 27, 2013.

It’s not unusual for homes and farms to have unintentional hazardous waste—old or unusable pesticides sitting around in basements, garages, or barns. Old chemicals like DDT, lead arsenate, 2,4,5-T, and chlordane, can be difficult and expensive to dispose of properly.

While removal of these pesticides can seem daunting, it’s important for the protection of public, wildlife, and environmental health that they are dealt with properly and not thrown in the trash or down the drain, where they can contaminate land and water resources, including drinking water.

“We urge people holding these chemicals to contact us immediately to register,” said BPC Director, Henry Jennings. “There will be four sites throughout the state where participants will be able to bring their obsolete pesticides and dispose of them conveniently and at no cost.” The collected chemicals go to out-of-state disposal facilities licensed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency where they are incinerated or reprocessed.

  • Registration by September 27, 2013, is mandatory—drop-ins are not permitted. To register, get details, and learn important information about the temporary storage and transportation of obsolete pesticides, go to the BPC Web site at http://www.thinkfirstspraylast.org or call 207-287-2731.

The Maine Obsolete Pesticides Collection Program, jointly sponsored by the BPC and DEP, and paid for entirely through pesticide product registration fees, has kept more than 90 tons of pesticides out of the waste stream since its start in 1982.

Important Note to the Media: Since registration is required, please post any information from this release as soon as possible. This will allow adequate time for participants and the Board of Pesticides to process applications. Thank you for your help in getting the word out!

Coastal grants available for municipal and regional projects

September 24, 2013

For more information contact: Ruta Dzenis at (207) 287-2851

AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Municipal Planning Assistance Program announced that it is seeking applications for a new round of coastal grants for FY 2014 totaling $205,000. The grants are administered by the Maine Coastal Program, and are for municipal and regional projects in Maine’s Coastal Zone. The two types of available grants covered by this announcement include: Coastal Communities grant, and Shore and Harbor Planning grants.

Coastal Communities Grant Program

Eligible projects must be designed to improve water quality, increase resiliency/adaptation to erosion and flooding, conserve coastal habitat, promote sustainable development, and enhance the coastal-dependent economy while preserving natural coastal resources. This program is designed to address the five priority goals of the Maine Coastal Program:

-Ensuring Sustainable, Vibrant Coastal Communities -Improving Coastal Public Access -Addressing the effects of land use activity on water quality -Restoring Coastal Habitats -Preparing for coastal storms, erosion and flooding, coastal hazards

Shore and Harbor Planning Grants

Shore and Harbor Technical Assistance Grants promote: sound waterfront planning and harbor management, balanced development of shore and harbor areas, advance planning for waterfront infrastructure improvements and access to the shore. Funds may be used for development of plans for waterfront, harbor and mooring areas, development of regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to waterfront conservation and improvement, development of planning studies for public and working access, development of plans and designs for harbor improvements, and development of management plans for municipal waterfront facilities.

The Maine Coastal Program

Created in 1978, the Maine Coastal Program is a federal, state, local partnership under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 and one of 34 coastal programs nationwide. Maine’s program is a collaborative program that works in partnership with other state agencies, municipalities, regional and other organizations, with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry serving as the lead agency.

The Coastal Communities grants have a maximum award of $50,000, while the Shore and Harbor grant have a maximum award of $20,000. Those eligible to apply include towns in Maine’s coastal zone, groups of towns in Maine’s coastal zone; coastal Regional Planning Commissions; and coastal Councils of Government.

Grant applications are due by 5:00 p.m., Friday, November 1.

Program statements and examples of previously funded projects can be found at:
http://www.maine.gov/doc/commissioner/landuse/financial/index.shtml

More information about the Maine Coastal Program can be found at http://www.maine.gov/doc/nrimc/mcp/index.htm

Project Canopy Partners with Alliance for Community Trees and TD Bank to Plant Trees in the City of Auburn

September 30, 2013

For more information contact: Jan Ames Santerre at 207-287-4987

October 2013 – Auburn, Maine –Staff and volunteers from Project Canopy, the Maine Forest Service’s urban and community forestry program, will join employees from TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, and Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees) on October 2nd at Edward Little Park in Auburn, Maine to participate in TD Tree Days, a cooperative effort to plant new trees in local communities in need.

Project Canopy is a cooperative partnership between the Maine Forest Service, under the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), and GrowSmart Maine, a statewide organization that supports sustainable prosperity. Cooperation between the LePage administration and private entities make projects like this possible.

As part of TD Forests, the bank’s environmental initiative to reduce paper usage and increase protected forest habitat, TD Bank and ACTrees are partnering with multiple community organizations for TD Tree Days. The tree planting events will take place from Maine to Florida in September and October in communities and neighborhoods in need. The tree species are tolerant of tough urban conditions, provide shade, beauty, wildlife habitat, and help with environmental issues such as storm water retention and more.

“We are very grateful to TD Bank for its investment of time and resources in improving the City of Auburn,” Santerre said. “This is a tremendous example of how the state can partner with private corporations for public good, a concept that is a touchstone of the LePage administration.”

Volunteers will plant 38 trees at Edward Little Park and its surroundings, which need new trees for shade; air, water and noise buffering; traffic calming; and soil erosion. The trees also will add beauty and four-season interest to an otherwise hard gray landscape.

“TD Bank and our employees are proud to partner with the City of Auburn, Project Canopy and ACTrees to create greener open spaces in Auburn said Diana Glassman, Vice President and Head of Environmental Affairs for TD Bank. “As an environmental leader, TD Bank focuses on areas where we can make the most impact and strengthen the physical and human fabric of our communities. We are thrilled that so many volunteers will be providing support for our local parks and opens spaces where we live and work.”

“People understand instinctively that trees are vital to communities,” says Carrie Gallagher, ACTrees Executive Director. “They clean and filter the air, provide shade for streets and parks, and help to manage stormwater and water pollution. Our partnership with TD Bank is helping more people and places get the many benefits of trees.”

TD Tree Days events will take place beginning in late September and continuing through October 2013 during ACTrees’ National NeighborWoods® Month (www.NeighborWoods.org) in: Alexandria, Va.; Auburn, Maine; Bronx, N.Y.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Camden, N.J.; Collingdale, Pa.; Columbia, S.C.; Gainesville, Fla.; Greenville, SC; Jacksonville, Fla.; Manhattan, N.Y.; Providence, R.I.; Pt. Pleasant, N.J.; Queens, N.Y.; Springfield, Mass.; Staten Island, N.Y.; Tampa, Fla.; and Wilmington, Del.

Follow TD Tree Days on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/TDBank_US #TDTreeDays and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TDMoneyLoungeUS

For more information about Project Canopy, go to: http://www.projectcanopy.me

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

About Alliance for Community Trees Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and livability of cities by planting and caring for trees. With over 200 member and partner organizations in 44 states and Canada, ACTrees engages volunteers to take action to improve the environment where 93% of people live: in cities, towns, and metropolitan areas. Together, ACTrees member organizations have planted and cared for more than 15 million trees with help from over 5 million volunteers. Learn more about ACTrees, its mission, and its member organizations at http://www.ACTrees.org and follow us on Twitter @alliance4trees.

About TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank® TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 8 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at approximately 1,300 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In addition, TD Bank and its subsidiaries offer customized private banking and wealth management services through TD Wealth®, and vehicle financing and dealer commercial services through TD Auto Finance. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J. To learn more, visit http://www.tdbank.com. Find TD Bank on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TDBank and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TDBank_US.

TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, is a member of TD Bank Group and a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto, Canada, a top 10 financial services company in North America. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the ticker symbol "TD." To learn more, visit http://www.td.com

Most Maine State Parks Open through Columbus Day

October 3, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA, ME - Most State Parks are still open for camping through Columbus Day. Two state parks are closed to camping for the season. Cobscook Bay State Park is closed due to the federal government shutdown.

“Despite the temporary closure of Acadia National Park, Maine is still open for tourism,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The shutdown of the federal government is a result of the failure of leadership in Washington, and it does not impact our state parks or historic sites. While Cobscook Bay State Park is closed due to the federal government shutdown and two are closed for the season, all the rest of our state parks are still open for business.”

Maine State Parks still open for camping through Columbus Day:

Lily Bay – Greenville Lamoine - Lamoine Lake St. George – Liberty Aroostook- Presque Isle Camden Hills - Camden Sebago – Naples Bradbury Mountain – Pownal Rangeley Lakes - Rangeley Mt. Blue – Weld

Closed to camping for the season:

Warren Island - Islesboro Peaks Kenny - Dover Foxcroft

Cobscook Bay State park is closed due to federal government shutdown

For more information on Maine State Parks, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/

Governor LePage urges support for Hunters for the Hungry Program

November 4, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Program connects hunters with food pantries and soup kitchens across the state

AUGUSTA – With hunting season underway, Governor Paul R. LePage urges Maine hunters to consider supporting the Hunters for the Hungry Program by donating all or part of their harvest to feed families in need. The popular program provides a means for hunters in Maine, as well as other states, to donate to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households with a medical need.

“The Hunters for the Hungry Program is a way that Maine hunters can pursue a sport they love and help their neighbors at the same time,” said Governor LePage. “The fact that this program has grown so steadily is both a testament to the need and the generosity of Mainers.”.

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted that since its establishment in 1996, the Hunters for the Hungry Program has grown steadily and provided thousands of nutritious meals to hungry people across the state.

“I can’t say enough about the role Maine sportsmen and women play in helping provide nutritious meals to hungry people across Maine. The Department is working to help build awareness of the great need for additional supporters and contributions that feed Maine families. Every day the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry brings citizens throughout Maine together in so many ways, and this is one of them,” said Whitcomb.

The Hunters for the Hungry Program is part of the Department’s Emergency Food Assistance Program. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry distributes donations to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households with a medical need. It is done in cooperation with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s wardens, Maine State Troopers and caring hunters, are all working towards a common goal of helping fellow Mainers.

The program accepts bear, deer and moose donations. Road kill donations are also accepted, provided the meat is not damaged. Hunters do not pay for the processing of donated meat. Meat processing costs are paid for by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry or the charity that receives the food. Hunters choosing to keep their game can still donate a few pounds to the program. Meat processors that are interested in getting involved with the program and learning how it works should call 207-287-7513.

For more information, to donate, or to get connected to a Hunters for the Hungry participating meat processor call toll free, 1-888-4DEERME (1-888-433-3763). The program also has a Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maine-Hunters-for-the-Hungry/197411763763406?hc_location=stream

For more information about The Emergency Food Assistance Program:

http://www.maine.gov/agriculture/co/tefap/countysearch.html

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Wreath and Tree Shippers Should Be Aware of Out-of-State Plant Regulations

November 19, 2013

For more information contact: Sarah Scally at 207-287-3891

DACF pre-holiday announcement designed to help businesses save money and lost products

AUGUSTA – Maine decorative-plant shippers who are sending Christmas trees and wreaths around the country for the holiday season can save money and lost products by noting important regulations enforced by other states, according to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF). The Department promotes and assists natural resource-based Maine businesses, and is seeking to help educate shippers and spread the word in advance of the holiday season.

“Shippers should be especially aware this year of the many state laws and regulations regarding the movement of plants and forest products,” warned Ann Gibbs, Maine state horticulturist. “Many states, including Maine, closely monitor shipments to prevent infestation by invasive insects and the spread of plant diseases. Planning ahead benefits Maine shippers by speeding along deliveries in this time-sensitive industry,” said Gibbs.

DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed the importance of working to educate shippers in advance of the holidays to avoid or reduce shipping delays. “Governor Paul R. LePage has made support for natural resource job creators a hallmark of his administration. Maine forests have contributed to the holiday spirit across America for generations. The DACF supports and enhances that tradition and further development of Maine’s natural resource economy,” said Whitcomb.

DACF staff offer wreath and tree shippers the following advice:

  • Check out-of-state orders in advance, especially those headed to California, to make sure they don’t have insect damage on the needles.
  • Import regulations can vary from state to state, shippers should check them out beforehand.
  • Distributors should identify their products clearly through labeling, beginning with the statement, “Grown in Maine,” followed by the county of origin and the name and address of the shipper.
  • Labels should indicate the contents of packages, including the different types of greenery, nuts, fruits and cones used to decorate wreaths.

“Import requirements for cut trees, wreaths with ornamental nuts and fruit arrangements exist to protect regional agriculture or other commodities from the risk of plant pests,” Gibbs explained. Unfortunately, despite the quality of Maine products, some shippers have learned about these regulations the hard way and have had shipments delayed, impounded and occasionally destroyed. We want to prevent any losses by getting the word out now,” said Gibbs.

An informational sheet, “Know State Regulations When shipping Wreaths and Trees,” is available on the web at http://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/horticulture/wreaths.htm

Shippers with questions are also invited to call: (207) 287-3891 or email sarah.h.scally@maine.gov

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Winter Camping in the Allagash

December 6, 2013

For more information contact: Kevin Brown at (207) 435-7963

Winter Campground Registration Opens December 14

AUGUSTA -- The Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) will begin taking winter camping registrations December 14. Part of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands, the AWW is a 92-mile-long ribbon of lakes, lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams that wind through northern Maine's vast forests. The AWW will make a total of 48 camp sites available at Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook.

The camp sites will be allotted on a first-come, first-served basis until the campground capacity is reached. Registration for the campgrounds will take place:

8 a.m., Saturday, December 14, at the Chamberlain Bridge ranger station.

“These unique winter campsites offer extraordinary access to some great winter ice fishing,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “We have visitors who return year after year to enjoy the beauty, camaraderie and winter sport that this part of Maine offers.”

DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted that winter camping in the Allagash is just one of many outdoor recreational opportunities available at Maine parks and lands this winter. “Our “Take it Outside” program encourages Maine's children and families to reconnect with nature, promote health, and have fun in the great Maine outdoors. Some activities to look for in the coming months include: cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, nature walks, and guided hikes on New Year’s Day,” said Whitcomb.

Matthew LaRoche, AWW superintendent, anticipates renting out most of the 48 available campsites by noon on the first day of registration. To be sure of getting a site, the AWW superintendent suggests that campers arrive at Chamberlain Bridge before 8 a.m. on December 14.

Camp sites are available for a rental fee of $50 per month, plus 8-percent meal and lodging tax. Eight sites are reserved in the parking lot for transient use at the regular camping fee of $4 per person per night for Maine residents and $8 for nonresidents. The water access campsites on the lakes are available for use in the winter as well as summer; the same fees apply to these sites.

The AWW provides: public drinking water, vault toilets, and snow plowing at the Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook winter campgrounds. A groomed snowmobile trail is marked from the parking lot to the south end of Chamberlain Lake and to Round Pond/Telos lakes.

For more information on Maine state parks, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/index.shtml

For more information on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, call (207) 941-4014.

Or contact: Allagash Wilderness Waterway PO Box 1107 Greenville, ME 04441

Coastal Community Planning Grants Awarded

December 11, 2013

For more information contact: Elizabeth Hertz, Director at 207-287-8061

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) announces that six coastal projects will be awarded $150,305 under its Municipal Planning Assistance Program. Administered by the DACF’s Maine Coastal Program, the awards will provide support for coastal habitat restoration, coastal hazards resilience, and invasive species removal.

The grants are made possible from Maine’s federal coastal management award from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The grant program is an important component of the DACF Coastal Program work program, which includes coastal regional and local planning elements administered through the DACF Municipal Planning and Assistance Program. All of the projects include collaboration and partnerships and each grantee will provide a minimum of 25% in matching funds or services.

“The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is a partner with many communities in their local mitigation efforts,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Our Maine Coastal Program Grants help communities address natural resource concerns including habitat restoration, storm surge, and, in the case of the Brunswick project, the threat invasive green crabs pose to commercial fisheries.”

Grants were awarded as follows:

1 City of Augusta: $15,863 for the Final Design of Restoring a Historical Alewife Run of Significance to the Lower Kennebec in partnership with the Worromontogus Lake Association, Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, Maine Department of Marine Resources and the NOAA Restoration Center.

The project will re-establish alewife access to the Togus Stream lake system upstream of the Lower Togus Pond Dam. Construction of a fishway at the dam ranks as one of the highest priority fish passage projects in the Lower Kennebec Watershed. This grant will fund the engineering to position the project for construction. Work will include volunteer fish passage counts, environmental monitoring, fishway engineering designs and permitting for the construction phase of the project.

2 Town of Bristol: $14,250 for Citizen Science and Engineering to Plan the Restoration of Pemaquid River Alewife in partnership with the Bristol Fish Committee, Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, Maine DMR, and NOAA Restoration Center.

The project will reestablish unhindered alewife access through the Bristol Mills Dam Fishway and into the Pemaquid River chain of lakes. The large amount of upstream habitat blocked by the dam makes this project one of highest priority alewife restoration efforts in Maine. This project will include volunteers engaged as citizen scientists. This grant will provide funds for engineering designs and regulatory permitting for improvements to the fishway.

3 Town of Brunswick $38,625 for a Community Project to Remove Invasive European Green crabs from Buttermilk and Woodward Coves in partnership with Brunswick High School Office of Service Learning and Community Outreach and Resource Access International

Municipal government, private sector scientists, commercial shellfish harvesters, and local students will partner to deploy predator fencing and traps in Buttermilk and Woodward Coves in Brunswick, with the goal of reducing the numbers of invasive European green crabs in these critical habitat areas. European green crab destruction of intertidal areas in Brunswick is impacting important wading bird and finfish/shellfish nursery habitat, as well as destroying commercially valuable native shellfish species. Economic impacts on the coastal community are imminent as a result of green crab damage This project will help determine the feasibility of reducing green crab numbers in sheltered coves along the Maine coast.

4 Town of Woolwich: $30,262 for Nequasset Fishway Construction Material In partnership with the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Woolwich Fish Commission, and Bath Water Commission

This community supported habitat restoration project is the final step to rebuild a 58 year old concrete pool and weir style fish ladder on one of the top alewife runs in Maine. Award of this proposal will close the funding gap by paying for building materials, ensuring summer 2014 construction of a new fish ladder at Nequasset Brook in Woolwich.

5 Town of Damariscotta: $20,000 for Downtown Damariscotta Coastal Hazards Preliminary Engineering Study in partnership with Lincoln County and the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission.

The Town of Damariscotta, in cooperation with the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission (LCRPC) will retain an engineering consultant to evaluate options for protecting the downtown from flooding, storm surges and rising seas. The LCRPC and the Maine Geological Survey (MGS) completed a Coastal Hazards-Sea Level Rise impact study of Lincoln County’s 450 miles of tidal shoreline in 2013 utilizing funding from the Coastal Communities grant program. The results of this study indicated that Damariscotta is the most significantly impacted coastal village in the Lincoln County.

6 Washington County Council of Governments: $26,0000 for Working Waterfronts Preparing for Climate Change in partnership with the University of Maine Machias GIS Service Center and Laboratory and the Towns of Milbridge, Jonesport, Machiasport, Cutler, Lubec and Eastport.

This project will add working waterfront wharves and piers as a specific asset to climate vulnerability assessments in six Washington County towns. These communities are the most significant working harbors in Washington County, in terms of numbers of boats, infrastructure, and population dependent on waterfronts to make a living. This project will give municipal leaders and those dependent on working waterfront infrastructure information required to assess the vulnerability of that infrastructure to rising sea levels as well as higher frequency of and intensity storm events.

This is the fourth round of the Coastal Community Grant Program. Since 2012, 25 grants have been awarded for a total of $629,042.

More information on the grant program can be found at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/municipalplanning/index.shtml

Land for Maine’s Future Board Issues Call for New Proposals

December 17, 2013

For more information contact: Ed Meadows at (207) 287-7576

AUGUSTA - The Land for Maine’s Future Board announces a Call for Proposals for land conservation projects using funding from approximately $10.4 million in Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) bonds approved by Maine voters.

Projects will be funded in the following categories:

  • Conservation and recreational lands
  • Farmland protection
  • Working Waterfront access protection
  • Public access to Maine Waters, for boating, fishing and swimming

Proposals will be accepted by the LMF program until 5:00 PM, March 28, 2014.

LMF Board Chair William Vail of Saco said “It is exciting to begin a new round of conservation projects because they are good for Maine. We encourage proposals to increase public access to our State's remarkable public resources and projects that will open the door for the people of Maine to experience the very best of our outdoor heritage.”

Walter E. Whitcomb, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and a member of the LMF Board, said “We are pleased these funds are available to invest in outdoor recreation, conservation, working forests, farms and waterfront access protection. The local projects funded through these bonds support our vital natural resource industries, and sustainable jobs.”

Eligible applicants include state agencies, non-profit land conservation organizations, counties, cities and towns.

Proposals that seek to protect Deer Wintering Areas will receive priority consideration in scoring. These are habitat areas that provide shelter and food for white-tailed deer during months of severe cold and deep snow. This new emphasis on deer habitat originated in the statute which authorized the bond approved by voters in 2012.

At its November 19 meeting, the Board adopted guidelines for organizations seeking LMF funding. Applicants are encouraged to read the “Proposal Workbook,” which provides detailed instructions on how proposals should be submitted and will be evaluated. The revised 2013 Workbook is posted on the LMF website at http:www.maine.gov/dacf/lmf

All conservation, recreation, farmland protection and water access proposals must be sponsored by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife or the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

Projects in the category of “conservation and recreational lands” are divided into three sub-categories: statewide, regional, or local significance. Regional and local projects may be held by local units of government or non-profit land conservation organizations.

Proposals for Working Waterfront Protection projects will be solicited by the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) in early 2014. The LMF Board administers the Working Waterfront Program jointly with the DMR.

Legislation requires a matching contribution of funds of at least $1 for each $1 of LMF funding, with matching funds from other sources such as federal grants or private donations.

Additional information will be updated on the LMF website http://www.maine.gov/dacf/lmf

The LMF program works with citizens, land trusts, businesses, municipalities, nonprofit organizations, and federal and state agencies to identify special lands to accomplish the State's goals for resource conservation and protection of working forests, farms and waterfronts. The program is administered by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and is supported by bonds approved by Maine voters.

For information contact: Ed Meadows, Land for Maine’s Future, ed.meadows@maine.gov , 207-287-7576

Healthy Pets, Happy Owners

December 18, 2013

For more information contact: Michele Walsh, State Veterinarian at (207) 287-7615

Helpful tips from the State Veterinarian

AUGUSTA - The holiday season is a popular time for Maine families to consider the addition of a new pet to the brood. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Division of Animal and Plant Health urges Mainers to take the time and care worthy of this significant and potentially joyful step when considering obtaining a new dog or cat.

“Healthy pets make happy owners. We want all Mainers to have a positive experience adopting a new family member,” noted Maine State Veterinarian, Dr. Michele Walsh. “Obtaining a pet is a significant emotional and economic commitment. Taking a few additional steps up front will help ensure that a new pet is healthy and well-adjusted, and can prevent disappointment down the road.”

By doing some important but basic research ahead of time, Mainers can help ensure the animal they are adopting is healthy and the animal organization with which they are working is compliant with Maine laws designed to protect consumers. Paying close attention to these details can increase the likelihood that new pets will bring many years of enjoyment to Maine families.

Cautionary Tale:

At the end of September, a stray puppy brokered by an out-of-state rescue organization was adopted by a Vermont family. Shortly after the adoption, the puppy began exhibiting signs consistent with rabies and was ultimately euthanized and tested for the disease. The pup tested positive for rabies, and more than 15 people exposed to her received rabies post-exposure treatment. This situation, while unusual, underscores the importance of exercising due diligence and dealing with reputable sources when obtaining a new pet.

Fortunately, many groups – including local humane societies, shelters, rescue organizations and breeders - do wonderful work with animals and provide excellent opportunities to meet and learn about potential new pets prior to taking them home. Interacting with animals on-site prior to adoption gives families a chance to learn about any special behavioral or health requirements the animal might have, and obtain a copy of the animal’s vaccination and health records. Reputable groups work closely with licensed veterinarians who assess the health of the animals in the facility, treat any medical issues, and may spay or neuter new arrivals before they are made available for adoption.

Dr. Walsh recommends the following tips when adopting a new pet:

  1. Work with a reputable local humane society whenever possible
  2. Meet with the pet prior to adopting to ensure that its behavior and demeanor are a good match for your family
  3. Obtain a copy of the animal’s medical record, vaccination history, and Certificate of Veterinary Inspection
  4. Ensure that the dog or cat is vaccinated for rabies if it is three months of age or older
  5. If working with a rescue organization, ensure that it is properly registered and licensed in the state of Maine and in the state where the business is based, and/or with USDA Animal Care.

Mainers can contact the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Animal Health office at (207)287-3701 for more information on which animal rescue and breeding organizations are appropriately registered or visit the Animal Health section of the DACF website http://www.maine.gov/dacf/ahw/animal_health/index.shtml for more information on this topic.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

FDA rethinks new farm-based safety rules

December 20, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at (207) 287-3156

State officials pleased that Maine voices were heard

AUGUSTA – State officials applauded the decision of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reevaluate the new food safety rules impacting farmers in Maine. They also thanked Maine producers for speaking up about the potential impact of the rules and Maine’s congressional delegation for calling for public input.

“The FDA decision to revisit water quality standards and testing, in particular, is a welcome development and an acknowledgement that the voices of Maine producers have been heard,” said Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Before the FDA listening tour, the proposed rules were headed in a direction that was not helpful to local producers. Particular thanks go to the farmers and producers who made their voices heard at the DACF hosted FDA listening session in August, through the public comment process, and to Maine’s congressional delegation for calling for greater public input.”

Governor Paul R. LePage stressed the importance of having federal agencies be responsive to the needs of local farmers and producers and not imposing one-size-fits-all regulations that restrict job growth and economic development unnecessarily. “This is a case where Maine citizens and their elected representatives worked together to ensure that our voices were heard at the federal level. I commend Commissioner Whitcomb and the DACF for studying the law, the proposed rules, and then working at all levels to help bring about the FDA listening session in Maine. There is no reason why the FDA can’t develop a reasonable food safety program that also recognizes the importance of small farms in Maine and across the country.”

On August 19, 2013, the DACF’s Division of Quality Assurance & Regulations held a listening session on the proposed FDA produce safety. Produce growers and packers attended to learn more about the federal government’s proposed food safety rule and express their concerns at the Augusta State Armory. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed in January 2011 represents the most comprehensive reform of food regulation in more than 70 years. A key component of the FSMA is a mandate to shift food safety efforts from reaction to prevention.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

State Foresters offer tips for dealing with storm damaged trees

December 27, 2013

For more information contact: Jan Santerre at 207-287-4987

AUGUSTA - The recent ice storm caused substantial damage across Maine. After heat, power, and other utilities have been restored, property owners will be faced with the issue of what to do with ice-covered trees. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF)’s Bureau of Forestry offers several tips and helpful guidance to property owners faced with question about what to do with ice-covered trees, limbs and branches.

  • Trees and branches on homes and around power lines- Homeowners obviously need to find immediate solutions for trees and branches on their homes. Branches and trees on power lines should be dealt with by calling local power companies. Even if a hanging limb is clear of power and utility wires, homeowners should assess the severity of the damage before trying to repair or remove the branch.

  • Trees covered with ice - Make a potentially dangerous situation even more so. Do not work around limbs that have broken off (or partially broken off) and are hung up in a tree crown. These can break off at any time with devastating force. Contact a licensed and insured arborist.

  • Injured trees requiring climbing or chainsaw work - Call a licensed arborist for help. Arborists are tree-care professionals who are trained to assess and correct storm damaged trees. They also have the experience needed to diagnose how much of a tree can or should be saved. Homeowners should be wary of those offering fly-by-night, emergency tree-cutting services.

Advice for trees that do not pose a threat:

  • Wait until the ice has melted to perform tree work. Do not try to remove it by shaking branches free. In most cases the safest course of action is to let nature take its course. Attempting to remove it while it is still covered with ice can cause more damage and breakage than leaving it alone. Ice accumulation is hardest on broad-leaved, deciduous trees, especially ones that had a defect.

  • Bent over trees, particularly birches, will often recover once the ice melts.

A list of licensed arborists that can be found at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/arborist/ArboristList.shtml

The DACF’s Bureau of Forestry provides technical expertise on topics such as new tree planting and tree maintenance through Project Canopy, a cooperative effort of the Maine Forest Service and GrowSmart Maine.

For more information, call the Maine Forest Service toll-free at: 1-800-367-0223 or go to: http://www.maineforestservice.gov

Recreational Lodging Industry Supported

December 30, 2013

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Changes promote small business and outdoor recreation

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) has announced rule revisions that will enhance and expand recreational lodging opportunities in Maine’s vast unorganized territories. The revised rules provide those in the recreational lodging industry greater flexibility, with the goal of allowing them to deliver the services customers demand and better compete in the marketplace, while protecting natural resources.

The Commission worked with stakeholder groups to respond to changes in the marketplace, consumer demand and the need to ensure that the unique natural characteristics of the unorganized areas will be there for future generations. “These rule revisions are an example of how Maine state government supports job growth in our natural resource economy in a responsible way," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "This initiative allows operators flexibility in deciding how best to operate their recreational lodging businesses. It will also create more jobs, where they’re very much needed, in rural areas of the State."

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed the importance of customer service and his Department’s commitment to job growth. “This initiative is one of the ways that state government is now being responsive to the needs of job creators. These rule revisions are the product of a thoughtful, collaborative process that recognizes trends in the recreational lodging industry and addresses them without sacrificing the natural characteristics we are there to enjoy,” said Whitcomb. “The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will continue to pursue opportunities so that Maine can prosper and realize its full natural resource potential.”

RULE REVISIONS:

Over the past two years Maine Land Use Planning Commission ("Commission") has been working with stakeholders to understand changing market demands for recreational lodging services and identify ways in which the regulatory structure can be improved to encourage well-sited recreation businesses. Based on stakeholder feedback, ideas, and concerns the Commission recently adopted a comprehensive revision of its rules in a number of ways that address a majority of the known issues regarding recreational lodging.

This initiative evolved from a recognition that the Land Use Planning Commission’s regulations affecting sporting camps, rental cabins, and recreational lodging facilities more generally were in need of updating. For example, the square footage limitation on sporting camps, which at one time was developed in conjunction with sporting camp owners, no longer was large enough to allow these facilities to provide the types of amenities needed to compete in today’s market place. Instead of a group of guys heading to a sporting camp and all bunking together, families and husbands and wives want to visit these facilities but not necessarily all bunk together.

RESOURCES & DESCRIPTIONS:

Detailed information on the rule revisions is available at:

http://www.maine.gov/dacf/lupc/projects/recreationallodging/recreationallodging.shtml

WHAT NEXT?

LUPC staff are now working to implement the new rules so that facility owners and operators can take advantage of the greater flexibility and benefits that they provide. Staff will be reaching out to facility owners in the coming months in order to offer assistance and identify aspects of importance to recreational lodging businesses. During this transition phase, staff will also be revising application forms and undertaking staff initiated rezonings.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Maine Agricultural Trades Show to be held January 7–9, 2014

January 4, 2014

For more information contact: Jessica Nixon at (207) 287-3494

A 3-day event highlighting Maine agriculture

AUGUSTA—The 73rd Annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show will be held Tuesday, January 7, through Thursday, January 9, 2014, at the Augusta Civic Center. Hosted by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, the show will feature dozens of lectures, demonstrations, and meetings involving some 40 major agricultural organizations, as well as over 110 exhibits featuring the newest in agricultural products, equipment, and services. One of the state’s largest agricultural exhibitions, the event is expected to draw more than 5,000 people from around the state over the course of three days.

The annual show features several new offerings for attendees, in addition to a wide variety of presentations covering topics such as farm energy options, small woodlot issues, nutrient management, and how to become a licensed cheese maker. This year’s new additions include: Cooking with Maine Agriculture, featuring local Maine food and Chefs; Youth Day, involvement with agriculture in special drawings, activities, and learning; a Giant Pumpkin Growers Forum; and Young Farmers Networking.

Governor Paul R. LePage will be on hand Tuesday for the Trades Show opening, in recognition of the importance of Maine agriculture to the economy and potential for new job creation. The Governor will also join Commissioner Walt Whitcomb in publicly recognizing this year’s recipient of the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award.

“Maine agriculture has been increasing its contribution to the Maine economy in terms of the number of farms and the market value of agricultural products sold,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Its potential is even greater when you consider the growing interest in locally grown foods and the quality of Maine products. The Trades Show is also an opportunity to talk about how Maine’s agriculture, conservation and forest agency is more efficiently and effectively delivering more services and promoting growth in Maine’s natural resource economy.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed that this year’s show will update Maine’s agricultural community and consumers on steps the Department has taken to better serve Maine agriculture, conservation and foresty interests. This includes drawing attention to the Department’s new website.

“Maine’s largest natural resource agency is embracing the future with great optimism regarding the potential for the growth of agriculture, forestry and Maine made products in general,” said Whitcomb. “Maine’s natural resource industry generates over a billion dollars in economic benefits and employs thousands of people growing, transporting, processing, and marketing of the widest array of fresh produce in the Northeast. Our annual Trades Show embodies the concept that locally grown food supports healthy lifestyles and highlights the uniqueness of Maine products.”

The show also provides opportunities for growers, pesticide applicators, and dealers to get up to speed on the latest developments in pest management and earn credits required for pesticide license recertification. The Maine Board of Pesticides Control will also be on hand to discuss basic safety training.

Whether a visitor is a farmer, hobbyist, educator, or supplier, this three-day event has something for everyone. It provides an atmosphere for attendees to walk through, observe, and educate themselves about the different areas of agriculture, and furnishes a showplace for farmers and producers to come and see the most up-to date-farm equipment and farming needs. The show offers a wealth of knowledge for non-farmers to learn about agriculture, and is a great opportunity to learn how Maine-grown food is harvested and processed.

Show hours will be:

  • Tuesday, January 7, 9:00 am–5:00 pm
  • Wednesday, January 8, 9:00 am–8:00 pm
  • Thursday, January 9, 9:00 am–3:00 pm

Admission is free admission and open to the public.

The complete program and schedule are available at: http://www.getrealmaine.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Maine Agricultural Entrepreneurs honored at Agricultural Trades Show

January 7, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Ralph and Lisa Turner of Laughing Stock Farm receive Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award

AUGUSTA—Governor Paul R. LePage was on hand as Commissioner Walt Whitcomb presented the 2014 Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award to Ralph and Lisa Turner of Freeport, Maine. The annual award has been given since 2001, in recognition of notable contributions to Maine agriculture. The Turners were honored at the Commissioner’s luncheon held Tuesday, January 7 during the Maine Agricultural Trades Show.

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner (DACF) Walt Whitcomb was joined by Governor Paul R. LePage in conveying the award to the surprise of the Turners.

“The Turners articulated very clearly the concerns of Maine food producers to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the DACF-hosted listening session on the proposed food safety rule last summer,” said Governor LePage. “Their willingness to help educate the FDA concerning the negative impact of one-size-fits-all federal rules on Maine’s agricultural community is greatly appreciated.”

“As a farm operating team, Ralph and Lisa Turner challenge conventional wisdom, while putting their experimental urges and engineering skills on full display for the rest of us to study,” said Whitcomb. “Today we thank them for channeling their outspoken energy into a greater public understanding that sustainable locally grown, nutritious and safe food occurs when a farm survives as a business.”

Ralph and Lisa Turner of Laughing Stock Farm:

The Turners have been very involved in Maine Agriculture since 1997, as well as being registered engineers. They are graduates of the University of Maine; Ralph as a Mechanical Engineer and Lisa as a Civil Engineer. In addition, Lisa has a degree in Soil Science and Ralph in Business Administration.

Lisa has been the key mover and shaker for the year-round vegetable and flower farm operation. Farming since purchasing the property in 1984, Lisa and Ralph started the commercial scale Laughing Stock Farm in 1997. They first built the soil back to health on their 12 acres.

The Turners have mastered four season growing with the addition of 15,000 square feet of greenhouses. They have added irrigation to the fields and built a state-of-the -art walk-in cooler to assure that the product is beautiful in the field and stays that way from the time it’s harvested and packaged until it’s delivered. They sell a variety of vegetables wholesale and retail in the Portland area and have a vibrant CSA membership of families. The farm currently employs 8 full-time seasonal employees to assist in the work on the farm.
The mission of Ralph and Lisa Turner’s Laughing Stock Farm is to provide the freshest, best tasting farm products at reasonable prices to their customers, the people who live in their community.

Maine Agricultural Trades Show:

The 73rd Annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show takes place Tuesday, January 7, through Thursday, January 9, 2014, at the Augusta Civic Center. Hosted by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, the show will feature dozens of lectures, demonstrations, and meetings involving some 40 major agricultural organizations, as well as over 110 exhibits featuring the newest in agricultural products, equipment, and services. One of the state’s largest agricultural exhibitions, the event is expected to draw more than 5,000 people from around the state over the course of three days.

Show hours will be:

  • Tuesday, January 7, 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Wednesday, January 8, 9:00 AM–8:00 PM
  • Thursday, January 9, 9:00 AM–3:00 PM

Admission is free admission and open to the public.

The complete program and schedule are available at: http://www.getrealmaine.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

2014 Shore and Harbor Planning Grants Awarded

January 10, 2014

For more information contact: Matt Nixon, Maine Coastal Program at (207) 287-1491

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Coastal Program announces that six coastal municipalities will be awarded $85,668 in Shore and Harbor Planning grants. These awards will provide planning and design support for harbor management, infrastructure and public access along the Maine coast.

The grants are made possible by Maine’s federal coastal management award from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The grant program, an important component of the Maine Coastal Program, balances the development and conservation of Maine’s coastal zone by providing technical assistance to coastal municipalities for planning and public access. Each grantee will provide a minimum of 25% in matching funds or services.

“Commercial and public access to Maine’s coastline is important for fisherman, businesses that rely on tourism and public enjoyment of our natural resources,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “These projects will promote local access and economic activity along the Maine coast.”

“The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is a partner with many communities in their efforts to improve coastal access for commercial and recreational users,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Our Maine Coastal Program Grants help provide communities with technical assistance, infrastructure design and expanded access to Maine’s coastal resources.”

Grants were awarded as follows:

  1. Town of Wiscasset: $20,000 for the design of the Wiscasset Waterfront Boardwalk. The town of Wiscasset will use this funding to create a Riverfront Boardwalk from the Commercial Pier to Route 1 along the Sheepscot River, thereby providing full pedestrian linkage between all waterfront access points in the village, while also expanding opportunities for sustainable ecotourism with greater access to the coastline.

  2. Town of Eliot: $15,200 for developing a plan to improve access to the Piscataqua River in two different locations: Park Street and Pleasant Street. The town will develop a plan to improve public access for both properties using a land scape architect, an engineer, and through the solicitation of substantial public feedback.

  3. Town of Kittery: $20,000 for the design of a wave protection system in Pepperell Cove. The town will solicit bids for engineering work that will in turn investigate the placement of wave attenuation devices in an effort to more effectively protect the Pepperell Cove mooring fields and associated waterfront infrastructure.

  4. Town of Rockland: $6,000 for engineer planning to facilitate the improvement of the existing boat ramp at Snow Marine Park. This access point is used by recreational and commercial fishermen from across Midcoast Maine. It is also one terminus of Rockland’s Harbor Trail providing a pedestrian connection to downtown Rockland.

  5. Town of Lubec: $12,000 for the design of the Lubec gangway and seasonal dock facility. The project will improve public water access by adding an additional ADA approved gangway, two dedicated transient moorings and a seasonal floating dock system at the former Lubec Marina in Lubec. The funds will cover planning, engineering and materials for this project. Recreational boaters, commercial fishermen and passenger vessels compete for limited access to the Lubec waterfront. This project will increase the desirability of Lubec and the surrounding communities as a tourist destination.

  6. Towns of Perry/Pembroke: $12,468 for the development of a mooring plan and improvements to public access. The towns of Perry and Pembroke propose to cooperate in the preparation (Perry) and update (Pembroke) of a mooring ordinance for each community. The Town of Pembroke proposes to prepare a mooring plan including a GIS map of mooring sites, remove inappropriate mooring materials from past practices, and install 3-4 town-owned moorings within the newly defined mooring area. The Town of Perry proposes to investigate the status of municipal title and rights of way to Stickney Beach from the Shore Road.

This is the eighth round of Shore and Harbor Planning Grant solicitations. Since 2006, 55 grants have been awarded for a total of $714,710.

More information on the grant program can be found at http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mcp/grants/shore-and-harbor-planning-grants.html

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Land for Maine's Future Program Names New Director

January 16, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA— The Land for Maine's Future (LMF) Program has announced that after a thorough search and selection process it has named Ed Meadows as its new Director, effective January 6.

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Bureau Director Robert Marvinney made the announcement. "I am pleased to announce that Ed Meadows has been selected as the Director of the Land for Maine's Future Program. We had many qualified candidates, but Ed's experience managing programs, working with citizen boards, enthusiasm for conservation, and his knowledge of appraising and conserving land uniquely position him to be LMF Director. We are pleased to have a strong leader at this important time as the program begins the release of new bond funds for land conservation.”

"Our ACF Department has finished the legislatively directed process of adding LMF to the Bureau of Resource Information and Land Use Planning,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Under the able oversight of Director Robert Marvinney, and with the selection of program director Meadows, the Land for Maine’s Future program is well prepared with updated project selection criteria for the upcoming round of bond funding."

Upon learning of his selection, Ed Meadows stated "I am honored to be chosen for this position, leading a program that is hugely popular with Maine citizens, conserving important natural resources so vital to our state’s heritage of forestry, farming, hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation. I look forward to working with the LMF Board and our partners to protect the best of Maine's natural resources and water access sites for future use and enjoyment by Maine people and visitors to our state.”

Mr. Meadows has served as acting LMF Director since November 2012. After beginning his career in Maine, Mr. Meadows worked for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on land conservation and administration of Michigan’s five million acres of state owned land. As Manager of Real Estate Services he was responsible for land acquisitions, appraisals, negotiations, land exchanges, sale of surplus land, easements and leases. He is a former member of the LMF Board, and as Director of the Maine Bureau of Public Lands, was the state’s chief negotiator for LMF acquisitions.

Land for Maine’s Future Program:

Established in 1987 by referendum, the LMF program administers funds to acquire land for conservation, water access, outdoor recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, farmland preservation, archaeological sites and working waterfronts. The program is administered by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

The Land for Maine’s Future Board recently announced a Call for Proposals for land conservation projects using funding from approximately $10.4 million in LMF bonds approved by Maine voters. Projects will be funded in the following categories:

  • Conservation and recreational lands
  • Farmland protection
  • Working Waterfront access protection
  • Public access to Maine Waters, for boating, fishing and swimming

Since creation of the fund, over 560,000 acres have been acquired, entirely from willing sellers. Reflecting LMF’s support of traditional Maine industries, this includes about 315,000 acres in conservation easements, where the land remains in private ownership and is managed for forestry and agricultural purposes with permanent conservation agreements. The projects include 39 farmland protection agreements covering more than 9000 acres of prime agricultural land and 21 working water front projects which protect access to coastal waters for commercial fishing.

The LMF board consists of nine members: six are private citizens appointed by the Governor, the remaining three are the commissioners of the departments of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and Marine Resources. The LMF Board administers the Working Waterfront Program jointly with the Department of Marine Resources.

The program works with citizens, land trusts, businesses, municipalities, nonprofit organizations, and federal and state agencies to identify special lands to accomplish the State's goals. There are four categories of projects: 1) Conservation and Recreation Lands; 2) Farmlands; 3) Working Waterfronts and 4) Water Access Lands.

Funding is drawn from sale of bonds approved by voters, most recently in 2012. Since 1987, there have been six bond proposals, all of which were approved by voters. By law, the LMF program seeks matching funds at a ratio of at least $1 of match for every $1 of public funds expended.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Hunters for the Hungry engages ice fisherman to aid Wayside Food Programs

January 17, 2014

For more information contact: Jason Hall at (207) 287-7513

Accepting donations at:

Crystal Lake (Jan. 25) & Sebago Lake Rotary (Feb. 15-16) Ice Fishing Derbies

AUGUSTA – In a move designed to provide fresh fish to families in need, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Hunters for the Hungry Program announced today that it is expanding its program to include donations from two popular ice fishing derbies held in January and February, with the fish from the two events going to Wayside Food Programs, a Portland-based, hunger relief agency.

“The Hunters for the Hungry Program has found yet another way to help families in need, this time by enlisting the support of ice fisherman and two communities with successful ice fishing tournaments,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Innovative programs like this encourage neighbors helping neighbors and engage entire communities, in this case, ice fisherman. The fact that this program has been so successful is both a testament to the need and the generosity of Mainers.”

The Hunters for the Hungry Program provides a means for hunters (and now ice fishermen) to donate to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households with a medical need. Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted that since its establishment in 1996, the program has grown steadily and provided thousands of nutritious meals to hungry people across the state.

“I can’t say enough about the role Maine sportsmen and women play in helping provide nutritious meals to hungry people across Maine. This is example of how our Department is working with others, in this case Wayside Food Programs and Salt & Sea in Portland, to help build awareness of the great need for additional supporters and contributions that feed Maine families. Successful participation at these two Maine ice fishing derbies will allow us to further expand this successful program to help more families in need,” said Whitcomb.

Wayside’s Operations Manager Don Morrison highlighted the importance of this joint effort with the Hunters for the Hungry Program and the need for fresh fish, which is usually difficult for Wayside to get.

“This is a great way to get local, fresh fish to people in need,” said Don Morrison. “Too many people are having trouble putting healthy food on their tables,” he said. “This fish is a welcome, healthy addition to what we are serving with our partners at Community Meals. When we are able to serve fish at meals it is a big hit, and the pantries that access our food really appreciate the chance to offer fish to clients. It is also a unique opportunity to salvage fish that might otherwise go to waste.”

Participating Ice Fishing Derbies:

Wayside Food Programs will be at each event with a truck, where donated fish will be put on ice. The fish will be processed by Salt & Sea, a family-owned fish dealer in Portland. Salt & Sea will provide Wayside with fillets that will be served at Community Meals and distributed to area food pantries.

Crystal Lake Ice Fishing Derby (New Gloucester, ME) January 25.

Sebago Lake Rotary Ice Fishing Derby (Sebago Lake & Kezar Lake, ME)February 15-16.

Wayside Food Programs:

Wayside Food Programs is currently in its 28th year of increasing access to nutritious food for those in need. Wayside obtains food from a variety of sources and distributes that food via a number of programs to people suffering from food insecurity in Cumberland County. Wayside’s facilities include a large food warehouse and an industrial kitchen, where food is prepared for meals served at local venues in partnership with other non-profit organizations. Wayside distributes food to more than 40 agencies throughout Cumberland County, including food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters.

Contact information:

Address: 135 Walton St., Portland, Maine, 04101 Website: http://www.waysidemaine.org Phone: 775-4939. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WaysideFoodPrograms Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/WaysideMaine

Hunter for the Hungry:

The Hunters for the Hungry Program is part of the Department’s Emergency Food Assistance Program. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry distributes donations to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households with a medical need. It is done in cooperation with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s wardens, Maine State Troopers and caring hunters, are all working towards a common goal of helping fellow Mainers.

Traditionally, the program accepts bear, deer and moose donations. Road kill donations are also accepted, provided the meat is not damaged. Hunters do not pay for the processing of donated meat. Meat processing costs are paid for by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry or the charity that receives the food. Hunters choosing to keep their game can still donate a few pounds to the program. Meat processors that are interested in getting involved with the program and learning how it works should call 207-287-7513.

For more information, to donate, or to get connected to a Hunters for the Hungry participating meat processor call toll free, 1-888-4DEERME (1-888-433-3763). The program also has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maine-Hunters-for-the-Hungry/197411763763406?hc_location=stream

For more information about The Emergency Food Assistance Program:

http://maine.gov/dacf/ard/tefap/countysearch.html

Community Forestry Grants Awarded

January 27, 2014

For more information contact: Jan Ames Santerre at (207) 287-4987

AUGUSTA, Maine – Project Canopy, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s community forestry program, has awarded $106,243.00 in grants to local governments and municipalities, educational institutions and non-profit organizations that support community efforts to develop and maintain long-term community forestry programs.

“Project Canopy increases community awareness of the benefits of our forests and trees and promotes community forest management practices,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “It also supports Maine jobs by benefiting local landscapers, nurseries, foresters and loggers.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted that Project Canopy grants support important segments of the Maine economy. “In addition to the impact on the forest industry, these grants support Maine’s horticulture industry. That idustry supports 7,826 jobs with a total annual economic impact of $286 million,” said Whitcomb. “Project Canopy supports and enhances economic growth and jobs in that growing segment of Maine’s economy as well.”

The cooperative partnership between the Department’s Bureau of Forestry and GrowSmart Maine awarded 6 Planning and Education grants and 11 Tree planting and Maintenance Grants.

Planning Grants were awarded to:

  • Androscoggin Land Trust (Canton and Jay) - $10,000
  • Lake Auburn Watershed Neighborhood Assoc.(Auburn) - $7,230
  • City of Lewiston - $10,000
  • Town of Old Orchard Beach - $7,954
  • Vinalhaven Land Trust (Vinalhaven) - $6,850
  • Town of Wilton - $2,500

Planting grants were awarded to:

  • Alna Volunteer Fire Department – $4,478
  • Town of Camden - $8,000
  • Town of Cape Elizabeth - $7,299
  • Town of Houlton - $8,000
  • Life Enrichment Advancing People (Farmington) - $2,500
  • The Longfellow School (Portland) – 4,430
  • Pleasant Hill Cemetery Association, Inc. Freedom) - $2,822
  • Town of Rockport - $4,185
  • Town of Topsham - $8,000
  • Town of Veazie - $4,000
  • Town of Yarmouth - $7,995

The 2013 Project Canopy grants were selected from a total of 27 applications, with grant requests totaling $185,510.

Project Canopy Assistance Grants are available to state, county, and municipal governments, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations for developing and implementing community forestry projects and programs. Planting projects increase the health and livability of communities through sound tree planting and maintenance, while planning and education projects support sustainable community forestry management, and efforts to increase awareness of the benefits of trees and forests. All grants require a 50% match from the grant recipient.

Project canopy is funded by the USDA Forest Service Community Forestry Assistance Program. The USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program was established to promote natural resource management in populated areas and improve quality of life.

To learn more about the Project Canopy Assistance program, contact Project Canopy Director Jan Ames Santerre at (207) 287-4987.

More information is available on the web at http://www.projectcanopy.me.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

PUBLIC NOTICE: OPPORTUNITY TO HELP SHOWCASE MAINE

February 3, 2014

For more information contact: Jessica Nixon at 207-287-3494

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) is inviting Maine businesses and organizations to apply for exhibit space in the State of Maine Building at the 2014 "Big E." The Big E will be held from September 12 thru September 28.

The Eastern States Exposition (Big E) takes place every September in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Last year's attendance set a new record, with 1,481,917 fairgoers passing through the Big E gates over seventeen days. The State of Maine building showcases Maine foods and products, as well as features information on Maine's many recreational and vacation opportunities. Built in 1925, the building is one of six exibition halls representing each of the New England States. The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry takes pride in the operation and management of the building and Maine's participation in this annual event.

The DACF is providing Maine businesses and organizations with the opportunity to rent commercial space in the State of Maine Building. More than 850,000 of the fairgoers visit the state buildings located on the Avenue of States, affording a tremendous opportunity to promote Maine and Maine products.

The Department's goal at the Big E is to exhibit, publicize, and advertise Maine's products and resources in agriculture, commerce, culture, food, fisheries, forests, wildlife, recreation and tourism. By presenting fairgoers with a balance of educational and commercial exhibits, participants exemplify Maine and its unique way of life. Only items which are produced, grown, crafted, manufactured or significantly altered in Maine may be sold in the Maine building.

The deadline for completed applications to be received is Friday, February 21. An informational session is scheduled for Wednesday, February 12th at 11:00 in Augusta. Advance registration is required by calling (207)287-3494 or emailing: jessica.l.nixon@maine.gov .

All applications will be reviewed by an advisory committee which will recommend exhibitors best suited to meet the goals of the building. The Department will select exhibitors to participate in this years' event, and notify them by Friday, March 7.

For more information about the Big E, please visit http://www.thebige.com. Exhibitor Application Packets are available by contacting the Department, or online at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/ard/marketpromotion/easternstates_expo.shtml

Maine State Park Campground Reservations Open February 10

February 7, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Maine State Parks and Lands announced that campground reservations for the 2014 season will open for all state parks February 10.

“Maine State Parks provide many year-round opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “In addition to making reservations for the upcoming camping season, I encourage people to check out Winter Family Fun Days and the Ski & Snowshoe Trailers that are available to the public as part of the Department’s Take It Outside initiative.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the recent success and popularity of Maine State Park offerings and programs. “Despite a very wet spring last year, 2,512,627 people visited Maine State Parks in 2013, the fourth highest attendance since 1990,” said Whitcomb. “Our dedicated staff continue to offer new recreational and educational offerings for all age groups. Visitors to our state parks have fun and leave with memories that can last a lifetime.”

Reservation Details:

WHAT: State Park Campground Reservations for all State Parks

WHEN: 9:00 a.m., Monday, February 10

WHERE: On line at http://www.campwithme.com

There will be no fee increase for sites at the state park campgrounds for this camping season. Fees, however, do vary from campground to campground, with the highest fees for non-residents who want sites with water and electric hookups.

Campers can make reservations at Maine state park campgrounds in four ways:

  • Online at http://www.CampWithMe.com (24-7);
  • By calling in state at 800-332-1501; or (out-of-state) 207-624-9950 (9:00AM – 4:00PM, on Business Days);
  • By mailing reservations to: Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, Bureau of Parks and Lands, ATTN.: Reservations, 22 SHS, Augusta, ME 04333. Mailed reservation requests must not be postmarked before Feb 10, 2014. -By dropping off completed reservation forms, which will be processed during business hours at the Augusta office.

For more information and complete registration details, go to: http://www.campwithme.com

PLEASE NOTE: Group Camping Reservations and Group Picnic & Shelter Reservations opened on 02/03/2014. Call the park directly for either of these reservations. Online listings are provided below:

Group Camping Reservations http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/camping/group_camping.shtml

Group Picnic Areas & Shelter Reservations http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/camping/grouppicnicareas.shtml

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Census of Agriculture shows increase in number of Maine farms

February 20, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Maine agriculture growing as number of national farms decline

AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a preliminary report on the results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture. This report shows that while the number of farms declined by 4 percent nationally, the number of Maine and New England farms has increased since 2007 when the last census was conducted. In 2012, there were 8,174 Maine farms, up from 8,136 in 2007 and 7,196 in 2002.

The preliminary data includes the number of farms, land in farms (acreage), market value of agricultural products sold including government payments, and demographics for Maine, the nation and for Puerto Rico. USDA will release the full Census results, including data to the county level, later in the spring.

“The preliminary Census of Agriculture results show that Maine continues to lead New England in the number of farms,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The market value of Maine’s agricultural products has increased 24% since 2007. The fact that Maine has made progress in a number of areas during a challenging economic environment is a testiment to the resiliance and hard work of farmers and processors. My administration will continue to promote future growth in agriculture and our natural resource economy.”

“The Census of Agriculture is an important indicator of the status and health of agriculture in Maine and the nation as a whole,” said DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Although we are aware of challenges for certain food production sectors like dairy, the full Census results in the spring will help us to assess our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for future growth. As part of the LePage Administration’s focus on agriculture and all aspects of the natural resource economy, Maine combined three natural resource agencies into the DACF leaving Maine well-positioned for future growth and the creation of natural resource jobs.”

Conducted since 1840, the Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It is conducted every five years by the federal National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to produce official data about U.S. agriculture. It is a uniform, comprehensive source of agricultural data for every county in the nation. A Maine summary of the preliminary Census data prepared by NASS’s New England Field Office is included with this release.

For more information on the data:

Gary R. Keough State Statistician United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service New England Field Office Concord, New Hampshire (603) 227-3129 Gary.keough@nass.usda.gov

For more information about the Census and access to the 2012 Census report, visit http://www.agcensus.usda.gov .

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Supporting Document: National Agricultural Statistics Service Maine Summary

Governor LePage to Promote 2014 Maple Sugar Season at Blaine House Tree Tapping Event

March 3, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

WHO: Governor Paul LePage, Commissioner Walt Whitcomb, Legislators and Maine Maple Producers

WHAT: 2014 Governor’s Tree Tapping to promote Maine maple syrup

The results of a new study on the Economic Impact of Maine’s Maple Industry will be highlighted

WHEN: Wednesday, March 5, 2013, 11:00 AM

WHERE: On the Blaine House lawn, Augusta

DETAILS: The Governor’s Tree Tapping is an annual tradition to promote Maine maple syrup and highlight its contributions to Maine’s economy. Maine maple syrup producers will join Governor LePage in tapping a maple tree on the Blaine House lawn.The event also serves as a prelude to Maine Maple Sunday, which will celebrate its 31th Anniversary on March 23. Approximately 100 sugarhouses throughout the state are expected to participate in Maine Maple Sunday.

For more information about Maine Maple Producers, go to: http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Mainers Encouraged to Purchase Flood Insurance

March 5, 2014

For more information contact: Sue Baker at (207) 287-8063

AUGUSTA, MAINE – If your home or business is located near a water body, the Maine Floodplain Management Program encourages you to purchase flood insurance to protect your investment. Standard home- and business-owners’ insurance policies do not cover flood-related damages.

Since 1968, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has been offering flood insurance, which can be purchased through local property and casualty insurance agents. Rates are set and do not differ from company to company or agent to agent. These rates depend on many factors, which include the date and type of construction of the building, along with the building’s level of flood risk.

March and April are historically when flooding occurs in Maine, but heavy rains can cause flooding any time of the year. It is estimated that up to 75% of homes and businesses in floodplains in Maine are not covered by flood insurance. The average annual premium in Maine is $1029.00. As long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, you can buy flood insurance no matter where you live. There is a 30-day waiting period before any new policy goes into effect. Consider buying flood insurance now, so you won’t be without flood coverage when you need it most.

For more information, please visit the official site of the NFIP: http://www.floodsmart.gov. Additional information is available by calling the Maine Floodplain Management Program at 287-8063.

Maine Maple Sunday is this weekend!

March 18, 2014

For more information contact: Jessica Nixon at (207) 287-3494

The flow of maple sap surely means spring is on the way

AUGUSTA – Commissioner Walt Whitcomb today invited families to visit the nearly 100 Maine sugarhouses open to the public this Sunday, March 23, as part of Maine Maple Sunday. The annual event, held every fourth Sunday in the month of March, will take place for the 31st time. Participating sugarhouses will be open for visitors to enjoy freshly made maple syrup and candy, demonstrations of syrup production, sugarbush tours and a variety of other family activities.

On March 5, Governor Paul R. LePage highlighted the start of Maine’s maple season by tapping a maple tree on the Blaine House lawn with legislators and representatives from the Maine Maple Producers Association. The Governor used the annual event to highlight the economic contributions of Maine’s maple syrup industry and its potential to create more jobs.

“This industry demonstrates the excellent opportunity Maine has to promote its natural resource-based economy, as well as to promote job creation for our citizens,” said Governor LePage. “According to a recent study, Maine’s maple industry contributes an estimated $27.7 million directly to the Maine economy. That same study also shows that Maine’s maple industry has an annual statewide economic contribution, including multiplier effects, of an estimated $48.7 million in output, 805 full- and part-time jobs and $25.1 million in labor income.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted the support that Maine’s maple industry receives from a variety of sources. “Governor LePage, the Legislature and the Maine Maple Producers Association have worked together to grow this industry in recognition of it significance to Maine’s rural economy,” said Commissioner Whitcomb. “The maple industry symbolizes how Maine can have multiple uses of its natural resources, including maple syrup, wood production, recreation and open space.”

The study quoted by Governor LePage was conducted by University of Maine Professor of Economics Todd Gabe and funded through a partnership between the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, University of Maine and the Maine Maple Producers Association.

Other key findings of the study:

  • Maine has the third largest maple industry in the United States.

  • Maine’s maple industry is characterized by a relatively small number of farms accounting for the vast majority of syrup that is produced.

  • Maine’s licensed maple syrup producers have been in operation an average of 24 years, and many of the farms span multiple generations.

  • Maine’s maple industry—which counts the licensed producers and sales at retail food stores and businesses impacted by Maine Maple Sunday—generates 567 full- and part-time jobs and $17.3 million in labor income.

Some sugarhouses will hold events on both Saturday and Sunday. For a list and map of participating sugarhouses, visit the Maine Maple Producers Association website: http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/

Or: http://www.getrealmaine.com for the Department’s consolidated list.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/

Supporting documents

Maine Maple Sunday poster

Grants available to enhance public recreational boating

March 26, 2014

For more information contact: George Powell at (207) 287-4964

AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands is pleased to announce that it is seeking grant proposals to improve recreational boating access to the waters of the State of Maine for fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1, 2014 and ends June 30, 2015.

“With 2,300 great ponds, 32,000 miles of streams and rivers and over 3,000 miles of coastline, the State of Maine offers unparalleled opportunities for recreational boating,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “However, with only 460 assured public recreational boat access sites, we need to do more to ensure the public has adequate access to these waters.”

The Maine Legislature established the Boating Facilities Fund in 1963, which is administered by the Bureau of Parks and Lands, Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and funded with the state tax on gasoline used by recreational motor boats. The Bureau uses these funds to acquire, develop and renovate recreational boat access sites and to place and maintain navigational buoys on nearly 50 inland lakes and ponds. The Bureau’s philosophy is that boating access sites are more efficiently managed on the local level and so accomplishes most of its mission of providing boat access through a grant process.

Grants are limited to a maximum of $150,000 and must be completed by June 30, 2016. A cash or in-kind match equal to 50% of approved project costs is required. Project proposals are due June 25, 2014. A pre-application inspection by Bureau staff must be completed before an application is submitted. Requests for pre-application inspections must be made no later than May 14, 2014.

For more information call 287-4952 or see the Bureau’s Boating Grant website: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/grants/boatingfacilitiesfund.html

Commissioner Whitcomb announces Maine 3rd Grade Gardening Program Winner

March 31, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Bonnie Plants awards a $1,000 scholarship to Justin Kennedy of Sanford

SANFORD– Before an assembly of Margaret Chase Smith School students, Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb announced the 2013 Maine winner of the Bonnie Plants 3rd Grade Cabbage Program, Justin Kennedy. Justin received a $1,000 scholarship for growing a 19-pound cabbage as part of Bonnie Plant’s annual nationwide contest.

Speaking to a gathering of students, teachers and parents, Commissioner Whitcomb stressed the importance of healthy, locally grown foods and the people who grow them, including Justin Kennedy. “School programs like the Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program help foster interest in agriculture at an early age and the importance of knowing how food is produced,” said Commissioner Whitcomb. “Justin and the other participating students throughout Maine are helping build awareness and support for gardening and healthy, local food production.”

Governor Paul R. LePage was equally enthusiastic in his praise for school programs that promote personal responsibility, accomplishment and the confidence that come from seeing a successful project from start to finish. “Growing a 19-pound cabbage requires skills and perseverance that will serve Justin well in the years ahead,” said Governor LePage. “If Maine agriculture is to continue to grow and prosper, it will need to attract new farmers from today’s classrooms.”

About The Cabbage Program:

In 2002, Bonnie Plants started the 3rd Grade Cabbage Program with a mission to inspire a love of vegetable gardening in young people. Each year, Bonnie Plants distributes more than one million free cabbage plants to 3rd Grade classrooms across the country. As part of the program, Bonnie Plants awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student in each state. Teachers submit a class winner and a child is chosen via random drawing by each state’s Director of Agriculture. As one of the first companies to sponsor a national vegetable gardening initiative for kids, Bonnie Plants has delivered over 11 million cabbage plants nationwide, fostering an interest in gardening, healthy eating and the environment along the way. For more information on Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program: http://bonniecabbageprogram.com/about/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/

Online burn permit system now available statewide

April 2, 2014

For more information contact: Kent Nelson at 207-287-4989

Maine is one of the first states to issue burn permits electronically

AUGUSTA – Citizens seeking to burn brush, wood debris or agricultural fields now have the option to obtain their open burning permits electronically. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Forestry announced that it has expanded the online burn permit system statewide. Traditional hand-written burn permits are still available, but the online system allows permits to be acquired 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, providing that the fire danger is not high.

“The ability of Maine citizens to conduct business online saves time and money and helps make state government more responsive and open,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This is another positive change in the way we do business that will benefit the public. And please remember, only burn during periods of low fire danger and always be safe when making and tending to burn fires.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted that with this expansion Maine continues to be a leader in providing online burn permits. “Maine is one of the first states to issue permits electronically,” said Whitcomb. “The online burn permit system has proven to be a convenient, safe and reliable alternative means to obtain burn permits. We are pleased to be able to offer it to all Maine citizens.”

To expand the online system to cover the entire state, Forest Rangers, in cooperation with the Maine Fire Chiefs Association, made several improvements to the online burn permit system. The system has been available in certain southern Maine counties since 2005.

Unlike the previous system, revenues will now be shared with the municipality where the burn will occur. When permits are issued, the system can also notify up to twenty Town Fire Wardens and Fire Department personnel with emails or text messages. According to Chief Forest Ranger Bill Hamilton, “the online system is safe and only allows permits to be issued on class one or two days when the fire danger is low. By encouraging people to burn after 5pm during periods of low to moderate fire danger, the chance of the burn escaping decreases significantly.”

Online burn permits can be obtained at any time and are valid for 48 hours after payment has been submitted. The Fire Chief or Town Warden for each municipality is able to impose further restrictions on allowable burn times or needed personnel and equipment.

For more information, please visit http://www.maineburnpermit.com or call 207-287-4989.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

Supporting documents

Burn Permit

NOTICE OF EARTH DAY EVENTS INVOLVING THE DACF

April 16, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Songo Lock Clean up to be held Sunday, April 20

Sebago Lake State Park is having an Earth Day event, a “clean up” at the Songo Lock. This event is being held on the weekend to encourage children to attend. Park staff will also give a brief talk on the history of the Songo Lock for participants.

WHAT: “Songo River Clean Up.” Participants will help clean up historic Songo Lock and the shorelines of the Songo River in celebration of Earth Day.

WHEN: Sunday, April 20, 2014, 10 a.m. – Noon

WHERE: The Songo Lock at 10 Lock Lane, Naples 04055

DETAILS: Bags and gloves will be provided, as well as water and snacks. Free park admission for participants. For more information, call Sebago Lake State Park at 207-693-6231.

Hunt for the Emerald Ash Borer in Yarmouth, April 22

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Forest Pest Outreach and Survey Project is teaming up with the town of Yarmouth to survey that town’s ash street trees in celebration of Earth Day. Participants will learn how to identify ash trees and how to inspect them for signs of the tree-killing beetle, the emerald ash borer.

WHAT: Surveying Yarmouth’s Ash Trees on Earth Day

WHEN: Tuesday, April 22, 2014, Noon – 3 p.m.

WHERE: Yarmouth Town Office, 200 Main Street

DETAILS: Deb Hopkins, Yarmouth’s tree warden, says that Yarmouth has 330 ash trees lining its streets. The trees will be tagged in advance, and surveyors will be inspecting the trees for signs of emerald ash borer.

The emerald ash borer (EAB) has been responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of ash trees across the United States, including parts of New England: MA, NH and CT. This small green, metallic woodboring beetle, that spends most of its life cycle as a larva under the bark, is helped along by people who unwittingly transport infested wood from one area to another.

Experience has shown that the best defense a community has against losing their ash trees to EAB is in educating its citizens to learn how to identify ash trees and the signs of an EAB infestation.

For more information, contact Lorraine Taft at 207-832-6241, or lorraine.taft@gmail.com

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

“Feathers over Freeport” Offers Birding Fun for All Ages

April 17, 2014

For more information contact: Andy Hutchinson at (207) 865-4465

AUGUSTA – The fourth annual “Feathers over Freeport” event will take place the last weekend in April. This unique event is designed to appeal to birdwatchers of all abilities, especially families and children.

“Feathers over Freeport” will highlight special birding opportunities at Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal, including the Hawk Watch at the summit, and Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport, home to nesting ospreys.

Sponsored by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands and the Freeport Wild Bird Supply, the two-day event will feature a wide variety of activities and presentations, including live-bird presentations, bird walks for adults and children, a hawk watch workshop and numerous children’s activities.

Details of the event are:

Feathers over Freeport:

8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, April 26, Bradbury Mountain State Park, Pownal

8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, April 27, Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport

Park entry fees apply; all programs and activities included with park admission.

Two special programs will highlight the event, including a live bird presentation on birds of prey, scheduled for 1 p.m., Saturday, April 26, at Bradbury Mountain and a live birds presentation scheduled for 1 p.m., Sunday, April 27, at Wolfe’s Neck. The programs, presented by Hope Douglas of Wind Over Wings, will feature a Golden Eagle on both days, as well as other live birds.

Programs this year include a Vernal Pool Exploration and Hawk Watch Workshop on Saturday, and new Springtime Plant Walk and Tracks & Signs of Maine Wildlife programs on Sunday. Bird-related activities geared toward children and families will be offered both days from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. where birding basics will be presented through games, crafts, and hands-on activities.

For more information about “Feathers over Freeport” and a complete listing of activities, go to: http://www.maine.gov/feathersoverfreeport

Or by calling the parks: Bradbury Mountain State Park at (207) 688-4712 or Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park at (207) 865-4465.

For more information about Maine state parks and historic sites, go to:
http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/index.shtml

Support for Maine specialty crops announced

April 28, 2014

For more information contact: John Harker at (207) 287-7620

State officials say over $600,000 will support natural resource jobs

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) announced that it has been notified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it will receive $600,343.41 in Specialty Crop Block Grants for projects that help support specialty crop growers, including locally grown fruits and vegetables, through research, programs to increase demand, and for additional agricultural projects. The DACF is currently accepting proposals (RFP #201403710) from qualified applicants through the State of Maine Division of Purchases until May 20.

“Specialty Crop assistance funds will support science-based research by the DACF, University of Maine and private industry to create and sustain natural resource jobs,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Maine has used these funds to conduct initiatives that assist producers of fresh fruits and vegetables and strengthen markets for specialty crops such as potatoes, wild blueberries, cranberries, other fruits, and horticultural crops.”

DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb was equally pleased with the announcement, noting the importance and success of projects already conducted with Specialty Crop Grant Program funds.

“Maine specialty crops are world renowned for freshness, taste, and healthful properties,” said Whitcomb. “Previously awarded grants have supported Maine growers and producers of wild blueberries, potatoes, vegetables, and other specialty crops. Successful Department initiatives have promoted: good agricultural, handling and manufacturing practices; research on ways to control invasive fruit crop pests; enhanced food safety education for organic and conventional producers; and the development of school agricultural programs.”

Details on how to apply:

SPECIALTY CROP BLOCK GRANT PROGRAM (RFP #201403710)

The State of Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Division of Agricultural Resource Development has a requirement for grant proposals which, if approved, will become part of a State of Maine plan submitted for approval and funding from the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. In accordance with State procurement practices, the Department is hereby announcing the publication of a Request for Proposals (RFP #201403710) for proposals from qualified applicants.

A copy of the RFP can be obtained by contacting the Department’s RFP Coordinator for this project: John Harker, Director of Market Development. The RFP Coordinator can be reached at the following email address: john.harker@maine.gov or mailing address: 28 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333. The Department encourages all interested vendors to obtain a copy of the RFP and submit a competitive proposal.

Proposals must be submitted to the State of Maine Division of Purchases, located at the Burton M. Cross Office Building, 111 Sewall Street, 4th Floor, 9 State House Station, Augusta, Maine, 04333-0009. Proposals must be submitted by 2:00 pm, local time, on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014, when they will be opened at the Division of Purchases’ aforementioned address. Proposals not received at the Division of Purchases’ aforementioned address by the aforementioned deadline will not be considered for contract award.

Maine and the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program:

Since 2006, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which is administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), has awarded over $2.6 million dollars to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to support the growing number of Maine specialty crop producers who are selling into local and regional markets.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day greets Maine homeowners

April 29, 2014

For more information contact: Ann Gibbs at (207) 287-3891

The annual event will take place May 3

AUGUSTA – Greenhouses, nurseries and garden centers statewide will be celebrating on Saturday, May 3 as the industry kicks off the growing season with Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day.

For the fourth year, several dozen family-owned businesses will hold special events to highlight gardening in Maine. Planned activities for the events include giveaways, door prizes, raffles, plants and balloons for children, container-planting demonstrations, personal tours, expert speakers and mini workshops. Participating greenhouses and nurseries also will preview spring introductions and share their expertise by offering gardening tips, information on plant varieties and ideas for window box and landscape design.

“Greenhouse and Nursery Day helps highlight the growing importance of Maine horticulture,” Governor Paul R. LePage said. “The horticulture industry contributes over $280 million annually to Maine’s economy and provides thousands of jobs.”

“More than half of the plants sold in Maine are grown right here, and our greenhouses and nurseries work hard to promote the sale of their product locally,” said Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “I encourage Mainers to visit their local garden centers on May 3 and enjoy Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day.”

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry licenses and inspects more than 1,307 businesses selling plants in Maine. To support this growing industry, the Department certifies plant exports, regulates imported plants and assists growers with plant pest problems.

Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day is supported by the Ornamental Horticulture Council and the Mid-Maine Greenhouse Growers Association.

For more information about Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day, go to:
http://www.plants4maine.com/GreenhouseAndNurseryDay.shtml

For more information, contact Sally Smith at (207)-327-1398, email: countryjct@gmail.com

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

Maine Agriculture shows strength and potential for growth

May 2, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at (207) 287-3156

Maine makes gains during 5-year national recession

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) announced today that the final results of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2012 Census of Agriculture reveal that Maine agriculture has grown in the face of a challenging national economy. They also show that despite its modest size (compared to large national operations), Maine has out-sized potential for its products to be consumed locally and beyond its borders.

“The Census of Agriculture results show that Maine made progress in a number of areas in the midst of a challenging national economic environment,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This is due to the resilience and hard work of farmers and processors, strong community support for Maine agriculture and the indomitable spirit of those who put food on our table. These results speak volumes of the potential for growth that will nourish and sustain us physically and economically.”

“The Census of Agriculture is an important indicator of the status and health of agriculture in Maine and nationally and is used to direct policies, programs and resources toward areas that will yield the best results.” said DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “When you balance the overall growth of Maine agriculture against the challenges for certain food production sectors like potatoes and dairy, we remain optimistic about the future. The LePage Administration’s focus on the natural resource economy, through the combined public resources in our new Department, makes Maine well-positioned for future growth and the creation of natural resource jobs.”

Maine Highlights from the 2012 Census of Agriculture:

Maine continues to lead New England in the number of farms –The Census shows that while the number of farms declined by 4 percent nationally, the number of Maine and New England farms has increased since 2007 when the last census was conducted. In 2012, there were 8,174 Maine farms, up from 8,136 in 2007 and 7,196 in 2002.

Maine farms with $100,000+ sales totaled 785 (10% of farms) and produced 90% of all gross sales. From 2007-2012:

  • The market value of Maine’s agricultural products increased 24%, from $617,190,000 to $763,062,000

  • Harvested cropland increased from 2007 to 2012 – The number of farms grew from 5,189 farms to 5,325 farms (acres increased from 393,738-400,960). Cropland declined 10% from 529,253 to 477,343 acres, replaced by harvested hayland, increased pasture land and farm managed woodlots

  • Irrigated land increased by 47%, with the number of farms increasing from 901 to 1,365 (20,994 to 30,887 acres)

  • Vegetables harvested for sale increased by 9%, with the number of farms increasing from 968 to 1,473 (66,783 to 72,657 acres)

  • Total covered greenhouse vegetables and green cut herbs increased. The number of growers increased from 125 to 386, with square feet under cover increasing from 1,289,335 to 2,955,180 square feet. (Note: This reduces weather risk and increased year round vegetable production)

  • Aquaculture: The value of sales increased by 185% (from $26,300,000 to $75,107,000)

  • AG Labor: The number of operations with hired workers increased 28% (going from 1,886 to 2,415), with workers hired greater than 150 days increasing 29% (the number of workers hired for less than 150 days declined by -13%)

  • The number of Maple producers increased by 10% (468-517) and the number of taps went from 1,487,473 to 1,884,466 (increase of 27%)

  • Agri-Tourism: Income from Farm-related, AG Tourism & Recreational Services increased 78% (Increasing from $1,012,000 to $1,803,000). Participating farms increased from by 141% (112 to 270 farms)

CENSUS OF AGRICULTURE:

The Maine Department of Agriculture had its origins in 1839, just before the first national Census of Agriculture was conducted in 1840. The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It highlights changing trends in U.S. operator demographics, agriculture production and farm economics. It is conducted every five years by the federal National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to produce official data about U.S. agriculture. It is a uniform, comprehensive source of agricultural data for every county in the nation. Like other farms around the country, all Maine farmers are required to complete surveys every five years.

For more information about the Census and access to the 2012 Census report, visit http://www.agcensus.usda.gov

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Coastal grants available for municipal and regional projects

May 5, 2014

For more information contact: Ruta Dzenis & Melissa Anson at 207-287-2851, 592-5689

AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Coastal Program announced that it is seeking applications for a new round of coastal grants for FY 2015 totaling $265,000. The grants are for municipal and regional projects in Maine’s Coastal Zone. The two types of available grants covered by this announcement include: Coastal Communities grant and Shore and Harbor Planning grants.

Coastal Communities Grant Program

Eligible projects must be designed to improve water quality, increase resiliency/adaptation to erosion and flooding, conserve coastal habitat, promote sustainable development, and enhance the coastal-dependent economy while preserving natural coastal resources. This program is designed to address the five priority goals of the Maine Coastal Program:

  • Ensuring Sustainable, Vibrant Coastal Communities
  • Improving Coastal Public Access
  • Addressing the effects of land use activity on water quality
  • Restoring Coastal Habitats
  • Preparing for coastal storms, erosion and flooding, coastal hazards

Shore and Harbor Planning Grants

Shore and Harbor Technical Assistance Grants promote: sound waterfront planning and harbor management, balanced development of shore and harbor areas, advance planning for waterfront infrastructure improvements and access to the shore. Funds may be used for development of plans for waterfront, harbor and mooring areas, development of regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to waterfront conservation and improvement, development of planning studies for public and working access, development of plans and designs for harbor improvements, and development of management plans for municipal waterfront facilities.

The Maine Coastal Program

Created in 1978, the Maine Coastal Program is a federal, state, local partnership under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 and one of 34 coastal programs nationwide. Maine’s program is a collaborative program that works in partnership with other state agencies, municipalities, regional and other organizations, with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry serving as the lead agency.

The Coastal Communities grants have a maximum award of $50,000, while the Shore and Harbor grant have a maximum award of $20,000. Those eligible to apply include towns in Maine’s coastal zone, groups of towns in Maine’s coastal zone; coastal Regional Planning Commissions; and coastal Councils of Government.

Grant applications are due Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

The Maine Coastal Program FY15 Grant Program Statement can be found at:
http://www.maine.gov/dacf/municipalplanning/financial_assistance.shtml

More information about the Maine Coastal Program can be found at http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mcp/index.htm

Skunks digging for grubs in your lawn?

May 6, 2014

For more information contact: Gary Fish at (207) 287-7545

Before you act, please read this!

AUGUSTA—With melting snow and ice, rising temperatures and the arrival of lawn and gardening season, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) is advising homeowners to do their homework before attempting to manage lawn grubs. DACF is seeking to reduce unnecessary, ineffective pesticide use to manage these pests. Many resources are available through the University of Maine and the Maine YardScaping Partnership to make this homework light.

As lawns begin to turn green, homeowners often notice patches and larger sections of grass that are brown and dead looking. Frequently, they conclude the browning is caused by grubs and run out to purchase grub control products. Even if the damage is, in fact, being caused by grubs, the latest scientific research indicates that spring is not the best time to manage a grub problem.

“Springtime is not the best time for grub control,” says Jim Dill, manager of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Pest Management Office. “As they emerge from winter, grubs are mature and this is when they are least susceptible to pesticides. Wait until early-May to mid-June to apply chlorantraniliprole (AceleprynTM and GrubEx1TM) and early-June to early-July to apply the other grub-control products, depending on the product and the location in Maine. This will allow the insecticide to be fully incorporated into the soil to control the new grubs which are just hatching, are closer to the surface, and are more susceptible to the effects of pesticides. Homeowners trying to control grubs in the spring are simply wasting their time and money. And, when they don’t seem to be working, there’s a tendency to over apply control products, and that’s when excess chemicals run off into our water supplies, and can be harmful to human health and the environment.”

Browning lawns can have a number of different causes:

“Before you do anything, there are some important points to consider,” adds Dill. “First, you must be sure that grubs are the problem. Browning lawns can also be caused by drought, poor soil, disease, or other organisms. And, even if the grubs are positively identified, are they in sufficient numbers to really cause significant damage? Sometimes, reseeding the brown patches is all that can be done. There are also biological controls, like beneficial nematodes, that may have some limited success. If you contact us at the Pest Management Office, we can help you identify your problem, provide many options for solving it and give you the proper timing to apply a specific control product in your area.”

Grubs—the white, immature, C-shaped form of beetles, most notably Japanese beetles and European chafers—feed on the roots of grass and cause the browning that we see. Knowing the grub’s life cycle is critical in determining if you have a problem, what to do about it, and when. From beetles emerging from the ground in early summer, through three distinct stages of grubs ending in the fall, keeping track of grubs can be difficult. The lawn damage you see in the early spring is actually the result of late summer, fall, and winter feeding. When the grubs are fully grown in the spring, they continue to feed for a short time and change into the pupal or resting stage which is not susceptible to insecticides.

Because it can be so tricky to figure out precisely what time is best for controlling grubs and which of the many available products to use, enlisting the services of a lawn care professional may be the surest course to take. They are specialists in treating just this type of problem and will identify exactly what’s going on with your lawn. They know what works, what doesn’t, and what is the best time for treatment—or if it’s needed at all.

“When grub-control products are applied at the wrong time, not only do they not work, but many, many pounds of pesticide products are being applied that don't need to be and they can end up where they shouldn’t,” says Deven Morrill, member of the Board of Pesticides Control and arborist at Lucas Tree Experts, a Portland-based company that also does lawn care. “Just as professionals do, when homeowners apply products to their lawns, it is most important to read the label carefully, follow it exactly, and be sure it’s the right product for the problem at hand, applied at the most effective time. Licensed applicators stay tuned to the latest research and only apply products when they are proven effective.”

Resources for pest control:

University of Maine Cooperative Extension Pest Management Office, 800-287-0279. The PMO also maintains an excellent website with a wealth of information: http://extension.umaine.edu/homeowner-ipm/

Got Pests? A website with comprehensive pest management information: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/gotpests/index.html

Grubs got your lawn? Before you act, please read this! A fact sheet produced by the Maine YardScaping Partnership: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/pesticides/public/master_gardeners.shtml

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

Northeast Livestock Expo this weekend

May 12, 2014

For more information contact: Cindy Kilgore at (207) 215-4968

Kid’s Day participation more than doubles

AUGUSTA – The Northeast Livestock Expo (NELE) will celebrate its ninth year May 16-18 at the Windsor Fairgrounds in Windsor, Maine. Thanks to a Maine AG in the Classroom transportation grant, Kid’s Day (May 16) is expected to draw more than 1,300 K-6 students, more than double last year’s attendance. For three days, the Expo will showcase a variety of livestock. The public is welcome; there is no admission fee.

“This is a great opportunity for kids to learn about Maine agriculture,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This and similar agricultural events this summer and fall highlight the connection between local farms, local products and consumers.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the Expo’s educational component. “The Northeast Livestock Expos will be even better this year. After adding our first Kid’s Day last year, organizers have more than doubled the number of kids participating on Friday, with youth events and educational seminars also occurring on Saturday and Sunday. Many future agricultural leaders will be in Windsor this weekend,” said Whitcomb.

Schedule:

Friday (May 16) is Kid’s Day. Activities & Displays currently scheduled include:

  • Sheep
  • Rabbits
  • Oxen
  • Insects and their role in agriculture
  • Harness racing horses
  • A live horse with a drawn-on skeleton to illustrate its anatomy
  • Boer goats
  • Types of food for livestock
  • Veterinarians to explain care for livestock
  • Windsor Historical Society will have schoolhouse and blacksmith shop open
  • Matt Zidle from Channel 8 News will discuss weather and its effects on agriculture

Saturday’s events include: a feeder calf sale; pulling certification seminar; Boer goat sale and show; rabbit shows and sale; and several youth shows and clinics.
Sunday will showcase youth events and educational seminars. Food, livestock equipment and educational vendors will be on the grounds all three days.

For more information on the expo, go to: http://www.northeastlivestockexpo.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

LePage Administration Celebrates Small Business Week

May 14, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

DACF Commissioner to visit Penobscot and Hancock County small businesses - Thursday, May 15

AUGUSTA - Small businesses are the backbone of Maine's economy. As part of National Small Business Week, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) Commissioner Walt Whitcomb will join other members of the LePage Administration this week in celebrating Maine small businesses.

"We appreciate our small businesses and recognize the important role they play in driving the success of our economy," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "My Administration remains committed to creating and maintaining an environment where private investment is welcome and where more Mainers have the ability to earn a good paycheck."

On Thursday, May 15 DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb will visit Penobscot and Hancock County small businesses.

"Our strong relationship with Maine’s small business community is supported by visits like these and others throughout the year. This is our opportunity to thank them for the jobs and economic opportunities they are creating and for helping to shape the LePage administration’s pro-growth policies," said Whitcomb. "Earlier this month, the USDA’s 2012 Census of Agriculture revealed that Maine’s natural resource economy is on the rise. More importantly, it highlights the potential for continued job growth and productivity."

According to the latest figures provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA), 97 percent of businesses in Maine have fewer than 500 employees, which classify them as a small business.

Visits scheduled for Commissioner Whitcomb on Thursday, May 15:

1:30 p.m. - G & M Variety Market 104 Main Road # 3, Holden, ME 04429

G&M officially opened for business in the fall of 2012. Their state of the art facilities utilize the latest in energy saving technology for refrigeration, heat, and storage and exceed the industry standard in terms of green energy.

3:00 PM - Pleasant River Lumber Co. 17 Wyman Road, Hancock, ME 04640

Pleasant River Lumber is a 100% U.S., family-owned Maine business with four generations of experience in the forest products industry. They recently revived the only mill in Sanford. Collectively, their mills annually produce over 100 million board feet of spruce dimensional lumber and eastern white pine for customers throughout the East Coast region.

4:30 PM – Simons Hancock Farm & Greenhouses 39 US Hwy 1, Hancock ME, 04640

Simons is an example of a Maine farm maximizing every minute of a short growing season. Their season starts with flowering plants from their greenhouses, then potted herbs and vegetables for gardeners, followed by their own vegetables as the season moves on. Their store also supports many small Maine food processors.

Predator Beetles Released to Combat Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

May 21, 2014

For more information contact: Allison Kanoti at (207) 287-3147

Biological-control effort targets invasive insect attacking hemlock trees

AUGUSTA – Over the coming weeks, The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s entomology staff will release more than 10,000 tiny, predator lady beetles in several hemlock woolly adelgid-infested stands in the southern region of the state.

The first release of the year will take place on May 29 in Portland’s Baxter Woods in cooperation with the City of Portland. This release is part of an integrated management approach in the city park that also includes monitoring by local high school students, chemical management of adelgid on legacy hemlocks and public education.

The tiny, black lady beetles, known as Sasajiscymnus tsugae, will be released to fight the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), an invasive insect that attacks hemlock trees.

Governor Paul R. LePage stressed the importance of public involvement in efforts to contain, eradicate and prevent invasive species. “Public awareness of the threats posed by invasive species like the HWA is critical to minimizing their impact,” said Governor LePage. “Once they have taken hold, it is very difficult and expensive to contain and/or eliminate them. That is why early detection by the public and Department professionals is important.”

The biological-control effort won’t eradicate the infestation, but it should reduce the HWA populations according to Allison Kanoti, forest entomologist, under the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF).

“It is not a silver bullet, but it’s the best management tool we have in the forest at this time,” Kanoti said. “This is a long-term solution; results will not be immediate.”

The beetles will come from labs in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Their release is made possible by federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – Plant Protection & Quarantine program and the US Forest Service.

Hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is a small, aphid-like insect that is covered with white, waxy wool-like material. This wool-like covering makes the insect resemble miniature cotton balls. It is most visible from late-October through July, with woolly masses located on the undersides of the twigs at the bases of the needles.

The insect, which came from Japan in the 1950s, causes deterioration of infested trees, including loss of needles, crown thinning and tree death. Hemlocks are a significant Maine tree species. Their presence along water bodies helps protect the forest floor from erosion and buffers water temperatures, which can affect such species as brook trout. Hemlocks also are important in deer wintering areas, are a favored landscape tree and contribute to the state’s forest products sector.

The adelgid begins its egg-laying in March. During the spring and summer there are thousands of offspring, called crawlers, crawling around, sifting down through the tree canopy and drifting on the breezes in infested hemlock forests. These young can be transferred to new locations by people, birds and other animals. Hemlock woolly adelgid can also be moved year round on live trees.

HWA has been found in at least 19 states. It was first detected in forest trees in Maine in Kittery in 2003. It has most recently been found in forest stands as far up the coast as Owls Head in Knox County and inland to Sanford in York County. Infestations on planted trees have been found from Lubec to Bangor and South, with the most recent detections in Bar Harbor, Blue Hill, Ellsworth, Northeast Harbor, and Sedgwick in Hancock County.

Homeowners are among the most frequent reporters of new locations of hemlock woolly adelgid. Other locations are reported by arborists, foresters, land trust stewards, students, tourists and occasionally even entomologists. If you think you’ve found hemlock woolly adelgid, please report your find to the Maine Forest Service.

For more information on invasive threats to Maine’s forest and trees, go to: http://www.maine.gov/forestpests#hwa

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine Firm Recalls Poultry Products Due To Lack of Inspection

May 28, 2014

For more information contact: Angela Fargin, with Jyang-Lee's Kitchen at 207-549-4507

Class II Recall

Augusta, May 28, 2014 – Jyang-Lee's Kitchen, a Maine company, is voluntarily recalling all Jyang-Lee's Kitchen brand poultry products that did not receive the full benefit of inspection. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Maine Meat and Poultry Inspection (MMPI) program made the announcement today.

Jyang-Lee's Kitchens operates an establishment in Coopers Mills, Maine. This recall is being issued because the Coopers Mills, Maine establishment had not been issued a State or USDA Grant of Inspection. Without the Grant of Inspection, inspection program personnel were not assigned to the establishment. Products produced without inspection are considered unfit for human consumption and must be recalled.

The products subject to recall include:

Jyang-Lee's Turkey Wonton

  • 15 count plastic bags with no code

Jyang-Lee's Mainely-Turkey Elegant Eggroll

  • 6 count plastic bags with no code

Jyang-Lee's Turkey Dumpling

  • 12 count plastic bags with no code

MMPI and the company have received no reports of illnesses due to consumption of these products.

The turkey products included were shipped to Maine retailers only. Consumers may return any of the recalled turkey products to the retailer of purchase, or contact Jyang-Lee's Kitchen 207-549-4507.

The problem was discovered when MMPI personnel observed Jyang-Lee's Kitchen turkey products offered for sale at retail not bearing the mark of inspection and began an investigation into the establishment.

MMPI routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.

Media with questions regarding the recall can contact Angela Fargin, with Jyang-Lee's Kitchen at 207-549-4507.

Consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact Angela Fargin, with Jyang-Lee’s Kitchen at 207-549-4507.

Consumer Complaints regarding meat and poultry product from Maine processors can be addressed to the Maine Meat and Poultry Inspection program at 207-287-3841.

Supporting documents


Flagstaff Region Public Reserved Lands Management Plan

June 4, 2014

For more information contact: Jim Vogel at 207-287-2163

A Public Meeting will be held on June 12 to receive comments on proposed amendments

FARMINGTON - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s, Bureau of Parks and Lands will hold a public meeting to receive comments on proposed amendments to the Flagstaff Region Public Reserved Lands Management Plan adopted in 2007. These amendments resulted from a scheduled 5-year Plan review conducted over the last year.

The public meeting will be: Thursday, June 12, 2014 6:00-8:00 pm University of Maine-Farmington Olsen Student Center, North Dining Hall A

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed the importance of public input and diligent work of the Advisory Committee. “The Advisory Committee met two times to review the Flagstaff Region Public Reserved Lands Management Plan and review and discuss several proposals. I encourage interested parties to become involved in the future of our public lands by commenting on the proposed amendments,” said Commissioner Whitcomb.

The 15-year multiple-use Management Plan adopted by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, Bureau of Parks and Lands for the Flagstaff Region in 2007 is subject to reviews at the 5 and 10 year intervals, and a full revision at 15 years. The purpose of the 5-year review is to document progress on addressing the Plan recommendations, and to assess whether any conditions have changed that would warrant amendments to the Plan prior to the 15-year revision. This review is conducted first with the Plan Advisory Committee (AC), and if any amendments are proposed, a public meeting is required to receive comments prior to adoption of any amendments.

The Bureau held two AC meetings in August and December of 2013, where several proposals developed by regional trails organizations were presented and discussed. These proposals are for new non-motorized trails at Chain of Ponds, and at the Bigelow Preserve and adjacent public lands; and for a new motorized trail crossing the Appalachian Trail on the Redington Lot. Also discussed was a proposal for a new trailered boat access on the east side of Flagstaff Lake, related to federal requirements for operation of the Flagstaff Lake hydropower project. The Bureau has determined that the proposed amendments are warranted due to conditions not considered in the 2007 Plan development.

The proposed amendments have been posted on the Department website at http://www.maine.gov/dacf/about/calendar/meeting.shtml?id=616580. There you will find downloadable copies of the Management Plan and proposed amendments as well as Advisory Committee meeting minutes.

Written comments will be accepted until June 26 – two weeks after the Public Meeting. After the comment period, the Final plan amendments will be prepared for review and adoption by the Commissioner and will become part of the Flagstaff Region Management Plan.

For more information, contact:

Jim Vogel, Management Plan Coordinator (jim.vogel@maine.gov) Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands 22 State House Station Augusta, Maine 04333 (207) 287-2163 (207) 287-6170 (fax)

Free on Father’s Day: Maine State Park Admission

June 6, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – All Maine State Parks and historic sites will treat Maine residents to a free admission on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 15. All vehicles bearing Maine license plates will be given free-admission that day at all 48 state-owned and operated locales, according to Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Bureau of Parks and Lands.

“I encourage Maine families to visit and explore our State Parks and Historic Sites on Father’s Day and throughout the season,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This free-admission day, coinciding with Father’s Day, is a way of thanking Maine residents and showing appreciation for their support of Maine parks and lands throughout the year.”

Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb was equally enthusiastic. “June is ‘Get Outdoors Month’ and Maine State Parks get you out there. Our park staff and devoted volunteers have the parks ready for visitors. Maine residents, in particular, are encouraged to visit our parks and historic sites this Father’s Day,” said Whitcomb.

Details of the free parks admission:

  • Maine Resident’s Day, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, June 15; all vehicles bearing Maine license plates will be allowed free entrance to Maine state parks and historic sites. No rain date will be available. The open admission does not apply to Baxter State Park, Scarborough Beach State Park, or the Penobscot Narrows Observatory in Prospect, though admission to Fort Knox State Historic Site will be free that day.

For more information about Maine state parks and historic sites, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine Conservation Corps receives $352,000 in AmeriCorps funding for 2014

June 10, 2014

For more information contact: Jo Orlando at 207-624-6091

81 new national service members will work this summer in local communities

AUGUSTA – The Corporation for National and Community Service has awarded $1.29 million in grants for 2014 to three Maine AmeriCorps organizations, including $351,583 for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Conservation Corps (MCC). Maine Conservation Corps AmeriCorps members work with local communities to create and maintain sustainable trails in Maine State Parks and public lands.

Governor Paul R. LePage welcomed the news that more young people will have the opportunity to work in Maine communities. “This is an excellent opportunity to serve Maine communities and get the skills and confidence that comes from working with others to achieve goals,” said Governor LePage. “The Maine Conservation Corps has done tremendous work making positive contributions to our great State and Nation.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) Commissioner Walt Whitcomb also welcomed news of the award and highlighted the important work that the MCC does on behalf of Maine citizens. “81 AmeriCorps national service members will help build infrastructure in our public places that generations of visitors can enjoy,” said Whitcomb. “With hard work they build the trails, clear the brush and learn hands-on conservation techniques. Since 1983, MCC-supported projects have helped make America’s beautiful parks more accessible to visitors.”

The MCC's four-fold mission is to: accomplish conservation projects, create conservation employment, provide conservation education, and engage conservation volunteers. Some of the scheduled summer trail projects that AmeriCorps national service members will accomplish include:

Southern Maine

Vaughan Woods State Park, South Berwick Bradbury Mountain State Park, Pownal Pineland Public Land Unit, Gray/New Gloucester

Northern Maine

Deboullie Mountain/Deboullie Public Reserved Land, Saint Francis Barnard Mountain/Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., Patten Number 4 Mountain/Little Moose/Eagle Rock, Greenville

Western Maine

Tumbledown Mountain, Weld Mt. Blue State Park, Weld Grafton Notch State Park, Newry

Eastern Maine

Schoodic Woods, Winter Harbor

The Maine AmeriCorps national service positions are among $205 million in grants across the country that will allow more than 43,000 Americans to serve as AmeriCorps national service members. These funds will support over 280 organizations engaged in national service, including Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, the Maine Conservation Corps, Catholic Charities, Bangor AmeriCorps Opportunity Collaborative, LearningWorks AIMS HIGH, and many others.

More information on the 2014 AmeriCorps national grants and the 2014 national grantee list can found at http://www.nationalservice.gov. More information on the Maine Conservation Corps can be found at http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/mcc. Information on applying for a term of AmeriCorps national service can be found at my.americorps.gov.

Maine Fair Season Starts Next Week in Houlton

June 27, 2014

For more information contact: Melissa Ricker at (207) 592-2126

Fairs throughout the State will entertain visitors between now and October

AUGUSTA – Maine Agricultural Fair Season begins next week, July 3–6, with the Houlton Agricultural Fair. For four days, the family fun event will feature over 25 games for the kids, livestock shows, 4H shows, 4 horse shows, a demolition derby, truck pulls, mud runs and antique tractor pulls. The Houlton Agricultural Fair is the season’s first of twenty-four fairs that take place over the summer and fall, concluding in October with Maine’s largest agricultural fair, the Fryeburg Fair.

“Maine agricultural fairs showcase our states agricultural interests and the communities they are located in,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The Houlton Agricultural Fair and other Maine fairs held later this summer and fall, help highlight the continued growth of Maine agriculture and its contributions to our natural resource economy.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the continued growth of Maine agriculture demonstrated by USDA’s 2012 Census of Agriculture. “Maine agriculture is growing big and small, with more farmers and more farms in Maine since the last agricultural census was conducted,” said Whitcomb. “The market value of Maine’s agricultural products increased 24% in the last five years, from $617,190,000 to $763,062,000. Maine agricultural fairs are one of many opportunities throughout the year for young people and future farmers to learn about agriculture as a profession.”

Quick Facts about Maine’s 2013 Fair Season:

  • Maine has 24 licensed fairs
  • 860,000 people visited Maine fairs
  • $1.5 Million in premiums went to exhibitors, directly impacting local economies
  • Most northern fair: Northern Maine Fair – Presque Isle, ME
  • Most southern fair: Acton Fair – Acton, ME
  • Largest fair: Fryeburg Fair (332,500 visitors)
  • 2,100+ pairs of professional cattle and horses pulled
  • 3,000+ photographs & paintings were displayed in exhibit halls
  • 2,700+ beef & dairy cattle were exhibited

Schedule:

July 3-6 Houlton Fair @ Houlton A small fair featuring livestock, crafts, midway and state entertainment.

July 10-13 Ossipee Valley Fair @ South Hiram Old-fashion fair, unique exhibit halls, lots of livestock, midway, drag racing, animal pull events.

July 18-20 Waterford World's Fair @ North Waterford A small family oriented agricultural fair, featuring LOCAL vendors, entertainment and livestock. Old MacDonald's Barn full of animals to touch, outside stage with local talent, demonstrations & livestock exhibits

July 24-27 Pittston Fair @ Pittston Small, family-oriented country fair. Midway, animal pulling events, children’s games, Strawberry Festival.

July 25-August 3 Bangor State Fair @ Bangor A large family fair featuring a midway, animal exhibits, crafts, commercial exhibits, flower show.

July 25-August 2 Northern Maine Fair @ Presque Isle Large family fair, lots of rides and exhibits, horse pulling, harness racing, tractor pulling, demo derby.

July 31 - August 3 Monmouth Fair @ Monmouth A small family agricultural fair with midway, animal exhibits, crafts and animal pull events.

August 5-10 Topsham Fair @ Topsham Agricultural exhibits, animal pull events, 4-H, crafts, midway and harness racing.

August 7-16 Skowhegan State Fair @ Skowhegan A large agricultural fair featuring a huge midway, animal exhibits, crafts, commercial exhibits, flower show, animal pull events and harness racing.

August 16-23 Union Fair @ Union A large family fair famous for the annual State of Maine Wild Blueberry Festival. Large midway, crafts, animal pull events, harness racing.

August 21-24 Piscataquis Valley Fair @ Dover-Foxcroft Agricultural exhibits, milking parlor, home made ice cream, crafts, midway, mechanical pulling, demo derbies, animal pulling and stage shows.

August 21-24 Acton Fair @ Acton Outstanding exhibits, 4-H, livestock exhibit, flower show, animal pull events, midway.

August 24-September 1 Windsor Fair @ Windsor A large, progressive fair with extensive agricultural, art/crafts exhibits. Large midway, animal pull events, harness racing and mechanical pulling.

August 28-September 1 Blue Hill Fair @ Blue Hill Great country fair, midway, exhibits, non-pari-mutuel racing, animal pull events and entertainment.

August 29-September 1 Springfield Fair @ Springfield Stage shows, animal and mechanical pulling, antique autos, midway and livestock exhibits.

August 29-September 1 Harmony Free Fair @ Harmony Free Admission, Free Parking, Stage Shows, Animal and Mechanical Pulling, Midway, Demo Derby, Livestock and Exhibit Hall.

September 4-6 Clinton Lions Agricultural Fair @ Clinton Clinton Family oriented agricultural fair with animal and mechanical pulling, midway, exhibit halls, stage entertainment and woodsmen contest.

September 5-7 Litchfield Fair @ Litchfield Country fair with large midway, agricultural exhibits, livestock, animal pull events. Historical fair museum.

September 7-14 Oxford County Fair @ Oxford Livestock shows, animal pull events, midway, crafts, exhibits, and a new harness race track.

September 12-14 New Portland Lion's Fair @ N. New Portland Midway, exhibit hall, animal and mechanical pulling, crafts, livestock exhibits, woodsmen day and stage shows.

September 14-20 Farmington Fair @ Farmington Large midway, exhibit halls, livestock exhibits, animal pull events, harness racing and demolition derby.

September 19-21 Common Ground Fair @ Unity A celebration of rural life, demonstrations, Maine-Organic produced foods and crafts and livestock exhibits.

September 21-27 Cumberland Fair @ Cumberland Center Large exhibit halls, midway and livestock exhibits. Animal pull events and harness racing.

September 28-October 5 Fryeburg Fair @ Fryeburg Maine's largest agricultural fair. Beautiful setting in prime foliage season. Exhibit halls, museum, harness racing and livestock shows.

More information on Maine’s agricultural fairs, including the Houlton Fair, can be found at: http://www.getrealmaine.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/

White Pine Needle Disease Generates Concern

July 1, 2014

For more information contact: Dave Struble at (207) 287-4981

State officials cite wet weather as a key factor, urge caution before thinning

AUGUSTA – Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry officials have received numerous calls recently regarding the extensive early “casting” of white pine needles. Callers have stressed that the white pine crowns of affected trees have turned from the dull winter green to a yellow-straw color and then quickly to tan and brown. Heavy rains resulted in the near complete removal of the affected needles from the trees, leaving crowns appearing thin. With many trees now having only the current-season needles left to photosynthesize, concerns have been raised prompting this informational bulletin from the Department.

White pine needle-drop condition

The white pine needle disease epidemic has been occurring in Maine, and in most other areas of New England and New York, for at least eight consecutive years. Above-average spring and summer precipitation patterns experienced in the Northeast for the past decade are believed to be a primary factor in facilitating needle infection, caused by the development of one or more of several pathogenic fungi.

Fungi infect needles early in spring and develop through the needles during summer and fall. The following year, when the weather warms, the symptoms on the infected one-year-old needles first appear during early to mid-June. The progress from symptom development through needle casting occurs over a very short period of time – usually about three or four weeks. The symptoms appear as a rapid flare-up of needle yellowing and casting, which has occurred throughout Maine over the past two weeks. This year, trees continue to show weakening due to the stress caused by the reduction in foliage and photosynthetic efficiency.

What is being done to address this?

State Foresters are collaborating with neighboring states and with the U.S. Forest Service to determine the scope of the problem and identify solutions. In Maine, a survey of damaged trees is currently underway and results will be compared with defoliation estimates from previous years. Early indications are that the severity of disease is similar to that in past years, but that the long-term effect of many consecutive years of the loss of the one-year-old needles has weakened some trees to the point where mortality is now occurring. Other secondary insect and disease problems have also appeared in many stands where sustained and severe damage from the needle disease complex has occurred, but these effects are not yet well-understood. It appears that for the foreseeable future, white pine will be another threatened resource unless the needle disease epidemic abates, either from a break in the weather and moisture patterns, or from some other as yet unknown reason.

What can you do?

Control or management recommendations are limited, but state foresters urge caution before conducting thinning operations. As this season progresses, current-season foliage will develop that will help to “mask” the thin appearance of the crowns. Heavily infected stands and trees in stands where mortality is believed to be the result of needle diseases may be salvaged. Thinning efforts need to be carefully considered, as thinning operations may cause additional stress and result in an increase in mortality and stand collapse. In the meantime, landowners should consult with a professional before thinning operations. Who can you contact?

Woodland owners are encouraged to contact their licensed forester to help assess the actual impact of the blight on their woods. For yard and ornamental trees, contact a licensed arborist. If you need help finding a resource professional, contact the Maine Forest Service at 1-800-367-0223 (in state) or (207) 287-2791.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

Moosehead Lake Region Public-Private Recreational Initiative

July 2, 2014

For more information contact: Rex Turner at (207) 287-4920

Work begins on two trails that will be part of a network of non-motorized trails

GREENVILLE, Maine – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL) announced that construction work has begun on two hiking trails that eventually will be part of an expanded network of non-motorized trails in the Moosehead Lake Region. The decision to start construction with the Number Four Mountain and Eagle Rock Trails resulted from public input and will be led by the DACF’s Maine Conservation Corps.

The one-of-a-kind regional trail development collaboration is made possible through a 121-acre trail easement granted by landowner Plum Creek. Construction by the Maine Conservation Corps began in June, and will likely continue until 2018 in order to complete the entire trail network.

“Outdoor recreation is important to Maine residents and visitors. This public-private partnership will expand outdoor recreational opportunities in the Moosehead Lake Region,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This project benefits from public input and volunteer support, so I encourage others to become involved.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb also highlighted the importance of public input and volunteer support. “We were pleased with the public’s input that this unique project has received,” said Whitcomb. “Citizen input is helping create another gem in Maine’s outstanding system of trails and public recreational spaces. The partnership of a major landowner, townspeople and state recreation management experts is a formula for success in this beautiful region of Maine.”

Project leader Rex Turner said that the Department and project partners are looking forward to engaging new partners and volunteers for this effort to help support, maintain and promote the trails well into the future. “With these new trails, and others following in the next few years, the Moosehead Lake Region will offer a premiere trail network that will be a destination attracting hikers, bikers, skiers and others from far and wide,” said Rex Turner, BPL outdoor recreation planner.

An ad-hoc committee led by BPL is coordinating the trail planning effort, and will hold its next informational meeting this fall. Participants and supporters in that effort include citizens from the Moosehead Lake Region and representatives from the Appalachian Mountain Club, Forest Society of Maine, Maine Huts and Trails, the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Greenville and Plum Creek. The first two trails to be constructed are:

  • Number Four Mountain Trail – This project taking place through the summer of 2014, rebuilds and redesigns the current Number Four Mountain Trail. It will reach the remains of the historic fire tower on the mountain and also feature a trailhead parking facility on Plum Creek land. Additionally, planning calls for the trail to be expanded southwards from the summit to Lily Bay Mt. and beyond. The current Number Four Mountain Trail remains open to hikers during construction.

  • Eagle Rock Trail – This new trail will be completed in August and will create 3.7 miles of hiking trail from the Moore Bog area on the BPL’s Little Moose Public Land property to Big Moose Mountain’s northwest ridge. The trail will culminate at Eagle Rock and feature a trailhead parking facility on Bureau lands.

Planning work under way aims to enable trail construction on portions of Lily Bay Mt. and Baker Mt. in Frenchtown starting as early as this fall. Future trail projects on the 121-acre easement could range from easy walking paths to strenuous backpacking circuits and could accommodate hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, canoe/kayak portaging and wildlife observation activities.

In addition to the land easement from Plum Creek, the company is providing funding for the trail system as part of its regional land use agreement. Additional trail system support will be sought by BPL and planning partners to help maintain the trail network. That support is anticipated to include stewardship approaches such as adopt-a-trail opportunities and other similar volunteer initiatives.

Six-person trail crews from the Maine Conservation Corps will construct the trails. Volunteers are also encouraged to participate. For more information about volunteer opportunities, contact Mike Hein at 624-6092 or Michael.Hein@maine.gov.

Media Invitation: An active day of trail construction by the Maine Conservation Corps will take place on July 10, from 10 am to 2 pm at the site of the new Eagle Rock Trail. Representatives of BPL and other partners will also be present to thank volunteers and assist. Media are invited to join in the volunteer effort or attend to talk to volunteers and organizers.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and its Bureau of Public Lands, go to: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/

NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETING JULY 22- Crocker Mountain Management Plan

July 15, 2014

For more information contact: Jim Vogel at 207-287-2163

Crocker Mountain Management Plan

Public Scoping Meeting

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands is holding a Public Scoping Meeting for the upcoming Crocker Mountain Management Plan. This plan will guide the Bureau’s multiple-use management of the Crocker Mountain Public Lands Unit, which totals over 12,000 acres. The lands to be addressed are in two main areas: Crocker Mountain (8,000 acres), west of Sugarloaf Mountain, and the Rapid Stream area (4,000 acres), south of Sugarloaf and north of Mount Abraham. The resulting management plan will become part of the Flagstaff Region Management Plan.

The Crocker Mountain Unit encompasses a 9.7-mile section of the Appalachian Trail corridor. Snowmobile and ATV trails cross the area on existing forest management roads. It is anticipated approximately 4,000 acres will be designated an Ecological Reserve. At least half of the total property will be managed as a multiple-use working forest where timber harvesting will occur.

The upcoming scoping meeting is the first public meeting that will be held on the Crocker Mountain Management Plan. At this meeting we will be asking the audience to provide answers to questions such as: What are your priorities for trail development or other recreational development on these lands? What are any concerns or issues that the plan should addressed? What vision should guide management of these lands over the next 10 years?

The public scoping meeting will be: Tuesday, July 22 6:00-8:00 pm Carrabassett Valley Public Library 3209 Carrabassett Drive Carrabassett Valley

The Bureau will work with the Flagstaff Region Plan Advisory Committee to develop a draft Plan for Crocker Mountain. Once a final draft Plan is written, a public meeting will be held to receive comments, sometime over the winter of 2014-2015.

To see the webpage for the Crocker Mountain Management Plan, click on the Flagstaff Region link at http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/getinvolved/planningandacquisition/managementplans/ and scroll down to the Crocker Mountain Plan section. The page will be updated throughout the planning process with draft plans and meeting minutes.

For more information or to be added to the mailing list for the plan, please contact:

Jim Vogel Plan Coordinator Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry 22 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333 Jim.Vogel@maine.gov 207-287-2163

Maine Forest Rangers complete investigation of Scarborough, Old Orchard Beach, Saco, Biddeford railroad fires

July 17, 2014

For more information contact: Matthew Bennett at 207-650-4442

Investigators have concluded that the fires were caused by sparks emanating from a Pan Am freight train due to an undetermined mechanical problem

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Forest Rangers have completed their investigation of the Scarborough, Old Orchard Beach, Saco, Biddeford railroad fires. Investigators have concluded that the fires were caused by sparks emanating from a Pan Am freight train due to an undetermined mechanical problem. The investigation yielded no violations of Maine law. There are no charges pending in relation to the fires.

Rangers on average respond to and investigate over 40 railroad caused fires annually. They also patrol hundreds of miles of railroad tracks each year to ensure the vegetation is managed according to state fire prevention laws. Maine’s fire prevention railroad laws are targeted towards reducing fire hazards along the right-of-way and properly maintaining the locomotive engines so that sparks are not thrown from the exhaust into nearby vegetation and start wildfires.

Investigation

Following a two-month investigation, the Department compiled a 554 page report documenting the cause of the wildfires. The report can be viewed for a limited time at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/about/news/oob-report.pdf What follows is a brief summary of the findings contained in the report:

Report Summary

On May 8, 2014, Scarborough, Old Orchard Beach, Saco, and Biddeford experienced a minimum of 47 separate fires along the railroad tracks. Two Forest Rangers and a Forest Service helicopter were called upon to respond to the wildfires and assist local fire departments with suppression activities. Several properties were damaged or destroyed as a result of these fires. The hardest hit area was the Wagon Wheel Campground in Old Orchard Beach, which suffered the loss of 10 camper trailers and damage to several others. Total damage estimates are still being tallied by victims and insurance companies, but are expected to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

During the time of the fire starts, Forest Rangers determined that there were two different trains that had passed through the area. Both of these trains were westbound, headed toward Boston and Portsmouth respectively. These trains passed through the same fire areas ranging from 8-13 minutes of each other. The first train to pass through was an Amtrak passenger train on its way to Boston. After the fires were discovered, the Amtrak train was notified and subsequently stopped in Wells, Maine and again in Massachusetts. This passenger train was inspected by Amtrak personnel and found to be free of any defects. Investigators found no witnesses who reported sparks coming from the underside of the Amtrak train. The second train to pass through the area was a freight train operated by Pan Am Railways and led by locomotive 307.

Forest Rangers and other law enforcement officers conducted numerous interviews and received multiple eyewitness accounts of sparks coming from the Pan Am freight train. There were multiple reports of sparks, the smell of burning rubber, and smoke coming from the Pan Am freight train immediately preceding the start of the wildfires. Investigators determined that the Pan Am train did stop in Biddeford, but it is unclear if any work was done to correct any mechanical defects during this stop.

Forest Rangers held the Pan Am freight train in Dover, New Hampshire where one of their investigators inspected locomotive 307 and its consist. The exhaust stack on locomotive 307 was found to be within compliance of Maine spark arrestor law and was ruled not likely a contributing factor in the wildfire starts.

Investigators conducted wildfire cause and origin investigations. They also interviewed many eye witnesses, several Amtrak and Pan Am employees, examined software data from the locomotives, and did wildfire behavior analysis on the forest fuels in the area to determine probabilities of ignition. Metal fragments collected from the points of origin support the eyewitness accounts of sparks originating from the wheels and underside of the south bound Pan Am freight train. As a result of their investigation, Forest Ranger investigators have concluded that the cause of the wildfires was from sparks emanating from the Pan Am freight train due to an undetermined mechanical problem.

Major factors leading to the find that the Pan Am freight train caused the fires:

Witnesses: During the course of the investigation, multiple witnesses were interviewed and they described the freight train as “being louder than normal…making loud squealing, clacking, thumping, sounds…sending a shower of sparks from under the train, at the wheels…smelling like burning rubber… and very smoky.” Immediately after the passage of the freight train the fires started. Additionally, the freight train crew did not report any wildfire activity as they traveled through the area. Many recall the passenger train passing earlier, with no out-of-the-ordinary sights, sounds or smells.

  • Fire Behavior Analysis: Fire behavior analysis does not support a theory that Amtrak started smoldering fires which were fanned by the passage of the freight train. Fire behavior analysis indicates that Pan Am’s freight train would have been passing through active wildfires, had Amtrak sparked all these fires.

  • Time Line: At mile post 203 in Scarborough, the freight train stopped to let the passenger train pass. The passenger train stopped in Saco to let on passengers. The freight trains next stop was in Biddeford after they had been alerted that fires had started along the tracks. The passenger train was in Wells when they were notified. The time frames in which these trains passed known points also corroborate the fire behavior analysis. As the Amtrak train continued ahead of Pan Am’s freight train it was gaining a lead time from eight minutes to thirteen minutes within an eight mile stretch. With that much time between the trains, fires would have spread rapidly.

Case unusual:

This case was unusual in that it was not associated with a poorly maintained spark arrestor or some other mechanical failure that provides clear physical evidence. Eyewitness accounts describe seeing sparks coming from the train’s wheels as if there was some type of mechanical problem. Unfortunately, the environmental conditions on May 8th were favorable for the spread of wildfire.

Local fire departments and responders praised:

There was a significant amount of property damage and it required crews from at least 20 different fire departments. If not for the outstanding response from these local departments the damages could easily have been more extensive. Thankfully there were no fatalities and no serious injuries reported. One Saco resident was transported by ambulance for smoke inhalation, and one fire fighter was checked out for dehydration/heat exhaustion.

Anyone with additional information or questions relevant to these fires is asked to contact the Maine Forest Service at 1-800-750-9777.

25th Annual Maine Open Farm Day

July 21, 2014

For more information contact: Jessica Nixon at 207-287-3494

A Maine tradition, farms will open their gates to the public this Sunday

AUGUSTA – Visit select Maine Farms this Sunday, July 27. All across the State of Maine, close to 90 family farms will open their doors to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Held each year, Open Farm Day is an opportunity for consumers to learn about Maine and Maine food producers and for farms to show the public their products.

“Open Farm Day recognizes the many contributions that farmers make to our economy and highlights the local communities they are located in,” said Maine Governor Paul R. LePage. “Not only do our farms provide fresh food, but they also demonstrate the virtues of hard work and self-reliance. Despite the national decline in farms, the number of Maine farms is growing, as is the market value of the agricultural products our farms produce. That value has increased 24% since 2007 to more than $763 million. Maine agriculture is also creating more jobs. The number of operations with hired workers has increased 28% in the last five years.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb urged families to take advantage of this unique event. “All across Maine you can visit dozens of small farms; farms with vegetable stands and market gardens; farms with hay rides and home bakeries; farms with sheep, cows, horses, rabbits, pigs or chickens; farms and farm owners who want to show you a fascinating cross section of life growing out in the Maine countryside,” said Whitcomb. “The Department is pleased to help organize this family oriented event that encourages better understanding of how food happens and how hard working Maine farm families contribute to both the local economy and the locally grown food supply.”

Open Farm Day is an annual family event that connects consumers with the men and women who help produce their food. Farms throughout Maine will open their gates to offer the public an opportunity to learn about the business of agriculture. Many farms will have demonstrations, displays, farm-raised products for sale and animals and crops to experience.

Activities may include barn and field tours, milking, hay rides, petting zoos, nature trails, beautiful scenery, samples for tasting and refreshments. Events like Open Farm Day have an impact on the Agri-Tourism in the State of Maine. According to the USDA, in 2012, AG Tourism & Recreational Services in Maine increased 78% (Increasing from $1,012,000 to $1,803,000) and participating farms increased by 141% (112 to 270 farms).

Now is a great time for consumers to visit and support Maine’s farms and be part of the growing support for locally grown foods. According to Gary Keough, New England Field Office State Statistician, National Agricultural Statistics Service, “the average size of a Maine farm is 178 acres, up seven percent since 2007. Organic production and aquaculture sales increased from between 2007 and 2012 as well: the value of aquaculture sales increased from $26.3 million to $75.1 million (ranking us eighth nationally) and organic products increased from $23.3 million to $36.4 million.”

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of this event, participating farms will showcase a Welcome Open Farm Day banner indicating their doors are open to the public.

For more details on participating farms visit: http://www.getrealmaine.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/calendar.detail/event_id/186/index.htm

Mainers Urged to Sign Up for Free Disposal of Banned, Unusable Pesticides

August 15, 2014

For more information contact: Henry Jennings at 207-287-2731

Joint Press Release

AUGUSTA—This October, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) will team up with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to help Mainers dispose of banned pesticides o unusable pesticides.

This free disposal program is open to homeowners, family-owned farms and greenhouses. Collection will occur at sites located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta and Portland. To qualify, people must register by September 26, 2014.

Governor Paul R. LePage is urging Mainers to take advantage of this opportunity to protect the environment and save money through this once a year collection event that highlights cooperation between government agencies. “This is an opportunity for Mainers to dispose of unusable pesticides properly and at no expense,” said Governor LePage. “By consolidating collections into four central locations and using in-house resources and expertise, we can reduce disposal costs to about $2 per pound. That’s a great value for Maine taxpayers.”

It’s not unusual for homes and farms to have unintentional hazardous waste—banned pesticides or pesticides that have become caked, frozen, or otherwise rendered unusable—sitting around in basements, garages, or barns. These chemicals can be difficult and expensive to dispose of; DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed the importance of proper disposal of banned or unwanted pesticides.

“It’s important for the protection of public, wildlife, and environmental health that these products are dealt with properly and not thrown in the trash or down the drain, where they can contaminate land and water resources, including drinking water,” said Commissioner Whitcomb. “People holding these chemicals should contact the BPC as soon as possible to register for the October collection.”

“Providing an easy and no cost solution for Mainers to properly dispose of pesticides is a win for the environment and public health,” said Maine DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho. “The collection events cover the State and are held in Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta and Portland providing accessible methods of collection and future disposal.”

The collected chemicals go to out-of-state disposal facilities licensed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency where they are incinerated or reprocessed.

Registration by September 26, 2014, is mandatory—drop-ins are not permitted. To register, get details, and learn important information about the temporary storage and transportation of obsolete pesticides, go to the BPC Web site at http://www.thinkfirstspraylast.org , or call 207-287-2731.

The Maine Obsolete Pesticides Collection Program, jointly sponsored by the BPC and DEP, and paid for entirely through pesticide product registration fees, has kept more than 90 tons of pesticides out of the waste stream since its start in 1982.

Important Note to the Media: Since registration is required, please post any information from this release as soon as possible. This will allow adequate time for participants and the Board of Pesticides to process applications. Thank you for your help in getting the word out!

2014 Maine Farm Days, August 20 and 21

August 18, 2014

For more information contact: Jessica Nixon at 207-215-7388

Misty Meadows Farm in Clinton hosts one of Maine’s largest agricultural events

CLINTON– One of Maine’s largest agricultural events will be held this year on August 20 and 21. Maine Farm Days will take place at Misty Meadows Farm on the Hill Road in Clinton. This exciting event, which features activities for both farmers and non-farmers alike, takes place between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. Admission is free and open to the public.

“This is a time of great promise and opportunity for Maine agriculture,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “While the number of farms in the U.S. has decreased, Maine has added farms and increased the market value of its agricultural products by 24%, for a total of more than $763 million. Maine Farm Days is an excellent opportunity to meet some of the people contributing to this growth and learn how much of our food is produced and where it comes from.”

“Maine farmers work hard to bring food to our tables every day and ensure the viability of agriculture,” Commissioner Walt Whitcomb said. “This annual event gives the public a chance to experience how farms operate and for farmers to showcase and share innovation. It all is done in a fun and educational atmosphere.”

Maine Farms Days has a wide range of agribusiness exhibits, equipment dealers, wagon tours, children’s learning center, craft tent, presentations and workshops. It is a virtual cornucopia of animals, farm information, interesting people, equipment, food and entertaining displays. A chicken lunch, prepared by Pine Tree Camp, will be served each day. Proceeds from the lunch will benefit Pine Tree Camp.

Misty Meadows Farm is owned and operated by John and Belinda Stoughton and Thomas and Kimberly Wright of Clinton. The farm currently ships 40,000 pounds of milk daily, with an average of 79 pounds per cow for their herd of 600 cows. The farm has a total of 1,075 dairy animals and over 1,050 acres of cropland to produce feed for its herd.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Maine Fall Foliage Season is Almost Here

September 2, 2014

For more information contact: Gale Ross at (207) 287-5153

Maine’s fall foliage website has a fresh look and new resources for trip planning

AUGUSTA, Maine –While the State of Maine is enjoying an abundance of sunshine and beautiful late summer weather, now is the time to start planning your fall foliage trip. Beginning Wednesday, September 10, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) and the Maine Office of Tourism will provide an update on gradual change in leaf color from north to south culminating in peak conditions in late-October.

"Maine fall foliage is world-renowned and draws visitors from all over the country and around the globe," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "The fall foliage website and weekly foliage updates are examples of how Maine welcomes visitors and is ‘Open for Business’. Word is spreading. In just one area alone—farm-related agri-tourism—income has increased 78% over the last five years."

DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted that even though the Department’s forestry employees have been reporting conditions since 1959, they are finding new ways to promote Maine and attract new visitors. "Advances in technology are helping state government be more responsive to taxpayers and accessible to the public," said Commissioner Whitcomb said. "The Department’s fall foliage website got over 450,000 page views in the last year alone. That level of interest and interaction provides new opportunities to showcase Maine products, events and the best parts of Maine."

Maine’s official fall foliage website: www.mainefoliage.com has a new look, with additional links to scenic byways and to the Maine office of tourism. State officials are optimistic that the 2014 fall foliage season will be spectacular.

According to Bill Ostrofsky, Forest Pathologist within the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, the season appears to be "on schedule." "Tree foliage is in great shape this year, and we’ve had abundant rainfall with relatively cooler temperatures during the spring and summer, which leads up to a spectacular season," Ostrofsky said.

To produce the weekly report on fall foliage conditions, DACF forest rangers submit on-the-ground observations each week throughout the reporting season (September 10 through October 25) at www.mainefoliage.com – Maine’s official fall foliage website. The site includes a map indicating current foliage conditions with a useful foliage color key that is updated weekly. Visitors to the site can also find information on Facebook.

While navigating the website, leaf peepers can register to receive weekly reports and submit their favorite fall foliage photos. The site also provides information about complimentary ranger-led fall foliage tours in Maine State Parks.

Generally, the northern region of Maine is at or near peak the last week of September into the first week of October. Central, Southern and Western mountains are nearing peak conditions October 6 through October 18. Coastal Maine reaches peak conditions October 13 through 25.

Now is the time to plan a late-September getaway to Zone 6 and 7 in northeastern and northwestern Maine which includes Fort Kent, Caribou and Presque Isle to experience the first colors of autumn. There are scenic driving tours recommended on www.mainefoliage.com for the St. John Valley Cultural Byway and the Aroostook County circuit.

Appointments to the Maine Seed Potato Board Announced

September 8, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – Commissioner Walt Whitcomb announced today the appointment of David McCrum of Rumford Point and reappointment of Dominic Lajoie of Van Buren to the Maine Seed Potato Board. David McCrum has agreed to serve as a Commissioner’s Appointment and Dominic LaJoie has agreed to be reappointed to the position of a person producing potatoes in Aroostook County primarily for processing. The Maine Seed Potato Board (MSPB) was established in 1945 to ensure an adequate supply of foundation seed potatoes for the state's commercial seed potato producers and ultimately for the Maine potato industry.

“Maine’s potato industry, like Maine agriculture, continues to show resiliency and innovation in the face of new challenges and opportunities,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “These appointments help ensure that growers, producers and consumers are well served by the Maine Seed Potato Board. Maine’s potato industry continues to play a significant role in Maine’s economy and New England agriculture.”

“David McCrum and Dominic Lajoie have a breadth of knowledge and experience that will benefit Maine’s potato industry, particularly in promoting the high value seed potato through their service on the Board,” said Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Walt Whitcomb. “I am pleased that they will apply their talents for the benefit of the Maine potato industry and Maine agriculture as a whole.”

David McCrum

Is the managing partner of Sunday River Farms LLC. In 2004, County Super Spuds purchased Arthur Ladd’s farming operation headquartered in Rumford Point, Maine to become Sunday River Farms. Sunday River Farms is part of Penobscot McCrum, one of North America’s largest suppliers of superior, value-added potato specialty products.

The McCrum family represents five generations of potato farmers who began in the northern Maine town of Mars Hill. As a vertically integrated company, the McCrum family enterprise spans the entire state––specializing in every aspect of potatoes. Vertical integration allows the McCrum family to monitor quality from field to table, ensuring that the highest standards are met every step along the way.

Dominic Lajoie

Dominic Lajoie is part of a three-generation family organization that runs LaJoie Growers, LLC an agricultural operation in northern Aroostook County. For five generations, the LaJoie family has been producing potatoes in Van Buren, in the St. John River Valley. The company currently has approximately 1,300 acres of specialty produce and grain crops. Produce grown on the farm is suitable for different markets such as processing, chip, fresh and seed.

The Maine Seed Potato Board:

The Maine Seed Potato Board was established to foster and improve the seed potato industry of the State of Maine. Its primary responsibilities are to produce, or cause to be produced, through contract or otherwise, sufficient acreages of foundation seed potatoes of various varieties for distribution and sale to Maine potato growers; to work with and through the Agricultural Experiment Station of the University of Maine in conducting a program of foundation seed potatoes annually; to purchase, own, sell or convey farm real estate and farm equipment as necessary for the purpose of producing seed potatoes; and to make rules and regulations pertaining to its program of production, distribution and sales of seed potatoes. Proceeds from the sale of seed potatoes are credited to the operating account of the Board.

ORGANIZATION:

The Seed Potato Board was organized in Apri1 1945. It initially consisted of six members appointed by the Governor from specified areas for terms of three years, and the Commissioner of Agriculture served as chairman. A number of changes in the Board's structure have occurred since then, and the last one occurred in 2009 when the Legislature voted to transfer oversight of the Board from the Department to the Maine Potato Board. The Commissioner now serves as a member and appoints two members to include a representative of the potato industry in a county other than Aroostook County and a person producing potatoes in Aroostook County primarily for processing. The Maine Potato Board appoints six members representing the potato industry in Aroostook County and to include one grower producing primarily tablestock potatoes and another grower producing potatoes primarily for processing.

PROGRAM:

The Board carries out its mission through the operation of a foundation seed potato production facility known as the Porter Farm in Masardis, Maine. Over 200 different varieties are maintained in a tissue culture bank and nearly sixty varieties of seed potatoes are produced in the fields each year. The facility is equipped with tissue culture production, disease testing laboratories, seed storages with climate control systems, greenhouses and an irrigation system to support the production of nuclear and foundation seed. In 2009, the Board began producing minitubers in a state of the art greenhouse using hydroponics that allowed them to produce high quality minitubers at very competitive prices. It also enabled them to increase the volume of seed at a much faster rate to meet growing demands for new varieties.

Volunteers Wanted for Landowner Appreciation Cleanup Day, Saturday, September 13

September 8, 2014

For more information contact: Jeff Currier at (207) 827-1800, cell 441-2580

AUGUSTA- Landowner Appreciation Cleanup Day is September 13. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Forestry is coordinating the volunteer land cleanup effort this year. Forest Rangers working in cooperation with the Maine Snowmobile Association (MSA), ATV Maine, and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW), as well as other recreational groups, are preparing teams to clean up 50-60 illegal dump sites in Maine.

In other parts of the country, most undeveloped forest land is posted, and recreation is limited to those who pay club fees to use locations. Maine landowners have a history of sharing their forest and farm lands for responsible outdoor recreation. Millions of acres of working farms and forests are open to the public for enjoyment throughout the year. Unfortunately, the Maine privilege of enjoying access to private lands is threatened every time irresponsible people litter or illegally dump trash.

“Landowner Appreciation Cleanup Day is a way to thank property owners for allowing access to private lands for outdoor activities, recreation and enjoyment,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Most Maine people understand that public access to private lands is a special privilege to be respected and cherished, not a right. I commend volunteers and landowners alike for promoting public access and awareness of the need to respect private property.”

Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb urged outdoor enthusiasts and organizations to support the effort by volunteering their time and energy. “Department staff and our partner organizations have worked hard to make this annual effort a success,” he said. “It is also symbolic of efforts made throughout the year by people and individuals to help ensure future access to private lands by keeping them clear of trash and debris. The goal is to avoid the posting of ‘no trespassing’ signs and the installation of gates that block access.”

The Forestry staff, in cooperation with other state agencies and outdoor recreational groups, has been working with landowners to identify specific dump locations and enter them into a database to track progress on site cleanup. It will supply trucks and trash bags for the cleanup effort, but needs volunteers to help load the items. Dump sites vary from a single piece of discarded furniture, a washing machine or discarded tires to several pickup-truck loads of shingles and mattresses. To make it easier for cleanup volunteers, dozens of maps have been created that show the exact dump site locations. Cleanup volunteers who live near an illegal dump site may have to spend only a half hour or less to help clean it up.

Locations around Maine:

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?hl=en&authuser=0&mid=zoiiBuAdliI.kt9l_dw1qAg

To volunteer for this project, please contact Jeff Currier at (207) 827-1800, or the Maine Forest Service at 1-800-750-9777.

New Mapping Tool Available to Prepare for Hurricanes

September 10, 2014

For more information contact: Peter Slovinsky, Maine Geological Survey (207) 287-7173 Lynette Miller – Maine Emergency Management Association (207) 624-4420 Elizabeth Hertz – Municipal Planning Assistance Program (207) 287-8061 at

AUGUSTA- The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Bureau of Resource Information and Land Use Planning is making available a valuable planning tool to assist local, regional and state emergency management officials in preparing for hurricanes. The Bureau’s Maine Geological Survey, with funding from the Maine Floodplain Management Program through a grant from FEMA, has created a Potential Hurricane Inundation Map (PHIM) series that can be accessed online. Release of an online mapping tool, accessible through the Maine Geological Survey’s website, coincides with today’s date – September 10 - the statistical peak of the Atlantic Basin’s hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.

The PHIMs show areas along the Maine coastline that might potentially be flooded by storm tides (the combination of a predicted tide and storm surge) under scenarios of Category 1 or 2 storms making landfall at either mean tide or mean high tide. The maps also show an additional 20% potential flooding uncertainty band associated with each scenario. The PHIMs can be used to improve emergency preparedness and planning by helping identify vulnerable critical public infrastructure at the local, county, and state level. The maps were created using the National Hurricane Center’s Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model in addition to newly available highly accurate topographic data of Maine’s coastline.

“This is an excellent planning tool for local, regional and state emergency management professionals,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The ability to predict which parts of our coastline might be inundated by storm tides associated with hurricanes can help Maine communities plan for and respond to hurricane-related emergencies. This new mapping tool has the potential to save lives and limit property damage.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed that PHIM maps are the latest example of the type of work DACF scientists and educators do every day to plan for weather impact on our natural resources. “The Maine Geological Survey has worked hard with our partners to create a useful planning tool that will be helpful at all levels” he said. “PHIM is designed specifically for emergency management and planning, but highlights how the DACF is using cutting-edge technologies to help Maine communities meet the challenges of weather on natural resource management.”

Although the threat in Maine is generally small compared with southern New England states, hurricanes can and do happen in Maine. Luckily, Maine sits at the “tail end” of tropical events. Due to the colder Gulf of Maine waters and its geographic location, most hurricanes that cross into Maine have made landfall elsewhere and either weakened to tropical storms or become extra-tropical. Since records were started in 1842, only five hurricanes have made landfall along the Maine coastline as either Category 1 or 2 storms; the most recent was Hurricane Bob in 1991. However, many of these events have still caused extensive damage, injuries and even deaths. It is the responsibility of local, regional and state governments to be prepared for and respond to these events, and the PHIM series is meant to help all levels of government achieve that goal.

For more information, see the Maine Geological Survey’s Potential Hurricane Inundation Map website at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mgs/hazards/phim

Potential Hurricane Inundation Map links:

PHIM F.A.Q. page: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mgs/hazards/phim/faq.htm National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ National Hurricane Program: http://www.fema.gov/region-iii-mitigation-division/national-hurricane-program Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH): http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/surge/slosh.php NOAA Historical Hurricane Tracking Tool: http://csc.noaa.gov/hurricanes/#

Important Note: Potential Hurricane Inundation Maps are emergency preparedness and planning documents for events that don’t have occurrence probabilities. They are not intended to be used for regulatory or insurance purposes.

THE EASTERN STATES EXPOSITION “BIG E” STARTS TOMORROW

September 11, 2014

For more information contact: Jessica Nixon at 207-215-7388

-MAINE DAY IS SEPTEMBER 27-

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) encourages people to attend “New England’s Biggest Celebration,” starting September 12 and ending September 28 in West Springfield, Mass. The Eastern States Exposition, also know as the “Big E,” helps develop and promote argriculture, education, industry and family entertainment while preserving New England Heritage.

The “Big E” is the largest fair in New England, with participation from all six New England states (Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hamspshire, Vermont and Maine). Each state has its own exhibition hall. The State of Maine building (built in 1925) showcases Maine foods and products, as well as features information on Maine’s many recreational and vacation opportunities.

“The ‘Big E’ offers an excellent opportunity to showcase what makes Maine unique and special,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “I commend all of this year’s participants who work so hard to promote Maine and Maine products.’”

The DACF oversees Maine’s participation in this annual event. DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed the importance of participating companies, organizations and state agencies. “Our exhibitors promote Maine’s products and resources in agriculture, industry, fisheries, wildlife and recreation,” said Whitcomb. “Visitors to the Maine building experience a balance of educational and commercial exhibits that showcase Maine and its unique way of life. Only items that produced, grown, crafted, manufactured or significantly altered in Maine are featured in our building.”

Maine Day at the “Big E” is September 27 and features Down East Humorist Tim Sample, musical performances from Don Roy Trio, Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection Band, and the Press Gang Band and Maine enhancements to the daily Mardi Gras parade. A record-setting 160,872 people visited the “Big E” on last year’s Maine day.

The “Big E” takes place every September in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Last year’s attendance set a new record, with nearly 1.5 million fairgoers passing through the “Big E” gates over seventeen days. More than 850,000 of the fairgoers visit the state buildings located on the Avenue of States, affording a tremendous opportunity to promote Maine and Maine products.

Maine Exhibitors:

Alan Claude – Farmingdale – Maine Lighthouse Collection Series Bartlettyarns, Inc. – Harmony – Mule Spun Wool Yarns and Finished Products Buoy Sports, Buoy Sports, LLC – South Berwick - Buoy Sports and Decorative Products Bunting Hill Arts – Buxton – Glass Bead Jewelry Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company – Topsham – Maine Lobster Rolls, Poland Spring Water Historic Pittston Farm – Pittston Academy Grant Township – Destination, Campground, Restaurant, Farm Lori Davis Photography – Ellsworth – Nature, Wildlife and Landscape Photography Lovell Designs – Portland – Nature Inspired Jewelry, Ornaments Maine Aquaculture Association – Hallowell – Smoked Salmon On A Stick Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife – Augusta – Outdoor Recreation Information Maine Office of Tourism – Augusta – Maine Tourism Information Maine Potato Board – Presque Isle – Maine Baked Potato Maine Wood Products Association – Belfast – Maine Wood Crafters Pizza Pie on the Fly – Portland – Wood Fired Pizza Prospect Harbor Soap Company – Prospect Harbor– Handmade Soaps and Skincare products Wicked Whoopies by Isamax Snacks, Inc. – Gardiner – Whoopie Pies Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine – Orono – Wild Maine Blueberry Products Woods Mountain/Rib Truck – West Manland – Barbeque, BBQ Pork Parfait Works of Heart – Caribou - Maine Made Products and Amish Furniture

For more information about the Big E, please visit http://www.thebige.com For more information on Maine’s participation in the event, contact Jessica Nixon at (207) 215-7388.

2014 Shore and Harbor Planning Grants Awarded

September 22, 2014

For more information contact: Melissa Anson at (207) 287-8084, (207) 592-5689

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Coastal Program announces that four coastal municipalities will be awarded $52,239 in Shore and Harbor Planning grants. These awards will provide planning and design support for harbor management, infrastructure and public access along the Maine coast.

The grants are made possible by Maine’s federal coastal management award from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The grant program, an important component of the Maine Coastal Program, balances the development and conservation of Maine’s coastal zone by providing technical assistance to coastal municipalities for planning and public access. Each grantee will provide a minimum of 25% in matching funds or services.

“Commercial and public access to Maine’s coastline is important for fisherman, businesses that rely on tourism and public enjoyment of our natural resources,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “These projects will promote local access and economic activity along the Maine coast.”

“The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry partners with many communities to improve coastal access for commercial and recreational users,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Our Maine Coastal Program Grants help provide communities with technical assistance, infrastructure design and expanded access to Maine’s coastal resources.”

Grants were awarded as follows:

  1. Town of Chebeague Island: $20,000 for the assessment of a town-owned coastal parcel called Sunset Landing for its potential future use. The Town has already completed an initial phase of the project, and it will use this funding to complete the second phase, which includes a bathymetric survey, eel grass survey, wind-wave vulnerability analysis, and archaeological investigations. This information, displayed on a composite map, will allow the Town to present options to residents in a public process, and ultimately determine the best use for Sunset Landing.

  2. Town of Richmond: $7,239 for the planning and design of a pedestrian walkway to connect public access to Richmond’s waterfront. The Town will use the funding for engineering and design services along with boundary and legal work to obtain an easement and plan and design a walking path that will link two important public access sites along the Kennebec River that serve this coastal community: Richmond Town Waterfront and Swan Island State Boat Launch.

  3. City of Rockland: $15,000 for design and engineering to improve Rockland Public Pier. The City will solicit bids for engineering and design services to facilitate the improvement of this pier that was built in 1935 and serves the Midcoast region of Maine, where there is ever-growing demand for these public assets. Working with the Harbor Commission and the Harbor Park Redesign Committee, the City will integrate the new design for Rockland Public Pier with plans for Harbor Park, allowing both community facilities to continue to serve the public in the future.

  4. City of Rockland: $10,000 for planning new technology improvements and a dredge survey for Rockland Fish Pier. The City will contract for engineering services to survey around the pier in order to confirm and clarify costs for future dredging, which will be part of a larger plan to make significant capital improvements to Rockland Fish Pier. The City will also hire a consultant to investigate and advise on other possible upgrades to the pier, including new equipment such as hoists, energy efficient freezers, or even new technologies that may be employed to reduce fish odor and nuisance. This pair of assessments will allow the City to improve the overall Fish Pier facility and secure its future providing critical public access for the lobster and commercial fisheries while balancing the needs of other users.

This is the ninth round of Shore and Harbor Planning Grant solicitations. Since 2006, 59 grants have been awarded for a total of $766,949.

More information on the grant program can be found at http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mcp/grants/shore-and-harbor-planning-grants.html

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Governor LePage urges support for Hunters for the Hungry Program

September 23, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Says the donation of one moose can provide 200-500 pounds of meat to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households across the state

AUGUSTA – With moose hunting season underway, Governor Paul R. LePage is urging Maine hunters to consider supporting the Hunters for the Hungry Program by donating all or part of their harvest to feed families in need. The popular program provides a means for Maine hunters, as well as hunters from other states, to donate harvested game to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households with a medical need.

“The Hunters for the Hungry Program is a way that Maine hunters can pursue a sport they love and help their neighbors at the same time,” said Governor LePage. “The donation of one moose can provide 200 to 500 pounds of meat to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households across the state. The fact that this program has grown so steadily is both a testament to the need and the generosity of Mainers.”

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted that since its establishment in 1996, the Hunters for the Hungry Program has provided thousands of nutritious meals to people across the state.

“Since 1996, Maine sportsmen and women have contributed to a program that provides nutritious meals to people across Maine,” said Whitcomb. “The Hunters for the Hungry Program puts high quality, native protein on the tables of Maine families.”

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry distributes many types of donations to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households with a medical need. The Hunters for the Hungry Program is part of the Department’s Emergency Food Assistance Program. It is done in cooperation with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s wardens, Maine State Troopers and hunters, are all working towards a common goal of helping fellow Mainers.

The program accepts bear, deer and moose donations. Road kill donations are also accepted, provided the meat is not damaged. Hunters do not pay for the processing of donated meat. Meat processing costs are paid for by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry or the charity that receives the food. Hunters choosing to keep their game can still donate a few pounds to the program. Meat processors that are interested in getting involved with the program and learning how it works should call 207-287-7513.

For more information, to donate, or to get connected to a Hunters for the Hungry participating meat processor call toll free, 1-888-4DEERME (1-888-433-3763). The program also has a Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maine-Hunters-for-the-Hungry/197411763763406?hc_location=stream

For more information about The Emergency Food Assistance Program:

http://www.maine.gov/dacf/ard/tefap/index.shtml

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

MAINE DAY AT THE “BIG E” IS SATURDAY!

September 24, 2014

For more information contact: Jessica Nixon at 207-215-7388

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) encourages people to attend Maine Day at “New England’s Biggest Celebration,” this Saturday, September 27 in West Springfield, Massachusetts. The Eastern States Exposition, also know as the “Big E,” helps develop and promote argriculture, education, industry and family entertainment while preserving New England Heritage. This year’s “Big E” started September 12 and continues through September 28).

Maine Day at the “Big E” features Down East Humorist Tim Sample, musical performances from Don Roy Trio, Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection Band, and the Press Gang Band and Maine enhancements to the daily Mardi Gras parade. A record-setting 160,872 people visited the “Big E” on last year’s Maine day.

“The ‘Big E’ offers an excellent opportunity to showcase what makes Maine unique and special,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “I commend all of this year’s participants who work so hard to promote Maine and Maine products.’”

The DACF oversees Maine’s participation in this annual event. DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed the importance of participating companies, organizations and state agencies. “Our exhibitors promote Maine’s products and resources in agriculture, industry, fisheries, wildlife and recreation,” said Whitcomb. “Visitors to the Maine building experience a balance of educational and commercial exhibits that showcase Maine and its unique way of life. Only items that produced, grown, crafted, manufactured or significantly altered in Maine are featured in our building.”

The “Big E” is the largest fair in New England, with participation from all six New England states (Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hamspshire, Vermont and Maine). Each state has its own exhibition hall. The State of Maine building (built in 1925) showcases Maine foods and products, as well as features information on Maine’s many recreational and vacation opportunities.

The “Big E” takes place every September in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Last year’s attendance set a new record, with nearly 1.5 million fairgoers passing through the “Big E” gates over seventeen days. More than 850,000 of the fairgoers visit the state buildings located on the Avenue of States, affording a tremendous opportunity to promote Maine and Maine products.

Maine Exhibitors:

-Alan Claude (Farmingdale): Maine Lighthouse Collection Series -Bartlettyarns, Inc. (Harmony): Mule Spun Wool Yarns and Finished Products -Buoy Sports, LLC (South Berwick): Sports and Decorative Products -Bunting Hill Arts (Buxton): Glass Bead Jewelry -Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company (Topsham): Maine Lobster Rolls, Poland Spring Water -Historic Pittston Farm (Pittston Academy Grant Township): Destination, Campground, Restaurant, Farm -Lori Davis Photography (Ellsworth): Nature, Wildlife and Landscape Photography -Lovell Designs (Portland): Nature Inspired Jewelry, Ornaments -Maine Aquaculture Association (Hallowell):Smoked Salmon On A Stick -Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife: Outdoor Recreation Information -Maine Office of Tourism: Maine Tourism Information -Maine Potato Board (Presque Isle):Maine Baked Potato -Maine Wood Products Association (Belfast): Maine Wood Crafters -Pizza Pie on the Fly (Portland):Wood Fired Pizza -Prospect Harbor Soap Company (Prospect Harbor): Handmade Soaps and Skincare products -Wicked Whoopies by Isamax Snacks, Inc. (Gardiner): Whoopie Pies -Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine (Orono): Wild Maine Blueberry Products -Woods Mountain/Rib Truck (West Manland): Barbeque, BBQ Pork Parfait -Works of Heart (Caribou): Maine Made Products and Amish Furniture

For more information about the Big E, please visit http://www.thebige.com For more information on Maine’s participation in the event, contact Jessica Nixon at (207) 215-7388.

Governor LePage highlights forest stewardship efforts

October 1, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Presents 2014 Austin H. Wilkins Forest Stewardship Award to the Chadbourne Tree Farms

Augusta — Governor Paul R. LePage presented Chadbourne Tree Farms, LLC with the prestigious 2014 Austin H. Wilkins Forest Stewardship Award at a Blaine house event. The prestigious award recognizes people or organizations that stand above their peers to further forestry, forests, or forestland conservation in the state of Maine. Started by the Maine TREE Foundation in 2004, it is the only award in Maine that recognizes stewardship of the working forest. Representatives from several organizations were on hand, including the Maine TREE Foundation.

“Maine’s working forests are a vital part of our past, present, and future economy,” said Governor LePage. “I am pleased to publicly recognize Chadbourne Tree Farms for their leadership in promoting exemplary management of our working forests.”

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) Commissioner Walt Whitcomb and Sherry Huber, Executive Director of the Maine TREE Foundation also commended the Chadbourne family for their lasting impact on Maine’s forest. The DACF Commissioner and the Maine TREE Foundation choose award recipients.

“The Chadbourne family’s sustainable forest management, going back centuries, is an outstanding example of how the Maine forest continues to be productive,” said Commissioner Whitcomb. “Chadbourne Tree Farms professionals manage both natural and planted trees to ensure a sustainable, long-term supply of quality white pine logs. Their pruning techniques have refined for decades to the produce the high quality logs sought by mills. The company also serves as an example for others providing public access to private lands for outdoor recreational opportunities like hiking, fishing, hunting, trapping and snowmobiling.”

Named after one of Maine’s longest contributing professional foresters, the Austin H. Wilkins Forest Stewardship Award is the only award in Maine that recognizes stewardship of the working forest. Started by the Maine TREE Foundation in 2004, the award is given periodically, but no more than annually.

Previous Austin H. Wilkins Forest Stewardship Award Recipients:

-Austin H. Wilkins (2004) -Pingree Associates & Seven Islands Land Company (2005) -No award given (2006) Sherry Huber & John Hagen (2007)
-Roger Milliken Jr. & Baskahegan Company (2008) -Jensen Bissell & Baxter State Park Scientific Forest Management Area (2009) -Prentiss & Carlisle Company (2010) -Robbins Lumber Company (2011) -Robert Linkletter & the Linkletter Family (2012) -Maine Tree Farm Committee (2013)

Chadbourne Tree Farms, LLC is a forest products company that has its origins in 1634 when William Chadbourne came to America from Devonshire, England under contract to build a sawmill. He built a water-powered sawmill in South Berwick, Maine that is thought to have been the first sawmill in America. Several generations have continued the family tradition, making Chadbourne Tree Farms what it is today, a producer of high quality white pine logs for sawmills and quality forest products including veneer, sawlogs and pulpwood.

The Maine TREE Foundation was founded in 1989 to provide Maine people with accurate information about the forest resource. The foundation sponsors several education programs, including: Long Term Education About Forests (LEAF), Project Learning Tree (PLT), the Maine Tree Farm Committee, and the Certified Logging Professional program.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Media Advisory: Commissioner Whitcomb to recognize emerging Maine food exporter

October 2, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

The Commissioner will highlight the efforts of Gelato Fiasco to increase Maine exports to international markets

Brunswick — Commissioner Walt Whitcomb will present the Commissioner’s Leadership Award to Gelato Fiasco as an emerging Maine food exporter during a visit to their Flagship Store in Brunswick this Friday, October 3. This recognition follows the 10-state regional acknowledgment Gelato Fiasco recently received from Food Export USA-Northeast at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture’s Annual Meeting in Burlington, Vermont. Food Export USA-Northeast assists hundreds of small companies with marketing food and agricultural products overseas.

“Gelato Fiasco is an outstanding example of a small Maine company successfully using Food Export’s professional staff to identify international markets for their products, establish relationships and increase exports,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Governor LePage has made selling more Maine products abroad a top priority of his administration. I am pleased to be able to recognize Gelato Fiasco for their courage in entering the rigorous international marketplace.”

Commissioner Whitcomb will present the award to Gelato Fiasco at their Flagship Store in Brunswick (74 Maine Street), this Friday, October 3, at 11:00 a.m.

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb is Chairman of Food Export USA-Northeast, a private, non-profit international trade organization that works with smaller and medium sized producers throughout the Northeast to promote export of food and agricultural products. Food Export USA-Northeast has played an important role in promoting and increasing export of several Maine products. Gelato Fiasco was recently featured at one of their meetings as an example of a highly successful Maine producer that partnered with Food Export USA.

Gelato Fiasco

Gelato Fiasco is a Maine producer of gelato and sorbetto flavors that are house-made daily in small batches for specialty and retail. The company uses only Maine milk to produce its products. Since its establishment in 2007, the company has grown steadily; it now serves at its two stores in Brunswick and Portland, and creates gelato in pints for sale at grocery and specialty stores in 35 states. It has been featured in Bon Appetit, Country Living, the Boston Globe, and Fortune, and its founders were honored as Empact100 young entrepreneurs at the White House. In 2013, through its partnership with Food Export USA-Northeast, the company made connections in the Caribbean, Brazil and Chile that will result in future export sales.

Food Export USA-Northeast

Food Export USA - Northeast is a non-profit organization that promotes the export of food and agricultural products from the northeast region of the United States. The organization has been helping exporters of northeast food and agricultural products sell their products overseas since 1973, when it was first created as a cooperative effort between 10 northeastern state agricultural promotion agencies and the United States Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

Food Export-Northeast, in conjunction with its member states, provides a wide range of services to facilitate trade between local food suppliers and importers around the world. These services include: export promotion, customized export assistance, and a cost-share funding program.

Food Export-Northeast is one of four State Regional Trade Groups (SRTG's) that assists companies with export promotion. Three other regional groups, Food Export Association of the Midwest USA, SUSTA and WUSATA provide similar services for companies based or sourcing product from outside of the Food Export-Northeast 10-state region.

More information on Food Export-Northeast can be found at: https://www.foodexport.org/

Coastal Public Access Guide available to coastal enthusiasts

October 7, 2014

For more information contact: Theresa Torrent at (207) 287-2351

Three regional volumes: Southern Region (South Berwick to Freeport), Midcoast Region (Brunswick to Hampden), Downeast Region (Bangor to Calais)

Augusta - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Coastal Program announced that all three volumes of its Maine Coastal Public Access Guide are now available for online purchase by coastal enthusiasts. The guidebooks provide descriptions for more than 700 sites along Maine’s 5,300-mile coastline, including geographic coordinates, amenities, facilities, parking and directions. The series is comprised of three volumes: Southern Region (South Berwick to Freeport), Midcoast Region (Brunswick to Hampden), and Downeast Region (Bangor to Calais).

“Coastal lands and waters and recreational boating play a major role in Maine’s economy,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Public access to the shore is vital to the survival of some of Maine’s most significant commercial and recreational enterprises, including fishing, marine transportation, tourism, boating and wildlife viewing.”

“I offer my sincere thanks to the hundreds of partners who helped create the Maine Coastal Public Access Guide,” said Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. “It will help residents and visitors navigate and enjoy Maine’s unique coastline.”

The Maine Coastal Program is part of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and is supported by an annual grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association at the United States Department of Commerce. The Maine Coastal Program works with a variety of public and private partners to balance the development and conservation of coastal resources.

More information about the Coastal Access Guides and to purchase them online, by mail, or in person, please visit: http://maine.gov/dacf/mcp/coastal-access-guide.htm

If you are a writer or a news organization and would like to review the series prior to publicizing its release, please contact Melissa Anson at Melissa.Anson@Maine.gov

Supporting documents

Coastal Access Guides

Project Canopy Partners with TD Bank and Alliance for Community Trees to Plant Trees in Auburn

October 8, 2014

For more information contact: Jan Santerre at 207-287-4987

Auburn – Project Canopy staff and volunteers will be joined by employees from TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, and Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees) on October 10, 2014, at the Chestnut Trail in Pettengill Park to participate in TD Tree Days, a cooperative effort to plant new trees in local communities in need.

Project Canopy is a cooperative partnership between the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Forest Service and GrowSmart Maine, a community-focused nonprofit organization. The public-private partnership increases community awareness of the benefits of our forests and trees and promotes community forest management practices.

“Planting trees in our urban communities increases public awareness of the value of Maine’s forest industry,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The total economic impact of Maine’s forest economy is $8 billion and it provides direct and indirect employment to tens of thousands of people.”

As a component of TD Forests, the bank’s environmental initiative to expand urban forestry throughout the footprint and enhance community and economic development, TD Bank and ACTrees will partner with various community organizations for TD Tree Days. The tree planting events will take place from Maine to Florida throughout October in communities in need. The trees planted will provide health, environmental and recreational benefits, including improved air quality, shade for buildings and can help mitigate the effects of climate change.

“We are very grateful to TD Bank for its investment of time and resources in improving the City of Auburn,” Jan Santerre, Project Canopy Director said. “This is a tremendous example of how the state can partner with private corporations for public good.”

More than 100 volunteers will plant 50 trees at Chestnut Trail in Pettengill Park, a .7 mile city owned trail that winds through a low income neighborhood and past the PAL Center (Auburn Police Activities League), operated by the Auburn Police Department, which provides educational and athletic activities for 3rd through 8th grade students after school and during the summer. The TD Tree Days event will allow the City of Auburn to improve the community by engaging residents, business owners, and TD Bank volunteers to plant trees which will help to build positive community identity and pride. In selecting planting sites, the environmental benefits that trees provide for climate, stormwater management, wildlife habitat, and urban renewal are considered.

“TD Bank is proud to partner with Project Canopy and ACTrees to create greener open spaces in Auburn,” said Larry Wold, Market President for TD Bank. “As an environmental leader, TD Bank is passionate about the environment, and we are thrilled that so many volunteers are coming together to plant new trees at Pettengill Park."

TD Tree Days events will take place in October 2014 in: Auburn, Maine; Baltimore, Md.; Boston, Mass.; Bronx, N.Y.; Brookhaven, Pa.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Camden, N.J.; Detroit, Mich.; Greenville, S.C.; Hudson, N.H.; Irving, Texas; Jacksonville, Fla.; Jersey City, N.J.; Lawrence, Mass.; Miami, Fla.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Neptune, N.J.; Staten Island, N.Y.; and Queens, N.Y.

Follow TD Tree Days on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TDBank_US #TDTreeDays and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TDMoneyLoungeUS.

Project Canopy

Project Canopy is Maine's urban and community forestry program. It is a collaboration between the Maine Forest Service and GrowSmart Maine to maintain healthy urban and community forests for economic, ecological and quality of life benefits for Mainers. Project Canopy works to keep Maine's communities green and liveable by working with municipalities and non-profits to help manage public tree resources. Through grants and technical assistance, the project promotes plantings and maintenance of trees in Maine communities. It also supports the development of management plans for town forests. For more information visit: http://www.projectcanopy.me About Alliance for Community Trees

Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and livability of cities by planting and caring for trees. Together, ACTrees membership have planted and cared for more than over 15 million trees with help from over 5 million volunteers. ACTrees also leads National NeighborWoods® Month – an annual campaign to plant and care for trees during the month of October. Learn more about ACTrees, its membership, and programs at www.ACTrees.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter @alliance4trees.

About TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank®

TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 8 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at approximately 1,300 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In addition, TD Bank and its subsidiaries offer customized private banking and wealth management services through TD Wealth®, and vehicle financing and dealer commercial services through TD Auto Finance. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J. To learn more, visit http://www.tdbank.com. Find TD Bank on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TDBank and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/TDBank_US.

TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, is a member of TD Bank Group and a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto, Canada, a top 10 financial services company in North America. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the ticker symbol "TD". To learn more, visit http://www.td.com.

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Organization logos

USDA Specialty Crop Block Grants Create New Economic Opportunities and Grow Markets for Local Producers

October 9, 2014

For more information contact: Jessica Nixon at 207-287-3494

Augusta – Commissioner Walter Whitcomb announced that Maine is partnering with USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to invest $602,678.57 to support Maine Specialty Crop Producers. Maine will conduct 10 initiatives to increase the competitiveness of Maine specialty crops by: enhancing and strengthening markets for specialty crops such as potatoes, wild blueberries, maple syrup, and other fruits and vegetables; investigating the health of honey bees; increasing the nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops by Maine children and adults; and furthering the development of a hops industry to complement Maine’s craft beer industry.

“The last Census of Agriculture found that the market value of Maine agricultural products has increased 24 %,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This includes a significant increase in value for Maine specialty crops like blueberries and potatoes. The investments we are making will help strengthen markets for Maine grown crops and support continued growth of our natural resource economy.”

"These investments will benefit Maine farmers and consumers by funding research and marketing that is critical to the growth of Maine specialty crops,” said Commissioner Whitcomb. “Selected projects will help growers make food safety enhancements, solve research needs for better pest management, make better informed decisions to increase profitability and sustainability and encourage the next generation to enter into commercial agriculture enterprises.

Maine’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for 2014 supports projects that:

  1. Support Maine Specialty Crop Producers with Food Safety Audit Preparation
  2. Increase the Nutrition Knowledge and Consumption of Specialty Crops by Maine Children and Adults
  3. Enhance Consumer and Producer Awareness of Maine Maple Syrup
  4. Improve Maine Potato Yields through Increased Rotation Lengths and Improved Rotation Crop Profitability
  5. Support Maine Potato Integrated Pest Management
  6. Enhance the Competitiveness of New England Specialty Crops through Regional Collaboration
  7. Investigate Honeybee Exposure to Pesticides in Maine – The question about Neonicotinoids
  8. Increase the Food Safety Margin of Wild Blueberries through Improved Intervention Measures
  9. Improve Integrated Pest Management Practices for Maine Wild Blueberry Growers
  10. Build a Hops Industry in Maine

Since 2006, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which is administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), has awarded close to $3 million dollars to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to support the growing number of Maine specialty crop producers who are selling into local and regional markets.

Visit http://www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp to read the 2014 project summaries and view a list of awards by location.

PROJECT ABSTRACTS: Supporting Maine Specialty Crop Producers with Food Safety Audit Preparation

To maintain and/or grow their markets, many Maine Specialty Crop Producers need to successfully be annually audited for Food Safety with GAP/GHP; Produce GAP’s Harmonized; or other third party audits. rowers need and want assistance preparing for these audits.

AgMatters LLC will hold group meetings and one-on-one meetings with growers in order to assist with this transition of audit expectations. They have many years of experience working with The Maine Vegetable and Small Fruit Growers Association and the Maine Pomological Society promoting food safety with specialty crop growers and markets in Maine. Some Maine food hubs are beginning to ask for this certification as well. It takes a great deal of time, effort and investment for growers to meet these expectations. This grant will enable AgMatters LLC to assist a minimum of 30 specialty crop growers as they tackle the Food Safety Audits that their markets demand. Success will be measured by the number of growers who are assisted with audit preparation and their feedback.

Project Partner Organization: AgMatters LLC will establish an agreement or contractual agreement with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to lead and execute this project.

Increasing the Nutrition Knowledge and Consumption of Specialty Crops by Maine Children and Adults

Nutritious and delicious specialty crops are being produced in every county of our state, but without nutrition education in the classroom and awareness building provided through school gardens many citizens will never purchase them. Maine Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC), Maine School Garden Network (MSGN), and FoodCorps will partner to educate Maine schoolchildren, teachers, parents and volunteers about specialty crops. The project will provide ready to use classroom lessons for teachers, hands-on experiential learning in the garden and direct links to Maine’s specialty crop producers. The effect will be increased consumption of specialty crops in the school cafeterias and purchase from local farmers’ markets, farm stands and grocery stores.

Schools across Maine are initiating school garden programs (112 participate in the MSGN registry). Less than 5% of these schools currently have any staff that is compensated for work in these gardens. The FoodCorp program has assisted schools across the state since 2011 in garden education and local food procurement. MSGN provides monthly newsletters, easy to access information on the website, and school garden visits by the coordinator to answer questions and establish links to specialty crop farmers in the area. MAITC provides lessons, fieldtrips and professional development for classroom teachers. This project will help prepare the next generation to purchase more of Maine’s specialty crops, cook and preserve them in their kitchens and integrate them into everyday healthy meals.

Enhancing Consumer and Producer Awareness of Maine Maple Syrup

In 2013, Maine produced 450,000 gallons of syrup making it the third largest producing state in the United States. The value of this syrup is $23.9 million and is calculated with the understanding that Maine sells about 90% of its crop as bulk syrup rather than retail. Maine increased its numbers of licensed maple syrup producers from 349 in 2011 to 452 in 2014. Maple syrup production is expanding rapidly as both a commodity crop for some producers, and an integral economic addition for diversified Maine farm businesses. To capture the full retail value of the syrup, producers must address three components of retail excellence: the quality, safety and desirability of consuming maple syrup. Posters, rack cards, flyers, recipe booklets, media posts and marketing directed to the public will enable this. In addition to events aimed at the public, producers will receive educational assistance about proper food safety and certification processes to ensure that the highest quality products can be promoted to the public.

Improving Maine Potato Yields through Increased Rotation Lengths and Improved Rotation Crop Profitability.

Potato producers in Maine are in need of mechanisms in which to improve potato yields in order to sustain market viability. One such mechanism, as identified by the Maine potato industry’s “Yield Initiative Taskforce,” is through the lengthening of rotations (increasing the time between potato croppings on a piece of land). Economic challenges arise under this scenario in Maine due to increasing times between potatoes (typically the main cash crop), lack of crop diversity in current potato-cropping portfolios, and, lastly, a lack of identified potential alternative crops, alternative markets for existing crops, and value-added processing potentials for new and existing rotation crops.

The goal of this project is to identify potential crops that could be grown in conjunction with potatoes that would allow producers improved economic returns, allowing growers to expand current rotation lengths while directly and indirectly improving potato yields. Through the iterative process of identifying climate suitable alternative crops, their market potential, value-added potential, and effects upon potatoes, we seek to improve the overall sustainability of the Maine potato industry for the coming years.

Maine Potato Integrated Pest Management

The management of insects, diseases, and other pests is integral in sustaining the $500 million Maine potato industry. Without reliable and sustainable pest management strategies, potato growers face the potential for severe crop losses resulting in significant reductions in profits and threats to long-term viability. To ensure an adequate response to the pest-related hazards confronting potato growers, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Potato Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program will provide support through field monitoring, disease forecasting, and distribution of educational materials. The program will employ 10 seasonal aides, maintain 200 specialized insect traps, coordinate a statewide network of electronic weather stations, and survey 75 potato fields on a weekly basis. Applied research regarding late blight spore morality and fungicide residual will aid in the development of a late blight decision support system and information delivery will be enhanced through the development of a late blight smartphone app. The economic impact of the Potato IPM Program on the Maine potato industry has averaged nearly $14 million for the past five years. With continued funding this program will provide growers with current information on specific and timely pest management strategies in order to minimize pesticide applications and maximize potato yield.

Enhancing the Competitiveness of New England Specialty Crops through Regional Collaboration

The Harvest New England Association, Inc., (HNE), established in 1992, is the only regional marketing association comprised of the New England State Departments of Agriculture. This wholesale-driven project, completed over three years, has three components which work towards the overall goal of increasing purchases and sales of regional specialty crops by New England wholesalers and increased awareness of regional specialty crops by consumers.

The projects are responding to needs expressed by the industry and the continued need for consumer education on the availability of New England grown specialty crops. The importance of regional wholesale buying for the purposes of sales to school, institutions, and restaurants is ever present and an increasing priority for each of the New England states. Producers, consumers, and wholesalers now need the education and the knowledge to advance to the next level. This will be accomplished by increasing the marketing skills, networking, public awareness, and buying opportunities of New England specialty crops.

Project Partner Organization: Harvest New England through the Connecticut Department of Agriculture

Honeybee Exposure to Pesticides in Maine – The question about Neonicotinoids

Neonicotinoid insecticides are commonly used for control of many insect pests in several important Specialty Crops grown in Maine. These insecticides are relatively inexpensive, highly effective in controlling pests, provide persistent control, and have low human toxicity, as far as known. However, neonicotinoid insecticides are banned in many countries in the European Union (Stafford 2013), some landscapes in Canada, and are considered in some US states for a ban. In fact, in the fall of 2013 a bill was introduced into the Maine legislature to ban neonicotinoids temporarily in Maine. This bill was withdrawn before debate. This class of insecticides has been implicated in honeybee colony collapse and other deleterious effects on honeybees and some native bee declines. Bee pollinators are extremely important to the production of many Specialty Crops grown in Maine, specifically the small fruit, tree fruit and the cucurbit crops. However, the data is far from conclusive that these insecticides are the cause of honeybee declines. This is NOT to say that these insecticides are not harming bees. However, in Maine there is almost NO DATA on the exposure that honeybees experience with neonicotinoid insecticides, or for that matter any pesticides. The intent of this proposal is to collect data on honeybee exposure so that informed decisions can be made regarding bee exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides AND other pesticides in different regions and landscapes in Maine. An informed decision on risk due to pesticides cannot be made without information on potential exposure. Quantifiable exposure rate is the FUNDAMENTAL basis for all toxicological risk assessment.

Increasing the Food Safety Margin of Wild Blueberries through Improved Intervention Measures

The Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine proposes using $56,875 in Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) funding for the project “Increasing the Food Safety Margin of Wild Blueberries through Improved Intervention Measures”. Dr. Vivian Wu, University of Maine Professor of Microbiology and Food Safety, will conduct research to develop effective intervention technologies using chemical washing (chlorine, chlorine dioxide (ClO2), lactic acid, and ozone) to reduce microbial loading on frozen processed wild blueberries. This proposal is expected to develop outcomes that increase the margin of food safety for Maine wild blueberries that will protect the consumer and the economic wellbeing of Maine’s 510 growers and the $250 million economic contribution of wild blueberries to the Maine economy. We propose to evaluate efficacy of sanitizers at short contact times in inactivating inoculated foodborne pathogens from the surface of wild blueberries. Blueberries will be inoculated with a pathogen cocktail. Individual chemical sanitizers and/or combinations will be applied with single spray or double spray equipment on the surface of berries. Treated blueberry samples will be frozen storage at -15°C for 1 week. Bacterial enumeration will be conducted. Expected results from enumeration should show a 5 log CFU (colony forming unit) pathogenic reduction when the optimal sanitation spraying system is established and spray sanitation measure is coupled with freezing. Successful outcomes of the project will provide wild blueberry processors with effective intervention methods to increase the food safety margin of the crop.

Improving Integrated Pest Management Practices for Maine Wild Blueberry Growers

The Wild Blueberry Commission (WBC) proposes to develop and implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for weeds, diseases and insects for Maine’s 510 wild blueberry growers. This project will address acute, emerging, and important crop management needs that threaten Maine wild blueberry production by developing IPM program activities. If IPM practices and enhancements are not developed to address these challenges Maine’s 84.7 million pound wild blueberry crop, $64.7 million farm gate revenue and $250 million in annual Maine economic impact are at significant risk. This IPM program will conservatively prevent $32 million in annual grower revenue losses. This integrated proposal contains three focus areas. First: Evaluate herbicides with different modes of action to effectively control resistant weeds; Develop effective weed resistance strategies and educate growers on weed resistance management. Second: Use weather station network data and applied research to provide growers with disease forecasts to reduce crop loss and fungicide use; develop new IPM disease and insect management enhancements including: conduct a fungicide evaluation studies to provide data on mummy berry, Botrytis blossom blight, and leaf spot diseases to reduce fungicide resistance; and predictions on emergence of Spotted Wing Drosophila and Blueberry Fruit Fly. Third: Develop an IPM program for blueberry tip midge and determine the impact of wild blueberry damage from sap feeding insects resulting from current fertility and disease management practice.

Building a Hops Industry in Maine

Maine is a national leader in production of craft beers, yet most of this product is brewed from imported ingredients. Brewers have expressed a strong desire to brew their products with local hops, but presently there is little growing capacity for hops in Maine on a commercial scale. Development of a successful hops industry requires that we study which varieties are best adapted to Maine’s climate, and which have the most desirable brewing characteristics. Of special concern is resistance to downy mildew, a potentially devastating disease of hops plants. We will plant twelve varieties of hops at the Agricultural Experiment Station in Monmouth, and evaluate growth characteristics, including plant survival, productivity and disease resistance, such as tolerance to downy mildew. The varieties will be evaluated for brewing and flavoring qualities at the Food Science Laboratory at the University of Maine in Orono. Interested growers and brewers will visit the trials and learn appropriate growing techniques, pest management strategies and variety characteristics. Results will be shared with growers and brewers through workshops, fact sheets and videos posted online. This project will determine which hops varieties will be best suited for Maine brewers and educate interested growers in sustainable hops production.

Maine’s Conservation Districts Highlighted

October 15, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

State Officials stress their importance to soil health, water quality and wise use of land, forest and water resources

Augusta – Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) officials are highlighting the important work of Maine Soil and Water Conservation Districts in speeches in Skowhegan and Gorham this week. Commissioner Walt Whitcomb and Deputy Commissioner Dave Lavway are scheduled to speak at meetings of the Maine State Grange and Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District about the value of Conservation districts to Maine communities, agriculture and the natural resource economy.

“The last Census of Agriculture highlighted the strength of Maine agriculture and its potential to put more food on the table, provide jobs and create economic opportunities,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “There are more Maine farms now, and the market value of Maine agricultural products has increased 24 percent. Soil and Water Conservation Districts are an important part of that success. For the amount of money invested, Conservation Districts provide taxpayers with the biggest bang for the buck in natural resource management. The valuable work that they do does not receive enough attention or financial support.”

“Maine needs to develop its natural resources economy through prevention of soil erosion, improvement of soil health, protection and restoration of water quality, and wise use of our land, forests, and water,” said DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Meeting these challenges requires a public-private partnership that Conservation Districts have developed over the past 70 years. The LePage Administration has actively strengthened an important partnership that improves natural resource management.”

Speaking to the Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District (Cumberland SWCD), Deputy DACF Commissioner Dave Lavway congratulated the district for its nationally recognized program for urban stormwater management and transformation into the largest and most successful Conservation District in New England.

“Agriculture is growing in Cumberland County, with more farms and more acres devoted to producing locally-grown food with sustainable farming practices,” said Deputy Commissioner Lavway. “Cumberland SWCD has recognized this trend and is developing programs to promote soil health and public awareness of agriculture.”

Benefits of Soil and Water Conservation Districts:

  • Soil & Water Conservation districts help prevent of soil erosion, improve soil health, protect and restore water quality. They promote wise use of land, forest and water resources. They achieve these objectives by establishing public-private partnerships.

  • Conservation Districts bring numerous partners together: federal and state agencies, local governments, farmers, woodlot owners, lakeshore residents, business and industry – to find effective solutions to local natural resource problems.

  • Soil & Water Conservation Districts are important partners in the merged Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry. They epitomize the collaborative approach to natural resource management that Governor LePage envisioned when he and the Legislature combined three agencies into Maine’s largest natural resource Department.

  • Conservation Districts extend the Department’s ability to reach local landowners. Districts are one of the most trusted sources for unbiased information on natural resource management.

  • Maine’s Conservation Districts leverage over $15 million in grants, appropriations, cash contributions, and volunteer labor to conserve, improve, and sustain natural resources. Every State dollar invested in Conservation Districts produces over $ 18 in additional funding for conservation work.

More information on Maine Soil and Water Conservation Districts is available at:

http://www.maine.gov/dacf/about/commissioners/soil_water/index.shtml

Governor LePage urges support for Hunters for the Hungry Program

October 15, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Says the donation of one moose can provide 200-500 pounds of meat to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households across the state

AUGUSTA – With the second session of the 2014 moose hunting season underway, Governor Paul R. LePage is again urging Maine hunters to consider supporting the Hunters for the Hungry Program by donating all or part of their harvest to feed families in need. The popular program provides a means for Maine hunters, as well as hunters from other states, to donate harvested game to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households with a medical need.

“The Hunters for the Hungry Program is a way that Maine hunters can pursue a sport they love and help their neighbors at the same time,” said Governor LePage. “The donation of one moose can provide 200 to 500 pounds of meat to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households across the state. The fact that this program has grown so steadily is both a testament to the need and the generosity of Mainers.”

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted that since its establishment in 1996, the Hunters for the Hungry Program has provided thousands of nutritious meals to people across the state.

“Since 1996, Maine sportsmen and women have contributed to a program that provides nutritious meals to people across Maine,” said Whitcomb. “The Hunters for the Hungry Program puts high quality, native protein on the tables of Maine families.”

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry distributes many types of donations to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households with a medical need. The Hunters for the Hungry Program is part of the Department’s Emergency Food Assistance Program. It is done in cooperation with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s wardens, Maine State Troopers and hunters, are all working towards a common goal of helping fellow Mainers.

The program accepts bear, deer and moose donations. Road kill donations are also accepted, provided the meat is not damaged. Hunters do not pay for the processing of donated meat. Meat processing costs are paid for by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry or the charity that receives the food. Hunters choosing to keep their game can still donate a few pounds to the program. Meat processors that are interested in getting involved with the program and learning how it works should call 207-287-7513.

For more information, to donate, or to get connected to a Hunters for the Hungry participating meat processor call toll free, 1-888-4DEERME (1-888-433-3763). The program also has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maine-Hunters-for-the-Hungry/197411763763406

For more information about The Emergency Food Assistance Program:

http://www.maine.gov/dacf/ard/tefap/index.shtml

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine Harvest Festival 2014

October 20, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

This fourth annual event will be held at the Cross Insurance Center

BANGOR – The fourth annual Maine Harvest Festival will be held November 8 and 9 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The event will be held Saturday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Admission is $7, children 12 and under admitted free. Sponsored, in part, by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, the two-day festival will feature over 150 Maine farmers and producers and will include great local food, beverages, music, fiber and more.

“The last Census of Agriculture highlighted the strength of Maine agriculture and its potential to put more food on the table, provide jobs and create economic opportunities,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “There are more Maine farms now, and the market value of Maine agricultural products has increased 24 percent. The continued growth of the Maine Harvest Festival highlights the quality of Maine products and consumer demand for them.”

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted that the festival has expanded since it started, and moved to the Cross Insurance Center to accommodate increased consumer interest. In 2014, it will expand again into the Center’s larger arena area.

“The Festival features special demonstrations, presentations, chefs using local produce, live music and much more. There will be multiple opportunities for families to learn more about agriculture, healthy eating and our natural resources,” said Whitcomb. “Governor LePage and all of us at the state level think that Maine’s next wave of entrepreneurs are the farmers, bakers, brewers, vintners, chefs and other artisans that grow local food, create jobs and strengthen local economies.”

There will be booths, demonstrations, seminars and multiple opportunities for festival goers to taste, sample and purchase offerings. This year’s event features an expanded wine, brewery and distillery sampling area. The State of Maine Fair Pie Contest Finale and Awards presentation will also take place.

Based on experiences from previous years, organizers stressed the importance of bringing a cooler or a thermal insulated bag/container for transporting temperature-sensitive purchases.

Maine Harvest Festival Organizer Judi Perkins promises this year’s participants “mouth-watering cooking demonstrations, with a blend of old favorites and many new offerings with creative new twists. We welcome people to the world of Maine cooks and kitchens filled with heavenly aromas and delicious 'made from 'scratch' perfection," said Perkins.

For more information about the Maine Harvest Festival: http://maineharvestfestival.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Blaine House Christmas trees to honor the troops

December 1, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

The Kennebec Garden Club will decorate Balsam Firs donated by the Granger Family Farm

AUGUSTA – In preparation for the holidays, the Kennebec Garden Club will decorate two of three Blaine House balsam fir trees donated by Granger Family Farm in China, Maine. The two trees will be displayed inside the Blaine House for the holidays. A third tree will be located in the First Family’s private living quarters and will be decorated by the LePage family.

According to First Lady Ann LePage, this year's annual theme is: Tribute to the Troops.

“Paul and I truly appreciate all that the Garden Club does each Christmas to create a festive atmosphere at the Blaine House, as well as the generous annual gifts from the Granger Family Farm,” said First Lady Ann LePage. “I couldn’t have been happier when they chose a theme to honor our troops this year. It’s critical that we remember the sacrifices of those who have served and honor those who currently wear the uniform. Over the years they have too often been separated from their families during the holidays. This will remind us to keep them all in our prayers and be ever grateful for the sacrifices our military men and women have made to protect us, our families and the freedoms we enjoy each and every day.”

According to Clark Granger, the gift is his third. Clark has been growing Christmas trees since the 1950s and has planted over 200,000 trees in his lifetime.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Healthy Pets, Happy Owners

December 4, 2014

For more information contact: Michele Walsh, Liam Hughes at 207-287-7615, 207-287-5531

Helpful tips from the State Veterinarian and Animal Welfare Program Director

AUGUSTA - The holiday season is a popular time for Maine families to consider the addition of a new family pet. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s State Veterinarian and Director of Animal Welfare are urging Mainers to take the time and care worthy of this significant and potentially rewarding step when considering obtaining a new pet.

“Healthy pets make happy owners. We want all Mainers to have a positive experience adopting a new family member,” noted Maine State Veterinarian, Dr. Michele Walsh. “Obtaining a pet is a significant emotional and economic commitment. Taking a few additional steps up front will help ensure that a new pet is healthy and well-adjusted, and can prevent disappointment down the road.”

By doing some important but basic research ahead of time, Mainers can help ensure the animal they are adopting is healthy and the animal organization with which they are working is compliant with Maine laws designed to protect consumers. Paying close attention to these details can increase the likelihood that new pets will bring many years of enjoyment.

“Research the group claiming to be rescuing the animals. Some groups disappear after getting the money and offer no support if there are behavior issues or illness,” said Liam Hughes, Director of Maine’s Animal Welfare Program. “Do not pay cash, adopt, or buy a pet in a parking lot or on the side of a road. When you do get a new pet, take it to the vet right away. Start to build a relationship with your pet’s healthcare provider and make sure your new pet is really healthy.”

Cautionary Tale:

In October, two dogs on a shipment of rescue animals imported to New England from the southern U.S. became very ill from canine parvovirus infection, which is highly contagious. When New England state regulators attempted to identify the whereabouts of all potentially exposed dogs to limit the spread of infection, poor or inaccurate adoption/distribution records for the animals prevented timely notification of the new owners or foster homes. This resulted in unnecessary exposure of additional animals to this terrible disease and substantial veterinary fees. If all importing groups had followed the laws in place to prevent such spread of disease – which include vaccination against diseases like parvovirus 14 days prior to importation - a lot of heartache and cost of treatment would be spared.

Fortunately, many groups – including local humane societies, shelters, rescue organizations and breeders - do wonderful work with animals and provide excellent opportunities to meet and learn about potential new pets prior to taking them home. Interacting with animals on-site prior to adoption gives families a chance to learn about any special behavioral or health requirements the animal might have, and obtain a copy of the animal’s vaccination and health records. Reputable groups work closely with licensed veterinarians who assess the health of the animals in the facility, treat any medical issues, and spay or neuter new arrivals before they are made available for adoption.

Dr. Walsh offers the following tips when adopting a new pet:

  • Work with a reputable local humane society whenever possible.
  • Meet with the pet prior to adopting it to ensure that its behavior and demeanor are a good match for your family.
  • Obtain a copy of the animal’s medical record, vaccination history, and Certificate of Veterinary Inspection.
  • Ensure that the dog or cat is vaccinated for rabies if it is three months of age or older.
  • If working with a rescue organization, ensure that it is properly registered and licensed in the state of Maine and in the state where the business is based, and/or with USDA Animal Care.

Mainers can contact the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Animal Health office at (207) 287-3701 for more information on which animal rescue and breeding organizations are appropriately registered.

How you can help fight animal cruelty and pet overpopulation in Maine:

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the role Department plays in promoting responsible pet ownership and animal welfare. “Our ACF veterinary staff and animal welfare specialists partner with animal health professionals and animal care organizations statewide to provide advice and assistance to families adding a companion animal, but they also work to help fight animal cruelty and pet overpopulation,” said Whitcomb. “If you’re looking for a gift idea that also contributes to animal protection, animal care license plate may be a unique present for someone you know who would like to show they also care.”

Additional ways you can support animal welfare can be found at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/ahw/animal_welfare/index.shtml

Department seeks public help in locating destructive insect

December 8, 2014

For more information contact: Charlene Donahue at 207-287-2431

When moths fly with snow, let the Maine Forest Service know

AUGUSTA – If you are seeing moth flights this time of year in Maine, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Forest Service would like to know how many, what size, when and where through a simple online survey. Public assistance is being sought to help combat the destructive winter moth (Operophthera brumata) by better understanding the locations and sizes of the populations in Maine.

“The total economic impact of Maine’s forest industry is $8 billion with direct and indirect employment of 38,789 workers,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Fighting invasive insects like the winter moth is important to help protect that sector of our economy; in this case, hardwood trees and agricultural crops such as apples and blueberries. Public involvement will help professionals combat and minimize the destructive potential of this and other invasive species.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed that the public can help by filling out a simple online survey set by the Department to report winter moth sightings. “Reports from the public are critical to getting the bigger picture of this insect’s distribution,” said Whitcomb. “A healthy forest is key to Maine’s forest economy. Having citizen involvement in monitoring invasive pests is important to the future of rural Maine.”

The survey can be accessed online at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/wintermothsurvey Reports of moth flights can also be made by phone at (207) 287-2431.

Forest Entomologist Charlene Donahue stressed that December is an important time to look for the winter moth. “December may seem like an odd time to set up traps for a defoliating forest pest. However, the moth flies when it is dark—this time of year many of us are still out and about after dark. Even if we aren’t, we may cast a glance at our windows and notice if there are several or more small tan moths trying to get to our indoor lights. Staff has spent part of the first week of December setting up traps along the coast and inland in southern Maine. Towns in the study region are cooperating by allowing traps to be hung on municipal property. Additionally two homeowners in the most heavily infested areas have volunteered their services to make nightly counts of the moths trapped in their yards.”

The winter moth was introduced into North America from Europe in the early part of the last century. It was first seen in Nova Scotia in the 1930s and then in the Pacific Northwest (British Columbia, Oregon and Washington) in the 1970’s. Winter moth showed up in eastern Massachusetts in the early 2000’s and has since spread westward in MA, into Rhode Island and now coastal Maine from Kittery to Bar Harbor. It was first reported in Maine in significant numbers in December 2011.

The larvae (caterpillars) of winter moth defoliate deciduous trees and shrubs such as oaks, maples, apples and blueberries, in early spring. Heavy defoliation for several consecutive years leads to branch dieback and tree mortality. Winter moth defoliation has contributed to tens of thousands of acres of oak mortality in Massachusetts.

Winter moth defoliation was first recorded in Maine in 2012. 2014 was the third year that the insect has defoliated significant areas of forest and backyard trees in Maine. Aerial survey picked up moderate to heavy defoliation in the Cumberland County towns of Cape Elizabeth, Portland (Peaks Island) and Harpswell, with just under 1900 acres mapped. On the ground, light to heavy defoliation could be seen in scattered locations from Kittery to Rockland.

Adults are active from late November to January whenever the temperature is above freezing. Males are small, light brown to tan moths. They are attracted to lights and a chemical released by the females. Adult females are small and gray. They have reduced wings and are flightless. Females are most commonly found crawling at the base of trees.

So if you see moths flying in December, let the Maine Forest Service know.

Celebrate the New Year with First Day Hikes at Maine State Parks on January 1, 2015

December 29, 2014

For more information contact: Gary Best at 207-215-6351

Play All Winter in Maine State Parks!

Augusta – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands will host free, guided hikes in five (5) state parks on New Year’s Day as part of America's State Parks First Day Hikes initiative. That initiative, held in all 50 states, offers individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1, 2015 at a state park close to home.

In his weekly radio address, Governor Paul R. LePage highlighted the increase of visitors to Maine and the abundance of winter activities available to residents and visitor alike.

“Last year, nearly 5 and a half million people visited Maine during the winter season, many to enjoy the outdoors,” said Governor LePage. “We have some of the best skiing in New England and Maine is the premiere snowmobiling destination in the eastern US. We also have some of the most beautiful State Parks, which remain open all-year long. To ring in the New Year, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands will host free, guided hikes in five state parks throughout Maine on New Year’s day.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the natural connection between Maine’s outstanding recreational opportunities and a healthy lifestyle. “On nearly every New Year’s resolution list is the goal of better physical fitness,” said Whitcomb. “Our state parks make it easier to be healthy. Give the electronics a little time off and be healthier by enjoying our state parks. Last winter, beginning with our First Day Hikes, nearly 4,000 people participated in our Take It Outside/Winter Family Fun Days.”

“We are excited to host First Day Hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks,” said Tom Morrison, Acting Director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands. “First Day Hikes are a great way to cure cabin fever and burn off those extra holiday calories by starting off the New Year with an invigorating walk or hike in one of our beautiful state parks.”

Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average one to two miles or longer depending on the park. First Day Hikes will take place at the following locations and times:

Lily Bay State Park, Beaver Cove – 12 noon – Leisurely 2.5 mile ranger led hike along the shore of Moosehead Lake to investigate the wonders of the season. Wear warm clothes, sturdy shoes or boots and bring your own snacks. Meet at the entry booth parking lot. FMI: 695-2700

Popham Beach State Park, Phippsburg - 1:00 p.m. - Easy 1-mile hike on the Fox Island tombolo investigating tidal pools. Wear warm clothes and sturdy footwear. Meet at the West side parking lot. FMI: 389-1335

Range Ponds State Park, Poland - 12:30 p.m. - Easy 1.5 mile ranger led hike on our interpretive trail and along the beach; just one short hill. Hikers are encourage to bring warm clothes, boots or snowshoes if the snow is deep. Meet at flag pole in front of bathroom buildings. FMI: 998-4104

Sebago Lake State Park, Casco - 10:30 a.m. – Leisurely 1.5 mile woodlands hike to explore the wonders of the season. Snacks will be provided and hikers should wear warm clothes and sturdy foot wear. Snowshoes are a good idea if people have them. Meet at the day use area boat launch. FMI: 693-6231

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport - 10:00 a.m. – Leisurely 0.3 mile guided walk to enjoy ‘Winter in the Woods’ and learn how plants and animals survive the cold winter months. The program length is approximately 1 hour in length; please wear warm clothes and sturdy footwear. Meet at the picnic shelter by the second parking lot; dogs are not suitable for this hike. FMI: 865-4465

Play All Winter in Maine State Parks!

Maine’s forty-eight state parks and historic sites offer year-round recreational opportunities. Winter is a great time of year to walk the beaches, trek the woods and observe signs of wildlife - a tracker’s paradise! Winter Family Fun Days and the Ski & Snowshoe Trailer offer families and outdoor enthusiasts ample opportunities to enjoy the outdoors long after New Year’s Day. Even those parks not staffed during the winter season are open to visitation from 9 a.m. to sunset daily.

Visit /http://www.maine.gov/dacf/winterfamilyfundays and http:/www.parksandlands.com to see complete event listings, review trail conditions and locate a park near you.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Allagash Wilderness Waterway Rangers Report Hazardous Ice Conditions

December 30, 2014

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA –Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) Rangers are reporting hazardous ice conditions on the Allagash headwater lakes. State officials are advising ice fishermen and snowmobilers to use extreme caution when heading out to fish this week.

AWW Superintendent Matthew LaRoche warned that there is only an inch of good black ice with about 5 inches of soft snow ice on top of that. The rain that fell over the Christmas holiday has caused the lakes to rise and the ice to break away from shore in many places. There is two or three feet of open water along the edges of the lakes in most places. When rangers and wardens were out checking the ice on Monday they found the same conditions on all the lakes that were checked. There is also open water in all thoroughfares that connect the lakes.

Governor Paul R. LePage urged caution on the first weekend of ice fishing season.

“This week, many Maine residents and visitors will be out snowmobiling and ice fishing to open the 2015 season,” said Governor LePage. “Anglers should enjoy the excellent ice fishing season that begins Thursday, January 1, but exercise caution regarding ice conditions. Please take precautions so that your Maine ice fishing experience is not only memorable for the fish you catch, but also for the positive memories you make with family and friends.”

AWW Superintendent LaRoche warned all visitors to stay away from thoroughfares avoid tributary streams when traveling on the ice.

“An inch of good ice isn’t very much, and that thickness may vary from location to location,” LaRoche said. “The ice is just not safe enough to cross any of the waterway headwater lakes yet.” He urged those heading out on the ice to stay near shore, play it safe and check the ice in the area in which they are traveling before venturing out onto the ice.

For specific advice on ice conditions and areas to avoid, visitors should check with the ranger at Chamberlain Bridge or call the dispatch center in Ashland between 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 207-435-7963, extension 1.

The AWW provides: winter campgrounds at the Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook; public drinking water, vault toilets and snow plowing. A groomed snowmobile trail is marked from the Chamberlain Bridge parking lot to the south end of Chamberlain Lake and to Round Pond/Telos lakes.

The AWW is a 92-mile-long ribbon of lakes, ponds, streams, and river that wind through the heart of northern Maine’s vast commercial forest. The waterway became the first state-administered river to be designated by the United States Department of Interior as a component of the federal Wild and Scenic River Program. This designation was the culmination of an effort began in the early 1960s to protect the outstanding natural character, unique recreational opportunities, and historical significance of the Allagash River and its associated lakes and ponds.

For more information about the AWW, go to: http://www.maine.gov/allagash

Supporting documents

AWWice2014

Maine Agricultural Trades Show to be held January 13–15, 2015

January 8, 2015

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

3-day event highlights Department support of Maine agriculture

AUGUSTA—The 74th Annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show will be held Tuesday, January 13, through Thursday, January 15, 2015, at the Augusta Civic Center. Hosted by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, the show highlights Maine agriculture and the people involved through demonstrations, presentations and meetings of over 40 major agricultural organizations. There will be over 111 exhibits featuring the newest in agricultural products, equipment and services. One of the state’s largest agricultural exhibitions, the event is expected to draw more than 5,000 people over the course of three days. Admission is free and open to the public.

Governor Paul R. LePage will be on hand Tuesday for the Trades Show opening day, to highlight the importance of agriculture to the economy and how Maine supports job creators. The Governor will also join Commissioner Walt Whitcomb in publicly recognizing this year’s recipient of the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award.

“Maine has the most farms and the greatest diversity of food production in New England,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The potential to produce and sell Maine products is even greater when you consider Maine’s reputation for quality and the growing interest in locally grown foods. The Trades Show is also an opportunity to talk about how Maine’s largest natural resource agency supports the farmers and producers who create jobs and economic opportunity in Maine.”

More than $450,000 in Agricultural Development Grants to be Announced

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb has announced that the Department will unveil the preliminary awards under the Agricultural Development Grant Program. The Department will discuss the $450,000 in cost share grants in support of innovative projects relating to market promotion, market research and development, value-added processing and new technology demonstration.

“The Department is very excited about this new financial award program. The formalized selection process chose the highest scoring recipients from a very competitive pool of proposals,” said Whitcomb. “Projects that will be announced touch on some the Department’s current priority areas including market development for processing of animals/livestock throughout Maine; utilization and profitability of Maine grown grains; market enhancements for nutrition and food safety; and growth in alternative markets and diversification.”

Something for Everyone

This year’s show features several new offerings for attendees, in addition to a wide variety of presentations covering topics such as farm energy options, small woodlot issues, nutrient management, and how to become a licensed cheese maker.

New additions include: Cooking with Maine Agriculture, featuring local Maine food and Chefs; EAS Master Beekeeper, Carol Cottrill will demonstrate how to set up a beehive; and the Maine Maple Producers will demonstrate how to make value added products using maple syrup and the different types of grades of syrup. There will also be a presentation from the Department on how to start a small home-based business and get your home kitchen licensed.

The show also provides opportunities for growers, conventional and organic, to learn the latest developments in pest management and earn credits required for pesticide license recertification. The Maine Board of Pesticides Control will also be on hand to discuss basic safety training.

Whether a visitor is a farmer, non-farmer, hobbyist, educator, or supplier, this three-day event has something for everyone. Attendees can walk through, observe, and learn about how food is harvested and processed. Farmers and producers can see the most up-to date-farm equipment and processing methods and equipment.

Show hours will be:

  • Tuesday, January 13, 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
  • Wednesday, January 14, 9:00 AM–8:00 PM
  • Thursday, January 15, 9:00 AM–3:00 PM

The complete program and schedule are available at: http://www.getrealmaine.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Media Advisory: Governor LePage to attend Maine Agricultural Trades Show

January 12, 2015

For more information contact: Adrienne Bennett at 207-287-2531

The Governor will join Commissioner Walt Whitcomb in publicly recognizing this year’s recipient of the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award.

AUGUSTA CIVIC CENTER— Governor Paul R. LePage will attend the 74th Maine Agricultural Trades Show on Tuesday to highlight the importance of agriculture to the economy and how Maine supports job creators. The Governor will also join Commissioner Walt Whitcomb in publicly recognizing this year’s recipient of the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award.

“Maine has the most farms and the greatest diversity of food production in New England,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The potential to produce and sell Maine products is even greater when you consider Maine’s reputation for quality and the growing interest in locally grown foods. The Trades Show is also an opportunity to talk about how Maine’s largest natural resource agency supports the farmers and producers who create jobs and economic opportunity in Maine.”

Governor LePage will present the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award at the Commissioner’s Luncheon at the Augusta Civic Center on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at noon.

Agricultural Development Grants Announced

January 14, 2015

For more information contact: Jessica Nixon at 207-287-3494

Commissioner Whitcomb makes the announcement at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show

AUGUSTA – Commissioner Walter Whitcomb announced 11 Agricultural Development Grant Program awards totaling over $422,855 at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show today. The preliminary selections were chosen by a review committee from 47 proposals submitted in response to a formal Request For Proposals (RFP) in November. The projects address needs in the agricultural industry for accelerating new market development, adoption of improved technology and promotion of agricultural products produced in Maine.

“The last Census of Agriculture found that the market value of Maine agricultural products has increased 24%,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The awards announced today will allow Maine agriculture to continue its momentum by helping farmers and producers realize their full economic potential to supply consumers in Maine, New England and beyond. The investments being announced today support job creators and continued growth of our natural resource economy.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the efforts of the review committee and its careful selection of projects from dozens of competitive applications.

“Selected proposals incorporated one or more of four priorities: market development for the processing of animals/livestock throughout Maine; improved utilization and profitability of Maine grown grains; market enhancements for nutrition and/or food safety; and projects that focus on alternative markets or diversification,” said Whitcomb. “The selection committee was charged with identifying projects that can start immediately upon acceptance.”

Out of the total 47 proposals received and reviewed by a committee in the competitive review process, 11 projects have been tentatively identified pending approval by the State of Maine Purchases Division and the successful completion of a State of Maine contract. These projects have been identified as:

  • AgMatters, LLC (Vassalboro) – Food Safety Education for Maine Crop Distribution Systems
  • Aurora Mills & Farm LLC (Linneus) – Establishing Cover Crop Seed Cleaning Capability inside the State of Maine, with associated demonstration of growing practices
  • Buck Farms (Mapleton) – Maine Malt House
  • Crooked Face Creamery (Norridgewock) - Market Expansion of a National Award Winning Artisan Creamery
  • Downeast Salmon Federation’s Aquatic Research Center (E. Machias) – Downeast Salmon Federation Mobile Smokehouse
  • Good Shepherd Food Bank (Auburn) – Modern Storage Facility for Year-Round Distribution of Local Farm Produce to Food Insecure Mainers
  • Maine Agricultural in the Classroom (Augusta) – Increasing Maine Agricultural Markets & Nutritional Awareness of Maine Crops through Elementary Education
  • Peaked Mountain Farm (Holden) – Commercial Propagation of Common Milkweed and Butterfly Weed
  • Tide Mill Organics (Edmunds Township) – Developing Retail Markets for Maine Organic Poultry
  • University of Maine (Monmouth) – Increasing Local Plum Production for Farm Market Diversification
  • Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine (Orono) – 2015 Wild Blueberry Major Metro Enhancement Program Agricultural Development Grant Program

In 2014, the Legislature approved Department language that improved access to the Agricultural Development Fund. The Department identified the agricultural industry need for accelerating new market development, adoption of improved technology and promotion of agricultural products produced in Maine.

The Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry may allocate the grant funds among projects involving market research, market promotion, or a combination of those activities for the purpose of expanding existing markets and developing new markets for agricultural products produced in Maine; or for testing and demonstrating new technologies related to the production, storage or processing of State agricultural products.

It is anticipated that another Agricultural Development Fund RFP will be released in the future.

Maine State Park Campground Reservations to Open Feb. 2 for Sebago Lake State Park, for all State Parks Feb. 9

January 28, 2015

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Maine State Parks and Lands announced that campground reservations for the 2015 season will open for Sebago State Park on February 2, and for all other state parks February 9.

“Maine State Parks provide many year-round opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “In addition to making reservations for the upcoming camping season, I encourage people to check out Winter Family Fun Days and the Ski & Snowshoe Trailers that are available to the public as part of the ACF Department’s Take It Outside initiative.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the recent growth of Maine State Park offerings and programs. “Last year, 2,539,754 people visited Maine State Parks, an increase over the previous year,” said Whitcomb. “Our year-round educational offerings, including winter events, continue to increase in popularity. Maine State Parks and Historic Sites serve all age groups and a variety of recreational interests. Visitors have fun, engage in outdoor activity that promotes a healthy lifestyle and leave our parks with plenty of reasons to visit again.”

Reservation Details:

WHAT: State Park Campground Reservations to Open for Sebago Lake State Park

WHEN: 9:00 a.m., Monday, February 2

WHERE: On line at http://www.campwithme.com

The Bureau of Maine State Parks and Lands’ reservations system and call center will be open for Sebago Lake State Park campground reservations only on Feb. 2 and for all state park campgrounds at 9:00 a.m. on February 9, according to Bureau officials.

To reduce wait times, online-reservation “start-days” once again are being split, with reservations being taken for the very popular Sebago Lake camp sites only starting on Monday, February 2.

Campers can make reservations at Maine state park campgrounds in four ways:

  • Online at http://www.CampWithMe.com (24-7);
  • By calling in state at 800-332-1501; or (out-of-state) 207-624-9950 (9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., on Business Days);
  • By mailing reservations to: Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, Bureau of Parks and Lands, ATTN.: Reservations, 22 SHS, Augusta, ME 04333. Mailed Sebago Lake reservation requests must not be postmarked before Feb. 2, 2015; and, Feb 9, 2015 for all other parks.
  • By dropping off completed reservation forms, which will be processed during business hours at the Augusta office.

On Monday, February 2, Sebago Lake reservations will be accepted for a four-night minimum stay only. This is being done because Sebago tends to average longer stays than other campgrounds.

For more information and complete registration details, go to: http://www.campwithme.com

PLEASE NOTE: Group Camping Reservations and Group Picnic & Shelter Reservations open on 02/02/2015 at 9:00 a.m. as well. Call the park directly for either of these reservations. Online listings are provided below:

Group Camping Reservations http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/camping/group_camping.shtml

Group Picnic Areas & Shelter Reservations http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/camping/grouppicnicareas.shtml

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine Cooperative Snow Survey shows high water content in snowpack, in upper range of measurements

February 13, 2015

For more information contact: Bob Marvinney, Bob Johnston at 207-592-0383, (207) 215-5752

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Geological Survey reports that the Cooperative Snow Survey results for February 2015 show high water content in Maine’s snowpack, with results in the upper range of measurements conducted over the last 10 years.

Key findings of the February survey:

  • Snow depths and water content have increased significantly since the January survey.

  • Five sites in Maine report over 30 inches of snow

  • A dozen sites recorded over six inches of water content.

  • Highest water content was reported in northern Somerset and Franklin Counties.

  • The map of water content for February shows about 3-5 inches of water in the snow in southern, central and northern Maine.

  • The snowpack in eastern Maine has slightly higher water content, and the greatest water content in this survey is in the western mountains to the Canadian border.

  • There has been a significant increase in water content of the snowpack since January, mostly in southern and eastern Maine.

  • Compared to the last 10 years, much of the water content in the snowpack around the state is in the upper 25% of measurements, except for northernmost Maine and the western foothills, where the water content is normal.

It is important to note that historically, snowmelt alone has not resulted in significant flooding. However, snowmelt was a significant contributor to rain events that caused major flooding on the Kennebec River in 1987 and on the St. John River at Fort Kent in 2008. The Maine Cooperative Snow Survey:

The Maine Cooperative Snow Survey collects, interprets, and distributes information on the depth and water content of Maine's snowpack in the late Winter and early Spring, when the danger of flooding in Maine's rivers and streams is greatest. The snow survey is conducted each winter beginning in January with monthly measurements. In March, weekly measurements begin which continue until snow melt is complete.

The survey data is analyzed by staff from the Maine Geological Survey and U.S. Geological Survey, and maps are prepared showing the water content in snowpack for the State. This information is transmitted to the National Weather Service (NWS) for use in preparing flood potential statements and running flood forecast models. In the event of a significant flood, the NWS would use the data to refine its estimates of flood crests. The data are also distributed to the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and, through MEMA, to county emergency management officials.

Posted on the MEMA website are maps showing water content in snowpack, changes in water content from the preceding survey, snowpack depth, snowpack density, water content in snowpack compared to historical values, and mean water content in Maine drainage basins. Also posted is table of snow survey sites with current readings listed.

The snow survey for February was completed during the week of February 2, and the final maps are available at: http://www.maine.gov/rfac/rfac_snow.shtml

The Maine Cooperative Snow Survey is coordinated jointly by the Maine Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with:

  • ALLAGASH WILDERNESS WATERWAY
  • BROOKFIELD RENEWABLE POWER, INC
  • COBBOSSEE WATER DISTRICT
  • COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC
  • MAINE FOREST SERVICE
  • MINISTERE DE L' ENVIRONNEMENT QUEBEC
  • NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
  • NESTLE - POLAND SPRING WATER COMPANY
  • CANADIAN PROVINCE OF NEW BRUNSWICK
  • NEW HAMPSHIRE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES
  • POLAND REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL
  • SAPPI LIMITED

More information on the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is available at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine agricultural officials report record interest in obtaining licenses to sell dairy products

March 4, 2015

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Division of Quality Assurance and Regulations reports record interest on the part of Maine farms to obtain licenses to sell retail dairy products. Recent requests for inspections and inquiries clearly points to a substantial increase in the number of licenses to sell dairy products from the current number of 134.

The recent interest comes on the heels of explosive growth in the number of operations producing artisanal cheese and raw milk products. Department officials report that seventeen (17) farms have expressed enough interest in obtaining a license to contact dairy inspectors and have an inspection done. An additional twenty (20) have made inquiries, but have not yet scheduled an inspection. The retail dairy licenses involve cow, goat sheep, and water buffalo milk.

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted Department support of the growth in the number of artisanal cheese and raw milk facilities. “The DACF supports the growth of Maine’s dairy industry with technical assistance, marketing, and regulatory support,” said Whitcomb. “While the Department does play a vital public health role, our technical assistance also is supporting the rural economic growth that is signified by the increasing number of artisanal cheese and raw milk facilities in Maine.”

Benefits of Maine’s modest annual license fee:

For a $25.00 annual license fee the DACF provides:

  • Initial consult with dairy inspector with facility and set up advice

  • Large packet of information mailed with copies of all information needed

  • Monthly analysis and reports of all products made

  • Multiple facility inspections every year

  • Equipment inspections for those who heat-treat or pasteurize

  • Water testing

  • Free lab testing to identify sanitation problems or quality issues (in addition to monthly product testing)

  • Access to Maine Cooperative Extension Specialists and State veterinarians for additional assistance

  • Unlimited phone assistance from dairy inspectors and laboratory

Rapid growth:

  • In 2006, there were 15 licensed facilities that offered raw milk for sale. Today there are 54 licensed raw milk businesses in Maine.

  • In Maine, a consumer may purchase “not pasteurized milk” and cheeses from a farm, a farmers market or a retail establishment – a freedom that only Maine and 11 other states provide.

  • The number of cheese businesses has tripled in the past six years to a current total of 73 businesses offering various cheeses for sale. According to a University of Vermont study, Maine is the fastest growing artisan cheese producing state in the country, trailing only New York in terms of the number of licensed artisan cheese makers.

  • Maine dairy goat farms increased from 17 in 2008, to 46 in 2014.

  • This is in addition to fluid milk sales from 300 dairy farms to producers totaled $140 million.

Applicable links: Dairy Inspection: http://maine.gov/dacf/qar/inspectionprograms/dairyinspection.shtml

Milk quality lab page: http://maine.gov/dacf/qar/laboratorytesting/milkquality.shtml

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine Maple Sunday is this weekend!

March 16, 2015

For more information contact: Samantha Howard at 297-287-7620

The flow of maple sap surely means spring is on the way

AUGUSTA – Commissioner Walt Whitcomb invites families to visit over 100 Maine sugarhouses open to the public this Sunday, March 22, as part of Maine Maple Sunday. The annual event, held every fourth Sunday in the month of March, will take place for the 32nd time. Participating sugarhouses will be open for visitors to enjoy freshly made maple syrup and candy, demonstrations of syrup production, sugarbush tours and a variety of other family activities.

On March 10, Governor Paul R. LePage highlighted the start of Maine’s maple season by tapping a maple tree on the Blaine House lawn with legislators and representatives from the Maine Maple Producers Association. The Governor used the annual event to highlight the economic contributions of Maine’s maple syrup industry and its potential to create more jobs.

“This industry demonstrates the excellent opportunity Maine has to promote its natural resource-based economy, as well as to promote job creation for our citizens,” said Governor LePage. “Maine’s maple industry contributes an estimated $27.7 million directly to the Maine economy according to a UMaine study. That study also shows that Maine’s maple industry has an annual statewide economic contribution, including multiplier effects, of an estimated $48.7 million in output, 805 full- and part-time jobs and $25.1 million in labor income.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted the support that Maine’s maple industry receives from a variety of sources. “Governor LePage, the Legislature and the Maine Maple Producers Association have worked together to grow this industry in recognition of it significance to Maine’s rural economy,” said Commissioner Whitcomb. “The maple industry symbolizes how Maine can have multiple uses of its natural resources, including maple syrup, wood production, recreation and open space.”

The study quoted by Governor LePage was conducted by University of Maine Professor of Economics Todd Gabe and funded through a partnership between the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, University of Maine and the Maine Maple Producers Association.

Other key findings of the study:

  • Maine has the third largest maple industry in the United States.

  • Maine’s maple industry is characterized by a relatively small number of farms accounting for the vast majority of syrup that is produced.

  • Maine’s licensed maple syrup producers have been in operation an average of 24 years, and some of the farms spanning 3 centuries with multiple generations.

  • Maine’s maple industry—which counts the licensed producers and sales at retail food stores and businesses impacted by Maine Maple Sunday—generates 567 full- and part-time jobs and $17.3 million in labor income.

Some sugarhouses will hold events on both Saturday and Sunday. For a list and map of participating sugarhouses, visit the Maine Maple Producers Association website: http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/ Or: http://www.getrealmaine.com for the Department’s consolidated list.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/

Community Forestry Grants Announced

April 9, 2015

For more information contact: Jan Ames Santerre at (207) 287-4987

AUGUSTA – Project Canopy, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) community forestry program, recently awarded $133,000 in grants to local governments and municipalities, educational institutions and non-profit organizations that support community efforts to develop and maintain long-term community forestry programs. Funded by the U.S. Forest Service, the Project Canopy grants are administered by the DACF’s Maine Forest Service and available in two categories: planning and education grants and tree planting and maintenance grants.

“The total economic impact of the horticulture industry in Maine is $286 million annually, and the industry supports 7,826 jobs,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “These forestry projects support many of these jobs by benefiting local landscapers, nurseries, foresters and loggers.”

“In additional to their economic impact, the 19 Project Canopy grants announced today will also increase community awareness of the benefits of our forests and trees and promote community forest management practices,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “This program connects Maine communities with the technical and financial assistance available from forest professionals in our Department who help actively maintain and enhance urban and community forests.”

“Since 2003, Project Canopy has awarded more than $1.5 million in funding for community forestry projects,” said Project Canopy Director Jan Ames Santerre. “The average grants range from $6,000 to $8,000 and require a 50-percent cost-share with cash or in-kind services.”

Project Canopy is a cooperative partnership between the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry’s Maine Forest Service and GrowSmart Maine. The program encourages communities to develop project proposals that support sustainable community forestry management, increase awareness of the benefits of trees and forests, and increase the health and livability of communities through sound tree planting and maintenance.

Six (6) Planning Grants were awarded to:

  • Dixmont Conservation Commission - $10,000
  • Farmington Conservation Commission - $4,000
  • Town of Kennebunkport - $4,919
  • Town of Monmouth - $4,000
  • Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (Bath, Woolwich, Georgetown, - West Bath, Westport Island) - $7,500
  • Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve - $6,995

Thirteen (13) Planting Grants were awarded to:

  • City of Presque Isle – $8,000
  • University of Maine - Farmington - $7,384
  • Town of Pittsfield - $4,563
  • Town of Fort Kent - $8,000
  • City of Lewiston - $7,366
  • City of Belfast - $8,000
  • City of Ellsworth - $8,000
  • Town of Greenville - $6,149
  • Town of Dover-Foxcroft - $7,999
  • Town of Milo - $7,938
  • Town of Camden - $7,170
  • Town of Yarmouth Tree Committee - $8,000
  • Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District (Dover-Foxcroft) - $7,082

The nineteen 2014/15 Project Canopy grants were selected from a total of 22 applications, with grant requests totaling $143,065.

Project Canopy Assistance Grants are available to state, county, and municipal governments, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations for developing and implementing community forestry projects and programs. Planting projects increase the health and livability of communities through sound tree planting and maintenance, while planning and education projects support sustainable community forestry management, and efforts to increase awareness of the benefits of trees and forests. All grants require a 50% match from the grant recipient.

Project canopy is funded by the USDA Forest Service Community Forestry Assistance Program. The USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program was established to promote natural resource management in populated areas and improve quality of life.

To learn more about the Project Canopy Assistance program, contact Project Canopy Director Jan Ames Santerre at (207) 287-4987.

More information is available on the web at http://www.projectcanopy.me

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day is Saturday!

April 28, 2015

For more information contact: Sarah Scally at 207-287-3891

This annual event heralds the arrival of spring

AUGUSTA – Greenhouses, nurseries and garden centers statewide will be celebrating on Saturday, May 2 as the industry kicks off the growing season with Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day.

For the fifth year, dozens of family-owned horticulture-related businesses will hold special events to highlight gardening in Maine. Planned activities for the events include giveaways, door prizes, raffles, plants and balloons for children, container-planting demonstrations, personal tours, expert speakers and mini workshops. Participating greenhouses and nurseries also will preview spring introductions and share their expertise by offering gardening tips, information on plant varieties and ideas for window box and landscape design.

“Greenhouse and Nursery Day helps highlight the growing importance of Maine horticulture,” Governor Paul R. LePage said. “The horticulture industry contributes over $280 million annually to Maine’s economy and provides thousands of jobs.”

“More than half of the plants sold in Maine are grown right here, and every dollar spent in Maine greenhouses and nurseries support local economies,” said Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “I encourage Mainers to visit their local garden centers this Saturday and enjoy Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day.”

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry licenses and provides technical assistance to more than 1,340 businesses selling plants in Maine. To support this growing industry, the Department certifies plant exports, regulates imported plants and assists growers with plant pest problems.

Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day is supported by the Ornamental Horticulture Council and the Mid-Maine Greenhouse Growers Association.

For more information about Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day, go to:
http://www.plants4maine.com/GreenhouseAndNurseryDay.shtml
For more information, contact Sally Smith at (207)-327-1398, email: countryjct@gmail.com

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/

The Northeast Livestock Expo is here again!

May 11, 2015

For more information contact: Cindy Kilgore at 207-215-4968

Over 1,200 K-6th graders will be part of this year’s Kid’s Day

WINDSOR – The tenth Northeast Livestock Expo (NELE) will take place May 15-17 in Windsor, Maine. Thanks to a Maine AG in the Classroom transportation grant, on Kid’s Day (Friday, May 15), more than 1,200 K-6 students will have their classroom at the Windsor Fairgrounds. They will experience thirty agricultural presentations put on by farmers and industry volunteers. This three-day livestock event will showcase beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats and rabbits.

The public is welcome to all events, admission is FREE.

“This is a great opportunity for kids to learn about Maine agriculture,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This and similar agricultural events this summer and fall highlight the connection between local farms, local products and consumers.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the Expo’s educational component. “The Northeast Livestock Expo continues to grow every year. The popular “Kid’s Day” will have over 1,200 K-6 students learning about proper care of farm animals and becoming more informed consumers,” said Whitcomb. “There will be youth events and educational seminars also occurring on Saturday and Sunday. Many future agricultural leaders will be in Windsor this weekend.”

Schedule:

Friday, May 15 (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.), is Kid’s Day.

Activities & Displays currently scheduled include:

‘Bugs and how they affect trees in agriculture - Karen Coluzzi – Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

Draft horses - Teamsters Pete Stratton and Dana Seavey will explain how they use their draft horses on the farm and in the woods. They will give demonstrations about harnessing a horse and twitching logs.

Beef - The Maine Beef Producers will be sorting feeder calves ranging in age from five months to a year. Each be given a nasal vaccination, weighed and then moved into pen to stay for the evening. They will be provided with hay and water, and will be sold the following day at an auction.

Horses - The Harness Racing Folks of Windsor Fair will have a mare and her two week old foal on exhibition and explain the uses of the animals, how they are fed, exercised, harnessed and their work schedule..

Oxen – Dan Jordan of Hiram will bring two oxen to explain the commands used to work the oxen and how he uses them on his farm.

Poultry – Tom Nelson of New Sharon will bring some of his chickens to show how they are held, exhibited and fed and explain their multiple uses to the industry.

The folks of the Windsor Fair Historical Society will be on hand to explain the uses of the buildings and give tours of the old school house and blacksmith shop.

What do animals eat? Donna Coffin of University of Maine Cooperative Extension will explain how livestock eat and discuss their favorite foods.

Swine – Mike Hemond from Hemond Farms in Minot will have several pigs on hands to show how they use their snouts to root up the ground and eat bugs, etc. Discussions will occur on the care and many uses of pigs from providing the food we eat to being used as natural ground clearers.

Dairy Cow – Oakie the Oakhurst Acorn will be on hand to guide the groups to the dairy cow exhibit. Maine Dairy Princess Kaicy Conant will a milking cow there and explain how a cow is milked and the process the milk goes through in the milking parlor to be prepared for transport to Oakhurst Dairy.

Tractors - Hammond Tractor will have machinery on site and will go over the basics of tractor safety.

Rabbits – Michaele Bailey will have rabbits available to show how they are held, fed and their fiber (hair) is used to make clothing.

Cow – Dr. Beth McEvoy will have two Brown Swiss steers; one will have a skeleton painted on his coat, the other his internal organs. She will go over the various bones of the cow and what helps him to stand and move and how food moves through their many stomachs. Dr. McEvoy is the assistant State Veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Ambulance –Delta Ambulance will have a unit on site to allow youth to see the inside and learn what the paramedics do, all without the stress of an actual emergency.

Dairy heifer – Lexie and Lizie Dumont of Albion will be fitting their dairy heifer. They will explain what “fitting” is.

Sheep – Donna Flint of Oak Ridge Farm in Sanford will have Tunis sheep on display for questions and answers.

Smokey Bear - will be on hand at lunch for classroom photos.

Boer Goats – Boer goat moms will be on hand to show off their baby goats.

Nigerian goats and alpaca – will be on display with Pat Polley of Eliza Rek Farm on hand to explain their uses, feed and methods of containment.

Bees – The Knox Lincoln County Beekeepers (KLCB) will have an observation hive for participants to view live honey bees in a safe manner. They will explain the life stages and different types of bees located within a hive, as well as their duties. Hive components, tools, and protective gear will be on display and discussed.

Belted Galloway – Andy LeMaistre of Mitchell Ledge Farm in Freeport will be on hand with his yearling beef calf heifer, who will be going to the fairs this summer to be shown. The Galloway cattle are often black and white and look like Oreo cookies.

Llama – Hilary Ware of Hill and Gully Farm and Becky Smith will demonstrate how llamas go through an obstacle course. She will also go over how to work with the animals.

4H Beef Cattle – Lauren Pride will be on hand to show off their 4H beef animals and explain how they take care of them and show them at the fairs.

Alpacas – Red Laliberte of Misty Meadows Farm will have four alpaca on hand to explain how their fiber (hair) is turned into clothing and the many uses of the animals.

SEA FARMING IN MAINE - Dr Anne Langston, Aquaculture Research Institute, University of Maine will talk about farming-in-the-sea in Maine, the importance of farmed sea animals in our everyday lives, and about our fascinating marine life. There will be a touch tank teeming with live shellfish, including oysters, mussels, sea urchins and scallops, plus some of the predators that impact sea farms such as sea stars, crabs, and more.

Tennessee Walking Horses – Bob Morin of Oak Barrel Farm will bring his two Tennessee Walkers and give a brief description and explanation of the history of Tennessee Walkers. He will also speak about how they are used in many events including Hollywood.

Composting – Diane Schivera from the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners will discuss the uses of manure and how it can be turned into fertilizer for growing vegetables, plants and hay for animals.

Ready Freddy: Rachel Lindsey of Maine VOAD, Inc. will have Ready Freddy on hand to explore what goes into an emergency preparedness kit. Disasters can happen at any time.

Note: Activities may be subject to change.

Saturday, May 16 – Features the feeder calf sale, goat sale, goat show, youth shows and clinics, and educational seminars for sheep, goats and poultry.

Sunday, May 17 – Features a working steer field day and youth shows and clinics. There will be food vendors and commercial exhibitors on the grounds as well.

More information can be obtained on the web site: http://www.northeastlivestockexpo.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

Parasitic Flies Employed to Fight Winter Moth!

May 14, 2015

For more information contact: Charlene Donahue at 207-485-0960

Release of biocontrol agent designed to combat the winter moth

AUGUSTA – Starting Friday, state entomologists from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Bureau of Forestry will be releasing parasitic flies in an effort to try and control and minimize the damage to trees and shrubs done by the Winter Moth. The release is in collaboration with Dr. Joseph Elkinton, University of Massachusetts Professor of Entomology and the effort is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service (USDA-FS).

Up to 2,000 parasitic flies (Cyzenis albicans) will be released, late morning, on Peaks Island Friday, May 15. Spring surveys of winter moth larvae indicate that Peaks Island has high enough levels of winter moth larvae to support release parasitic flies. Department professionals are checking to see if there are high enough levels of winter moth larvae to support additional releases at Two Lights State Park (Cape Elizabeth).

“The use of this biocontrol agent is part of a long-term approach to limiting the damage caused by the winter moth,” Maine Governor Paul R. LePage said. “Department entomologists are hard at work taking steps to protect our natural resource economy from invasive pests like the winter moth, which can also damage blueberry, apple and cranberry crops.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the collaborative approach being taken between Maine, Massachusetts and the USDA-FS. “We thank USDA-FS, Dr. Elkington and the University of Massachusetts for collaborating with us on the timely release of these flies,” said Whitcomb.

A citizen supported winter moth survey and trapping by the Maine Forest Service in December indicated winter moth could be found from Kittery to Bar Harbor. Unlike some of the other invasive insects on our doorstep, this one has a potential biocontrol agent that can hopefully control the insects spread and limit future damage. Department entomologists and volunteers will monitor the winter moth and fly populations over the next several years to see how the release is working.

Winter Moth:

The winter moth is the latest invasive insect to attack Maine forests, with defoliation of oak, apple, birch, maple and other hardwood trees and shrubs. It made its first appearance in Harpswell in 2012 on 400 acres. In 2013, there were over 5,000 acres of defoliation, primarily in Harpswell and Cape Elizabeth. Last year saw a bit of a reprieve after a cold December that slowed the moth mating and egg laying, but almost 2,000 acres of heavy defoliation was mapped along the coast. Winter surveys have detected winter moth from Kittery to Mount Desert Island.

People frequently ask, “Will the flies bother anything else (like people)?” The answer is no. These flies were released in Nova Scotia in the 1960s, brought the winter moth population under control and there have been no adverse effects in the intervening 50 years. Flies were also released in British Columbia again with no impacts on other insects or people. The flies are very closely tied to the winter moth life cycle and need winter moth to survive. There will always be some winter moth around, now that they have become established in Maine, but hopefully the flies will do their job and bring the winter moth population under control in a few years.

It will take years before Maine will see the results of the biocontrol effort, as it takes time for the flies to become acclimated to a new location and build up their population. Once their numbers reach a high enough level, it will have a noticeable impact on the winter moth population. In the meantime people will see defoliation on hardwood trees and shrubs in May. It is hoped trees will not be too adversely effected before the parasite fly population catches up to the winter moth population and brings them into balance in Maine.

For more information on the winter moth and other invasive pests, go to:

http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/foresthealth/invasivethreats/index.htm#wm

Food Safety Modernization Act information page for farmers and food businesses

May 20, 2015

For more information contact: Ron Dyer at 207-287-7522

Information on the most significant change in food safety in 50 years

AUGUSTA – Officials at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry (DACF) have announced that a new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) information webpage has been created for farmers and food producers seeking information on significant federal changes to food safety regulations.

"Although the US Congress passed sweeping federal law changes 4 years ago, the rules that actually impact farmers are still being developed in Washington, DC," said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “This dedicated page on the DACF website provides food producers access to the most recent proposals as they are promulgated. FSMA is designed to prevent food borne illness by focusing on preventative controls and we want that information available as fast as possible. Because of the impact these federal changes will have on farmers and food businesses, we are taking steps to help ensure everyone has the latest information.”

The new FSMA page created by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will provide up-to-date information as changes occur and focus on how these changes will affect farmers and businesses. Users may utilize a tool on the site to assess any potential FSMA impact on their farm or food business. They can also sign up for email alerts as new information is released.

Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

The Federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law in 2011, is the first significant overhaul of food safety regulations since the 1930s and was designed to prevent food borne illness. FSMA will be implemented by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and relevant state agencies.

In December 2014, FDA concluded the second of two comment periods on draft rules it has written to implement the law. There are seven FSMA rules covering everything from human food to pet food to imports to transportation.

Will FSMA Affect You?

The webpage has a useful flowchart, developed by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, that helps farms and food businesses figure which rules apply to them and how.

The FSMA Reproposal

During the first public comment period in 2013, tens of thousands of farmers and others expressed many concerns about the produce rule impacting farms and the preventive controls rule impacting facilities that manufacture, process, pack and hold food. FDA agreed to revise specific parts of the rules to offer alternatives for provisions that raised the most concern.

Maine DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb and the Department hosted a listening session with FDA officials from Washington D.C. and took them to see real Maine farms during August 2013. These sessions and farm visits provided significant input to FDA's draft rules.

FSMA Updates

The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Division of Quality Assurance and Regulations will continue to monitor FDA rule making and provide information at this site about FSMA next steps, including the final rules, implementation information and compliance dates, training opportunities, and whatever else small farms and food producers in Maine need to know.

The new Department FSMA Page is located at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/qar/fsma/

Maine Forest Service Warns of Increase in Browntail Moth Caterpillar Infestation

May 22, 2015

For more information contact: Charlene Donahue at (207) 287-2431

AUGUSTA -- The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) is warning Maine residents that the infestation of a noxious invasive caterpillar is worse this year than last year and local residents should begin thinking now about how they want to deal with the pest. Browntail moth caterpillar hairs can cause a blistery, oozy rash or respiratory distress for people who come into contact with them.

Winter web surveys conducted by the DACF’s Maine Forest Service (MFS) identified extremely high levels over-wintering web in the tops of oak trees for the browntail moth caterpillar. Winter web counts were highest in parts of:

  • Bowdoinham, Bath, Topsham, West Bath (Sagadahoc County) Brunswick, Freeport and Harpswell (Cumberland County) this year. Browntail moth webs are also showing up in more southerly places including Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, Westbrook, Windham, New Gloucester and Yarmouth (Cumberland County).
  • Pockets of infestation were also found in other coastal locations from Lincoln County, south and in inland towns such as Augusta, China, Vassalboro, Waterville (Kennebec County), Lewiston, Turner (Androscoggin County), and Whitefield (Lincoln County). One was recently found at Gardiner High School.

Browntail Moth

The browntail moth is an invasive species that arrived in the U.S. around 1910 on nursery stock coming from Europe. It spread through Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Nova Scotia before the population collapsed. The only place where it is now found in North America is the coast of Maine and Cape Cod.

Browntail moth caterpillar hairs break off the caterpillars and circulate in the air. The caterpillar also molts, and the dried skin containing the hairs can drift, also causing problems for people. The hairs remain toxic for a year or more, so people still can be affected in subsequent seasons.

People should take some extra precautions in areas with browntail moth infestations, especially during the late spring and summer months. These are especially important during periods of dry weather and include modifying activities that might bring you in contact with the toxic hairs of the caterpillar.

A list of recommended precautions is available on the Department’s website. http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/foresthealth/insects/browntailmoth_precautions.htm

For information about the browntail moth caterpillar: http://maine.gov/dacf/mfs/foresthealth/invasivethreats/index.htm#btm

For more information about pesticides: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/pesticides/index.shtml

For the list of licensed pesticide companies dealing with browntail moth caterpillar, call entomology lab at: (207) 287-2431 or email: Charlene.donahue@maine.gov

Kennebunkport Arborist to Receive Frank Knight Community Service Award during Arbor Week Celebration

May 11, 2015

For more information contact: Jan Santerre at (207) 287-4987

AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will recognize the importance of trees in urban settings and the dedication of Maine communities to caring for those trees during its 2015 Maine Arbor Week Celebration.

WHERE:
Community House in Kennebunkport 2 North Street Kennebunkport, Maine

WHEN:
Monday, May 18, from 1-3 p.m.

The celebration is sponsored by the Maine Forest Service’s urban forestry program, Project Canopy, and GrowSmart Maine. It will honor the civic devotion of several notable Maine residents.

Event participants will learn about state and local efforts to raise awareness of the invasive pest the Emerald Ash Borer and the importance of ash trees to our economy and wellbeing. Attendees will also be introduced to some of the contestants in the 2015 edition of the Maine Big Tree Register.

This year’s recipient of the award, Consulting Arborist, and Arborist to the Town of Kennebunkport Bob Palmer, will be honored with a unique plaque made from wood from “Herbie.” The New England Champion American elm cared for by the late tree warden of Yarmouth, Frank Knight, and for whom the award is named.

Participants receive seedlings donated by Cedarworks of Rockland, Irving Woodlands LLC and Central Maine Power Co.

The following municipalities will be recognized for their participation in the Tree City USA program, supporting urban and community forests:

Auburn – 12 years Lewiston – 12 years Augusta – 21 years Orono – 19 years Bangor – 10 years Bath – 18 years Portland – 35 years Camden – 20 years Saco – 5 years Castine – 6 years South Portland – 35 years Dover-Foxcroft – 3 years Veazie – 2 years Farmington – 38 years Waterville - 17 years Hallowell – 13 years Westbrook – 38 years Hampden – 9 years Yarmouth – 36 years Kennebunkport – 38 years

For more information about Project Canopy, go to: http://www.projectcanopy.me

For more information about the Maine Forest Service, go to: http://www.maineforestservice.gov

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

National Trails Day Celebration at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park

June 3, 2015

For more information contact: Andy Hutchinson at (207) 865-4465

Governor LePage Issues Proclamation – June is Great Outdoors Month!

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’ Bureau of Parks and Lands is holding a celebration at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in honor of National Trails Day. The day of hiking, trail work, and outdoor activities will take place at the Park in Freeport on Saturday, June 6 beginning at 9:00 a.m.

Governor Paul R. LePage has proclaimed the month of June as Great Outdoors Month and is urging residents and visitors alike to visit Maine State Parks and Historical Sites.

“Maine is blessed with outstanding opportunities for safe and healthy fun in the great outdoors,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “I am pleased to declare June, 2015 as Great Outdoors Month, and encourage residents and visitors alike to take advantage of the many outdoor experiences that make Maine unique. Outdoor recreation contributes an estimated $7.4 billion to the Maine economy and supports some 94,000 jobs.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted that the celebration at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park will provide opportunities for both seasoned outdoor enthusiasts and first-time hikers. “Visitors will be able to explore the woods and shore of Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park through guided nature walks led by the park staff; try their hand at trail work projects; or take part in a hands-on Leave No Trace workshop on camping skills,” said Whitcomb. “Guided nature walks will cover a broad variety of topics. Participants may learn to identify trees, plants, and woodland wildflowers, see where different animals make their homes, search for birds, or simply enjoy the beautiful landscape of the forest and ocean. Programs are geared towards all ages.”

Visitors who participate in trail work projects will learn what goes into creating and maintaining the five-mile trail system of Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park. Projects may include rehabilitating trails that have been damaged by heavy use, or raking public areas for improved accessibility.

The event will also have information about local and statewide hiking opportunities.

National Trails Day:

National Trails Day is a nationally recognized trail awareness program founded by the American Hiking Society that occurs annually on the first Saturday of June and inspires the public to discover, learn about, and celebrate trails while participating in outdoor activities, clinics, and trail stewardship projects.

For more information and a complete listing of activities, go to www.maine.gov/wolfesneckwoods or contact Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park at (207) 865-4465.

For more information on Maine State Parks, Historic Sites and Public Lands, go to: www.parksandlands.com

Supporting documents

Proclamation by Governor LePage

Re-inventory shows Maine public lands under harvested

June 10, 2015

For more information contact: Doug Denico at 207-287-2795

Governor LePage renews call for action on bill to lower heating costs for low-income Mainers

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage renewed his call for legislative action on his proposal to assist low-income Maine residents with high heating costs by utilizing surplus revenue from timber harvest on public lands. His appeal follows a reconciliation and re-inventory of timber production on public lands (418,572 acres) managed by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Bureau of Public Lands that showed timber growth on public lands is at or above the 180,000 cord level on an annual basis.

The results of this finding were confirmed in a letter of opinion (attached) by the James W. Sewall Company of Old Town, Maine, professional foresters. Their independent review reveals that the growth rate on Bureau lands is in the range of 0.432 to 0.449 cords/acre/year, or 180,800 cords/year to 188,000 cords/year on the 418,572 acre area. The current Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) is 141,500 cords. The AAC is not the sustainable harvest level; it is the harvest level selected by Public Lands for a variety of reasons, including available harvesting contractors, existing road network, available employees, written harvest plans and revenue needs.

“This independent review reinforces that we are appropriately managing our public lands. While liberal groups have attacked our efforts to harvest our public lands this report demonstrates that we are following science to manage our lands.” said Governor LePage. “I encourage the public to look at the facts and not follow the hollow attacks from special interest groups on our management practices.”

Governor LePage’s Proposal:

The Public Reserved Lands Management Fund, which receives revenue from the sale of timber from public lands, currently has a balance of roughly $8 million from higher prices for timber cut on Maine’s public lands, and a higher cut level. The result of the reconciliation and re-inventory of timber production on public lands, confirmed by an independent review, indicates that the Fund could swell even further without jeopardizing Maine’s professional forest certifications.

L.D. 1397 "An Act To Establish the Affordable Heating from Maine's Forests Fund" allows the transfer from the current balance and future balances from the Public Reserved Lands Management Fund to Efficiency Maine Trust to lower heating costs for rural and low-income households. It requires that any transfer may not result in the loss of independent certification systems and requires that the Administration not transfer an amount that would undermine the stewardship obligations of these public reserved lands. Funding into the Public Reserved Lands Management Fund has gone up, while funding to assist households lower their heating bills is going down.

Supporting documents

Sewall Letter - Pg 1

Commissioner Whitcomb attends Maple Mania 2015

June 12, 2015

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Highlights support for the growth of Maine’s maple industry

SKOWHEGAN – Commissioner Walt Whitcomb traveled to Skowhegan today to attend the Fifth Annual MAPLEMANIA event hosted by the Maine Maple Producers Association. The Commissioner used the event, which began Thursday night and continues to Saturday (June 13), to highlight department and administration support for the continued growth of Maine’s maple industry.

Governor Paul R. LePage, who highlighted the ceremonial start of the 2015 maple season in March with the Annual Blaine House Tree Tapping event, sent his best wishes to Maine Maple Producers.

“I thank Maine’s Maple Producers for their efforts to grow the industry and for the quality products they produce around the world,” said Governor LePage. “Maine’s maple industry contributes an estimated $27.7 million directly to the Maine economy, has an estimated annual statewide economic contribution (including multiplier effects) of $48.7 million in output, 805 full- and part-time jobs and $25.1 million in labor income. Most importantly, this industry has a huge potential for additional job creation.”

In his remarks, Commissioner Whitcomb highlighted administration support for the growth of Maine’s maple industry. “Working with the Maine Maple Producers (417 are licensed by the Department), we have increased visibility and support for Maine’s maple industry through a number of events and initiatives,” said Whitcomb. “These include: Governor LePage’s Annual Blaine House Tree Tapping; Maine Maple Sunday (4th Sunday of every March); expanded access to tap leases on public lands (nearly 100,000) and promotional support through Get Real Get Maine. It is important to note that without maple trees, Maine’s world-renowned fall foliage season would not exist.”

Maple Mania:

The Maine Maple Producers Association hosts MAPLEMANIA every year. This year’s event began Thursday night, June 11 and continues to Saturday, June 13 with tours, a trade show, and technical sessions. It is being held T&B Celebration Center, 414 Madison Ave, Skowhegan.

More information about the Maine Maple Producers Association is available at: http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/index.asp

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

Free on Father’s Day: Maine State Park Admission

June 17, 2015

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage announced today that all Maine State Parks and Historic Sites will treat Maine residents to free admission on Father’s Day, which is this Sunday, June 21. This annual gesture is meant to show appreciation for Maine residents for their continued support of Maine State Parks and Historic Sites. All vehicles bearing Maine license plates on Father’s Day will be granted free-admission at all 48 state-owned and operated locations, according to Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Bureau of Parks and Lands.

“I encourage Maine families to visit and enjoy Maine State Parks and Historic Sites this summer and throughout the year,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “There is a lot to see and experience, and all visits are affordable every day, especially Father’s Day.”

Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb was equally enthusiastic. “Governor LePage issued a Proclamation designating June as ‘Great Outdoors Month’ and Maine State Parks get you out there,” said Whitcomb. Park staff and volunteers have everything ready for visitors to have a memorable experience this Father’s Day and throughout the whole summer.”

DACF Bureau of Parks and Lands Operations Director Ron Hunt encouraged Maine residents and visitors alike to explore the many offerings provided by Maine State Parks. “Each of our state parks and historic sites has programs suited for all ages and cover a wide range of outdoor interests. Many are using our Maine State Park Passport program as an incentive to visit all the parks, and our geocaching feature continues to be very popular,” said Hunt.

The details of the free parks admission are:

  • Maine Residents Day, 9 a.m.- closing, Sunday, June 21; all vehicles bearing Maine license plates will be allowed free entrance to Maine state parks and historic sites. No rain date will be available. The open admission does not apply to the AWW, Baxter State Park, the Maine Wildlife Park, Peacock Beach, Scarborough Beach, Swan Island, or the Penobscot Narrows Observatory in Prospect, though admission to Fort Knox State Historic Site will be free that day.

For more information about Maine State Parks and Historic Sites, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine Fair Season Starts This Week in Mapleton

June 24, 2015

For more information contact: Melissa Ricker at 207-592-2126

Fairs throughout the State will entertain visitors into October

AUGUSTA – Maine Agricultural Fair Season begins this week, June 27–28, with the Maple Meadow Fair Festival in Mapleton. Beekeeping, hops growing, horseshoeing, no till drill, pickling potatoes, horse dentistry, hay baling (with horses), live music, food vendors are just a few of the activities you can experience at this great local farm fair in Aroostook County. The Maple Meadow Fair is the season’s first of twenty-six fairs that take place over the summer and fall, concluding in October with Maine’s largest agricultural fair, the Fryeburg Fair.

“Maine agricultural fairs showcase our state’s agricultural interests and the communities they are located in,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The Maple Meadow Fair Festival and other Maine fairs held later this summer and fall, help highlight the continued growth of Maine agriculture and its contributions to our natural resource economy.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the continued growth of Maine agriculture demonstrated by USDA’s latest Census of Agriculture. “Maine agriculture is growing big and small, with more farmers and more farms in Maine since the last agricultural census was conducted,” said Whitcomb. “The market value of Maine’s agricultural products increased 24% in the last five years, from $617,190,000 to $763,062,000. Maine agricultural fairs are one of many opportunities throughout the year for young people and future farmers to learn about agriculture as a profession.”

Quick Facts about Maine’s 2015 Fair Season:

  • Maine has 26 licensed fairs (2 NEW FAIRS IN 2015!) 860,000 people visited Maine fairs
  • $1.56 Million in premiums went to exhibitors, directly impacting local economies
  • Most northern fair: Northern Maine Fair – Presque Isle, ME
  • Most southern fair: Acton Fair – Acton, ME
  • Largest fair: Fryeburg Fair (304,500 visitors)
  • 1,800+ pairs of professional cattle and horses pulled
  • 3,000+ photographs & paintings were displayed in exhibit halls

Schedule:

June 27-28, Maple Meadow Fair Festival @ Mapleton, Maine

July 2-5, Houlton Fair @ Houlton, Maine A small fair featuring livestock, crafts, midway and state entertainment.

9-12, Ossipee Valley Fair @ South Hiram, Maine Old-fashion fair, unique exhibit halls, lots of livestock, midway, drag racing, animal pull events.

17-19, Waterford World's Fair @ North Waterford, Maine A small family oriented agricultural fair, featuring LOCAL vendors, entertainment and livestock. Old MacDonald's Barn full of animals to touch, outside stage with local talent, demonstrations & livestock exhibits

23-26, Pittston Fair @ Pittston, Maine Small, family-oriented country fair. Midway, animal pulling events, childrens games, Strawberry Festival.

31-Aug 9, Bangor State Fair @ Bangor, Maine A large family fair featuring a midway, animal exhibits, crafts, commercial exhibits, flower show.

24-Aug 1, Northern Maine Fair @ Presque Isle, Maine Large family fair, lots of rides and exhibits, horse pulling, harness racing, tractor pulling, demo derby.

August

July 30-2, Monmouth Fair @ Monmouth, Maine A small family agricultural fair with midway, animal exhibits, crafts and animal pull events.

4-9, Topsham Fair @ Topsham, Maine Agricultural exhibits, animal pull events, 4-H, crafts, midway and harness racing.

13-22, Skowhegan State Fair @ Skowhegan, Maine A large agricultural fair featuring a huge midway, animal exhibits, crafts, commercial exhibits, flower show, animal pull events and harness racing.

17-18, Maine Farm Days @ Clinton, Maine

22-29, Union Fair @ Union, Maine A large family fair famous for the annual State of Maine Wild Blueberry Festival. Large midway, crafts, animal pull events, harness racing.

27-30, Piscataquis Valley Fair @ Dover-Foxcroft, Maine Agricultural exhibits, milking parlor, home made ice cream, crafts, midway, mechanical pulling, demo derbies, animal pulling and stage shows.

27-30, Acton Fair @ Acton, Maine Outstanding exhibits, 4-H, livestock exhibit, flower show, animal pull events, midway.

September

AUG 30-7, Windsor Fair @ Windsor, Maine A large, progressive fair with extensive agricultural, art/crafts exhibits. Large midway, animal pull events, harness racing and mechanical pulling.

3-7, Blue Hill Fair @ Blue Hill, Maine Great country fair, midway, exhibits, non-pari-mutuel racing, animal pull events, entertainment.

4-7, Springfield Fair @ Springfield, Maine Stage shows, animal and mechanical pulling, antique autos, midway, livestock exhibits.

4-7, Harmony Free Fair @ Harmony, Maine Free Admission, Free Parking, Stage Shows, Animal and Mechanical Pulling, Midway, Demo Derby, Livestock and Exhibit Hall.

10-13, Clinton Lions Agricultural Fair @ Clinton, Maine Clinton Family oriented agricultural fair with animal and mechanical pulling utstanding midway, exhibit halls, stage entertainment and woodsmen contest.

11-13, Litchfield Fair @ Litchfield, Maine Country fair with large midway, agricultural exhibits, livestock, animal pull events. Historical fair museum.

16-19, Oxford County Fair @ Oxford, Maine Livestock shows, animal pull events, midway, crafts, exhibits, and a new harness race track.

18-20, New Portland Lion's Fair @ N. New Portland, Maine Midway, exhibit hall, animal and mechanical pulling, crafts, livestock exhibits, woodsmen day, stage shows.

20-26, Farmington Fair @ Farmington, Maine Large midway, exhibit halls, livestock exhibits, animal pull events, harness racing, demolition derby.

25-27, Common Ground Fair @ Unity, Maine A celebration of rural life, demonstrations, Maine-Organic produced foods and crafts as well as livestock exhibits.

27-Oct 3, Cumberland Fair @ Cumberland Ctr, Maine Large exhibit halls, midway and livestock exhibits. Animal pull events and harness racing.

October

4-11, Fryeburg Fair @ Fryeburg, Maine Maine's largest agricultural fair. Beautiful setting in prime foliage season. Exhibit halls, museum, harness racing and livestock shows.

Non-Licensed Fairs

June

5 & 6, Maine Fiber Frolic @ Windsor Fairgrounds A celebration of Fiber Art with demonstrations of spinning, animal shearing and vendors selling their fiber items. There are also fiber animals on exhibit, animal demonstrations and animals for sale.

Sept 12, Cornish Horsemen's Day @ Cornish, Maine A day devoted to the Harness racing industry and history.

More information on Maine’s agricultural fairs, including the Houlton Fair, can be found at: http://www.getrealmaine.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

Media Advisory: Maine Forest Service to enforce State firewood ban this holiday weekend

July 1, 2015

For more information contact: Jeff Currier at (207) 827-1800, cell 441-2580

Department Forest Rangers will inspect vehicles registered from outside Maine for firewood to help protect forests from destructive insects

AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Forest Service will be present at several key visitor locations this Thursday and Friday, July 2-3. “Maine’s Rangers are working this holiday weekend in order to promote understanding and enforcement of Maine’s ban on imported firewood,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “The ban addresses the significant risk posed by movement of untreated firewood that may contain destructive insects.”

The ban on imported firewood is part of a broader initiative within the Department to protect Maine’s forests and farms from new and exotic pest threats. The Forest Health & Monitoring program and the Bureau of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health program actively survey for known and potential pest threats, conducts trainings and public outreach to recognize and report potential pest threats.

WHERE: Several key visitor locations (Contact Jeff Currier for exact locations)

WHEN: Thursday and Friday, July 2-3

WHO: Maine Forest Service Rangers

Maine Forest Service Rangers will inspect visible loads of firewood being carried by vehicles registered outside of Maine. They will talk to visitors about exotic pest threats, provide information to visitors, answer questions and hand out brochures. Illegally imported firewood will be confiscated. They will also have an increased presence at prominent private and public campgrounds over the holiday weekend.

26th Annual Maine Open Farm Day

July 20, 2015

For more information contact: Samantha Howard at 207-287-7620

A Maine tradition, farms will open their gates to the public this Sunday

AUGUSTA – Visit select Maine farms this Sunday, July 26. All across the State of Maine, close to 100 family farms will open their doors to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Held each year, Open Farm Day is an opportunity for consumers to learn about Maine food producers and for farms to show the public their products.

“On behalf of Maine citizens, I thank our farmers and producers for their work bringing fresh and natural products to our tables every day,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This is an exciting time for Maine-made products and Maine agriculture. The number of Maine farms is on the rise and so is the market value of our agricultural products. Since the last Census of Agriculture, the market value of Maine’s agricultural products has increased 24%. At a time when the number of farms in the United States is declining, the number of Maine farms has increased to 8,174, up from 7,196 in 2002. This growth coincides with renewed consumer interest in locally grown foods.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb urged families to “take advantage of this day to connect to life on the farm.” “There is a story, even a lesson that surrounds all the food and other farm products that we grow right here in Maine,” said Whitcomb. “While traveling to Maine farms on Open Farm Day, people will drive by hay fields, potato and grain fields, farm wood lots, orchards and large vegetable patches all growing crops that feed the economy before they fill dinner plates or supply other products that are important to our lives.”

Open Farm Day is an annual family event that connects consumers with the men and women who help produce their food. Farms throughout Maine will open their gates to offer the public an opportunity to learn about the business of agriculture. Many farms will have demonstrations, displays, farm-raised products for sale and animals and crops to experience.

Activities may include barn and field tours, milking, hay rides, petting zoos, nature trails, beautiful scenery, samples for tasting and refreshments. Events like Open Farm Day have an impact on the Agri-Tourism in the State of Maine. According to the USDA, in 2012, AG Tourism & Recreational Services in Maine increased 78% (Increasing from $1,012,000 to $1,803,000) and participating farms increased by 141% (112 to 270 farms). Now is a great time for consumers to visit and support Maine’s farms and be part of the growing support for locally grown foods. According to Gary Keough, New England Field Office State Statistician, National Agricultural Statistics Service, “the average size of a Maine farm is 178 acres, up seven percent since 2007. Organic production and aquaculture sales increased from the last Census and the value of aquaculture sales increased from $26.3 million to $75.1 million (ranking us eighth nationally); organic products increased from $23.3 million to $36.4 million.”

For more details on participating farms visit: http://www.getrealmaine.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/home.showpage/pageID/119/preview/true

Celebrate Eagle Island's National Historic Landmark Status

July 20, 2015

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Join us on July 25th from noon to 2PM at Eagle Island State Historic Site in Casco Bay to celebrate Eagle Island's National Historic Landmark Status!

Celebration includes:

  • Keynote Speaker: Susan Kaplan, Directory of Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum
  • Presentation of the National Historic Landmark commemorative plaque
  • Tours of Admiral Peary's home
  • Naturalist led Osprey Watch program
  • Welcome Center activities

Learn more about Eagle Island State Historic Site at: http://www.maine.gov/eagleisland

Media Advisory: Commissioner Whitcomb to highlight Administration support for veteran farmers Thursday

July 22, 2015

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

A Memorandum of Agreement will be signed at Ireland Hill Farms to promote agricultural products grown or processed by military veterans in Maine

SWANVILLE — Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) Commissioner Walt Whitcomb will travel to Ireland Hill Farms in Swanville on Thursday, July 23, to sign a Memorandum of Agreement to promote agricultural products grown or processed by military veterans in Maine. The Memorandum between the DACF and The Veteran Farmer Coalition, a nonprofit corporation, will promote the nationally trademarked “Homegrown By Heroes” program aimed at promoting the marketing and purchase of agricultural commodities produced by military veterans.

“I am pleased to support the men and women who have been there for us by helping promote programs that allow their talents and contributions to grow Maine’s rural economy,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This effort will help sustain military veterans, their families and all Maine families by promoting the marketing and purchase of agricultural commodities produced by veterans.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted the importance of creating programs for returning veterans to farm. “The Ireland farm is a great example. Ireland family support for the Maine Farmer Veteran Coalition and the national "HomeGrown By Heroes" label will encourage other veterans to become Maine farmers,” said Whitcomb. “On behalf of Governor LePage and the First Lady, I thank the Irelands and wish their new farm great success.”

WHERE: Ireland Hill Farms 282 Nickerson Road Swanville, ME

WHEN: Thursday, July 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
(Signing Ceremony @ 1:00 p.m.)

Administration Support of Maine Veterans:

Throughout his administration, Governor LePage has made it a priority to support Maine’s veterans and active duty service men and women. First Lady Ann LePage has dedicated herself to the cause of supporting our military members and their families through participation in welcoming troops home, hosting veterans and their families at the Blaine House and her commitment to the Wreaths Across America organization. This partnership effort between the DACF and the “HomeGrown By Heroes” national trademark is part of that longstanding commitment to families connected to the military.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

Shore and Harbor Planning Grants Awarded to Nine Maine Communities

July 23, 2015

For more information contact: Melissa Anson at Main: (207) 287-8084, Cell: (207) 592-5689

The Maine Coastal Program, part of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), announces the award of $163,206 to nine coastal municipalities. These awards will provide support for harbor management, waterfront infrastructure planning and design, and public access.

Funding for the grants comes from DACF’s federal coastal management award from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and from Maine’s Submerged Lands Program. Each grantee will provide a minimum of 25% in matching funds or services.

Grants were awarded as follows:

  1. Bath – Guilford Lot Cooperative Fishing Pier: $10,000 for design and engineering services to develop a vacant lot along the Kennebec River into a cooperative fishing pier.
  2. Brunswick – Brunswick Public Mooring Field Opportunities: $15,900 to assess options for creating a town mooring field for non- residents.
  3. Cranberry Isles – Islesford Town Dock Repairs: $30,000 for engineering and design to repair and extend the Islesford Town Dock.
  4. Cumberland – Payson Pier Replacement Project: $20,906 for engineering and design of a new pier.
  5. Frenchboro – Waterfront Management Plan: $20,000 to develop a plan for managing municipal waterfront resources.
  6. Ogunquit – Replacement of Existing Pedestrian Bridge: $20,000 for design and engineering of a new pedestrian bridge to provide safer access to Ogunquit Beach.
  7. Portland – East End Beach Non-Motorized Boating Facility: $22,500 to design new floats and dockage for non-motorized watercraft activity on East End Beach.
  8. Sedgwick – Benjamin River Harbor Design and Engineering: $15,000 for engineering of improvements or a replacement for the existing pier, as well as conceptual design of the entire municipal facility.
  9. Wells – Who Owns the Beach? Access and Ownership Research: $8,900 to evaluate the applicability of local historical deeds and possible implications on public access in the community.

This is the tenth round of Shore and Harbor Planning Grant solicitations. Since 2006, 68 grants have been awarded for a total of $930,155. More information on the grant program can be found at http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mcp/grants/shore-and-harbor-planning-grants.html

Mainers Urged to Sign Up for Free Disposal of Banned, Unusable Pesticides

August 12, 2015

For more information contact: Henry Jennings at 207-287-2731

AUGUSTA—This October, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) will team up with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to help Mainers dispose of banned pesticides or unusable pesticides.

This free disposal program is open to homeowners, family-owned farms and greenhouses. Collection will occur at sites located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta and Portland. To qualify, people must register by September 25, 2015.

Governor Paul R. LePage is urging Mainers to take advantage of this opportunity to protect the environment and save money through this once a year collection event that highlights cooperation between government agencies. “This is an opportunity for Mainers to dispose of unusable pesticides properly and at no expense,” said Governor LePage. “Through consolidated collections at four central locations and the use of in-house resources and expertise, disposal costs are reduced to about $2 per pound. That is a great value for Maine taxpayers which lowers costs and helps protect the environment.”

It’s not unusual for homes and farms to have unintentional hazardous waste—banned pesticides or pesticides that have become caked, frozen, or otherwise rendered unusable—sitting around in basements, garages, or barns. These chemicals can be difficult and expensive to dispose of; DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed the importance of proper disposal of banned or unwanted pesticides.

“It’s important for the protection of public, wildlife, and environmental health that these products are dealt with properly and not thrown in the trash or down the drain, where they can contaminate land and water resources, including drinking water,” said Commissioner Whitcomb. “People holding these chemicals should contact the BPC as soon as possible to register for the October collection.”

“Providing Maine residents with an easy and no cost solution to properly dispose of pesticides gives Mainers the unique opportunity to make a positive impact on our environment and public health,” said Maine DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho. “The collection events cover the State and are held in Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta and Portland, providing accessible methods of collection and future disposal.”

The collected chemicals go to out-of-state disposal facilities licensed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency where they are incinerated or reprocessed.

Registration by September 25, 2015, is mandatory—drop-ins are not permitted. To register, get details, and learn important information about the temporary storage and transportation of obsolete pesticides, go to the BPC Web site at http://www.thinkfirstspraylast.org or call 207-287-2731.

The Maine Obsolete Pesticides Collection Program, jointly sponsored by the BPC and DEP, and paid for entirely through pesticide product registration fees, has kept more than 90 tons of pesticides out of the waste stream since its start in 1982.

Important Note to the Media: Since registration is required, please post any information from this release as soon as possible. This will allow adequate time for participants and the Board of Pesticides to process applications. Thank you for your help in getting the word out!

Second Annual Cast Iron Cook-off at Bradbury Mountain

September 3, 2015

For more information contact: Fritz Appleby at (207) 688-4712

Be part of this fun event, register now!

POWNAL – The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands is holding their second annual Cast Iron Cook-off at Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal, Maine on September 12, 2015.

Capitalizing on Maine’s perfect fall weather for camping, the booming popularity of cast iron cookery and the tradition of using cast iron to cook over a campfire, this day promises to be fun for all. Come and show off your cooking skills and win some great prizes! Not a cook? That’s OK! All park visitors and campers are welcome to watch the Cast Iron cooking and events on 9/12. Come early and see the Girl Scouts cooking to earn merit badges! Check out event competitors cooking setups and methods! See our local cast iron cooking expert, Registered Maine Guide and L.L. Bean employee Georgette Kanach, give a demonstration of how to cook with cast iron – sharing both her passion for cast iron cookery and tasty samples! Learn a bit of the history of cast iron cookware, as well as its proper care and cleaning, from Park Manager Fritz Appleby! Do you want to just have some fun? Enter into our cast iron skillet toss or bean bag toss for a chance to win a prize! New this year is a cast iron swap meet, open to all, at 9:30AM on September 12 at the day use group shelter.

“We are excited to have LL Bean, “Get Real. Get Maine!” and Wicked Joe Coffee on board as sponsors of the events! There will be some fantastic prizes and fun for all.” said Park Manager, Fritz Appleby.

Appleby went on to say “Cast iron cooking and camping are just a natural fit. The current boom in cast iron popularity and the renewed public interest will be enhanced at our event.”

How to Register Contestants must be registered to camp at Bradbury Mountain State Park on the nights of September 11 and 12, 2015 and may not check in until after 1PM on the 11th. The competition will be limited to 16 participants. To register and reserve your spot to participate, please call Bradbury Mountain State Park at (207) 688-4712 by 5PM on Wednesday, September 9, 2015. After that, any available spots will be allocated on a “first come, first served” basis. There is no scheduled rain date.

Prizes Prizes will be awarded to the top 3 winners as judged, by members of the Pownal Fire and Rescue unit, in each of the 3 categories of cooking: Appetizer, Entree and Dessert. Contestants may compete in any and all of the 3 categories.

For more information about this event, or other Maine state parks and historic sites, go to: http://www.maine.gov/bradburymountain or http://www.parksandlands.com

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

THE EASTERN STATES EXPOSITION "BIG E" STARTS FRIDAY

September 15, 2015

For more information contact: Samantha Howard at (207) 592-0911

-Maine Day is October 3-

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) encourages people to attend “New England’s Biggest Celebration,” starting September 18 and ending October 4 in West Springfield, Mass. The Eastern States Exposition, also known as the “Big E,” helps develop and promote agriculture, education, industry and family entertainment while preserving New England Heritage.

The “Big E” is the largest fair in New England, with participation from all six New England states (Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine). Each state has its own exhibition hall. The State of Maine building (built in 1925) showcases Maine foods and products, as well as features information on Maine’s many recreational and vacation opportunities.

“The ‘Big E’ offers an excellent opportunity to showcase what makes Maine unique and special,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “On behalf of the Maine people, I thank all of this year’s participants for working so hard to promote Maine and Maine products.”

The DACF oversees Maine’s participation in this annual event. DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed the importance of participating companies, organizations and state agencies. “Our exhibitors promote Maine’s products and resources in agriculture, industry, fisheries, wildlife and recreation,” said Whitcomb. “Visitors to the Maine building experience a balance of educational and commercial exhibits that showcase Maine and its unique way of life. Only items that produced, grown, crafted, manufactured or significantly altered in Maine are featured in our building.”

Maine Day at the “Big E” is October 3:

A record number of visitors attended The Big E in 2014, breaking the Fair’s all-time high attendance figure, with a final tally of 1,498,605. 159,602 people visited the “Big E” on last year’s Maine day.

The “Big E” takes place every September in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Last year’s attendance set a new record, with nearly 1.5 million fairgoers passing through the “Big E” gates over seventeen days. More than 850,000 of the fairgoers visit the state buildings located on the Avenue of States, affording a tremendous opportunity to promote Maine and Maine products.

Maine Building Exhibitors:

Alan Claude (Farmingdale, Maine) - Maine Lighthouse Collection Series

Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company (Topsham, Maine) - Maine Lobster Rolls, Poland Spring Water

Historic Pittston Farm (Pittston Academy Grant Township, Maine) - Destination, Campground, Restaurant, Farm, Homemade Ice Cream

Lovell Design (Portland Maine) - Nature Inspired Jewelry, Ornaments

Maine Aquaculture Association (Hallowell, Maine)-Smoked Salmon on a Stick

Maine Maple Producers (Gorham, Maine) -Maine Maple Products

Maine Office of Tourism (Augusta, Maine) - Maine Tourism Information

Maine Potato Board (Presque Isle, Maine) - Maine Baked Potato

Maine Wood Products Association (Belfast, Maine) - Maine Wood Crafters

Prospect Harbor Soap Company (Prospect Harbor, Maine) - Handmade Soaps and Skincare products

Wicked Whoopies by Isamax Snacks, Inc. (Gardiner Maine) -Whoopie Pies

Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine (Orono, Maine) - Wild Maine Blueberry Products

Woods Mountain/Rib Truck (Westmanland, Maine) - Barbeque, BBQ Pork Parfait

Works of Heart (Caribou, Maine) - Amish Furniture and Maine Made products

Buoy Sports, LLC (South Berwick, Maine) - Decorative Buoys and Buoy Bats

Lori A Davis Photography (Ellsworth, Maine) - Nature and Wildlife Photographs, Postcards and Magnets

Pizza Pie on the Fly (Portland, Maine) - Wood Fire Pizza

For more information about the Big E, please visit www.thebige.com For more information on Maine’s participation in the event, contact Samantha Howard at (207) 592-0911.

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World's Largest Volunteer Beach Cleanup Comes to Maine

September 17, 2015

For more information contact: Theresa Torrent at 207-319-0996

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Maine Coastal Program, joins hundreds of thousands of people around world for the 30th annual International Coastal Cleanup. Coastweek, September 19th to 26th, is Maine's largest volunteer effort to clean trash from our coastal lands and waters.

This week hundreds of volunteers at many locations along the Maine coastline are participating in Coastweek, which is part of the 30th annual International Coastal Cleanup, the world's largest single day volunteer effort to clean up our beaches, lakes and rivers.

International Coastal Cleanup Volunteers do more than just pick up trash: they document every bag, bowling ball and bottle cap, contributing to the only annual index of global marine debris. This citizen science has informed policy, and led to a new area of scientific research.

Ocean trash compromises the health of humans and wildlife, and hurts local businesses that rely on a healthy ocean.

Last year, more than 500,000 people globally picked up 16 million pounds of trash along 13,000 miles of coastline. In Maine, volunteers found 10,484 pounds of trash in 2014.

Keeping our ocean free from trash is one of the easiest ways to make the ocean more resilient. From creating less trash to using proper trash disposal, everyone can help keep our ocean clean and free of debris.

Visit mainecoastalprogram.org and click on coastal cleanup and how to participate to find a listing of cleanups looking for volunteers, or contact theresa.torrent@maine.gov for more information.

Maine Coastal Program is working with you to protect the health of the Gulf of Maine. Together, we can work to maintain a healthy, productive and resilient ocean.

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Governor LePage urges support for Hunters for the Hungry Program

October 30, 2015

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Deer season begins Saturday and donations provide meat to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households across the state

AUGUSTA – With the 2015 hunting season underway, Governor Paul R. LePage is again urging Maine hunters to consider supporting the Hunters for the Hungry Program by donating all or part of their harvest to feed families in need. The popular program provides a means for Maine hunters, as well as hunters from other states, to donate harvested game to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households with a medical need.

“The Hunters for the Hungry Program is a way that Maine hunters can pursue a sport they love and help their neighbors at the same time,” said Governor LePage. “Donations can provide meat to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households across the state. The fact that this program has grown so steadily is both a testament to the need and the generosity of Mainers.”

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted that since its establishment in 1996, the Hunters for the Hungry Program has provided thousands of nutritious meals to people across the state.

“Since 1996, Maine sportsmen and women have contributed to a program that provides nutritious meals to people across Maine,” said Whitcomb. “The Hunters for the Hungry Program puts high quality, native protein on the tables of Maine families.”

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry distributes many types of donations to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households with a medical need. The Hunters for the Hungry Program is part of the Department’s Emergency Food Assistance Program. It is done in cooperation with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s wardens, Maine State Troopers and hunters, are all working towards a common goal of helping fellow Mainers.

The program accepts bear, deer and moose donations. Road kill donations are also accepted, provided the meat is not damaged. Hunters do not pay for the processing of donated meat. Meat processing costs are paid for by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry or the charity that receives the food. Hunters choosing to keep their game can still donate a few pounds to the program. Meat processors that are interested in getting involved with the program and learning how it works should call 207-287-7513.

For more information, to donate, or to get connected to a Hunters for the Hungry participating meat processor call toll free, 1-888-4DEERME (1-888-433-3763). The program also has a Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maine-Hunters-for-the-Hungry/197411763763406

For more information about The Emergency Food Assistance Program:

http://www.maine.gov/dacf/ard/tefap/index.shtml

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine Harvest Festival 2015 is this Weekend!

November 10, 2015

For more information contact: John Bott, Judi Perkins at 207-287-3156, 207- 570-4077

USA TODAY 10Best readers voted the Maine Harvest Festival #5 in the category of “Best Fall Harvest Festival” in the country”

BANGOR – The fifth annual Maine Harvest Festival will be held November 14 and 15 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The event will be held Saturday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Admission is $8, children 12 and under admitted free. Sponsored, in part, by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, the two-day festival will feature over 150 Maine farmers, food processors and fiber artisans and will include great local food, beverages, music, fiber and more.

“Maine agriculture has great potential to put more food on the table, provide jobs and create economic opportunities,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The continued growth of the Maine Harvest Festival highlights the consumer demand for our locally produced products.”

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the recent national recognition received by the popular Maine Harvest Festival.

“USA TODAY 10Best readers voted the Maine Harvest Festival #5 in the category of “Best Fall Harvest Festival” in the country,” said Whitcomb. “The Festival continues to grow along with consumer interest in locally produced food and Maine products. Many of Maine’s next generation of entrepreneurs, farmers, bakers, brewers, vintners, chefs and other artisans that grow local food, create jobs and strengthen local economies will be there this weekend.”

Maine Harvest Festival Organizer Judi Perkins is optimistic that Maine farmers, food processors, brewers and fiber artisans will see increased foot traffic and sales at this year’s festival. “This year’s Festival offerings will be even bigger than last year’s, and will include a fiber fashion show on Saturday and live interviews of participants with WVOM’s Deb Neuman on both days,” said Judi Perkins. “We are expanding the State Fair pie finalists competition to include pie makers from commercial, home cooks & culinary students. The Festival is also a great place to do holiday shopping and has something for everyone.”

The Maine Harvest Festival celebrates Maine’s farm fresh produce and local products including honey and maple syrup. Live music from bluegrass to a capella chorus will set the stage for dancing, while local craftsmen will be vending their wares. There will be booths, demonstrations, seminars and multiple opportunities for festival goers to taste, sample and purchase offerings. The Festival has a wine, brewery and distillery sampling area. The State of Maine Fair Pie Contest Finale and Awards presentation will also take place on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

Based on experiences from previous years, organizers stressed the importance of bringing a cooler or a thermal insulated bag/container for transporting temperature-sensitive purchases.

For more information about the Maine Harvest Festival: http://maineharvestfestival.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Department seeks public help in locating destructive insect

November 25, 2015

For more information contact: Charlene Donahue at 207-287-2431

When moths fly with snow, let the Maine Forest Service know

AUGUSTA – If you are seeing moth flights this time of year, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Forest Service would like to know in order to better understand the locations and size of winter moth (Operophthera brumata) populations in Maine. Assistance from the public is being sought to help combat the destructive moth through use of a simple on-line survey to report winter moth sightings.

“The total economic impact of Maine’s forest industry is $8 billion with direct and indirect employment of 38,789 workers,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Fighting invasive insects like the winter moth is important to help protect that sector of our economy; in this case, hardwood trees and agricultural crops such as apples and blueberries. Public involvement will help professionals combat and minimize the destructive potential of this and other invasive species.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed that filling out a simple online survey set by the Department to report winter moth sightings is very important. “These reports are critical to building the bigger picture of this insect’s distribution,” said Whitcomb. “A healthy forest is key to Maine’s forest economy. Citizen involvement in monitoring invasive pests is important to the future of rural Maine.”

The survey can be accessed online at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/wintermothsurvey . Reports of moth flights can also be made by phone at (207) 287-2431.

Why Look For Moths in December?

December may seem like an odd time to set up traps for a defoliating forest pest. However, during the first week of December, DACF staff will set up traps along the coast and inland in southern Maine. Towns in the study region are cooperating by allowing traps to be hung on municipal property. Two homeowners in the most heavily infested areas have volunteered their services for a third year to make nightly counts of the moths trapped in their yards.

Winter in Maine is quite suitable to getting winter moth observations from the public. The moth flies when it is dark—this time of year many people are still out after dark. Even if people are inside and glance out their windows, they may notice if there are small tan moths attracted to lights.

Winter Moth History

The winter moth was introduced into North America from Europe in the early part of the last century. It was first seen in Nova Scotia in the 1930s and then in the Pacific Northwest (British Columbia, Oregon and Washington) in the 1970s. Winter moth showed up in eastern Massachusetts in the early 2000s and has since spread westward in MA, into Rhode Island and now coastal Maine from Kittery to Bar Harbor. It was first reported in Maine in significant numbers in December 2011.

The larvae (caterpillars) of winter moth defoliate deciduous trees and shrubs such as oaks, maples, apples and blueberries, in early spring. Heavy defoliation for several consecutive years leads to branch dieback and tree mortality. Winter moth defoliation has contributed to tens of thousands of acres of oak mortality in Massachusetts.

Winter moth defoliation was first recorded in Maine in 2012. This year the annual Maine Forest Service aerial survey picked up moderate to heavy defoliation in the Cumberland County towns of Cape Elizabeth, Chebeague Island, Harpswell, Portland (Peaks Island) and Scarborough with over 10,000 acres mapped. On the ground, light to heavy defoliation could be seen in scattered locations from Kittery to Rockland.

Adults are active from late November to January whenever the temperature is above freezing. Males are small, light brown to tan moths. They are attracted to lights and a chemical released by the females. Adult females are small, gray and look like a mosquito wearing a fur coat. They have reduced wings and are flightless. Females are most commonly found crawling on the trunks of trees. So if you see moths flying in December, let the Maine Forest Service know.

Supporting documents

Winter moth adult

Blaine House Christmas trees to celebrate a children’s winter wonderland

December 2, 2015

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

The Kennebec Valley Garden Club has decorated Balsam Firs donated by the Granger Family Farm

AUGUSTA – In preparation for the holidays, the Kennebec Valley Garden Club has decorated two of three Blaine House balsam fir trees donated by Granger Family Farm in China, Maine. The two trees will be displayed inside the Blaine House for the holidays. A third tree will be located in the First Family’s private living quarters and will be decorated by the LePage family. According to First Lady Ann LePage, this year's annual theme is: A Children’s Winter Wonderland.

“Paul and I truly appreciate the wonderful job that the Kennebec Valley Garden Club does each Christmas season to create a festive atmosphere at the Blaine House,” said First Lady Ann LePage. “The generous gift of balsam fir trees from the Granger Family Farm will be adorned with snowmen, sleds and dolls in keeping with this year’s “Children’s Winter Wonderland” theme. Thanks to the Granger Family Farm and the Kennebec Valley Garden Club, the Blaine House is ready to celebrate the holidays and welcome in the New Year.”

According to Clark Granger, the gift is his fourth. Clark has been growing Christmas trees since the 1950s and has planted over 200,000 trees in his lifetime.

For more information on the Blaine House, go to: http://www.blainehouse.org/index.html

Information on the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is available at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine Christmas Trees for the Holidays!

December 3, 2015

For more information contact: John Bott, Jim Corliss at 207-287-3156, 207-234-4300

Governor Paul R. LePage commends Maine Christmas tree growers for sending trees to armed forces members and their families

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry are urging consumers to support local businesses by buying Maine Christmas trees this holiday season. Christmas tree buying season is in full swing and Maine Christmas tree growers are doing their part to support a national program to provide trees to armed forces members and their families as part of the national Trees for Troops effort.

“The Christmas season is an important time to give thanks for the many blessings we are given and show appreciation for the sacrifices that others make on behalf of our country,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Nothing says Maine more than a majestic, locally grown fir tree that graces a family living room. Thanks to the generosity of Maine Christmas tree growers, men and women of our armed forces will receive trees as part of the national Trees for Troops program. I commend Maine Christmas tree growers for doing their part to show appreciation for armed services members and their families and for all they do to help keep us safe.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed the importance of Maine’s forest industry and resources available to consumers seeking Maine Christmas trees.

“Maine’s forest industry accounts for $8 billion in economic activity, with direct and indirect employment of 38,789 workers,” said Whitcomb. “Maine tree growers grow a product that is symbolic of that industry and adorns family living rooms locally and beyond our borders. You can support the Maine economy by buying a Maine Christmas tree.”

Maine Christmas Tree Association representative Jim Corliss highlighted the efforts of Maine growers to support the Trees for Troops effort. “Just this morning, we loaded 300 trees onto a FedEx Freight trailer bound for the U.S. Marine Corps base in Cherry Point, North Carolina,” said Corliss. “This is part of a 10-year effort to provide free, farm-grown Christmas Trees to United States armed forces members in all branches of the military and their families, through donations, sponsorships, grants and the work of many volunteers.”

Maine Christmas Tree Association:

The Maine Christmas Tree Association (MCTA) is a non-profit organization comprised of family farms that produce real Christmas trees and wreath products for retail, wholesale, mail order, or choose'n cut during the Christmas season. Producers may specialize or offer a combination of mail order, retail, choose'n cut or wholesale production of tree and wreath products.

The purpose of MCTA since it was incorporated in 1962 has been to promote real Christmas trees and share information about fresh Maine Christmas trees and wreath products with its members. This information includes the latest techniques in growing quality trees and wreath products to the care and recycling of Christmas trees.

Tree Selection and Care Tips: http://www.mainechristmastree.com/tree_information.cfm

Buying Resources: http://www.mainechristmastree.com/products.cfm

Trees for Troops:

Trees for Troops, a program of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, provides free, farm-grown Christmas Trees to United States armed forces members in all branches of the military and their families, through donations, sponsorships, grants and the work of many volunteers.

Christmas Tree growers have been providing free trees for military families for years. In 2005, FedEx contacted the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, the 501(c)(3) charitable branch of the National Christmas Tree Association, and wanted to be involved in the foundation’s mission. Together the two organizations expanded the idea of providing Christmas Trees to military families, and Trees for Troops was born.

Since 2005, more than 157,000 free, farm-grown Christmas Trees have been provided to troops and military families in the United States and overseas through Trees for Troops. Thousands of trees are donated by American farm families and the public, and FedEx delivers these trees to more than 60 military bases in the U.S. and overseas. FedEx has logged more than 573,000 ground miles for the Trees for Troops program.

http://www.treesfortroops.org/dnn/Home.aspx#&panel1-3

Winter Camping in the Allagash

December 9, 2015

For more information contact: Mattew LaRoche at 207-695-3721, Ext. 3

Winter Campground Registration Opens December 12

AUGUSTA -- The Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) will begin taking winter camping registrations December 12. Part of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands, the AWW is a 92-mile-long ribbon of lakes, lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams that wind through northern Maine's vast commercial forests. The AWW will make a total of 48 camp sites available at Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook.

The camp sites will be allotted on a first-come, first-served basis until the campground capacity is reached. Registration for the campgrounds will take place:

  • 8 a.m., Saturday, December 12, at the Chamberlain Bridge ranger station.

“Winter camping in the Allagash provides anglers with extraordinary access to great winter ice fishing,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Visitors can enjoy the Maine outdoors year-round, as far north as the unique winter campsites of the Allagash.”

DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted that winter camping in the Allagash draws visitors year after year and is just one of many winter recreational opportunities available at Maine parks and lands. “Our “Take it Outside” program encourages Maine's children and families to reconnect with nature, promote health, and have fun in the great Maine outdoors. Winter park and public lands activities include: cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, nature walks, and guided hikes on New Year’s Day,” said Whitcomb.

AWW Superintendent Matt LaRoche anticipates renting most of the 48 available campsites by noon on the first day of registration. To be sure of getting a site, the AWW superintendent suggests that campers arrive at Chamberlain Bridge before 8 a.m. on December 12.

Campsites are available for a rental fee of $50 per month, plus an 8-percent meal and lodging tax. Eight sites are reserved in the parking lot for short term use at the regular camping fee of $4 per person, per night for Maine residents and $8 for nonresidents. The water access campsites on the lakes are available for use in the winter as well as summer; the same fees apply to these sites. A fee increase is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2016.

The AWW provides: public drinking water, vault toilets, and snow plowing at the Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook winter campgrounds. A groomed snowmobile trail is marked from the parking lot to the south end of Chamberlain Lake and to Round Pond/Telos lakes.

For more information on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, go to: http://www.maine.gov/allagash call 207-695-3721 x3 or 207-941-4014.

Or contact: Allagash Wilderness Waterway PO Box 1107 Greenville, ME 04441

Supporting documents

AWW 50th Anniversary logo

Maine prepares for impending outbreak of spruce budworm

December 11, 2015

For more information contact: Charlene Donahue at 207-287-2431

Maine Forest Service report documents steady rise of native defoliator

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) today released its 2015 report on spruce budworm in Maine. Entomologists from the DACF’s Maine Forest Service note a steady rise in the numbers of insects caught in pheromone traps concentrated along the Canadian border. Quebec’s infestation now encompasses 15.6 million acres and has spread south onto the Gaspe Peninsula and toward Maine. The insect’s potential to become an outbreak over vast regions of commercially valuable spruce-fir forests has scientists and public official deeply concerned. An infestation can spread rapidly via moths migrating to new areas.

“The total economic impact of Maine’s forest industry is $8 billion with direct and indirect employment of 38,789 workers,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Fighting destructive pests like the spruce budworm is important to help protect Maine jobs and our economy. It is important that Maine’s forest professionals identified the potential threat early on, are on top of recent developments and are preparing action steps to help minimize the damage from a future budworm outbreak.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed the DACF has been busy tracking the budworm by expanding the program used to determine its potential spread and impact.

“Permanent pheromone traps have been run annually for the past twenty years,” said Whitcomb. “In light of the serious nature of the current potential threat to Maine forests, we significantly expanded our monitoring program last year. We are also working closely with stakeholders on a response plan to help minimize damage to our spruce-fir forests in the event of a major outbreak.”

The report, Spruce Budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) in Maine 2015, can be accessed online at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/forest_health/documents/2015sbwreport.pdf

Maine’s Response:

Because the last spruce budworm outbreak during the 1970s-80s grew quickly, killed millions of acres of spruce-fir stands, and cost the region’s economy many hundreds of millions of dollars, the Maine Spruce Budworm Task Force was formed in summer 2013 by the University of Maine’s Cooperative Forest Research Unit (CFRU), Maine Forest Service (MFS), and the Maine Forest Products Council (MFPC) to begin the process of preparing for the next outbreak of the eastern spruce budworm.

Task teams including more than 65 experts on various aspects of the issue were assembled to address key aspects of the coming outbreak, including: wood supply & economic impacts; monitoring & protection; forest management; policy, regulatory and funding; wildlife habitat; public communications & outreach; and research priorities. Their pending report (which is in final drafting stages) includes an initial risk assessment of the coming spruce budworm outbreak and provides key recommendations for how Maine’s forestry community can begin preparing for and responding to the coming outbreak.

Spruce Budworm:

The native spruce budworm has long been recognized as a regular component of Maine's spruce-fir forests. Under normal (endemic) conditions populations of this insect are often so low as to be difficult to detect. Periodically, however, the budworm undergoes a population explosion (epidemic) and becomes so abundant that serious feeding damage occurs. Heavily infested stands appear reddish in July due to masses of dead, chewed needles clinging to the branches. Tree mortality may occur after several years of heavy feeding.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Supporting documents

SBW larva

Maine Forest Service Christmas Tree Care and Safety Tips

December 16, 2015

For more information contact: John Bott, Kent Nelson at 207-287-3156, 207-287-4989

It is not too late to grace the family living room with a Maine grown Christmas tree

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) are again urging holiday shoppers to purchase natural Christmas trees locally. Maine-grown Christmas trees are freshly cut, support local tree farms and most importantly, visiting a Maine “Choose and Cut” Christmas tree operation can be a memorable family experience. The DACF’s Maine Forest Service offers tree purchasing, care and safety tips.

“The Christmas season is an important time to give thanks for the many blessings we are given and show appreciation for the contributions of others,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Nothing says Maine more than a locally grown fir tree that graces a family living room. The Maine people are truly fortunate to call this state home and to create products enjoyed beyond our borders.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb reflected on the unique experience that tree buyers can have harvesting their own tree from a Maine family tree farm. “Maine tree growers grow a product that symbolizes the Maine outdoors and the Christmas holiday,” said Whitcomb. You can support local businesses by buying a Maine Christmas tree. You can also create a new family memory from the shared experience of harvesting a tree from a Maine family tree farm.”

Maine Christmas Trees:

Naturally grown Christmas trees are also much less harmful to the environment than artificial Christmas trees. Considered a “renewable resource,” Maine Christmas trees provide fresh air, wildlife habitat and scenery while they are grown. After the holidays, most Christmas trees are returned to the forest where they can provide wildlife cover, reduce erosion and add nutrients to the soil.

Here are some tips for purchasing fresh cut Maine Christmas trees:

  • Always ask the seller “where and when” the Christmas trees were cut. In general, the closer the location and the most recent shipment, the better.

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to purchase your Maine Christmas tree. In the past few years, there have been shortages of Maine-grown Christmas trees.

  • Check to make sure the Christmas tree is fresh. The needles of a freshly harvested balsam fir tree should bend about 30 – 40 degrees before breaking.

Some information on transporting and storing a Christmas tree:

  • Make sure the Christmas tree is tied securely to your vehicle and that the butt end is facing forward.

  • Avoid transporting the tree when the roads are wet. The spray from road can shorten the life of your tree and dull the color. If necessary, wrap the tree in a tarp.

  • Once you transport the tree home, try to set it up inside soon. If you can’t, make sure you store it outside in a cool, dark location out of the sun and wind. A garage is a good place.

Safety tips for setting up the tree at home:

  • Before bringing the tree inside to display, cut off at least 2” of the butt end. This will help the tree stay moist and last longer.

  • Make sure you have the correct tree stand for the size tree you have purchased. For most trees, the stand should hold at least a gallon of water.

  • Keep the tree watered, especially the first few days after it is set up. There are inexpensive devices that can be purchased that help maintain a constant water level in the stand.

Proper disposal of your Christmas tree:

  • Completely remove all plastic and metal items from the tree.

  • Do not burn the tree in your fireplace or woodstove. If all other recycling options are not practical, check with your local fire department, get a burn permit and burn it outdoors when there is snow on the ground.

  • Recycle your tree at your local transfer station. If they don’t accept trees, consider leaving the tree in the woods (landowner permission is required) or near your birdfeeder to provide cover for songbirds.

  • If possible, chip the tree and use the chips as mulch.

Some helpful resources:

http://www.mainechristmastree.com/ (website can help locate Christmas tree farms)

http://www.pickyourownchristmastree.org/caring4atree.php

http://realchristmastree.org/dnn/default.aspx

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Holiday Pet Safety Tips

December 22, 2015

For more information contact: Michele Walsh, Liam Hughes at (207) 287-7615, (207) 287-5531

Tips from the State Veterinarian and Animal Welfare Program Director

AUGUSTA - The holiday season is an exciting, active time for Maine families. The same is true for household pets. To avoid spending stressful time with your veterinarian, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s State Veterinarian and Director of Animal Welfare are urging Mainers to consider some helpful pet safety tips.

“Healthy pets make happy owners. We want all Mainers and their pets to have a positive experience this holiday season,” said Maine State Veterinarian, Dr. Michele Walsh. “A little bit of forethought can go a long way toward avoiding stressful, expensive, possibly fatal trips to a veterinarian. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and other organizations offer tips on how to help ensure that your pets make it through the holidays safely.”

In addition to current pets, families often consider obtaining a new pet during the holiday season. Animal Welfare Director Liam Hughes recommends doing some basic research ahead of time, considering that pets require a long-term commitment.

“Pets owners need to be ready for a long-term emotional and financial commitment,” said Hughes. “Before adopting or purchasing a new pet, people should consider a number of things, including: does my/our lifestyle allow time for a pet; what type of pet; and what are the costs associated with a pet? If you are looking for a pet in Maine, only look for animal shelters, pet stores, or breeders that are licensed by the state. Don’t buy animals on the side of the road, or in a parking lot and beware of online sales because you might not get what was advertised.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) website (https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/holidays.aspx) offers the following Holiday Pet Safety tips:

Food

Keep people food away from pets. If you want to share holiday treats with your pets, make or buy treats formulated just for them. The following people foods are especially hazardous for pets:

  • Chocolate is an essential part of the holidays for many people, but it is toxic to dogs and cats. Although the toxicity can vary based on the type of chocolate, the size of your pet, and the amount they ate, it’s safer to consider all chocolate off limits for pets.
  • Other sweets and baked goods also should be kept out of reach. Not only are they often too rich for pets; an artificial sweetener often found in baked goods, candy and chewing gum, xylitol, has been linked to liver failure and death in dogs.
  • Turkey and turkey skin – sometimes even in small amounts – can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis.
  • Table scraps – including gravy and meat fat –also should be kept away from pets. Many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets, including onions, raisins and grapes. During the holidays, when our own diets tend toward extra-rich foods, table scraps can be especially fattening and hard for animals to digest and can cause pancreatitis.
  • Yeast dough can cause problems for pets, including painful gas and potentially dangerous bloating.

Quick action can save lives. If you believe your pet has been poisoned or eaten something it shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately. You may also want to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1-888-426-4435. Signs of pet distress include: sudden changes in behavior, depression, pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Decorating

Greenery, lights and Christmas trees can make the holidays festive, but they also pose risky temptations for our pets.

-Christmas trees can tip over if pets climb on them or try to play with the lights and ornaments. Consider tying your tree to the ceiling or a doorframe using fishing line to secure it.

  • Ornaments can cause hazards for pets. Broken ornaments can cause injuries, and ingested ornaments can cause intestinal blockage or even toxicity. Keep any homemade ornaments, particularly those made from salt-dough or other food-based materials, out of reach of pets.

-Tinsel and other holiday decorations also can be tempting for pets to eat. Consuming them can cause intestinal blockages, sometimes requiring surgery. Breakable ornaments or decorations can cause injuries.

-Flowers and festive plants can result in an emergency veterinary visit if your pet gets hold of them. Amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, and holly are among the common holiday plants that can be dangerous and even poisonous to pets who decide to eat them. Poinsettias can be troublesome as well. The ASPCA offers lists of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats.

-Candles are attractive to pets as well as people. Never leave a pet alone in an area with a lit candle; it could result in a fire.

-Potpourris should be kept out of reach of inquisitive pets. Liquid potpourris pose risks because they contain essential oils and cationic detergents that can severely damage your pet’s mouth, eyes and skin. Solid potpourris could cause problems if eaten.

Hosting Parties and Visitors

Visitors can upset pets, as can the noise and excitement of holiday parties. Even pets that aren’t normally shy may become nervous in the hubbub that can accompany a holiday gathering. The following tips will reduce emotional stress on your pet and protect your guests from possible injury.

-All pets should have access to a comfortable, quiet place inside if they want to retreat. Make sure your pet has a room or crate somewhere away from the commotion, where your guests won’t follow, that it can go to anytime it wants to get away.

  • Inform your guests ahead of time that you have pets or if other guests may be bringing pets to your house. Guests with allergies or compromised immune systems (due to pregnancy, disease, or medications/ treatments that suppress the immune system) need to be aware of the pets (especially exotic pets) in your home so they can take any needed precautions to protect themselves.

  • Guests with pets? If guests ask to bring their own pets and you don’t know how the pets will get along, you should either politely decline their request or plan to spend some time acclimating the pets to each other, supervising their interactions, monitoring for signs of a problem, and taking action to avoid injuries to pets or people.

  • Pets that are nervous around visitors should be put it in another room or a crate with a favorite toy. If your pet is particularly upset by houseguests, talk to your veterinarian about possible solutions to this common problem.

  • Exotic pets make some people uncomfortable and may themselves be more easily stressed by gatherings. Keep exotic pets safely away from the hubbub of the holidays.

  • Watch the exits. Even if your pets are comfortable around guests, make sure you watch them closely, especially when people are entering or leaving your home. While you’re welcoming hungry guests and collecting coats, a four-legged family member may make a break for it out the door and become lost.

  • Identification tags and microchips reunite families. Make sure your pet has proper identification with your current contact information – particularly a microchip with up-to-date, registered information. That way, if they do sneak out, they’re more likely to be returned to you. If your pet isn’t already microchipped, talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of this simple procedure.

  • Clear the food from your table, counters and serving areas when you are done using them – and make sure the trash gets put where your pet can’t reach it. A turkey or chicken carcass or other large quantities of meat sitting out on the carving table, or left in a trash container that is easily opened, could be deadly to your family pet. Dispose of carcasses and bones – and anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags and packaging – in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors (or behind a closed, locked door).

  • Trash also should be cleared away where pets can’t reach it – especially sparkly ribbon and other packaging or decorative items that could be tempting for your pet to play with or consume.

When You Leave the House

  • Unplug decorations while you're not around. Cats, dogs and other pets are often tempted to chew electrical cords.
  • Take out the trash to make sure your pets can’t get to it, especially if it contains any food or food scraps.

Ways that you can support the Maine Animal Welfare Program can be found at:

http://www.maine.gov/dacf/ahw/animal_welfare/index.shtml

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Governor LePage urges caution in advance of ice fishing season amidst reports of hazardous ice conditions in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway

December 30, 2015

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA –Governor Paul R. LePage is urging fisherman and outdoor enthusiasts to exercise caution amidst reports of hazardous ice conditions in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) and throughout Maine heading into the holiday weekend and the opening of ice fishing season. Unseasonably warm weather has delayed the formation of good, solid ice in many parts of the state, including some of Maine’s northern most destinations. AWW Rangers from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry are reporting hazardous ice conditions on the Allagash headwater lakes.

Governor Paul R. LePage is urging ice fisherman, snowmobilers and outdoor enthusiasts to use extreme caution when heading outdoors this weekend.

“This week many Maine residents and visitors will be out snowmobiling and ice fishing to open the 2016 season,” said Governor LePage. “Anglers should enjoy the ice fishing season that begins Friday, January 1, but exercise caution regarding ice conditions in light of the unseasonably warm weather Maine experienced over the Christmas holiday. Please take precautions so that your outdoor experiences are safe and memorable.”

Conditions in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway

AWW Superintendent Matthew LaRoche warned that Chamberlain Lake skimmed over for the first time on Monday night, 12/28/15. Over a foot of snow was received on Tuesday. That snow will help insulate the ice and slow down the formation good solid ice. The smaller bodies of water and coves were frozen over when rangers were out checking ice conditions on Monday. Churchill Lake was 90% closed in on Monday, but there was open water all around the edges of the lake. There is also open water in all thoroughfares that connect the lakes.

Rangers and wardens will be out checking the ice on Thursday and Friday. People can stop in at the Chamberlain Bridge Ranger Station for up to date information on ice conditions or call the waterway dispatch service in Ashland at (207) 435-7963. If you have reservations at one of the area sporting camps, you should check with the camp operators before heading up for the weekend.

LaRoche is urging people to stay off the ice with snowmobiles. If you do venture out on the ice, do so on foot, and stay in the coves, you should check the ice as you go out. “An inch of ice isn’t very much, and that thickness may vary from location to location,” LaRoche said. “The ice is just not safe enough to cross any of the waterway headwater lakes yet.” He urged those heading out to fish this weekend to tell someone where you are going and take someone with you.

The AWW superintendent warned all visitors to stay away from thoroughfares avoid tributary streams when traveling on the ice.

“We usually have a good crowd out ice fishing on the first weekend of the season,” LaRoche said, referring to the upcoming ice fishing season which starts Friday, Jan. 1. “The native brook trout fishing is usually excellent when the season first opens.”

The AWW provides: winter campgrounds at the Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook; public drinking water, vault toilets, and snow plowing. A groomed snowmobile trail is marked from the Chamberlain Bridge parking lot to the south end of Chamberlain Lake and to Round Pond/Telos lakes.

The AWW is a 92-mile-long ribbon of lakes, ponds, streams and river that wind through the heart of northern Maine’s vast commercial forest. The waterway became the first state-administered river to be designated by the United States Department of Interior as a component of the federal Wild and Scenic River Program. This designation was the culmination of an effort began in the early 1960s, to protect the outstanding natural character, unique recreational opportunities, and historical significance of the Allagash River and its associated lakes and ponds.

For more information about the AWW, go to: http://www.maine.gov/allagash

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

The 75th Annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show is next week!

January 6, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Admission to the 3-day event is free and open to the public

AUGUSTA—The 75th Annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show will be held Tuesday, January 12, through Thursday, January 14, 2016, at the Augusta Civic Center. Hosted by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), the show highlights Maine agriculture and the people involved through demonstrations, presentations and meetings of nearly 40 major agricultural organizations.

There will be over 120 exhibits featuring the newest in agricultural products, equipment and services. One of the state’s largest agricultural exhibitions, the event is expected to draw more than 5,000 people over the course of three days. Admission is free and open to the public.

Governor Paul R. LePage will be on hand Tuesday for the Trades Show opening day, to highlight the economic importance of agriculture to Maine. The Governor will also join Commissioner Walt Whitcomb in publicly recognizing this year’s recipient of the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award.

“The 75th Maine Agricultural Trades Show is an opportunity to highlight Maine’s enormous potential to produce and sell even more Maine products and produce jobs,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Maine has the greatest diversity of food production in New England and the most farms. Maine’s reputation for quality and unique way of life matches the growing interest in locally grown foods that our family farms produce.”

“The 75th Maine Agricultural Trades Show is as much a showcase for new Maine agricultural opportunities as it is multiple workshops that address the challenges faced by Maine farmers,” said DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “New features are on display reflecting Maine’s ever growing agricultural activity. Farmer/veteran training and multiple marketing seminars will explore access to local, regional, wholesale, foreign and other farm product connections. ”

Topics of Interest to the Press:

  • Commissioner’s Luncheon - Governor Paul R. LePage will join Commissioner Whitcomb to present the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award. The luncheon will also feature a special guest speaker of national prominence
  • Maine Agriculture In The Classroom (MAITC) Teachers of the Year announcement
  • $250,000 in Agricultural Development Grants will be Announced
  • Beginning Farmer Resource Network workshops for new Maine farmers
  • Farmer Veteran Coalition Press Conference - Maine’s newly chartered Chapter of the national organization will announce a planned expansion of the their efforts to provide farming skills for returning veterans
  • Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) presentations and discussions on marketing and growing practices
  • Get Real Get Maine Products Showcase – An indoor farmers market
  • Department Overview of Farmers Market Tips and Regulations

Something for Everyone:

This year’s show features several new offerings for attendees in addition to a wide variety of presentations covering diverse topics of interest. New 2016 program highlights also include:

  • Market access seminars for Maine food interests entering the world export markets
  • Instructions for growing beef production and processing
  • A farmers market in the Augusta Civic Center for venders to show their wares to food buyers
  • Dozens of other meetings to advance the output of Maine farms and the return to Maine farmers
  • Somerset Auction House Co. Farm Auction to beneft the Maine FFA Association

The show also provides opportunities for growers, conventional and organic, to learn the latest developments in pest management and earn credits required for pesticide license recertification. The Maine Board of Pesticides Control will also be on hand to discuss basic safety training.

This three-day event has something for everyone, the farmer, non-farmer, hobbyist, educator or supplier. Attendees can walk through, observe and learn about how food is harvested and processed. Farmers and producers can see the most up-to-date farm equipment and processing methods and equipment.

Trades Show floor hours:

• Tuesday, January 12, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. • Wednesday, January 13, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. • Thursday, January 14, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The complete program and schedule are available at: http://www.getrealmaine.com/. It will also appear as a supplement in all of Maine’s major daily newspapers on Friday, January 8, 2016.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Media Advisory: Governor LePage to attend Maine Agricultural Trades Show

January 11, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

The Governor will join Commissioner Walt Whitcomb in publicly recognizing this year’s recipient of the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award.

AUGUSTA CIVIC CENTER— Governor Paul R. LePage will attend the 75th Maine Agricultural Trades Show on Tuesday to highlight the importance of agriculture to the economy and how Maine supports job creators. The Governor will also join Commissioner Walt Whitcomb in publicly recognizing this year’s recipient of the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award.

“The 75th Maine Agricultural Trades Show is an opportunity to highlight Maine’s enormous potential to produce and sell even more Maine products and produce jobs,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Maine has the greatest diversity of food production in New England and the most farms. Maine’s reputation for quality and unique way of life matches the growing interest in locally grown foods that our family farms produce.”

Governor LePage will present the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award at the Commissioner’s Luncheon at the Augusta Civic Center on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at noon.

H. Sawin Millett honored at Maine Agricultural Trades Show

January 12, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Governor LePage joins Commissioner Whitcomb to honor his contributions to Maine agriculture

AUGUSTA—H. Sawin Millett of Waterford received the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award today at the 75th Annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show Commissioner’s Luncheon. Governor Paul R. LePage joined Commissioner Walt Whitcomb to present Millet with the award in recognition of the notable contributions to state government and Maine agriculture. The annual award has been given since 2001.

“Sawin’s thorough understanding of state budgeting and financial operations, combined with his vast institutional knowledge, were invaluable to Maine,” said Governor LePage. “His great wisdom and unassuming authority commanded the highest respect from everyone in state government. Maine is a better place today because of his many contributions.”

“Today the agricultural community thanks Sawin for his many contributions that have benefited farmer and state government,” said DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb.

Governor LePage and Commissioner Whitcomb presented Millett with a plaque which read:

“ During your legendary five decades of service to the State of Maine, Maine’s agriculture community was always sure that our interests were not lost in the maze of complicated budgeting and lawmaking.”

H. Sawin Millett:

Prior to serving as Commissioner of Administrative and Financial Services for Governor Paul R. LePage, Millet also worked in the administrations of several former Governors, including: James Longley, Jr. (I), Joseph Brennan (D), Gov. John McKernan (R) and Angus King (I).

A former six-term state legislator, Millett began his public service career as a teacher and coach at Carmel High School in 1959, later becoming a principal. He is a graduate of Bates College, and the University of Maine where he obtained a master’s in education in 1967. He has also served as the executive director of the Maine School Management Association, Assistant Professor with the University of Southern Maine and as a State Office Director to U.S. Senator Susan Collins.

Sawin lives in Waterford. He is a lifelong farmer, has five children, ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He has served as a Town Selectman and moderated town meeting in Waterford for forty years. He has been active with the Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce, the River Valley Technology Center, Volunteers of America, the Oxford Hills Rotary and the Waterford-Stoneham Lions Club.

Maine Agricultural Trades Show:

Hosted by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), the Maine Agricultural Trades Show highlights Maine agriculture and the people involved through demonstrations, presentations and meetings of nearly 40 major agricultural organizations. There are over 120 exhibits featuring the newest in agricultural products, equipment and services. One of the state’s largest agricultural exhibitions, the event is expected to draw more than 5,000 people over the course of three days (January 12-14). Admission is free and open to the public.

The show features a wide variety of presentations covering diverse topics of interest. New 2016 program highlights also include:

  • Market access seminars for Maine food interests entering the world export markets
  • Instructions for growing beef production and processing
  • A farmers market in the Augusta Civic Center for venders to show their wares to food buyers
  • Dozens of other meetings to advance the output of Maine farms and the return to Maine farmers
  • Somerset Auction House Co. Farm Auction to beneft the Maine FFA Association

This three-day event has something for everyone, the farmer, non-farmer, hobbyist, educator or supplier. Attendees can walk through, observe and learn about how food is harvested and processed. Farmers and producers can see the most up-to-date farm equipment and processing methods and equipment.

Trades Show floor hours:

  • Tuesday, January 12, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, January 13, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, January 14, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The complete program and schedule are available at: http://www.getrealmaine.com/. It will also appear as a supplement in all of Maine’s major daily newspapers on Friday, January 8, 2016.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://protecttheharvest.com/

Maine Agriculture in the Classroom Announces 2016 Teachers of the Year at Maine Agricultural Trades Show

January 12, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Maine Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC) announced their 2016 Teachers of the Year at the 75th Annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show. They are Morgan Kerr and Stephanie Enaire from Gray-New Gloucester Middle School. Governor Paul R. LePage was on hand to congratulate them.

About the Maine Agriculture in the Classroom 2016 Teachers of the Year:

The team of Morgan Kerr and Stephanie Enaire are teaching partners for grades 5/6 at Gray – New Gloucester Middle School. They have added agriculture to all subjects across their curriculum. For example, they use their school garden to teach Science, Math and Language Arts. They have raised chickens with their students, visited local farms, explored agricultural careers and even studied history through the remaining rock walls and foundations left from farms in their area. Mr. Kerr has been a summer youth education director at Wolfe’s Neck Farm. Mrs. Enaire grew up on a dairy farm right in the same county.

Featured speaker at Maine Agricultural Trades Show luncheon provides food for thought

January 12, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Brian Klippenstein says the predicted doubling of world food demand creates extraordinary opportunity for U.S. agriculture if we embrace diversity in methods of food production

AUGUSTA CIVIC CENTER— Brian Klippenstein, Executive Director of Protect the Harvest, spoke to a sold out audience at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show Commissioner’s Luncheon. A guest of Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb, Klipperstein told attendees that the predicted doubling of world food demand presents opportunity for U.S. agriculture if we embrace diversity in agriculture, honor science and technology and work together.

Key Points from Klippenstein’s Remarks:

  1. The predicted doubling of world food demand creates extraordinary opportunity for US Producers.

  2. The US has soil, climate, tradition, land grant universities and technologies provider partners and the best farmers capable of helping meet skyrocketing demand.

  3. We will need to produce as much food in next 40 years as the previous 7,000 (According to World Wildlife Fund).

  4. It remains a hungry and troubled world and nearly a billion people are already chronically malnourished and two billion live on less than $3 per day.

  5. Technology is not the enemy; hunger and poverty are the enemies. We must protect the viability of science and technology.

  6. There are now heaps of money in the agitator community trying to control your plate. Food imperialists oppose consumer choice and, in particular, affordable food options.

  7. The country is more urban and agriculture must stick together.

  8. It is not just possible but mandatory that we foster diverse agriculture. There is no one way. How could there be 7 billion individuals with difference tastes, priorities, and incomes and different soil and climate and skills? There is no one way. The world needs all of the above to maximize diverse and affordable options.

  9. If we honor science and technology and refuse the activists plan to divide us, we can provide more consumer choice and affordable options, minimize hunger and human suffering, and return economic growth to all rural regions of our country.

Brian Klippenstein:

Brian Klippenstein, Executive Director of Protect the Harvest, leads a nationwide advocacy for safe and affordable food choices sufficient to meet the unprecedented demands for food around the world in the upcoming half-century.

Raised in Northwest Missouri on a large registered beef cattle farm, he has experience across North and South America working both on ranches and showing cattle.

A graduate of George Washington University with a degree in Business, Economic and Public Policy, Brian worked 26 years in D.C. on Capitol Hill for a Congressman and two State of Missouri U.S. Senators, the last five years as Chief of Staff.

Propelled by his high protein red meat diet, Brian pursues athletic endeavors that range from being Captain of the G.W. University rowing team to off-shore sailboat racing and many distance running accomplishments including marathons, 50 mile and 100 mile events.

For more information about Protect the Harvest, go to: http://protecttheharvest.com/

Agricultural Development Grants Announced

January 13, 2016

For more information contact: Jessica Nixon at 207-287-3494

Commissioner Whitcomb makes the announcement at the 75th Maine Agricultural Trades Show

AUGUSTA CIVIC CENTER – Commissioner Walt Whitcomb announced eight (8) Agricultural Development Grant Program awards totaling nearly $250,000 at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show today. The projects address needs in the agricultural industry for development of livestock processing; improved utilization and profitability of Maine grown crops; product enhancements for nutrition and/or food safety; and alternative markets or diversification including merchandising, farm stands, rural tours and educational opportunities.

“Maine has the most farms and the greatest diversity of food production in New England,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The potential to produce and sell Maine products is even greater when you consider Maine’s reputation for quality and the growing interest in locally grown foods. The investments being announced today strengthen Maine agriculture and will help farmers and producers realize their full economic potential.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the efforts of the review committee and its careful selection of projects from dozens of competitive applications.

“Selected proposals incorporated one or more of four priorities: development of livestock processing; improved utilization and profitability of Maine grown crops; product enhancements for nutrition and/or food safety; and alternative markets or diversification including merchandising, farm stands, rural tours and educational opportunities,” said Whitcomb. “We congratulate the grantees and look forward to successful implementation of their projects.”

The preliminary selections were chosen by a review committee from 30 qualified proposals submitted in response to a formal Request For Proposals (RFP). Out of the total thirty (30) qualified proposals received and reviewed by a committee in a competitive review process, eight (8) projects have been tentatively identified pending approval by the State of Maine Purchases Division and the successful completion of a State of Maine contract. These projects have been identified as:

  • Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (Wiscasset) - Ethnic Produce: Crop Diversification for Maine Farmers to Reach New Markets

  • Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine (Orono) - 2016 Wild Blueberry Metro Marketing Program

  • Lakeside Family Farm (Newport) - Farm-to-Workplace: Bringing More Maine Food to Maine People

  • Bartlettyarns, Inc. (Harmony) - Commercial Wool Baler

  • Apple Ridge Farms, Inc. (Turner) - New Technology Vinegar Acetator

  • Aroostook Hops, LLC (Westfield) - Creating a hop pelletizing facility to produce Maine-grown and pelletized hops

  • Appleton Creamery (Appleton) - Appleton Cheese Trail

  • LaJoie Growers, LLC (Van Buren) - Diversifying Farm Products with Cold Storage Capacity

Agricultural Development Grant Program

In 2014, the Legislature approved Department language that improved access to the Agricultural Development Fund. The Department identified the agricultural industry need for accelerating new market development, adoption of improved technology and promotion of agricultural products produced in Maine.

The Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry may allocate the grant funds among projects involving market research, market promotion, or a combination of those activities for the purpose of expanding existing markets and developing new markets for agricultural products produced in Maine; or for testing and demonstrating new technologies related to the production, storage or processing of State agricultural products.

It is anticipated that another Agricultural Development Fund RFP will be released in the future.

Maine State Park Campground Reservations to Open Feb. 1 for Sebago Lake State Park, for all State Parks Feb. 8

January 25, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Governor Paul R. LePage thanks supporters for the highest Maine State Park attendance since 1985

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage announced that Maine State Park reservations for 2016 will open February 1 for Sebago Lake State Park and February 8 for all other State Parks. He used the opportunity to thank state park supporters for contributing to the highest Maine State Park attendance since 1985 and encouraged more people to visit in 2016.

"Maine State Parks attracted a record number of visitors last year, helping increase economic activity throughout Maine. Despite a late beginning to spring last year, 2,626,416 people visited Maine State Parks in 2015, the highest attendance since 1985," said LePage. “I want to thank park supporters for their efforts to help achieve this milestone by providing Maine citizens and guests with year-round opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted ongoing efforts to expand the number and quality of Maine State Park offerings and programs. "In addition to making reservations for the upcoming camping season, let’s get outdoors and visit Winter Family Fun Days,” said Whitcomb. “Ski & Snowshoe Trailers are also available to the public as part of the Department's Take It Outside initiative. We are committed to offering recreational and educational offerings for all age groups. Visitors to our state parks have fun and leave with memories that last a lifetime."

Reservation Details:

WHAT: State Park Campground Reservations to Open for Sebago Lake State Park

WHEN: 9:00 a.m., Monday, February 1

WHERE: On line at www.campwithme.com

The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands' reservations system and call center will be open for Sebago Lake State Park campground reservations only on February 1 at 9:00 a.m. and for all state park campgrounds at 9:00 a.m. on February 8, according to Bureau officials.

Online-reservation "start-days" once again are being split, with reservations being taken for the very popular Sebago Lake camp sites only starting on Monday, February 1, to reduce wait times.

There will be fee adjustments for campsites at the state park campgrounds this season. The reservation per-night fee has been adjusted from $2.00 to $5.00 per night. Individual campsite fees vary from campground to campground, with the highest fees for non-residents who use sites with water and electric hookups. The Meals and Lodging Tax was raised from 8% to 9%. For more information, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/camping/reservations/campground_fees.shtml

Campers can make reservations at Maine State Park Campgrounds in four ways:

  1. Online at www.campwithme.com
  2. By calling in state at 800-332-1501; or (out-of-state) 207-624-9950 (9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., on Business Days).
  3. By mailing reservations to: Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, Bureau of Parks and Lands, ATTN: Reservations, 22 SHS, Augusta, ME 04333. Mailed Sebago Lake reservation requests must not be postmarked before Feb. 1, 2016; and, Feb 8, 2016 for all other parks.
  4. By dropping off completed reservation forms, which will be processed during business hours at the Augusta office.

On Monday, February 1, Sebago Lake reservations will be accepted for a four-night minimum stay only. This is done because Sebago tends to average longer stays than other campgrounds.

For more information and complete registration details, go to: www.campwithme.com

PLEASE NOTE: Group Camping Reservations and Group Picnic & Shelter Reservations open, for all parks, on Feb. 1, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. as well. Call the parks directly for either of these reservations. Online listings are provided below:

Group Camping Reservations http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/camping/group_camping.shtml

Group Picnic Areas & Shelter Reservations http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/camping/grouppicnicareas.shtml

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf

Family woodland owners satisfied with timber harvesting on their land

February 5, 2016

For more information contact: Andy Shultz at 207-287-8430

Maine Forest Service survey reveals that nearly 90 percent of Maine’s family woodland owners are happy with the harvesting activity results

AUGUSTA – Nearly 90 percent of Maine’s family woodland owners are happy with the results of recent timber harvesting on their land. That’s the key finding of a survey conducted by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Forest Service. The survey was drawn from a random sample of family woodland owners who own less than 1,000-acre ownerships statewide and who had recently completed a harvest on at least a portion of their woods.

“Healthy forests are vital to our economy and way of life,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Effective strategies for active forest management improve forest health, wood availability, wildlife habitat, water quality, recreational opportunities and our overall quality of life.”

“Farmers and other small woodlot owners, particularly in southern Maine, can enhance their surroundings by selectively harvesting trees,” said DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb.

“We’re very pleased with the results of this survey,” said Maine Forest Service Director Doug Denico. “We found that Maine’s family woodland owners are quite satisfied with the outcomes of timber harvesting on their land – including aesthetics, wildlife habitat, recreation and income.”

“Timber harvests in Maine are being conducted by a highly professional logging work force, often in consultation with licensed foresters, and the outcomes are largely positive for the customer, the landowner,” said Pat Sirois, Director of the Maine Sustainable Forestry Initiative. “The good news for landowners is that this survey indicates a good job occurs on nine out of every ten harvests.”

Survey Results:

  • Over 63% of woodland owners were “very satisfied” and over 27% were “somewhat satisfied” with the overall outcome of their harvest.

  • Nearly 59% were “very satisfied” and over 29% were “somewhat satisfied” with the overall condition of their woods after the harvest.

  • 56% were “very satisfied” and nearly 30% were “somewhat satisfied” with the financial outcomes of their harvests.

  • 78% felt the logger understood their objectives and respected the owner’s vision for their woodlands “very well,” and 84% said they would work with the same logger again.

  • 77% of woodland owners said they would harvest again, when conditions were right.

Maine’s Healthy Forests Program:

The survey was conducted in support of Maine’s Healthy Forests Program. The Healthy Forests Program’s goals are to: (1) identify strategies that lead to active forest management on Maine family woodlands, particularly in the southern part of the state; (2) improve wood availability, wildlife habitat, forest health, recreational opportunities, water quality, aesthetics, etc.; and (3) increase landowner enjoyment and support jobs and the state's economy. The program is a partnership that includes the Maine Forest Service, Maine’s Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the Certified Logging Professional Program, and others with an interest in a healthy forest.

For more about Maine’s Healthy Forest Program go to http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/projects/healthy_forests/index.html

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine maple season is underway with several offerings on tap for the public in 2016

February 23, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

This year’s mild and unpredictable weather has maple producers hopeful that the early start will result in a strong season

AUGUSTA – Officials from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Maine Maple Producers Association report that maple tapping is underway throughout the state, with southern and central regions further along. This year’s unseasonably warm, fluctuating temperatures have allowed producers to tap earlier and generated high hopes for a longer, more productive 2016 maple season.

"Many Maine maple producers, particularly in the southern and central regions, had some very productive days last weekend.” said Lyle Merrifield, President of the Maine Maple Producers Association. “This season is earlier than most, raising hopes that it will run longer and produce greater yields of sap and maple syrup. Obviously, we will produce what weather conditions allow.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted support from Governor Paul R. LePage and DACF efforts to work with the maple industry and the Maine Maple Producers Association to strengthen and expand the maple economy.

“Governor LePage has expressed his desire to see Maine become #1 for maple production,” said Whitcomb. “That is a very high bar, but the industry and department is working very hard to create more maple products and grow the industry. Governor LePage will mark the unofficial start to the 2016 season by ceremonially tapping a maple tree on the Blaine House lawn next month. The season will continue all the way to Maine Maple Sunday on March 27, when sugarhouses all across Maine will open their doors to provide family friendly activities for visitors young and old."

The Maine Maple Producers Association: http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/

Maine Maple Sunday (March 27) map: http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/maine-maple-sunday-map.html

Maine maple equipment dealers (supplies for both commercial operations and hobbyists): http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/maine-maple-equipment-dealers.html

Maine Maple Sunday information from Get Real Get Maine: http://www.getrealmaine.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/calendar.detail/event_id/138/index.htm

Governor LePage to celebrate Maine Maple Season by Tapping a Tree on the Blaine House Lawn

March 4, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

WHO: Governor Paul R. LePage, Commissioner Walt Whitcomb, Legislators and Maine Maple Producers

WHAT: 2016 Governor’s Tree Tapping to promote Maine maple syrup

WHEN: Tuesday, March 8, 2016, 11:00 AM

WHERE: On the Blaine House lawn, Augusta

DETAILS: The Governor’s Tree Tapping is an annual tradition to promote Maine maple syrup and highlight its contributions to Maine’s economy. Maine maple syrup producers will join Governor LePage in tapping a maple tree on the Blaine House lawn. The event also serves as a prelude to Maine Maple Sunday, which will celebrate its 33rd Anniversary on March 27. Sugarhouses throughout the state are participating in Maine Maple Sunday.

For more information about Maine Maple Producers, go to: http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

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

March 9, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

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

Supporting documents

Fact Sheet

Sugarhouses across the state open this weekend for Maine Maple Sunday!

March 21, 2016

For more information contact: Samantha Howard at 207-287-7620

Commissioner Whitcomb formally announces adoption of international grading system for maple syrup to promote the industry

AUGUSTA – Commissioner Walt Whitcomb today formally announced that Maine has adopted the international grading system for maple syrup. His notification, required for adoption of this international standard to take effect, comes in advance of this year’s Maine Maple Sunday, held Sunday, March 27, 2016. Most Maine producers have already implemented the voluntary standards in hopes of providing consumers with a better understanding of the natural product they are buying.

Maple Sunday is held annually, every fourth Sunday of the month. Participating sugarhouses will be open for visitors to enjoy freshly made maple syrup and candy, demonstrations of syrup production, sugarbush tours and a variety of other family activities.

Governor Paul R. LePage recently highlighted maple tapping season with Maine Maple producers on the Blaine House lawn by following an annual tradition: the tapping of a maple tree. The Governor recognized the economic contributions of Maine’s maple syrup industry and potential for continued growth.

“Maine’s maple industry contributes an estimated $48.7 million to the Maine economy,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “That includes a direct contribution of $27.7 million and multiplier effects. The Maine maple industry is working hard to realize its potential for creating more jobs, business opportunities and locally-produced products valued by consumers.”

The voluntary standards announced by Commissioner Whitcomb are designed to match those used by other countries in order to give consumers standardized information for selecting maple syrup. It is in response to a 2010 petition from the International Maple Syrup Institute, an organization of producers in the United States and Canada.

“The new system, utilized by most Maine producers, combines 4-5 different systems into one standard that is easier for consumers to follow,” said Whitcomb. “Customers benefit from a system that more accurately portrays what they are buying and how it tastes. Retailers can also more easily choose the grades they want to stock based on customer preferences.”

Maine Maple Statistics:

  • 545,000 gallons were produced last year, worth $17.4 million
  • Maine’s industry has an annual statewide economic contribution, including multiplier effects, of an estimated $48.7 million in output, 805 full-and part-time jobs, and $25.1 million in labor income
  • Maine has the third largest syrup industry in this country. Maine has the largest maple producing county in the country – Somerset County
  • Maine has around 1.4 million taps

Some sugarhouses will hold events on both Saturday and Sunday. For a list and map of participating sugarhouses, visit the Maine Maple Producers website: http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine Honey Production Reportedly Up 25 Percent

March 24, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

The number of licensed beekeepers has almost tripled in the last decade and registered hive counts have jumped from 5,000 to nearly 10,000

AUGUSTA – USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) today reported that Maine honey production increased 25 percent in 2015. Maine state officials welcomed the news, while adding that the number of licensed beekeepers has almost tripled in the last decade and registered hive counts have jumped from 5,000 to more than 10,000. Despite a harsh winter in 2015, favorable weather conditions resulted in the increase in honey production.

“The number of licensed beekeepers in Maine has almost tripled in the last decade and registered hive counts have jumped from 5,000 to nearly 10,000,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “That, coupled with the news that honey production was up 25 percent last year, is yet another sign that Maine agriculture continues to make progress toward the goal of becoming the breadbasket of New England.”

“Maine Maple Sunday is this weekend, but with the transition to a new season, it is also important to note that Maine produces another all natural sweetener, honey,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Maine has taken a number of steps to promote growth in natural resource products and support small entrepreneurs, including beekeepers. Regarding production of honey, we are also pursuing strategies to protect pollinators, who are also vitally important to fruit and vegetable production. Last year, the DACF unveiled a Pollinator Protection Plan designed to reduce risks to pollinators in the state.”

According to the records of State Apiarist Tony Jadczak, 975 resident beekeepers registered 9,789 hives in 2015 and 76,058 hives entered the state for crop pollination down from 83,00 in 2014. The increase in hobby beekeepers have contributed to the number of licensed beekeepers and the increase in honey production.

Maine Honey Statistics reported by NASS:

Honey production in 2015 from Maine producers with five or more colonies totaled 470 thousand pounds, up 25 percent from 2014, according to Gary Keough, State Statistician of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, New England Field Office. There were 10 thousand colonies producing honey in 2015, up 25 percent from 2014. Yield per colony averaged 47 pounds, unchanged from 2014. Honey prices increased during 2015 to 551 cents per pound, up 10 percent from 499 cents per pound in 2014. Producer honey stocks were 47 thousand pounds on December 15, 2015, up 15 percent from a year earlier.

NASS provides accurate, timely, and useful statistics in service to U.S. agriculture. The Honey Production report and all other NASS reports are available online at http://www.nass.usda.gov

Contact: Gary Keough: (603) 224-9639

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

New Resources to Help Mainers Combat Ticks

April 20, 2016

For more information contact: Megan Patterson at 207-287-7593

A Homeowner’s Guide to Managing Ticks is now available and two free presentations On Tick Exposure and Lyme Disease Prevention will be held May 4

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and Maine Cooperative Extension Service’s Integrated Pest Management Council (IPM) is pleased to announce new resources available to help Mainers combat ticks. There will be two free presentations on tick exposure and Lyme disease prevention. Additionally, a comprehensive article titled A Homeowner’s Guide to Managing Ticks is available on the new website http://maine.gov/healthylawns . Both presentations will be held on May 4th and are free to the public. Space is limited and pre-registration is required.

“Ticks and the tick borne illnesses are a growing problem, particularly for those who spend a lot of time outdoors,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Many people are working hard to address this problem. These resources will add to the effort to educate people on the threat and then take steps to protect their families.”

“The Homeowner’s Guide and presentations on tick exposure and Lyme disease prevention are part of a cooperative effort by the Integrated Pest Management Council to help address this growing threat to public health,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Whether people are outdoors for work or for recreation, these resources will provide strategies to help minimize or prevent exposure to ticks and tick borne illnesses.”

DETAILS:

A Homeowner's Guide to Managing Ticks Two FREE Presentations On Tick Exposure and Lyme Disease Prevention

Both presentations will be held on May 4, 2016 at:

  • Maine Audubon’s Gilsland Farms, Falmouth, ME, Noon
  • Mather Auditorium, Wells Reserve, Wells, ME, 6:00 p.m.

Regional expert Dr. Thomas Mather will speak about the best science-based methods for tick exposure prevention. Dr. Mather has dedicated his career at the University of Rhode Island Center for Vector-Borne Disease to the research of tick exposure and Lyme disease prevention. His talk will include strategies for avoiding ticks and tick-borne diseases including:

  • Tick minimizing home landscape design
  • Tick check techniques
  • Personal repellents/protectants

Updates on the state of Lyme disease and tick monitoring in Maine will be provided by Sara Robinson, Epidemiologist with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Chuck Lebelczyk, Entomologist with Maine Medical Center Research Institute.

Maine CDC Health Corps will be present to answer questions on Lyme disease.

Space for both presentations is limited! Pre-registration is required! To register, please go to http://maine.gov/healthylawns or call (207) 287-2731.

Supporting documents

QPC

Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day is Saturday!

April 28, 2016

For more information contact: Sarah Scally at 207-287-8663

This annual event heralds the arrival of spring

AUGUSTA – Greenhouses, nurseries and garden centers statewide will be celebrating on Saturday, April 30 as the industry kicks off the growing season with Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day. This annual event is always the Saturday of the week end before Mother's Day.

For the sixth year, dozens of family-owned horticulture-related businesses will hold special events to highlight gardening in Maine. Planned activities for the events include giveaways, door prizes, raffles, plants and balloons for children, container-planting demonstrations, personal tours, expert speakers and mini workshops. Participating greenhouses and nurseries also will preview spring introductions and share their expertise by offering gardening tips, information on plant varieties and ideas for window box and landscape design.

“The horticulture industry contributes over $280 million annually to Maine’s economy and provides thousands of jobs,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Greenhouse and Nursery Day highlights the growing importance of Maine horticulture.”

“Every dollar spent in Maine greenhouses and nurseries support local economies,” said Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “More than half of the plants sold in Maine are grown right here. I encourage Mainers to visit their local garden centers this Saturday for Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day.”

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry licenses and provides technical assistance to more than 1,340 businesses selling plants in Maine. To support this growing industry, the Department certifies plant exports, regulates imported plants and assists growers with plant pest problems.

Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day is supported by the Ornamental Horticulture Council and the Mid-Maine Greenhouse Growers Association.

For more information about Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day, go to:

http://www.plants4maine.com/GreenhouseAndNurseryDay.shtml

For more information, contact Sally Smith at (207)-327-1398, email: countryjct@gmail.com

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/

New rules in effect to help rural business locate and grow in Aroostook County

May 11, 2016

For more information contact: Nick Livesay at 207-287-2622

Aroostook County – The Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) recently adopted zoning rules that provide opportunity for rural business to locate and grow in new areas of Aroostook County. The rule changes establish a rural business development zone that can be used by businesses and property owners to accommodate business development in 30 towns, townships and plantations across Aroostook County that are part of the unorganized and deorganized areas of the state. The changes are a product of the LUPC’s Community Guided Planning and Zoning (CGPZ) initiative, which joins with local partners to help regions identify their land use needs and plan for the region’s future.

“This is an example of how state government can assist local communities in strengthening rural economies by removing regulatory hurdles that impede economic development,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The LUPC’s work with local partners in Aroostook County demonstrates that a pro-job planning approach can be taken without adversely impacting Maine’s environment.”

“The Governor has been very clear since day one that he wants to create more jobs and economic opportunities in rural Maine,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “I commend the hard work of our Aroostook County partners and the Land Use Planning Commission. Their work promotes a more user-friendly model for activities that impact unorganized and deorganized areas in Maine.”

In Aroostook County, the Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) and a citizen steering committee worked with the LUPC to develop new zoning opportunities and improve the business climate in the county.

“We recognize that home-based and other rural businesses are an important part of the economy in Aroostook County,” said Nick Livesay, Director of the LUPC. “The dedicated residents and other stakeholders who served on the steering committee, with support from NMDC and the Commission, have developed regulatory changes that give new opportunity for business growth in rural northern Maine.”

The rule changes developed in Aroostook County are the first to come out of the LUPC’s CGPZ initiative and become effective on May 9. Efforts to improve the effectiveness of land use planning and provide for economic development opportunities in the unorganized and deorganized areas of Maine have focused, in part, on the need for more locally guided and proactive planning for these areas. This is a result of 2012 legislation that called for more prospective zoning and emphasized the LUPC’s role in honoring the rights and participation of residents and property owners in the areas of the state that it serves. The LUPC will continue to collaborate with partners in Aroostook County to plan for future land use needs, and is working with local and regional partners on similar CGPZ projects in other regions including, in Franklin, Somerset, and Washington counties.

For more information about these and other projects, please visit the LUPC website: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/lupc .

The Northeast Livestock Expo starts Friday!

May 17, 2016

For more information contact: Cindy Kilgore at 207-215-4968

Close to 1,000 K-6th graders will participate in Kid’s Day

WINDSOR – The eleventh Northeast Livestock Expo (NELE) will take place May 20-22 in Windsor, Maine. A Maine AG in the Classroom transportation grant will allow 21 busloads of students from 10 schools to take part in Kid’s Day (Friday, May 20). Close to 1,000 K-6 students will have their classroom at the Windsor Fairgrounds. Students will experience first-hand, thirty-four agricultural presentations put on by farmers and industry volunteers. This three-day livestock event will showcase beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits and many science-related activities.

The public is welcome to all events, admission is FREE.

“This is a great opportunity for kids to learn about Maine agriculture,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This and other Maine agricultural events this summer and fall highlight the connection between local farms, local products and consumers.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the Expo’s educational component. “The Northeast Livestock Expo’s “Kid’s Day” will help K-6 students learn about proper care of many different types of animals, “ said Whitcomb. “NELE “Kid’s Day” makes science fun. There will be youth events and educational seminars also occurring on Saturday and Sunday. Many future agricultural leaders will be in Windsor this weekend.”

Schedule:

Friday, May 20 – Kid’s Day (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.)

Activities & Displays currently scheduled include: Maine State Police Troopers and their K9 partners - Will put on two demonstrations: 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. in the gazebo park area. Troopers Eric Verhille and G.J. Neagle with their K9 partners Clint and Draco will explain the backgrounds of the dogs, the training of the officers and show the dogs’ abilities. Outside of these one -hour demonstrations, troopers will be on hand to answer questions.

‘Insects on the Farm’ - Insects are mostly helpful, sometimes harmful, and always fascinating! Presentation will explore where insects live and why they are important to people, farms, food and the environment. Kathy Murray – Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

“Be a Beetle Buster” - Learn about invasive tree-killing beetles – how to recognize them, the damage they do to trees, and how to report them.” Karen Coluzzi – Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Draft horses - Teamsters Pete Stratton and Dana Seavey will explain how they use their draft horses on the farm and in the woods. They will also give demonstrations about harnessing a horse and twitching logs.

Beef - In a QUIET AREA, the Maine Beef Producers will be sorting feeder calves ranging in age from five months to a year. The animals will each be given a nasal vaccination, weighed and then moved into pen to stay for the evening. They will be provided with hay and water, and will be sold the following day at an auction.

Horses - The Harness Racing Folks of Windsor Fair will have a mare and her two week old foal on exhibition and explain the uses of the animals, how they are fed, exercised, harnessed and their work schedule.

Oxen – Dan Jordan of Hiram will bring two oxen. Dan will explain the commands used to work the oxen and how he uses them on the farm.

Poultry – Scott DeMoranville will bring some of his chickens to show how they are held, exhibited and fed and explain their multiple uses to the industry.

The folks of the Windsor Fair Historical Society will be on hand to explain the uses of the buildings and give tours of the old school house and blacksmith shop.

What do animals eat? Donna Coffin of University of Maine Cooperative Extension will explain how livestock eat and discuss their favorite foods.

Swine – Mike Hemond from Hemond Farms in Minot will have several pigs on hands to show how they use their snouts to root up the ground and eat bugs, etc. Discussions will occur on the care and many uses of pigs from providing the food we eat to being used as natural ground clearers.

Cheese – Cabot Cheese is providing 1,400 packaged cheeses to be handed out by the Mobile Milking Parlor . Jami Badershall will handle the milking parlor, cheese and dairy princesses.

Tractors - Hammond Tractor will have machinery on site and will go over the basics of tractor safety.

Rabbits – Michaele Bailey will have rabbits available to show how they are held, fed and their fiber (hair) is used to make clothing.

Horse – Dr. Beth McEvoy, veterinarian, will have her Hanovarian horse, Liam on display with his skeleton painted on his coat. She will go over the various bones of the horse and what helps him to stand and move. Beth works with Dover-Foxcroft Veterinary Clinic.

Ambulance – Delta Ambulance will have a unit on site to allow youth to see the inside and learn what the paramedics do, all without the stress of an actual emergency.

Dairy heifer – Lexie and Lizie Dumont of Albion will be fitting their dairy heifer. What is “fitting?” Stop by and find out.

Sheep – Donna Flint of Oak Ridge Farm in Sanford will have Tunis sheep on display for questions and answers.

Smokey Bear - will be driven around the parking lot during lunch to meet with kids. His escort will be Kent Nelson.

Boer Goats – Boer goat moms will be on hand to show off their baby goats.

Nigerian goats and their babies – will be on display with Pat Polley of Eliza Rek Farm on hand to explain their uses, feed and methods of containment.

Bees – The Kennebec Beekeepers Association will have an observation hive for participants to view live honey bees in a safe manner. They will explain the life stages and different types of bees located within a hive, as well as their duties. Hive components, tools, and protective gear will be on display and discussed.

Belted Galloway – Andy LeMaistre of Mitchell Ledge Farm in Freeport will be on hand with his yearling beef calf heifer, who will be going to the fairs this summer to be shown. The Galloway cattle are often black and white and look like Oreo cookies.

Llama – Hilary Ware of Hill and Gully Farm and Becky Smith will demonstrate how llamas go through an obstacle course. She will also go over how to work with the animals.

4H Beef Cattle – Lauren Pride will be on hand to show off their 4H beef animals and explain how they take care of them and show them at the fairs.

Mobile Milking Parlor – will be open and on display. See how the milk is transferred from the cow to the bulk tank for cooling.

Sea Farming in Maine – Dr. Anne Langston, Aquaculture Research Institute, University of Maine will talk about farming-in-the-sea in Maine, the importance of farmed sea animals in our everyday lives and about our fascinating marine life. The touch tank is teeming with live shellfish that are farmed in Maine including oysters, mussels, sea urchins and scallops, plus some of the predators that impact sea farms such as sea stars, crabs, and more.

Tennessee Walkers – Bob Morin of Oak Barrel Farm will bring his two Tennessee Walkers and give a brief description and explanation of the history of Tennessee Walkers. He will also speak about how they are used in many events including Hollywood.

Composting – Diane Schivera from the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners will discuss the uses of manure and how it can be turned into fertilizer for growing vegetables, plants and hay for animals.

Ready Freddy: Rachel Lindsey of Maine VOAD, Inc. would like you to join Ready Freddy to explore what goes into an emergency preparedness kit. Disasters can happen at any time. Some things we just can't prevent but we can prepare. Let's get ready like Ready Freddy.

Pogo from Friends Folly Farm - will have her fiber goats and dairy goats on hand to answer questions. The fiber goats can be harnessed and pull a cart.

Draft ponies – George Merrill will have his draft ponies on hand to show how their manes and tails are braided for exhibition and how they are harnessed.

Operation Game Thief – Maine Game Wardens will be on hand with their trailer to discuss the aspects of poaching wildlife in the State of Maine.

Dottie Bell of Thunder Hill Farm, LLC – will have some yearling Highland calves on exhibit. They are known for their long hairy coats which enables them to withstand Maine winters.

Weather 101 - Adam Epstein of Channel 13 will talk about weather and how it affects agriculture.

More information can be obtained on the web site: http://www.northeastlivestockexpo.com/

For information on the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

Reservations and visits to Maine State Parks up this year!

May 19, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Maine receives National Award for Campground Reservations Service

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Campground Reservations service (www.campwithme.com) was named an IT Program of the Year by StateScoop, a national publication that features leaders and innovators in government technology. The national award comes at a time when reservations and visitations at Maine State Parks are up compared to last year’s record-setting totals. In 2015, 2,626,416 people visited Maine State Parks, the highest attendance since 1985. Through April 2016, total attendance (day use and camping) is up 45% compared to last year.

“Maine is open for business and our campground reservations service is an example of how state government is becoming more efficient, effective and responsive to taxpayers and summer visitors,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Continuous improvement throughout state government is our shared goal. Hard working Maine taxpayers deserve nothing less.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted how the improvements directly benefit consumers. “We want visitors to our state parks to have an enjoyable experience, starting with ease in making reservations,” said Whitcomb. “Campers often have their hearts set on a certain site and on particular dates. It is important that our online service allows them to book what they want reliably, efficiently and securely. Awards and positive recognition from both inside and outside state government, reinforces our belief that we are meeting this goal.”

StateScoop 50 awards:

Approximately 80,000 votes were cast for the StateScoop 50 awards, narrowing down hundreds of nominations to just 50 winners in the categories of IT Program of the Year, Innovation of the Year, Industry Leadership, Up and Comer, State Leadership, and State Executives of the Year.

Maine’s Campground Reservations service:

Is a web-based reservation system allowing users to reserve nights at any of Maine’s twelve state parks. Prior to this solution, users were provided an online form to request a campsite. When the season began, nearly 3,000 people would be vying for similar sites and dates, all of which had to be manually processed by the call center staff, a process that took almost a month to complete.

Reservations are now processed online by users for Sebago State Park on the first opening day and for all other parks on the second opening day which occurs one week later. The web-based system reliably handles the opening day rush, processing hundreds of transactions in the first fifteen minutes of each opening day. What used to take weeks to process now takes roughly a half hour. The Campground Reservations service was developed through a collaboration with Maine’s eGovernment partner, Maine Information Network, LLC, a subsidiary of NIC, at no cost to taxpayers.

About Maine.gov

Maine.gov (http://www.Maine.gov) is the official Web portal of the State of Maine. Maine.gov is a service of InforME, a collaborative effort between the state of Maine and Maine Information Network, LLC, part of the NIC (NASDAQ: EGOV) family of companies.

About NIC

Founded in 1992, NIC (NASDAQ: EGOV) is the nation's leading provider of official government websites, online services, and secure payment processing solutions. The Company's innovative eGovernment services help make government more accessible to everyone through technology. The family of NIC companies provides eGovernment solutions for more than 3,500 federal, state, and local agencies in the United States. Forbes has named NIC as one of the “100 Best Small Companies in America” six times, most recently ranked at No. 36 (2014), and the Company has been included four times on the Barron’s 400 Index. Additional information is available at http://www.egov.com

Learn more about Maine.gov websites, awards and online services through RSS Feeds, Twitter and Facebook.

For information on the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

Department supports communities seeking to broaden Saco River Commerce

May 19, 2016

For more information contact: Matt Nixon at 207-287-1491

The Maine Coastal Mapping Initiative will use sonar technology to help locate submerged power cables

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Maine Coastal Mapping Initiative (MCMI) is teaming up with the cities of Biddeford and Saco to find several abandoned submerged power cables and other marine debris that threatens to impede plans to dredge the upper portion of the Saco River.

Beginning next week, the MCMI survey vessel Amy Gale will use state-of-the art sonar technology in an attempt find the cables which got tangled with dredging equipment when the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) last dredged this section of the Saco River in the 1990’s. The ACOE has advised the cities that they must clear the area to be dredged of the cable and any other in-river obstructions before the ACOE will dredge there again.

“The Saco River is economically important to Biddeford, Saco and the region,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “According to a joint letter submitted by those communities to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Saco River contributes more than $53 Million annually in economic impact to Saco and Biddeford and is home to more than 40 commercial fishing vessels. The State of Maine is providing sonar capabilities in support of their effort to maintain the navigability of the river and help boost their coastal economies.”

In-River Survey Work to begin Next Week:

The MCMI survey vessel, Amy Gale, is tentatively scheduled to be in the Saco River the week of May 23rd and will be docked at Rumery’s Boat Yard and will be available for tours by appointment. The in-river survey work is expected to take about three days.

The MCMI deploys a Kongsberg EM2040C Multibeam Echosounder, drop camera, and grab sampler in addition to a wide array of water quality parameter equipment. The survey platform is a 35-foot lobster vessel outfitted for extended survey work.

MCMI:

Formed in 2012, the MCMI is a collaboration of state, federal, academic and non-profit agencies and organizations that provides seafloor imagery, modeling, and oceanographic data collection capacity to support ocean resources management and scientific investigations in Maine.

Part of the DACF, the MCMI is led by the Maine Coastal Program. The DACF’s Submerged Lands Program (SLP) is providing funding for this project. The SLP administers a leasing program which provides limited use leases and easements that allow piers and other structures to be built on, and over, state-owned, public submerged lands. SLP lease fees are used to support municipal harbor management activities and public access improvements in Maine’s coastal waters and Great Ponds.

More information on the MCMI is available at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mcp/planning/mcmi/index.htm

Veteran’s Fishing Pier Dedication Ceremony on May 27th

May 25, 2016

For more information contact: Mac McGinley, John Bott, at 207-432-1910, 207-287-3156

Wheelchair accessible Veteran's Fishing Platforms at Songo Lock in Sebago Lake State Park have been completed in time for the Memorial Day Weekend

NAPLES, Maine -- Wheelchair accessible Veteran's Fishing Platforms at Songo Lock in Sebago Lake State Park have been completed and will be dedicated during a ceremony this week. A dedication event celebrating veterans and their sacrifices to our nation and state will be held on Friday, May 27, at 10 a.m., concluding more than five years of planning, interagency coordination, engineering studies, budget development, fundraising and construction.

“Maine appreciates and welcomes the contributions of veterans,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “We invite the men and women who served our country to consider living, working and retiring here. Changes have been made to our tax code, benefits and veteran’s services to attract those who have served in our military to Maine. This modest, but important improvement to Sebago Lake State Park is yet another sign that the many contributions and sacrifices of veterans are remembered and appreciated here.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb will speak at the dedication and will acknowledge the many organizations who have worked to acknowledge the contributions of veterans and create the fishing platforms. “These fishing platforms have been built to honor our heroes, to remember their achievements and to say thank you for their sacrifices,” said Whitcomb. “Organizations such as Wounded Warriors and Project Healing Waters have proved the therapeutic qualities of fishing. We hope that the Veteran’s Fishing Pier is able to play a beneficial role with the physical and emotional rehabilitation of our disabled military veterans.”

During the winter of 2010 – 2011, a small group from the Mollyockett and Sebago Chapters of Trout Unlimited (TU) began to discuss and plan for the construction of a fishing platform to honor and facilitate the needs of disabled veterans. The brainchild of Mollyockett Chapter founding member and past Chapter President George Westerberg, the idea took shape slowly over the next few months and years.

The project began as George's desire to welcome home veterans bearing the disabling wounds of war. His vision was to provide a facility which would allow disabled veterans, accustomed to fishing for wild trout and salmon before their service connected disabilities and now finding it difficult to access the wild places they were accustomed to fishing, an opportunity to once again enjoy the peace and healing qualities of fishing and would offer an opportunity to contribute to the rehabilitation of our wounded warriors.

Of the project, Lee Margolin, past President and founder of the Mollyockett Chapter, said: “The Veteran’s Fishing Platforms will extend the usual physical therapy programs already employed in the treatment of disabled veterans, while including easy access to the beloved outdoor recreation and the personal satisfaction that can only be found in open spaces and quiet surroundings. We believe the effect of providing this recreation opportunity for disabled vets will also lower the cost of medical care and enable and hopefully speed the recovery of these individuals who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.”

Once the group had formed their ideas into an actionable plan they began meeting with the various state agencies which would be responsible for the different aspects of the project.

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Bureau of Parks and Land identified the Songo Lock location as the perfect spot to provide access to one of Maine’s “blue ribbon” landlocked salmon waters and championed approval of the location.

The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and its Bureau of Parks and Land then stepped forward and coordinated the heavy lifting of feasibility studies, engineering planning and design, budget development, permitting, application for the Land and Water Conservation Fund grant which provided nearly half the required funds, and finally construction.

Throughout the process the Mollyockett Chapter of TU worked tirelessly to raise the funds required to pay for half the cost of the project.

Grants were awarded from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Trout Unlimited and the Davis Conservation Fund.

Additionally, the project received generous donations from: LL Bean, Poland Spring, the Mollyockett Chapter of TU, the Sebago Chapter of TU, the Upper Andro Anglers Alliance, Eldredge Brothers Lumber and Hardware, Schiavi Custom Builders, Jim and Cindy Mullen, Terradyne Consultants, Fly Fishing in Maine, American Legion Posts 17, 19, and 83, Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts 6783, 6859 and 11362, Dr. William and Mrs. Marjorie Medd and numerous individual contributors.

All told, the Mollyockett Chapter raised the nearly $140,000 required. Finally, after nearly five years since its inception, construction of the one-of-a-kind facility in the Northeast began in early September 2015.

Trout Unlimited is dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring cold water fisheries and in 2011, started it's Veteran's Service Program as a means of mobilizing TU's grassroots members in helping courageous men and women heal from the wounds of war.

In kicking off the project, TU's president and CEO Chris Wood stated: “The success of Trout Unlimited is built on a legacy of service; service of people who donate their time and resources to protect sensitive habitats, repair degraded rivers, and teach children about conservation through fishing. Tonight we celebrate a different kind of service – the service of the men and women who have selflessly defended our liberty. We are blessed with an exceptional band of people who have made extraordinary sacrifices to protect the rights and freedoms that make the United States great. Our reward is the opportunity to express our most sincere thanks to them. Saint Ambrose once said, ‘No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.’ As we gather tonight to thank our veterans, all of us at Trout Unlimited thank you for your involvement and support.”

The kiosk at the Veterans Fishing Platforms states in part: “Convenient access to this fishery is made possible through the gift of Trout Unlimited, and its friends, to all disabled veterans who come here to fish and find healing in these storied waters. For the angler, the ritual of the salmon's life and survival has long been one of fascination and wonder. To hook and catch him is one of the reasons people come here to fish. The disabled veteran has still another reason.”

The landlocked salmon coming out of Sebago Lake to spawn in the fall and chasing smelts in the spring are as wild as their genetic ancestors of 10,000 years ago. With the construction of these fishing platforms and their easy accessibility, no disabled veteran will now have to abandon the anticipation he or she once felt when the snow begins to melt in March.

Statement Regarding Egg Turner Facility

June 8, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) sent a letter and video to the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) requesting an investigation of the “Shell Egg Production Facility in Turner.” In response to this complaint, the Department is conducting an investigation into the assertions made regarding that facility.

In the interim, the DACF is issuing the following statement regarding food safety as it relates to eggs from the Turner facility.

The DACF has assessed whether there is any immediate threat to human health from the eggs produced at the Turner facility. We have no evidence that would suggest or indicate the eggs coming from those facilities are unsafe for human consumption. As always consumers are advised to continue normal handling and cooking practices.

Food safety surveillance reports conducted at the state level (part of Maine’s SE Risk Reduction Program for Commercial Poultry Operations with over 10,000 birds) for the Hillandale facilities suggest that the eggs from the facility are safe for human consumption. This is ongoing surveillance, with years of data to support this claim.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has jurisdiction over egg-producing facilities of this size, and they employ their own inspectors, as does USDA. Egg safety at the facility is FDA jurisdiction, under the Egg Safety Rule. Maine’s Salmonella enteritidis (SE) monitoring program, which helps producers meet the requirements of the FDA’s Egg Safety Rule, applies to facilities with 10,000 or more laying hens producing eggs for human consumption.

We have had no reports of food safety violations at the facility now or in the recent past.

State inspectors are routinely present at the site constantly monitoring and testing for any increased levels of disease pathogens. To date, our records are complete and do not show abnormal levels.

Free on Father’s Day: Maine State Park Admission

June 14, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA – Maine State Parks and Historic Sites will treat Maine residents to a free day-use admission on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 19.

Maine residents will be recognized on Sunday, June 19, Father’s Day, for their continued support of Maine State Parks and Historic Sites with free-admission for the day according to Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Bureau of Parks and Lands. “I encourage Maine families to explore and enjoy our wide variety of State Parks and Historic Sites on Father’s Day. There is a lot to see and do at Maine State Parks year round and Father’s Day is a great time to treat fathers and the whole family to an outdoor adventure,” said Governor Paul R. LePage.

Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb was equally enthusiastic. “June is ‘Get Outdoors Month’ and Maine State Parks get you out there. Our park staff and devoted volunteers have the parks ready for visitors. Father’s Day could be a lot of fun at any of our parks and historic sites,” said Whitcomb.

DACF Bureau of Parks and Lands Acting Director of Operations, Ron Hunt, encouraged Maine residents and visitors alike to explore the many offerings provided by Maine State Parks. “Each of our state parks and historic sites has programs suited for all ages and cover a wide range of outdoor interests. Many are using our Maine State Park Passport program as an incentive to visit all the parks, and our Geocaching feature continues to be very popular,” said Hunt.

The details of the free parks admission are:

  • Maine Residents Day, 9 a.m. - closing, Sunday, June 19; all residents will be allowed free day-use entrance to Maine State Parks and Historic Sites. No rain date will be available. The open admission does not apply to Acadia National Park, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW), Baxter State Park, the Maine Wildlife Park, Peacock Beach, Scarborough Beach, Swan Island, Penobscot River Corridor (PRC), or the Penobscot Narrows Observatory in Prospect, though admission to Fort Knox State Historic Site will be free that day.

For more information about Maine State Parks and Historic Sites, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine Fair Season is underway!

June 28, 2016

For more information contact: Melissa Jordan at 207-592-2126

A new series of farm-to-fair videos highlight Maine fairs

AUGUSTA – Maine Agricultural Fair Season is officially underway, beginning last week with the Maple Meadow Fair Festival in Mapleton and extending into October when Maine holds its largest Fair, the Fryeburg Fair. Maine has twenty-six licensed fairs that take place over the summer and fall, offering visitors opportunities to learn more about agriculture and the communities they take place in.

This year, fairs will be celebrated in a new series of farm-to-fair videos featuring behind the scenes stories of fair participants. They are part of a collaborative effort between the Department and several fair exhibitors to highlight the work and care that goes into traditional activities offered at Maine fairs.

“Through the summer and into fall, Maine’s agricultural fairs showcase our state’s agricultural interests and the communities they are located in,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Maine fairs highlight the continued growth of Maine agriculture and its contributions to our natural resource economy.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the new series of farm-to-fair videos. “For over 175 years, Maine agricultural fairs have been a part of who we are as a state,” said Whitcomb. “They help connect the public to timeless traditions of rural Maine life. The farm-to-fair videos showcase six important elements of the Maine fair experience: 4-H Show Cattle, Ox Pulling, Horse Pulling, Harness Racing and Barrel Racing. Participants and those who contributed to the creation of this series, have done a great job of capturing the essence of what helps make agricultural fairs unique.”

The new series of farm-to-fair videos:

4-H Show Cattle - https://youtu.be/V1mEqgZYPc Ox Pulling - https://youtu.be/cbACUKIzoNE Horse Pulling - https://youtu.be/9UhalPxu6wE Harness Racing - https://youtu.be/OPuOZSGfAI Barrel Racing - https://youtu.be/MfwMn9tddW8

Quick Facts about Maine’s 2016 Fair Season:

  • Maine has 26 licensed fairs
  • 760,000 people visited Maine fairs in 2015
  • $1.65 Million in premiums were paid to exhibitors, directly impacting local economies
  • Most northern fair: Northern Maine Fair – Presque Isle, ME
  • Most southern fair: Acton Fair – Acton, ME
  • Largest fair: Fryeburg Fair (205,000+ visitors)
  • 2,500+ pairs of professional cattle and horses pulled
  • 23,000+ crafts projects were displayed in exhibit halls

The full schedule is available at: http://www.mainefairs.org/fairs.html

Additional information on Maine’s agricultural fairs can be found at: http://www.getrealmaine.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

State officials remind families to use good hygiene practices when attending agricultural fairs and events

July 21, 2016

For more information contact: Samantha Edwards, Dr. Michele Walsh at (207) 530-3043, (207)287-7615

AUGUSTA—Agricultural fair season is upon us and thousands will be attending fairs across the state. The Maine Center for Disease Control and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry would like to remind everyone to use good judgment while attending Maine’s fairs.

  • If you are ill, do not attend the fair. This is not only in the best interest of those around you, but also the animals. Animals are susceptible to human illnesses including influenza.
  • Handwashing is crucial for limiting the spread of disease. Remember to wash hands before and after touching animals to reduce the risk of spreading illness from you to the animal and from the animal to you.
  • Before eating, wash your hands with soap and water—alcohol hand gel or sanitizer should be used only if soap and water are not available. This will help reduce the risk of gastrointestinal illness, such as Salmonella.

“Maine agricultural fairs and events aim to showcase the best of Maine’s agriculture, past and present, and hope to inspire new generations to continue this legacy. We urge the public to observe the guidance provided at the fairs and in articles like this one to keep everyone safe. Regular handwashing is a key way to keep everyone healthy,” said State Veterinarian Michele Walsh. “The public plays a crucial role in keeping everyone—humans and animals healthy.”

The Maine CDC and DACF are working closely with the Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs to promote smart, healthy decisions. This includes providing posters to fairs highlighting safety concerns, on-site visits by DACF veterinary staff to monitor animal health, and fair evaluation reports which include an assessment of Animal and Human Public Health activities.

“This is a wonderful time of year and Maine families should be able to get out and enjoy this tradition. We hope our partnership with the Department of Agriculture and all 26 state fairs will make sure all attendees will have a safe, educational and fun experience,” said Maine’s State Epidemiologist, Dr. Siiri Bennett.

More information about infectious diseases can be found at www.mainepublichealth.gov

Attached please find two posters provided to fairs by Maine CDC and DACF.

Turfgrass Workshop Held to Improve Safety at Sports Fields

August 1, 2016

For more information contact: Kathy Murray at 207-287-7616

OAKLAND - Keeping school sports fields safe for student athletes was the theme of a recent all-day workshop hosted by Regional School District 18 on July 26th at Messalonskee Middle School in Oakland. The School and Sports-field Turfgrass Workshop, organized by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, showcased a particular turf care practice called overseeding. The practice is used to improve field safety by preventing weeds and filling bare spots.

Nearly 100 school grounds keepers and turf care professionals from around the state convened to learn the latest science-based recommendations for sports field maintenance. RSU 18’s facilities director, Jeff Sheive, described his turf maintenance program, which emphasizes non-chemical methods to keep fields green and functional despite their heavy use by the school and community. School staff demonstrated how they repurposed a fertilizer spreader to spread grass seed. Experts from Cornell University and the University of Connecticut were on hand to demonstrate both newer and established methods to promote healthy turf growth.

Sheive agreed to test out overseeding methods on three fields at Messalonskee Middle and High Schools noting the challenge of ‘keeping our school grounds in good shape with a limited budget’ spurs him to find creative solutions. The opportunity to try something new came in 2015 when Dr. Kathy Murray, a pest management specialist at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry began collaborating on a USDA-funded research project lead by turfgrass researcher, Dr. Jenny Kao-Kniffen, at Cornell University.

The aim of the project is to test the effectiveness of overseeding as an affordable means of improving field safety on 51 school sports fields in three different states. Although the study will not be completed until 2017, Murray said that overseeding is showing good promise.

Participants at the Messalonskee workshop agreed that the overseeded half of each field had noticeably thicker grass with fewer weeds compared with the unseeded half. Fewer bare spots and weeds often leads to fewer sports-related injuries. Grass seed was donated for this project by Scotts. Other Maine schools participating in the overseeding research project are Gardiner Area High School, Halldale Middle and High Schools, Cony High School, Winslow Schools and Oakhill Middle School.

Free Disposal of Banned, Unusable Pesticides Available to Maine Residents

August 24, 2016

For more information contact: Megan Patterson at 207-287-8804

AUGUSTA—This October, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will help Mainers dispose of banned or unusable pesticides. The Maine Obsolete Pesticides Collection Program is a free annual program for homeowners, family-owned farms and greenhouses. The program has collected almost 100 tons of pesticides since its inception.

Collections will occur at sites in Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta and Portland. Participants must register by September 23, 2016.

Governor Paul R. LePage is urging Mainers to take advantage of this opportunity to protect the environment and save money by participating in this annual collection event. “This is an efficient, effective way to protect the environment and assist Mainers with the proper disposal of unusable pesticides at no expense to them. By combining the in-house resources of two state agencies, disposal costs are reduced to about $2 per pound, helping to minimize the cost to Maine taxpayers.”

“Homeowners and farmers inadvertently store banned pesticides or pesticides that have become unusable,” said Whitcomb. “They can be found in basements, garages, barns, and recently purchased homes. The Maine Obsolete Pesticides Collection Program helps prevent unwanted pesticides from being thrown in the trash or poured down the drain, potentially contaminating the land or drinking water.”

“Proper disposal of pesticides gives everyone the opportunity to make a positive impact on our environment and public health at no cost to Maine residents,” said Maine DEP Commissioner Paul Mercer. “The collection events are held at several locations across the State, and registering is free and easy.”

The collected chemicals go to out-of-state disposal facilities licensed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency where they are incinerated or reprocessed.

Registration by September 23, 2016, is mandatory—drop-ins are not permitted. To register, get details, and learn important information about the temporary storage and transportation of obsolete pesticides, go to the BPC Web site at http://www.thinkfirstspraylast.org , or call 207-287-2731.

The Maine Obsolete Pesticides Collection Program, jointly sponsored by the BPC and DEP, and paid for entirely through pesticide product registration fees, has kept more than 97 tons of pesticides out of the waste stream since its start in 1982.

For more information on the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, go to: http://www.thinkfirstspraylast.org

For more information on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dep

Important Note to the Media: Since registration is required, please post any information from this release as soon as possible. This will allow adequate time for participants and the Board of Pesticides Control to process applications. Thank you for your help in getting the word out!

Supporting documents

Obsolete Pesticides Program

Media Advisory: LePage Administration to recognize forest stewardship efforts

September 6, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Maxwell L. McCormack, Jr. will receive the prestigious 2016 Austin H. Wilkins Forest Stewardship Award

THE BLAINE HOUSE, Augusta — The LePage Administration will present Maxwell L. McCormack, Jr. with the prestigious 2016 Austin H. Wilkins Forest Stewardship Award. This award recognizes people or organizations that stand above their peers to further forestry, forests, or forestland conservation in the State of Maine. Started by the Maine TREE Foundation in 2004, it is the only award in Maine that recognizes stewardship of the working forest.

“Maine’s working forests are a vital part of our past, present, and future economy. The Austin H. Wilkins Forest Stewardship Award is an opportunity to publicly recognize Maxwell L. McCormack, Jr. for his contributions to Maine’s working forests and to future generations.” -Commissioner Walt Whitcomb -

The award will be presented at the Blaine House on Thursday, September 8, from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Maxwell L. McCormack, Jr.

For six decades, Maxwell L. McCormack, Jr. has devoted his time, energy and talents to the proper stewardship of forests in Maine and New England through his research, education, review of international forests and by pursuing fact-based evidence. His innovative research, well-crafted studies, and adherence to objective analysis has benefited generations of students.

Appointed by the LePage Administration to the Panel of Experts for Outcome Based Forestry and to the Forester Licensing Board, Maxwell L. McCormack, Jr. has also contributed his leadership to the Society of American Foresters and the University of Maine Cooperative Forest Research Unit. He is widely credited for helping lead the vibrant recovery of the Maine spruce-fir forests after the cataclysmic 1970-1980 spruce budworm epidemic. Throughout the years, he has shown a willingness to speak to any audience about sound, fact-based forest practices.

LePage Administration recognizes forest stewardship efforts

September 8, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Maxwell L. McCormack, Jr. receives the prestigious 2016 Austin H. Wilkins Forest Stewardship Award

THE BLAINE HOUSE, Augusta — The LePage Administration today presented Maxwell L. McCormack, Jr. with the prestigious 2016 Austin H. Wilkins Forest Stewardship Award. This award recognizes people or organizations that stand above their peers to further forestry, forests, or forestland conservation in the State of Maine. Started by the Maine TREE Foundation in 2004, it is the only award in Maine that recognizes stewardship of the working forest.

“Maine’s working forests are a vital part of our past, present, and future economy. The Austin H. Wilkins Forest Stewardship Award is an opportunity to publicly recognize Maxwell L. McCormack, Jr. for his contributions to Maine’s working forests and to future generations,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb.

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) Bureau of Forestry Director Doug Denico and Sherry Huber, Executive Director of the Maine TREE Foundation also commended Maxwell L. McCormack, Jr. for his lasting impact on Maine’s forest. The DACF Commissioner and the Maine TREE Foundation choose award recipients.

Named after one of Maine’s longest contributing professional foresters, the Austin H. Wilkins Forest Stewardship Award is the only award in Maine that recognizes stewardship of the working forest. Started by the Maine TREE Foundation in 2004, the award is given periodically, but no more than annually. Previous Austin H. Wilkins Forest Stewardship Award Recipients:

Austin H. Wilkins – 2004 Pingree Associates & Seven Islands Land Company – 2005 No award given - 2006 Sherry Huber & John Hagen – 2007
Roger Milliken Jr. & Baskahegan Company – 2008 Jensen Bissell & Baxter State Park Scientific Forest Management Area – 2009 Prentiss & Carlisle Company – 2010 Robbins Lumber Company – 2011 Robert Linkletter & the Linkletter Family – 2012 Maine Tree Farm Committee – 2013 Chadbourne Tree Farms, LLC – 2014 Irving Woodlands, LLC - 2015

Maxwell L. McCormack, Jr. For six decades, Maxwell L. McCormack, Jr. has devoted his time, energy and talents to the proper stewardship of forests in Maine and New England through his research, education, review of international forests and by pursuing fact-based evidence. His innovative research, well-crafted studies, and adherence to objective analysis has benefited generations of students.

Appointed by the LePage Administration to the Panel of Experts for Outcome Based Forestry and to the Forester Licensing Board, Maxwell L. McCormack, Jr. has also contributed his leadership to the Society of American Foresters and the University of Maine Cooperative Forest Research Unit. He is widely credited for helping lead the vibrant recovery of the Maine spruce-fir forests after the cataclysmic 1970-1980 spruce budworm epidemic. Throughout the years, he has shown a willingness to speak to any audience about sound, fact-based forest practices.

The Maine TREE Foundation was founded in 1989 to provide Maine people with accurate information about the forest resource. The foundation sponsors several education programs, including: Long Term Education About Forests (LEAF), Project Learning Tree (PLT), the Maine Tree Farm Committee, and the Certified Logging Professional program.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine Horticulture Sales Increase 43.6%!

October 17, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

State officials credit LePage Administration tax change for helping make Maine greenhouses and nursery’s more competitive with the rest of the U.S.

AUGUSTA – USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) today reported that Maine horticulture sales have increased 43.6 % from $49.1 million (2009) to $70.5 million (2014). The number of Maine horticultural operations increased from 250 to 320, a 28% increase over the same time period. The 43.6% increase in sales experienced by Maine is more than double the national average increase of 18%.

Maine state officials welcomed the news, while adding that a tax change policy proposed by the LePage Administration and supported by the 125th Maine Legislature (Law/Bill reference: PL 2011, c. 657, Part N), is helping fuel growth in the Maine horticulture industry. “This is a perfect example of how business friendly tax policies are helping to grow Maine agriculture and jobs,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “For decades, the Maine horticulture industry sought the recognition and support its counterparts in the other 49 states received. The tax changes proposed by the LePage Administration and supported by legislative majorities in 2011, provided a sales tax refund on purchases of ‘depreciable machinery or equipment used for commercial agriculture…in the commercial production of greenhouse and nursery products.’ LePage Administration backed changes to the tax code support the hard work of Maine farmers who have more than doubled the impressive growth rate of U.S. horticulture over a 5-year period.”

Maine Horticulture Statistics reported by NASS:

“In 2014, the United States had 23,221 horticultural operations that produced and sold $13.8 billion in floriculture, nursery, and other horticultural specialty products. Maine had 320 horticultural operations that sold $70.5 million in horticultural products in 2014, compared to 250 horticultural operations that sold $49.1 million in horticultural products in 2009. Horticulture producers in Maine had $66.7 million in total production expenses in 2014. Hired labor expenses in Maine accounted for 32 percent of the total production expenses. Of the 1,828 hired workers in Maine, 1,082 worked less than 150 days compared to 746 who worked 150 days or more.”

NASS provides accurate, timely, and useful statistics in service to U.S. agriculture. The Horticultural Specialties Highlights and all other NASS reports are available online at www.nass.usda.gov

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine Harvest Festival to celebrate Farm Fresh!

November 14, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott, Judi Perkins at 207-287-3156, 207-570-4077

Last year, USA TODAY 10Best readers voted the Maine Harvest Festival #5 in the category of “Best Fall Harvest Festival” in the country”

BANGOR – The sixth annual Maine Harvest Festival will be held November 19 and 20 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The event will be held Saturday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Admission is $8, children 12 and under admitted free. Sponsored, in part, by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, the two-day festival will feature over 150 Maine farmers, food processors, brewers, fiber artisans and chefs presenting great local food, beverages, music, fiber and more.

“Maine agriculture has great potential to put more food on the table, provide jobs and create economic opportunities,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The continued growth of the Maine Harvest Festival highlights the consumer demand for our locally produced products.”

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the continued growth and national recognition that the Festival has received.

“Last year, USA TODAY 10 Best readers voted the Maine Harvest Festival #5 in the category of “Best Fall Harvest Festival” in the country,” said Whitcomb. “The Festival continues to grow along with consumer interest in locally produced food and Maine products. Many of Maine’s next generation of entrepreneurs, farmers, bakers, brewers, vintners, chefs and other artisans that grow local food, create jobs and strengthen local economies, especially in the rural areas.”

Maine Harvest Festival Organizer Judi Perkins is excited that this year’s festival added a Celebration of Maine Farms & Homes by Page Museum and Friends, to be held in the ballroom both days of the festival. “It will not only celebrate Maine’s rural past, but provide future generations with valuable and practical knowledge about Maine farms, communities and livelihoods,” said Perkins. “The Page Museum, Partners’ demonstrations and other programming will be interactive, diverse and engaging for all audiences.”

Events entitled "Celebrating Maine's Farms & Homes" will feature everything from sheep shearing, a "hands on the loom experience" for the weaving of a "sheep to shawl" masterpiece, to learning to contra dance. Popular cooking demos return, along with a newly introduced potato picking competition and a workshop on how to raise backyard chickens.

There will be booths, demonstrations, seminars and multiple opportunities for festival goers to taste, sample and purchase offerings. The Festival has a wine, brewery and distillery sampling area. The State of Maine Fair Pie Contest Finale and Awards presentation will also take place on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

Based on experiences from previous years, organizers stressed the importance of bringing a cooler or a thermal insulated bag/container for transporting temperature-sensitive purchases.

For more information about the Maine Harvest Festival: http://maineharvestfestival.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Downeast Sunrise Trail Extension Completed

November 21, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Commissioners Whitcomb and Bernhardt to attend Ribbon Cutting Ceremony December 2

ELLSWORTH – The Downeast Sunrise Trail (DEST) has now been completed with addition of the final two miles from Hancock into Ellsworth, after a quarter century of work. Commissioners from two collaborating state agencies and community partners will be on hand December 2 for a ceremonial ribbon cutting commemorating the event. The ceremony, hosted by the Sunrise Trail Coalition, Inc. and the City of Ellsworth, will take place at the new High Street Trailhead in Ellsworth on Friday at 11:00 a.m.

The Downeast Sunrise Trail (aka Calais Branch Corridor Rehabilitation Project) was an interagency effort between MaineDOT and Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL). MaineDOT owns the rail corridor and the BPL managed the construction, and will oversee continued maintenance of the multi-use recreation trail. The project has received support from several community partners and recreational groups.

“This is an example of Maine state government working with community partners to complete a project that will generate substantial economic activity and support Maine as a year-round destination,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The ATV and snowmobile industries alone bring in over $500 million dollars to the State each year. Add to that the revenues that flow from its multi-use design and you have a significant resource for Maine people, visitors and the businesses that cater to them.”

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb and MaineDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt stressed the economic, recreational and its connection to the countries transportation system.

“Residents of Ellsworth and visitors will now have the opportunity to use a trail which directly links the City to the 87-mile recreational trail system,” said Commissioner Whitcomb. “This is an easily maneuverable trail with gentle grades and a smooth solid base, which will provide users with the opportunity to engage in exercise to improve cardio-vascular health and reduce obesity. This trail links to 800-miles of ATV and snowmobile trails including ITS 81 and 82.”

“This new trail, part of Maine’s transportation network, will encourage trail users to visit Ellsworth’s local restaurants, lodging facilities, fuel stations, merchandise sales and other services,” said Commissioner Bernhardt. “Having the trail head in the City of Ellsworth will entice tourists to visit this unique trail system. It is also is included in the East Coast Greenway which runs from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida.”

Down East Sunrise Trail (Calais Branch Corridor Rehabilitation Project):

The project, begun in 1987, has been an interagency effort between MaineDOT and the DACF’s Bureau of Parks and Lands. It has been constructed in two phases.

Phase I – An 85- mile rail trail from Washington Junction, Hancock to Ayers Junction, Pembroke, opened in September 2010. This project preserved the rail corridor for future rail use, while in the interim providing a multi-use rail trail connecting multiple communities. The DACF was the lead agency in constructing this phase of the DEST. Construction of the trail was paid for with proceeds from the sale of the rail steel.

Phase II – “Rail with trail” extended the 85-miles of existing rail trail 2 miles into Ellsworth. This provides trail users direct access to food, fuel, lodging, shopping and amenities. Phase II was also funded with proceeds from rail steel from Phase I and cost 1.3 million dollars. Plymouth Engineering designed both Phase I and Phase II. Lane Construction was the contractor for Phase II.

Community Support:

Numerous organizations and area clubs worked to make this project possible. These include:

The Sunrise Trail Coalition, Inc., which represents the interests of the Trail multi-users, and through its membership dues, donations and grants sponsors annual community events and provides necessary accessory facilities like benches, picnic tables along the Trail. The Acadia Area ATV Club, which owns property with plans for a clubhouse in Hancock near the parking lot, entered into a trail use agreement which allows the trail to be built on their property.

The Ellsworth Snowmobile Club will take care of grooming this section of the trail. The club will be working along with the Frenchmen’s Bay Snowmobile Club to assist with development of snowmobile access into and around Ellsworth area, with some trails already in place.

Future maintenance and upkeep is being done by these clubs and managed by the DACF Off-road Vehicle Office. Clubs involved in maintaining the DEST from Ellsworth to Ayers Junction:

  • Downeast Trail Riders ATV & Snowmobile Club from East Machias
  • Dennysville Snowmobile & ATV Club from Dennysville
  • Narraguagus Snowmobile & ATV Club from Cherryfield
  • Ridge Riders Trail Club from Machias

For more Downeast Sunrise Trail information go to: http://www.maine.gov/downeastsunrisetrail or http://www.sunrisetrail.org

Expansion of Search for Invasive Forest Pests Announced

November 30, 2016

For more information contact: Karen Coluzzi at (207) 287-7551

Outreach will encompass all 16 Maine Counties in effort to combat growing threat posed by invasive insects

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) announced two awards that will expand outreach to all 16 Maine counties in an effort to address the growing threat from invasive forest pests. The Maine Association of Conservation Districts Employees Committee and the Saco River Recreational Council received continued funding ($35,000 and $5,000, respectively) for their efforts to provide outreach and education to engage citizens in helping protect Maine forests.

“Early detection of invasive pests such as Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer, hemlock woolly adelgid, winter moth and others are crucial in protecting the forest products and forest recreation industries in a state that is 90% forested,” said DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Once these insects have established a foothold in other states, they become difficult if not impossible to eradicate. By working in partnership with soil and water conservation districts in all 16 counties and community partners along the Saco River, we can better protect our forest resources and economies.”

Early detection of invasive forest pets can be accomplished through outreach and education efforts. This not only reduces the costs and resources needed for a management response, but also increases the chances of eradication success.

The DACF has been conducting outreach and education since 2009 with funding provided by the Farm Bill Section 10007. The Maine Association of Conservation Districts Employees Committee, in partnership with 12 county conservation districts in Southern and Central Maine, and the Saco River Recreational Council were both awarded funding under a competitive Request for Proposal issued by the DACF in 2015. This year’s awards continue the outreach provided by these organizations, expanding outreach to all 16 counties in Maine.

“The outreach and education that are being contributed by these two conservation organizations will enhance the Department’s existing efforts resulting in increased public understanding of the economic and environmental threats associated with invasive forest pests,” said Karen Coluzzi, DACF State Pest Survey Coordinator. “The awards increase support for management and mitigation efforts, and increase reporting of potential pest sightings to federal or state authorities. The threat of invasive forest species requires continued vigilance, education and awareness of the general public to safeguard this significant state resource.”

For more information on invasive forest pest outreach and education in Maine, contact Karen Coluzzi at the DACF Division of Animal and Plant Health at Karen.L.Coluzzi@Maine.Gov or at (207) 287-7551.

To read more about the Department’s efforts to address forest invasive pests, access the annual accomplishment reports at http://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/caps/ALB/AnnualReports.shtml .

For more information on the Department’s Forest Pest Outreach and Survey Project, read a synopsis at http://www.umaine.edu/invasivespecies/2012/05/14/fpos/.

This material is made possible through a grant from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) and is funded in part by a Cooperative Agreement from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The USDA and the DACF are equal opportunity providers and employers.

Winter Camping in the Allagash

December 5, 2016

For more information contact: Mattew LaRoche at 207-695-3721, Ext. 3

Winter Campground Registration Opens December 10

AUGUSTA -- The Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) will begin taking winter camping registrations December 10. Part of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands, the AWW is a 92-mile-long ribbon of lakes, lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams that wind through northern Maine's vast commercial forests. The AWW will make a total of 48 camp sites available at Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook.

The camp sites will be allotted on a first-come, first-served basis until the campground capacity is reached. Registration for the campgrounds will take place: - 8 a.m., Saturday, December 10, at the Chamberlain Bridge ranger station.

“Winter camping in the Allagash provides anglers with extraordinary access to great winter ice fishing,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Visitors traveling that far north are rewarded with a breathtaking outdoor experience and memories that will last a life-time. They also have the opportunity to catch trophy fish.”

“The Allagash winter camping experience draws repeat visitors year after year,” said Commissioner Whitcomb. “The opening of Allagash winter camping registrations marks the beginning of our winter programming. Other winter park and public lands activities include: cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, nature walks, and guided hikes on New Year’s Day,” said Whitcomb.

AWW Superintendent Matt LaRoche anticipates renting most of the 48 available campsites by noon on the first day of registration. To be sure of getting a site, the AWW superintendent suggests that campers arrive at Chamberlain Bridge before 8 a.m. on December 10. Campsites are available for a monthly rental fee of $75 for Maine residents and $100 for nonresidents $100.00, plus 9-percent meal and lodging tax. Eight sites are reserved in the parking lot for transient use at the regular camping fee of $6 per person per night for Maine residents and $12 for nonresidents. The water access campsites on the lakes are available for use in the winter as well as summer; the same fees apply to these sites.

The AWW provides: public drinking water, vault toilets, and snow plowing at the Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook winter campgrounds. A groomed snowmobile trail is marked from the parking lot to the south end of Chamberlain Lake and to Round Pond/Telos lakes. For more information on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, go to: http://www.maine.gov/allagash call 207-695-3721 x3 or 207-941-4014.

Or contact:

Allagash Wilderness Waterway PO Box 1107 Greenville, ME 04441

State Inspectors Search for Skimmers

December 8, 2016

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Public alerted after gas station skimmers found in Maine

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Division of Quality Assurance is notifying the public of the presence of skimmers in Maine, specifically, at gas stations throughout the state. The decision to alert the public comes amidst reports of illegal gas station skimmers found by law enforcement in Brewer, Maine just this week. Similar reports in Maine have implicated drive-through tellers at financial institutions, ATMs and restaurants. DACF inspectors that check gas station pumps for accuracy also search for skimmers in an effort to help protect the public against a growing problem.

“In response to national reports and local concerns, Maine inspectors have been working with gas station owners and actively looking for illegal skimmers since early last year,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Unfortunately, this criminal activity has spread to Maine. The public should learn of the risk, take additional steps to protect their financial information from thieves and alert law enforcement of any suspicious activity.”

In early 2015, department inspectors were alerted to the potential for motor fuel skimmers in Maine following national reports of increasing discoveries in other states.

“Through our contacts with other states, we learned of the growing problem of gas station skimmers,” said Steve Giguere, Acting Director of the Division of Quality and Assurance. “Since that time, we have been alerting our inspectors and working with station owners in anticipation of their eventual presence in Maine. Sadly, skimmers have been found in Maine and we need to work together to raise awareness and help protect consumers.”

Since early 2015, inspectors have been provided with:

  • News accounts from other states involving gas station skimmers
  • Presentations developed by other states addressing the problem
  • Overviews of data skimmers in motor fuel dispensers
  • Procedural guides for when suspected gasoline skimmers are discovered
  • FBI generated information on skimmers
  • Tips on how consumers and station owners can protect themselves

According to economic loss data derived from Dr. Sergio Alvarez, Chief Economist for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam:

  • The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) estimates that each victim of account takeover fraud experiences approximately $1,103 in direct and indirect losses
  • Industry estimates suggest that there are roughly 100 card numbers on each skimmer found
  • The rough estimate of direct and indirect economic loss in $110,300 per skimmer

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: www.maine.gov/dacf

Pets and Holidays!

December 22, 2016

For more information contact: Michele Walsh, State Veterinarian, Liam Hughes, AWP Director at 207-287-7615, 207-287-5531

Tips from the State Veterinarian and Animal Welfare Program Director

AUGUSTA - The holiday season can be an exciting, active time for Maine families and their pets. State officials offer some helpful tips for pet owners and those expanding their families to include new pets. These pointers aim to help avoid stressful visits to the veterinary emergency room. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s State Veterinarian and Director of Animal Welfare are urging Mainers to consider the following:

BEFORE ACQUIRING A NEW PET:

During the holidays, families often consider obtaining a new pet. Animal Welfare Director Liam Hughes recommends doing some basic research ahead of time, considering that pets require a long-term commitment.

“Pets owners need to be ready for a long-term emotional and financial commitment,” said Hughes. “Before adopting or purchasing a new pet, people should consider a number of things, including: does my/our lifestyle allow time for a pet; what type of pet; and what are the costs associated with a pet? If you are looking for a pet in Maine, search animal shelters, pet stores, or breeders that are licensed by the state. Don’t buy animals on the side of the road or in a parking lot since you cannot meet and evaluate the appropriateness of that pet for your household ahead of time. Beware of online sales for the same reason – and because you might not get what was advertised.”

Tips for adopting a new pet:

  • Work with a reputable local humane society whenever possible.
  • Meet with the pet prior to adopting it to ensure that its behavior and demeanor are a good match for your family.
  • Obtain a copy of the animal’s medical record, vaccination history, and Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate).
  • Ensure that the dog or cat is vaccinated for rabies if it is three months of age or older.
  • If working with a rescue organization, ensure that it is properly registered and licensed in the state of Maine and in the state where the business is based, and/or with USDA Animal Care.

Mainers can contact the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Animal Welfare Program at (207) 287-3846 for more information on which animal rescue and breeding organizations are appropriately registered.

HELPING PETS AVOID DANGER:

“Healthy pets make happy owners. We want all Mainers and their pets to have a positive experience this holiday season,” said Maine State Veterinarian, Dr. Michele Walsh. “A little bit of forethought can go a long way toward avoiding stressful, expensive, possibly fatal trips to a veterinarian. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and other organizations offer tips on how to help ensure that your pets make it through the holidays safely.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) website (http://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/holidays.aspx) offers the following Holiday Pet Safety tips:

Food

Keep people food away from pets. If you want to share holiday treats with your pets, make or buy treats formulated just for them. The following people foods are especially hazardous for pets:

  • Chocolate is an essential part of the holidays for many people, but it is toxic to dogs and cats. Although the toxicity can vary based on the type of chocolate, the size of your pet, and the amount they ate, it’s safer to consider all chocolate off limits for pets.
  • Other sweets and baked goods also should be kept out of reach. Not only are they often too rich for pets; an artificial sweetener often found in baked goods, candy and chewing gum, xylitol, has been linked to liver failure and death in dogs.
  • Turkey and turkey skin – sometimes even in small amounts – can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis.
  • Table scraps – including gravy and meat fat –also should be kept away from pets. Many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets, including onions, raisins and grapes. During the holidays, when our own diets tend toward extra-rich foods, table scraps can be especially fattening and hard for animals to digest and can cause pancreatitis.
  • Yeast dough can cause problems for pets, including painful gas and potentially dangerous bloating.

Quick action can save lives. If you believe your pet has been poisoned or eaten something it shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately. You may also want to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1-888-426-4435. Signs of pet distress include: sudden changes in behavior, depression, pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Decorating

Greenery, lights and Christmas trees can make the holidays festive, but they also pose risky temptations for our pets.

  • Christmas trees can tip over if pets climb on them or try to play with the lights and ornaments. Consider tying your tree to the ceiling or a doorframe using fishing line to secure it.
  • Ornaments can cause hazards for pets. Broken ornaments can cause injuries, and ingested ornaments can cause intestinal blockage or even toxicity. Keep any homemade ornaments, particularly those made from salt-dough or other food-based materials, out of reach of pets.
  • Tinsel and other holiday decorations also can be tempting for pets to eat. Consuming them can cause intestinal blockages, sometimes requiring surgery. Breakable ornaments or decorations can cause injuries.
  • Flowers and festive plants can result in an emergency veterinary visit if your pet gets hold of them. Amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, and holly are among the common holiday plants that can be dangerous and even poisonous to pets who decide to eat them. Poinsettias can be troublesome as well. The ASPCA offers lists of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats.
  • Candles are attractive to pets as well as people. Never leave a pet alone in an area with a lit candle; it could result in a fire.
  • Potpourris should be kept out of reach of inquisitive pets. Liquid potpourris pose risks because they contain essential oils and cationic detergents that can severely damage your pet’s mouth, eyes and skin. Solid potpourris could cause problems if eaten.

Hosting Parties and Visitors

Visitors can upset pets, as can the noise and excitement of holiday parties. Even pets that aren’t normally shy may become nervous in the hubbub that can accompany a holiday gathering. The following tips will reduce emotional stress on your pet and protect your guests from possible injury.

  • All pets should have access to a comfortable, quiet place inside if they want to retreat. Make sure your pet has a room or crate somewhere away from the commotion, where your guests won’t follow, that it can go to anytime it wants to get away.
  • Inform your guests ahead of time that you have pets or if other guests may be bringing pets to your house. Guests with allergies or compromised immune systems (due to pregnancy, disease, or medications/ treatments that suppress the immune system) need to be aware of the pets (especially exotic pets) in your home so they can take any needed precautions to protect themselves.
  • Guests with pets? If guests ask to bring their own pets and you don’t know how the pets will get along, you should either politely decline their request or plan to spend some time acclimating the pets to each other, supervising their interactions, monitoring for signs of a problem, and taking action to avoid injuries to pets or people.
  • Pets that are nervous around visitors should be put it in another room or a crate with a favorite toy. If your pet is particularly upset by houseguests, talk to your veterinarian about possible solutions to this common problem.
  • Exotic pets make some people uncomfortable and may themselves be more easily stressed by gatherings. Keep exotic pets safely away from the hubbub of the holidays.
  • Watch the exits. Even if your pets are comfortable around guests, make sure you watch them closely, especially when people are entering or leaving your home. While you’re welcoming hungry guests and collecting coats, a four-legged family member may make a break for it out the door and become lost.
  • Identification tags and microchips reunite families. Make sure your pet has proper identification with your current contact information – particularly a microchip with up-to-date, registered information. That way, if they do sneak out, they’re more likely to be returned to you. If your pet isn’t already microchipped, talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of this simple procedure.
  • Clear the food from your table, counters and serving areas when you are done using them – and make sure the trash gets put where your pet can’t reach it. A turkey or chicken carcass or other large quantities of meat sitting out on the carving table, or left in a trash container that is easily opened, could be deadly to your family pet. Dispose of carcasses and bones – and anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags and packaging – in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors (or behind a closed, locked door).
  • Trash also should be cleared away where pets can’t reach it – especially sparkly ribbon and other packaging or decorative items that could be tempting for your pet to play with or consume.

When You Leave the House

  • Unplug decorations while you're not around. Cats, dogs and other pets are often tempted to chew electrical cords.
  • Take out the trash to make sure your pets can’t get to it, especially if it contains any food or food scraps.

Maine Animal Shelters: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/ahw/animal_welfare/shelters.shtml

Ways that you can support the Maine Animal Welfare Program can be found at:
http://www.maine.gov/dacf/ahw/animal_welfare/index.shtml

Agricultural Trades Show highlights LOCAL, QUALITY, SUSTAINABLE Maine foods!

January 5, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott at (207) 287-3156

The 3-day event is free and open to the public

AUGUSTA—The 76th Annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show will be held Tuesday, January 10, through Thursday, January 12, 2017, at the Augusta Civic Center. Hosted by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), the show highlights Maine agriculture and the people involved through demonstrations, presentations and meetings of nearly 40 major agricultural organizations.

There will be over 120 exhibits featuring the newest in agricultural products, equipment and services. One of the state’s largest agricultural exhibitions, the event is expected to draw more than 5,000 people over the course of three days. Admission is free and open to the public.

Governor Paul R. LePage will be on hand Tuesday for the Trades Show opening day, to highlight the economic importance of agriculture to Maine and to join Commissioner Walt Whitcomb at the Commissioner’s Luncheon to publicly recognize this year’s recipient of the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award.

“The Maine Agricultural Trades Show is an opportunity to highlight the recent economic achievements of Maine agriculture and many of the people and families responsible for them,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “There is enormous potential to produce and sell even more Maine products and produce jobs for Maine people. Two recent examples of rapid growth in Maine agriculture are the maple and horticultural industries. Since 2010, Maine maple syrup production has more than doubled (114% increase) and the number of taps has increased 26.5%. Since 2009, Maine horticulture sales have increased 43.6% from $49.1 million to $70.5 million (2014), more than double the national average (18%)!”

“The 76th Maine Agricultural Trades Show will showcase new Maine agricultural opportunities and ways of making traditional operations even more profitable,” said DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “The department will unveil a new Maine AGRI-TOURISM Map, preview a new program to recognize the sustainable practices of Maine farmers and help producers connect with wholesale buyers to help spur future sales growth. Local, Quality, Sustainable….. Maine agriculture will be on full display January 10-12, 2017, at the Augusta Civic Center.”

Topics of Interest to the Press:

  • A NEW Maine AGRI-TOURISM Map will be unveiled
  • A NEW Maine FARMS Program to recognize the sustainable practices of Maine farms
  • $200,000 in NEW Agricultural Development Grants will be Announced
  • Commissioner’s Luncheon - Governor Paul R. LePage will join Commissioner Whitcomb to present the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award.
  • Beginning Farmer Resource Network workshops for new Maine farmers
  • Meetings between specialty crop producers and wholesale buyers to promote sales
  • Information on how small poultry growers can process poultry for local markets
  • get real. get Maine! Products Showcase Room– An indoor farmers market
  • Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) presentations and discussions on marketing and growing practices
  • Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) overview on how federal rules will impact food safety from farm to fork
  • Maine Federations of Farmers Markets: “Buying Local Food on a Budget: The Benefits of Buying Direct.”

Something for Everyone:

This year’s show features several new offerings for attendees in addition to a wide variety of presentations covering diverse topics of interest. New 2017 program highlights also include opportunities for growers, conventional and organic, to learn the latest developments in pest management and earn credits required for pesticide license recertification. The Maine Board of Pesticides Control will also be on hand to discuss basic safety training.

This three-day event has something for everyone, the farmer, non-farmer, hobbyist, educator or supplier. Attendees can walk through, observe and learn about how food is harvested and processed. Farmers and producers can see the most up-to-date farm equipment and processing methods and equipment.

Trades Show Floor Hours:

  • Tuesday, January 10, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, January 11, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, January 12, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The complete program and schedule are available at: http://www.getrealmaine.com/ . It will also appear as a supplement in all of Maine’s major daily newspapers on Friday, January 6, 2017.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Media Advisory: Governor LePage to attend Maine Agricultural Trades Show

January 9, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

This year’s show highlights LOCAL, QUALITY, SUSTAINABLE Maine foods!

AUGUSTA CIVIC CENTER— Governor Paul R. LePage will attend the 76th Maine Agricultural Trades Show on Tuesday to highlight the importance of agriculture to the economy and how Maine supports job creators. The Governor will also join Commissioner Walt Whitcomb in publicly recognizing this year’s recipient of the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award.

“The Maine Agricultural Trades Show is an opportunity to highlight the recent economic achievements of Maine agriculture and many of the people and families responsible for them,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “There is enormous potential to produce and sell even more Maine products and produce jobs for Maine people. Two recent examples of rapid growth in Maine agriculture are the maple and horticultural industries. Since 2010, Maine maple syrup production has more than doubled (114% increase) and the number of taps has increased 26.5%. Since 2009, Maine horticulture sales have increased 43.6 % from $49.1 million to $70.5 million (2014), more than double the national average (18%)!”

Governor LePage will present the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award at the Commissioner’s Luncheon at the Augusta Civic Center on Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at noon.

Supporting documents

AgTradesShowPoster

Campground Reservations Open Feb. 1 for Sebago Lake State Park and Feb. 6 for all Maine State Parks

January 23, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Maine State Parks attracted a record 2.87 million visitors in 2016

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Bureau of Parks and Lands announced that campground reservations for the 2017 season will open for Sebago State Park on February 1 and for all state parks on February 6. The in-season reservation notice requirements have been modified to be more customer friendly.

"Maine State Parks attracted a record 2.87 million visitors in 2016, breaking the annual attendance record set in 2015,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Maine State Parks and historic sites provide year-round opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. In addition to making camping reservations for the upcoming season, I encourage people to check out Winter Family Fun Days and the Ski & Snowshoe Trailers available to the public as part of the Department's Take It Outside initiative."

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb attributed a record-breaking 9.5% increase in overall attendance to a number of factors occurring simultaneously.

"In 2015, Maine State Parks had the highest attendance since 1985, with just over 2.6 million visitors” said Whitcomb. “2016 set another record because of: the recent success and popularity of year-round Maine State Park offerings and programs; favorable weather conditions; and greater public awareness of what our parks and historical sites offer visitors. Park staff continue to improve recreational and educational offerings to better serve all age groups."

Reservation Details:

WHAT: State Park Campground Reservations to Open for Sebago Lake State Park

WHEN: 9:00 a.m., Wednesday, February 1

WHERE: On line at http://www.campwithme.com

The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands' reservations system and call center will be open for Sebago Lake State Park campground reservations only on February 1 at 9:00 a.m. and for all state park campgrounds at 9:00 a.m. on February 6.

Online-reservation "start-days" once again are being split, with reservations being taken for the very popular Sebago Lake camp sites only starting on Wednesday, February 1, to reduce wait times.

There will be no fee adjustments for campsites at the state park campgrounds this season. New for 2017, customers can book a reservation, one business day, prior to their first night’s stay. This customer service improvement will allow more accessibility for campers who decide to plan a trip with only a one business day notice. (prior to 2017, we required a two-day notice).

Campers can make reservations at Maine State Park Campgrounds in four ways:

  1. Online at www.campwithme.com (24-7);
  2. By calling in state at 800-332-1501; or (out-of-state) 207-624-9950 (9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., on Business Days);
  3. By mailing reservations to: Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, Bureau of Parks and Lands, ATTN.: 3. Reservations, 22 SHS, Augusta, ME 04333. Mailed Sebago Lake reservation requests must not be postmarked before Feb. 1, 2017; and, Feb 6, 2017 for all other parks.
  4. By dropping off completed reservation forms, which will be processed during business hours at the Augusta office. On Wednesday, February 1, Sebago Lake reservations will be accepted for a four-night minimum stay only. This is done because Sebago tends to average longer stays than other campgrounds.

For more information and complete registration details, go to: www.campwithme.com

PLEASE NOTE: Group Camping Reservations and Group Picnic & Shelter Reservations open, for all parks, on Feb. 1, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. as well. Call the parks directly for either of these reservations. Online listings are provided below:

Group Camping Reservations http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/camping/group_camping.shtml

Group Picnic Areas & Shelter Reservations http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/camping/grouppicnicareas.shtml

Invasive Plant Rules in Effect

January 25, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott at (207) 287-3156

New rules prohibit sale of 33 invasive terrestrial plants

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) has adopted rules to prohibit the sale and distribution of thirty-three terrestrial plants that were deemed invasive. The plants were reviewed by a specially-convened committee of horticulture professionals, land managers, foresters, wildlife biologists and other scientists. The new rule went into effect on January 14, 2017, but the prohibition of sales does not begin until January 1, 2018.

“The plants on this list have invaded farms, fields, forests and wetlands throughout the state,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Although many were originally promoted with good intentions, such as, the prevention of soil erosion or to support wildlife, they have spread throughout Maine to the detriment of native species. In many places they have come to dominate forests, wetlands, fields and local landscapes, excluding native plants that support our economy and natural areas.”

“The Maine Forest Service, Public Lands and the Natural Areas Program have joined with the Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources to locate and eradicate invasive plant and animal species,’ said Doug Denico, Maine State Forester. “The Public Lands are a major focus of current efforts, with education of the public also a critical undertaking in order to extend the department’s statewide effectiveness.”

“All but three of the prohibited plants have been, or continue to be sold in the nursery trade, said Gary Fish, Maine State Horticulturist. “Some of them have already been discontinued by nurseries which recognized their harmful potential. Three are not intentionally sold, but are “horticultural hitchhikers” which sprout as weeds in the pots and rootballs of plants sold in the nursery trade. A few of the plants are still in some demand, including Japanese barberry, burning bush, privet and Norway maple, especially the crimson king variety. Maine nurseries and garden centers will have until January 1, 2018, to sell stock already on hand.”

Many non-invasive alternatives are available to help homeowners and nursery professionals satisfy their landscape needs without using the invasive plants on the list.

A copy of the rules and the plant list are found on the DACF website at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/horticulture/invasiveplants.shtml

There is also a list of resources to help find alternative plants at: www.maine.gov/dacf/php/horticulture/invasiveplants.shtml#Alternatives

To identify and control invasive plants, the Department maintains plant fact sheets and a gallery of photos and management tips at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mnap/features/invasive_plants/invasives.htm

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Campground Reservations Open Feb. 6 for all Maine State Parks

February 2, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Maine State Parks attracted a record 2.87 million visitors in 2016

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Bureau of Parks and Lands announced that campground reservations for the 2017 season will open for state parks on Monday, February 6. Online-reservation "start-days" were once again split, with reservations for the very popular Sebago Lake camp sites opening February 1, to reduce wait times. The in-season reservation notice requirements have been modified to be more customer friendly.

"Maine State Parks attracted a record 2.87 million visitors in 2016, breaking the annual attendance record set in 2015,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Maine State Parks and historic sites provide year-round opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. In addition to making camping reservations for the upcoming season, I encourage people to check out Winter Family Fun Days and the Ski & Snowshoe Trailers available to the public as part of the Department's Take It Outside initiative."

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb attributed a record-breaking 9.5% increase in overall attendance to a number of factors occurring simultaneously.

"In 2015, Maine State Parks had the highest attendance since 1985, with just over 2.6 million visitors” said Whitcomb. “2016 set another record because of: the recent success and popularity of year-round Maine State Park offerings and programs; favorable weather conditions; and greater public awareness of what our parks and historical sites offer visitors. Park staff continue to improve recreational and educational offerings to better serve all age groups."

Reservation Details:

WHAT: State Park Campground Reservations open for all state parks

WHEN: 9:00 a.m., Monday, February 6

WHERE: On line at http://www.campwithme.com

The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands' reservations system and call center will be open for campground reservations on February 6 at 9:00 a.m.

There will be no fee adjustments for campsites at the state park campgrounds this season. New for 2017, customers can book a reservation, one business day, prior to their first night’s stay. This customer service improvement will allow more accessibility for campers who decide to plan a trip with only a one business day notice. (prior to 2017, we required a two-day notice).

Campers can make reservations at Maine State Park Campgrounds in four ways:

  1. Online at www.campwithme.com (24-7);
  2. By calling in state at 800-332-1501; or (out-of-state) 207-624-9950 (9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., on Business Days);
  3. By mailing reservations to: Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, Bureau of Parks and Lands, ATTN.: Reservations, 22 SHS, Augusta, ME 04333. Mailed Sebago Lake reservation requests must not be postmarked before Feb. 1, 2017; and, Feb 6, 2017 for all other parks.
  4. By dropping off completed reservation forms, which will be processed during business hours at the Augusta office. For more information and complete registration details, go to: www.campwithme.com

PLEASE NOTE: Group Camping Reservations and Group Picnic & Shelter Reservations will open as well. Call the parks directly for either of these reservations. Online listings are provided below:

Group Camping Reservations http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/camping/group_camping.shtml

Group Picnic Areas & Shelter Reservations http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/camping/grouppicnicareas.shtml

Governor LePage to Celebrate Maine Maple Season

March 9, 2017

For more information contact: Samantha Howard at 207-287-7620

The Annual Governor's Tree Tapping to take place March 13th.

DETAILS: The Governor’s Tree Tapping is an annual tradition to promote Maine maple syrup and highlight its contributions to Maine’s economy. Several Maine maple syrup producers bring their families to join Governor LePage in tapping a sugar maple tree on the Blaine House lawn. The event also serves as a prelude to Maine Maple Sunday, which will celebrate its 34th Anniversary on March 26. Sugarhouses throughout the state are participating in Maine Maple Sunday.

WHO: Governor Paul R. LePage, Commissioner Walt Whitcomb, Legislators and Maine Maple Producers

WHAT: 2017 Governor’s Blaine House Tree Tapping to promote Maine maple syrup

WHEN: Monday, March 13, 2017, 10:00 am

WHERE: On the Blaine House lawn, Augusta

"Maine’s maple industry is growing in output and importance," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "Since 2010, Maine maple syrup production has more than doubled (114% increase). The extended 2016 season yielded 675,000 gallons, up from 315,000 gallons in 2010. During that same time period, the number of taps has increased 26.5% (going from 1.47 million to 1.86 million)."

For more information about Maine Maple Producers, go to: http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

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Sugarhouses across Maine open this weekend for Maine Maple Sunday!

March 21, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott, Samantha Howard at (207) 287-3156, (207) 287-7620

The annual event highlights dramatic maple industry growth since 2010

AUGUSTA – This weekend Maine will celebrate its 34th annual Maine Maple Sunday on March 26, 2017. The annual event is held every fourth Sunday of March. Participating sugarhouses will be open for visitors to enjoy freshly made maple syrup and candy, demonstrations of syrup production, sugarbush tours and a variety of other family activities.

Last week, Governor Paul R. LePage highlighted maple tapping season with Maine maple producers on the Blaine House lawn by following an annual tradition: the tapping of a maple tree. The Governor highlighted the economic contributions of Maine’s maple industry and new statistics showing its dramatic growth since 2010.

"Maine’s maple industry is growing in output and importance," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "Since 2010, Maine maple syrup production has more than doubled (114% increase). The extended 2016 season yielded 675,000 gallons, up from 315,000 gallons in 2010. During that same time period, the number of taps has increased 26.5% (going from 1.47 million to 1.86 million). Maine’s maple industry contributes an estimated $48.7 million to the Maine economy, including a direct contribution of $27.7 million and multiplier effects. The Maine maple industry is working hard to realize its potential for creating more jobs, business opportunities and locally-produced products valued by consumers.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb encouraged people to visit local sugarhouses this weekend. “Maine Maple Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to get outdoors and celebrate the arrival of spring,” said Whitcomb. “We’re hearing that the maple sap has exceptionally high sugar content this year. Bring your family and find out for yourself.”

Maine Maple Statistics:

  • 545,000 gallons were produced last year, worth $17.4 million
  • Maine’s industry has an annual statewide economic contribution, including multiplier effects, of an estimated $48.7 million in output, 805 full-and part-time jobs, and $25.1 million in labor income
  • Maine has the third largest syrup industry in this country. Maine has the largest maple producing county in the country – Somerset County
  • Maine has around 1.4 million taps

Some sugarhouses will hold events on both Saturday and Sunday. For a list and map of participating sugarhouses, visit the Maine Maple Producers website: http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Support for Community Forestry

April 3, 2017

For more information contact: Jan Ames Santerre at (207) 287-4987

AUGUSTA – Project Canopy, the Maine Forest Service’s community forestry program, recently awarded $116,939 in grants to local governments and municipalities, educational institutions and non-profit organizations that support community efforts to develop and maintain long-term community forestry programs. In all, seventeen awards were made for planning/Education and planting/maintenance. The Project Canopy grants are funded by the U.S. Forest Service.

“These awards support community forestry programs growing trees that both enhance quality of life and that have multiple uses in the Maine economy,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Urban forestry can also help raise awareness of professional forest practices being practiced on a larger scale throughout Maine.

According to Project Canopy Director Jan Ames Santerre, the awards were selected from a total 21 applications – 7 from new communities and organizations, with grant requests totaling $155,714. “These grants not only support significant community forestry projects, but they also support and create jobs throughout the state in the green industry, including nurseries, landscapers, foresters and loggers,” said Santerre.

Planning Grants were awarded to:

  • City of Auburn - $9,000
  • City of Biddeford - $10,000
  • City of Sanford - $5,000
  • Greenways Center, Belfast - $6,290
  • McLaughlin Foundation - $6,000
  • Somerset Woods Trustees - $5,645
  • Town of Camden - $10,000
  • Town of North Berwick- $6,642
  • Town of Veazie - $7,190

Planting grants were awarded to:

  • City of Portland - $5,000
  • Teresa C. Hamilin School, Randolph - $1,809
  • Town of Alfred - $8,000
  • Town of Machias - $8,000
  • Town of Scarborough - $8,000
  • Town of Standish - $8,000
  • Town of Yarmouth - $6,000
  • Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve - $6,364

Some Projects:

Machias has created a plan for bringing native trees to the downtown - an area nearly barren of native vegetation, consisting of parking lots, business buildings, utility poles and wires – to welcome residents and visitors alike. The entire community will become a part of the planting, including students from the local high school agricultural program; members of the Machias Rotary Club, Machias Bay Chamber of Commerce and other civic groups; business owners, sorority and fraternity members at the University of Maine at Machias, and the JMG classes at Machias Memorial High School. Younger students will also be invited to participate in tree planting days as part of agricultural and civic engagement education. This initiative is part of a multi-year downtown revitalization program that Machias is undertaking. Other projects under way or planned for the near future include an Edible Garden, upgrade of walking trails along the river, lighting and enhancements at Bad Little Falls and an upgrade of sidewalks and street lighting.

Randolph’s Teresa C. Hamlin School (TCH) is a small elementary school located in the town of Randolph, Maine serving students in grades pre-K through 5. As the only school in Randolph and one of the few public buildings, students and community members alike take advantage of the centrally-located school campus, but there is not a spot of shade to be found on a sunny day. With this grant from Project Canopy, they will plant eight new trees to provide shade as well as a living educational tool for students and their families. The trees will provide ample opportunity for nature-based education, including lessons around soil, plant needs, and tree propagation, followed by lessons on seed dispersal, plant parts, and ecosystems as the trees develop. Apple trees will soon bear fruit that will be made into applesauce by the students.

Alfred - Decades ago, the Town of Alfred planted 9 trees – crabapples and Norway maples – in the town square. It’s unclear if the original planters were aware of the nature of those trees, but what is clear now is that they need to be removed. Alfred plans to replace those aging trees, along with two old maples near the library, with disease resistant elms and native sugar maples, one again bringing shade to the town square of this great classic New England village adjacent to so many historic homes.

Project Canopy:

Is a program of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Forest Service. It encourages communities to develop project proposals that support sustainable community forestry management, increase awareness of the benefits of trees and forests, and increase the health and livability of communities through sound tree planting and maintenance. Project Canopy is funded by the USDA Forest Service Community Forestry Assistance Program. The USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program was established to promote natural resource management in populated areas and improve quality of life. Since 2003, Project Canopy has awarded more than $1.5 million in funding for community forestry projects. The average grants range from $6,000 to $8,000 and require a 50-percent cost-share with cash or in-kind services.

Project Canopy Assistance Grants are available to state, county, and municipal governments, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations for developing and implementing community forestry projects and programs. Planting projects increase the health and livability of communities through sound tree planting and maintenance, while planning and education projects support sustainable community forestry management, and efforts to increase awareness of the benefits of trees and forests.

To learn more about the Project Canopy Assistance program, contact Project Canopy Director Jan Ames Santerre at (207) 287-4987.

More information is available on the web at http://www.projectcanopy.me

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Ice-Out Dates for Maine Lakes

April 6, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Public invited to participate in annual spring ritual

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) is tracking Maine lake “Ice-Out.” This annual effort provides boaters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts with information, data and resources to help plan outdoor adventures on Maine lakes. It is available for spring 2017 and for previous years on an Ice-Out webpage maintained by the Department. The public is invited to assist this effort by reporting ice-out dates for water bodies throughout the state.

“Maine is open year-round for outdoor recreation,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Ice-Out is a sure sign that spring is here and is eagerly awaited by boaters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore Maine lakes and waterways. Residents and visitors can help plan their next trip with information on current conditions and historical data on ice-out dates for lakes throughout Maine on one webpage.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed that collection of the historic data available is greatly assisted by public participation. “The amount and accuracy of historical data collected as part of this annual effort is greatly enhanced by people that contact the department to report ice-out dates on individual lakes and waterways. By reporting current conditions and then recording traditional ice-out dates, it is possible to project ice-out dates. I encourage people to visit the department Ice-Out page and explore what is available.”

This Year’s Ice-Out Dates

Although the winter of 2016/2017 has brought a lot of snow to most of Maine, lake ice conditions are considered to be normal or below normal in ice thickness. A heavy blanket of snow has covered most of our lakes since early December insulating the ice and has generally reduced the ice quality and thickness throughout Maine. Many areas that may typically see more than 4' of ice late in the season are currently covered by 24-30” of ice and much of that is "soft" ice meaning it is very porous. A late season cold snap may change conditions but if the current weather pattern continues, lakes covered with ice should go out when they normally do.

Ice-Out Webpage: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/wateractivities/boating/iceout_dates.shtml

Webpage Resources:

  • Current conditions report – You can also sign up to receive ice—out email updates
  • Ice-Out dates from previous years
  • Ice-Out dates for a specific lake or town can be searched or the date ice was reported out

Public Participation Encouraged:

The public is encouraged to make the page as accurate as possible by sending a quick email when the ice goes out in their area to timothy.thurston@maine.gov . People should include the name of the water body, town(s) and the ice out date in your email and it will be posted as soon as possible.

What's Ice Out?

Department’s web page considers "ice-out" to be when you can navigate unimpeded from one end of the water body to the other. There may still be ice in coves or along the shoreline in some areas but when a person can traverse the entire water body without being stopped by ice floes, the department considers the ice to be out.

For more information: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/wateractivities/boating/iceout_dates.shtml

Supporting documents

Sebago Boat Launch April 4, 2017

DACF expresses interest in case of Dakota the dog

April 10, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Broad public interest in case and possible implications to animal welfare laws cited

AUGUSTA – Responding to the broad public interest and possible implications to animal welfare laws, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) and its Animal Welfare Program has offered to assist the Maine District Court in Waterville with the case of State of Maine v. Matthew D. Perry, No. VI-17-20053 scheduled for a hearing tomorrow, April 11, 2017. The case involves a husky dog named Dakota that was scheduled to be put to death and subsequently given a “full and free pardon” by Maine Governor Paul R. LePage on March 30, 2017.

Although the DACF is not a party to the lawsuit, it is seeking to express its strong interest in the matter and offer assistance to the Court prior to the rendering of a final disposition. At the request of the Department, the Maine Office of the Attorney General conveyed that offer to the District Court in a letter dated April 7, 2017.

The letter can be viewed here: http://maine.gov/dacf/about/news/DACF-Dakota.pdf and contains the following points:

  1. DACF seeks to ensure that animal owners are afforded due process and a fair chance to defend themselves and their animals;
  2. The purpose of the animal welfare laws is to safeguard the humane and proper treatment of animals. DACF has a strong interest in holding the original owner(s) responsible and ensuring that animals do not suffer due to owner neglect;
  3. The intent of the dangerous dog statute is to protect the public by deterring owners of dangerous dogs from letting them loose. It is not intended as a punishment for a dog, in this case Dakota; and
  4. Dakota is less of a public safety risk given the reliability of the SAFER behavioral testing conducted on Dakota by the Waterville Area Humane Society.

The letter goes on to say that the DACF is ready and willing to provide additional information to assist the Court with its consideration of the case, as the Court determines appropriate.

Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day is Saturday, May 6!

April 24, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Annual event heralds the arrival of spring

AUGUSTA – Greenhouses, nurseries and garden centers statewide will celebrate Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day on Saturday, May 6. Dozens of family-owned horticulture-related businesses will kick off the growing season with special events to highlight gardening in Maine.

Planned activities for the events include: demonstrations, workshops, personal tours, expert speakers, refreshments, giveaways, door prizes, raffles, container-planting demonstrations and plants and balloons for children. Participating greenhouses and nurseries also will preview spring introductions and share their expertise by offering gardening tips, information on plant varieties and ideas for window box and landscape design.

Governor Paul R. LePage remarked on the most recent horticulture numbers from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). “Greenhouse and Nursery Day helps highlight the rapidly growing Maine horticulture industry,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Maine horticulture sales have increased 43.6 %, double the national average increase since 2009 and the number of Maine horticultural operations have increased 28%. This is yet another positive sign that Maine agriculture continues to grow in size and importance to the Maine economy.”

“Maine has taken steps to support the horticulture industry and provide it with the recognition and support its counterparts in the other 49 states have received,’ said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “The tax changes proposed by the LePage Administration and supported by legislative majorities in 2011, provided a sales tax refund on purchases of ‘depreciable machinery or equipment used …in the commercial production of greenhouse and nursery products.’ LePage Administration backed changes to the tax code support the hard work of horticultural professionals who have more than doubled the impressive growth rate of U.S. horticulture over a 5-year period.”

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry licenses and provides technical assistance to more than 1,340 businesses selling plants in Maine. To support this growing industry, the Department certifies plant exports, regulates imported plants and assists growers with plant pest problems.

Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day is supported by the Ornamental Horticulture Council and the Mid-Maine Greenhouse Growers Association.

Maine Horticulture Statistics reported by NASS in 2016:

“In 2014, the United States had 23,221 horticultural operations that produced and sold $13.8 billion in floriculture, nursery, and other horticultural specialty products. Maine had 320 horticultural operations that sold $70.5 million in horticultural products in 2014, compared to 250 horticultural operations that sold $49.1 million in horticultural products in 2009. Horticulture producers in Maine had $66.7 million in total production expenses in 2014. Hired labor expenses in Maine accounted for 32 percent of the total production expenses. Of the 1,828 hired workers in Maine, 1,082 worked less than 150 days compared to 746 who worked 150 days or more.”

NASS provides accurate, timely, and useful statistics in service to U.S. agriculture. The Horticultural Specialties Highlights and all other NASS reports are available online at www.nass.usda.gov

For more information about Maine Greenhouse and Nursery Day, go to:
http://www.plants4maine.com/GreenhouseAndNurseryDay.shtml

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/

45 Events and 2,600 School Kids at to the Northeast Livestock Expo May 19-21!

May 11, 2017

For more information contact: Cindy Kilgore, John Bott at 207-215-4968, 207-287-3156

Largest Ever Kid’s Day – Over 2,600 K-6th graders participating!

WINDSOR – The 12th Northeast Livestock Expo (NELE) will take place May 19-21 in Windsor, Maine. A Maine AG in the Classroom transportation grant, funded by the colorful agricultural license plate, will allow 57 busloads of students from 29 schools to take part in Kid’s Day (Friday, May 19). Over 2,600 K-6 students will have their classroom at the Windsor Fairgrounds. Students will experience first-hand, forty-five agricultural presentations put on by farmers and industry volunteers.

The public is welcome to all events, admission is FREE. There will be youth events and educational seminars also occurring on Saturday and Sunday.

“NELE is a great opportunity for over 2,600 kids and the public to learn about Maine agriculture,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This and other Maine agricultural events this summer and fall highlight the connection between local farms, local products and consumers.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the Expo’s educational component. “The NELE’s “Kid’s Day” will give hundreds of Central Maine elementary students nearly 50 educational “short courses” spaced over 50 acres of the Windsor Fairgrounds,” said Whitcomb. “From bunnies to Smokey Bear, this huge outdoor classroom will feature dozens of live animals and many other memorable educational experiences.”

This three-day livestock event will showcase beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits, poultry and many science-related activities.

Schedule:

Friday, May 19 – Kid’s Day (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.)

Activities & Displays currently scheduled include:

Operation Game Thief – Maine Game Wardens will be on hand with their trailer to discuss the aspects of poaching wildlife in the State of Maine.

Weather 101 - Adam Epstein of Channel 13 will talk about weather and how it affects agriculture. He will have the weather truck on site and will a bring a camera crew.

Maine State Police Troopers and their K9 partners will put on two demonstrations: 10:30am to 11:30am and 12:30pm to 1:30pm in the gazebo park area. Troopers Eric Verhille and G.J. Neagle with their K9 partners Clint and Draco will explain the backgrounds of the dogs, the training of the officers and show the dogs’ abilities. Outside of these two hour demonstrations, the troopers will be on hand to answer questions.

“Be a Beetle Buster; Learn about invasive tree-killing beetles – how to recognize them, the damage they do to trees, and how to report them”.. Karen Coluzzi – Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

Draft horses - Teamster Pete Stratton will explain how they use the draft horses on the farm and in the woods. They will give demonstrations about harnessing a horse and twitching logs.

Beef - In a QUIET AREA, the Maine Beef Producers will be sorting feeder calves ranging in age from five months to a year. The animals will each be given a nasal vaccination, weighed and then moved into pen to stay for the evening. They will be provided with hay and water, and will be sold the following day at an auction.

Horses - The Harness Racing Folks of Windsor Fair will have a mare and her two week old foal on exhibition and explain the uses of the animals, how they are fed, exercised, harnessed and their work schedule.

Oxen – Alice Heinrich of Albion will bring her two Hereford oxen. She will explain the commands used to work the oxen and how they are used on the farm.

Poultry – Scott DeMoranville will bring some of his chickens to show how they are held, exhibited and fed and explain their multiple uses to the industry.

The folks of the Windsor Fair Historical Society will be on hand to explain the uses of the buildings and give tours of the old school house and blacksmith shop.

What do animals eat? Donna Coffin of University of Maine Cooperative Extension will explain how livestock eat and discuss their favorite foods.

Swine – Mike Hemond from Hemond Farms in Minot will have several pigs on hands to show how they use their snouts to root up the ground and eat bugs, etc. Discussions will occur on the care and many uses of pigs from providing the food we eat to being used as natural ground clearers.

Cheese – Cabot Cheese is providing 1000 packaged cheeses to be handed out by the Mobile Milking Parlor. The dairy princesses will explain the workings of the mobile milking parlor.

Tractors – Hammond Tractor will have large tractors on site for exhibition.

Rabbits – Western Maine Rabbit Breeders Association will have rabbits available to show how they are held, fed and their fiber (hair) is used to make clothing.

Cows – Dr. Beth McEvoy, veterinarian, will have two Brown Swiss cattle on display, one with A skeleton painted on his coat. She will go over the various bones of the cow and what helps him to stand and move. Beth works with Dover-Foxcroft Veterinary Clinic.

Ambulance –Delta Ambulance will have a unit on site to allow youth to see the inside and learn what the paramedics do, all without the stress of an actual emergency.

Dairy heifer – Lexie, Lizie and Drake Dumont of Albion will be fitting their dairy heifer. What is “fitting?” Stop by and find out.

Sheep – Donna Flint of Oak Ridge Farm in Sanford will have various breed of sheep and or lambs (baby sheep) on display for questions and answers.

Smokey Bear - will be driven around the parking lot during lunch to meet with kids. His escort will be Kent Nelson.

Moose – the moose from Shawnee Peak will be on hand to join Smokey in the noon parade.

Boer Goats – Boer goat moms will be on hand to show off their baby goats.

Nigerian goats and their babies – will be on display with Pat Polley of Eliza Rek Farm on hand to explain their uses, feed and methods of containment.

Bees – The Kennebec Beekeepers Association will have an observation hive for participants to view live honey bees in a safe manner. They will explain the life stages and different types of bees located within a hive, as well as their duties. Hive components, tools, and protective gear will be on display and discussed.

Belted Galloway – Andy LeMaistre of Mitchell Ledge Farm in Freeport will be on hand with his yearling beef calf heifer, who will be going to the fairs this summer to be shown. The Galloway cattle are often black and white and look like Oreo cookies.

4H Beef Cattle – Lauren Pride will be on hand to show off their 4H beef animals and explain how they take care of them and show them at the fairs.

Mobile Milking Parlor – will be open and on display. See how the milk is transferred from the cow to the bulk tank for cooling.

Tennessee Walkers – Bob Morin of Oak Barrel Farm will bring his Tennessee Walking horse, Bud and give a brief description and explanation of the history of Tennessee Walkers. He will also speak about how they are used in many events including Hollywood.

Ready Freddy - Rachel Lindsey of Maine VOAD, Inc. would like you to join Ready Freddy to explore what goes into an emergency preparedness kit. Disasters can happen at any time. Some things we just can't prevent but we can prepare. Let's get ready like Ready Freddy.

Poultry Barn – Central Maine Bird Fanciers will have their poultry barn open with volunteers on hand to help you learn the various breeds of chickens and other birds. Linda Blackman will do a short presentation on "Oddball Chickens" sometime during the day.

Sarah Littlefield from Wolfe’s Neck Farm will discuss how butter is made.

Trees – Mort Moesswilde and Kent Nelson, Foresters with the Dept of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry will have samples of trees and explain the uses of their wood. He will also show how to count rings to determine the age of a tree.

Maple Syrup – Lyle Merrifield will discuss how sap comes from the maple tree and is turned into maple syrup and maple candy.

Spinning wheel – Ann Wishart will show how wool from sheep is spun to eventually be turned into products folks can wear such as mittens, hats, sweaters. There will also be a demonstration on felting.

Pogo from Friend’s Folly Farm – Will bring an Angora doe and kid/s and do a re-creation of the book "The Goat in a Rug”. She will do a demonstration for the spinning, dyeing, and weaving of the rug.

Lyle Merrifield of Merrifield Farm in Cumberland – will explain how syrup is taken from maple trees, boiled down to make maple syrup and candy.

Mike MacDonald of RMT Farms in Litchfield – will have emus and alpacas on display. He will discuss caring for the animals.

Ricker Hill Orchards – Steve Maheu and crew will discuss apples and their various uses. They will also explain how cranberries are grown and their many uses.

Construction equipment – Travis Benner from McGee Construction will have large construction equipment on display and will explain its various uses.

Disease prevention – Justin Bergeron will discuss zoonotic diseases and will offer a hand washing challenge station with Glo-germ tools. Students will also be able to test their knowledge of zoonotic diseases and take home a prize for participating.

Manure – Diane Schivera of MOFGA will discuss its origins and use.

Wild Blueberries - Wild blueberry Specialist Dr. David Yarborough will talk about why wild blueberries just grow in Maine and Maritime Canada and why they are the best type of blueberry in the world!

More information can be obtained on the web at: http://www.northeastlivestockexpo.com/

Land for Maine’s Future Board Issues Call for New Proposals

May 26, 2017

For more information contact: Sarah Demers at 207-287-7576

AUGUSTA - The Land for Maine’s Future Board announces a Call for Proposals for land conservation projects, with approximately $4.25 million in Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) funds available for new projects.

Projects will be funded in the following categories: - Conservation and recreational lands - Farmland protection - Public access to Maine Waters, for boating, fishing and swimming

Proposals that seek to protect Deer Wintering Areas will receive priority consideration in scoring. These are habitat areas that provide shelter and food for white-tailed deer during months of severe cold and deep snow. This new emphasis on deer habitat originated in the statute which authorized the bond funds approved by voters in 2012.

At its May 16 meeting, the Board adopted guidelines for this funding round. Applicants are encouraged to read the “Proposal Workbook,” which provides detailed instructions on program requirements, proposal submission and the scoring and evaluation process. The revised 2017 Workbook is posted on the LMF website at http://www.maine.gov/dacf/lmf/index.shtml

Proposals will be accepted by the LMF program until 5:00 PM, September 1, 2017.

Eligible applicants include cities, towns and counties, state agencies and non-profit land conservation organizations. All proposals must be sponsored by one of the following state agencies: Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife or Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

The LMF program works with citizens, land trusts, businesses, municipalities, nonprofit organizations, and federal and state agencies to identify special lands to accomplish the State's goals for resource conservation and protection of working forests, farms and waterfronts. The program is administered by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and is supported by bonds approved by Maine voters.

For information contact: Sarah Demers, Director, Land for Maine’s Future Program, sarah.demers@maine.gov, 207-287-7576

Free State Park Admission for Maine Residents

June 12, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

The annual event coincides with Father’s Day!

AUGUSTA – Maine State Parks and Historic Sites will treat Maine residents to a free day-use admission on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 18. The annual event is to encourage Maine residents to visit Maine State Parks and Historic Sites and to thank them for their continued support.

“I encourage Maine residents to visit many of our State Parks and Historic Sites for free this Sunday, June 18,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Maine State Parks attracted a record 2.87 million visitors in 2016, breaking the annual attendance record set in 2015. They continue to provide year-round opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends.”

DACF Bureau of Parks and Lands Acting Director of Operations, Ron Hunt, encouraged Maine residents and visitors alike to explore the many offerings provided by Maine State Parks. “Each of our state parks and historic sites has programs suited for all ages and cover a wide range of outdoor interests. Many are using our Maine State Park Passport program as an incentive to visit all the parks, and our Geocaching feature continues to be very popular,” said Hunt.

Free Maine Resident's Day at Maine State Parks and Historic Sites:

Date: June 18, 2017 Time: 9:00 AM Location: All parks except noted exceptions* Free park entry for all Maine Residents! All vehicles bearing Maine license plates will be allowed free entry to Maine State Parks and Historic Sites; From 9:00 A.M. until Closing. No rain date will be available.

State Park: Androscoggin Riverlands, Aroostook, Birch Point, Bradbury Mountain, Camden Hills, Cobscook Bay, Colburn House, Colonial Pemaquid, Crescent Beach, Damariscotta Lake, Eagle Island, Ferry Beach, Fort Edgecomb, Fort Kent, Fort Knox, Fort McClary, Fort Point, Fort Popham, Fort Pownall, Fort O'Brien, Grafton Notch, Holbrook Island, Lamoine, Lake St George, Lily Bay, Moose Point, Mt Blue, Owls Head Light, Peaks-Kenny, Popham Beach, Quoddy Head, Range Pond, Rangeley Lake, Reid, Roque Bluffs, Two Lights, Sebago Lake, Shackford Head, Swan Lake, Vaughan Woods, Warren Island, Wolfe's Neck Woods

*The open admission does not apply to Acadia National Park, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Baxter State Park, Peacock Beach, Scarborough Beach State Park, Swan Island, the ME Wildlife Park, the Penobscot River Corridor, or the Penobscot Narrows Observatory in Prospect, though admission to Fort Knox State Historic Site will be free that day.

For more information about Maine State Parks and Historic Sites, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: www.maine.gov/dacf

Maine Forest Service concerned about holiday fire safety

June 21, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott, Kent Nelson at 207-287-3156, 207-287-4989

Cautions towns and residents about danger and liability associated with burn permits issued by privately owned entities

AUGUSTA – The Maine Forest Service is cautioning towns and residents against using third-party, non-sanctioned online burn permit systems after at least two fires occurred this spring. The fires likely would not have resulted if the officially sanctioned state online burn permit system had been used instead of that of a third party.

On June 8, about eighty letters were mailed out to Town Managers and Fire Chiefs that use privately based online burn permit systems. It requested that each community “immediately discontinue its use of these (privately owned electronic burn permit) systems.” Most have already complied and are utilizing the official state system (www.maineburnpermit.com) that has been in place since 2005, issuing over 88,000 online burn permits.

Initially, most towns adhered to the letter and stopped using the privately owned online burn permit systems. This week, some of the subscribers to the privately owned online burn permit systems have allowed burn permits to be issued. With the 4th of July Holiday weekend approaching, the Maine Forest Service is concerned about escaped brush pile fires and the use of illegal burn permits. In the past, there have been a lot of wildfires during the 4th of July weekend.

State fire safety officials have learned that at least one system has continued to issue permits despite the notification that their system is not legal under current Maine state law.

The Maine Forest Service issued the letter based on a recent review of the legality of the privately owned online burn permit systems by the State Attorney General’s Office. In short, the law only allows state owned online burn permit systems to be used. Maine towns and residents are warned not to use the illegal third-party systems because:

-There is a question about liability should a permit issued by a privately owned system result in an escaped wildfire that destroys property or causes injury and or death -A burn permit is a legal document required to be administered by the Maine Forest Service, who authorizes town fire wardens to issue permits based on local conditions -If the state system is not used, it is possible that the person with no background or training in fire safety may approve the permit

THE DANGER OF PRIVATE SYSTEMS:

Several brush pile burns issued through privately owned systems have escaped. The most recent fire occurred in the town of China on April 15, 2017, when an escaped fire burned a barn and an apartment. The fire also knocked down power lines in the area.

SEE: http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/04/15/fire-destroys-barn-apartment-in-china/

Another fire occurred when a person, using a privately owned online burn permit system, had the fire escape and burn one acre in Litchfield on April 14, 2016. That fire threatened two structures and resulted in a summons for the landowner. In both cases, the wildfires occurred because the permits through the privately owned online systems were issued during the day, which is when most escaped fires occur.

In 2012, careless issuing of permits through a private online system resulted in a wildfire in a town in central Maine. According to the Ranger, the Fire Chief “forgot to turn off the permit system” and allowed it to issue electronic burn permits on a class 3 (high fire danger) day in the fall. One of the fires escaped and the local Fire Dept. was called in to contain it. This would not have happened with the state system, because it automatically shuts down on a class three or higher day.

The Maine Forest Service online burn permit system does not allow burning until after 5pm, when the winds die down and the temperature drops. If these citizens used the state system, it is likely that the escaped fires would not have occurred. There are only two ways to obtain a valid permit in Maine. One is a paper permit provided to towns by the Maine Forest Service at no cost. The other is through an online system developed by the Director of the Maine Forest Service. Municipalities can adopt additional permits through ordinance, but the Maine Forest Service permit is still required. No other permit is authorized by statute and individuals burning without one of the two Maine Forest Service permits are in violation of Maine law and may be responsible to pay suppression costs should their fire escape.

It is proven to be a safe and convenient system and has greatly improved our fire prevention efforts. The system only allows burning on class 1 or 2 days after 5pm, when the risk of an escaped fire is lower. It should be noted that escaped brush piles are the leading cause of wildfires in Maine.

The Maine online burn permit system allows Forest Rangers and Town Fire Wardens monitor all permits issued via email or text messaging. In the event that fire conditions change, they also have the ability to shut the system down temporarily, block unauthorized users and increase the restrictions listed on the permit.

Although the permits cost $7.00 each, the permit is valid over a 48 hour period and $2.00 from every permit goes back to the town. The intension of the revenue sharing is to benefit the fire departments, but it is up to the town how the money is used.

Maine Forest Service concerned about holiday fire safety

June 21, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott, Kent Nelson at 207-287-3156, 207-287-4989

Cautions towns and residents about danger and liability associated with burn permits issued by privately owned entities

AUGUSTA – The Maine Forest Service is cautioning towns and residents against using third-party, non-sanctioned online burn permit systems after at least two fires occurred this spring. The fires likely would not have resulted if the officially sanctioned state online burn permit system had been used instead of that of a third party.

On June 8, about eighty letters were mailed out to Town Managers and Fire Chiefs that use privately based online burn permit systems. It requested that each community “immediately discontinue its use of these (privately owned electronic burn permit) systems.” Most have already complied and are utilizing the official state system (www.maineburnpermit.com) that has been in place since 2005, issuing over 88,000 online burn permits.

Initially, most towns adhered to the letter and stopped using the privately owned online burn permit systems. This week, some of the subscribers to the privately owned online burn permit systems have allowed burn permits to be issued. With the 4th of July Holiday weekend approaching, the Maine Forest Service is concerned about escaped brush pile fires and the use of illegal burn permits. In the past, there have been a lot of wildfires during the 4th of July weekend.

State fire safety officials have learned that at least one system has continued to issue permits despite the notification that their system is not legal under current Maine state law.

The Maine Forest Service issued the letter based on a recent review of the legality of the privately owned online burn permit systems by the State Attorney General’s Office. In short, the law only allows state owned online burn permit systems to be used. Maine towns and residents are warned not to use the illegal third-party systems because:

-There is a question about liability should a permit issued by a privately owned system result in an escaped wildfire that destroys property or causes injury and or death -A burn permit is a legal document required to be administered by the Maine Forest Service, who authorizes town fire wardens to issue permits based on local conditions -If the state system is not used, it is possible that the person with no background or training in fire safety may approve the permit

THE DANGER OF PRIVATE SYSTEMS:

Several brush pile burns issued through privately owned systems have escaped. The most recent fire occurred in the town of China on April 15, 2017, when an escaped fire burned a barn and an apartment. The fire also knocked down power lines in the area.

SEE: http://www.centralmaine.com/2017/04/15/fire-destroys-barn-apartment-in-china/

Another fire occurred when a person, using a privately owned online burn permit system, had the fire escape and burn one acre in Litchfield on April 14, 2016. That fire threatened two structures and resulted in a summons for the landowner. In both cases, the wildfires occurred because the permits through the privately owned online systems were issued during the day, which is when most escaped fires occur.

In 2012, careless issuing of permits through a private online system resulted in a wildfire in a town in central Maine. According to the Ranger, the Fire Chief “forgot to turn off the permit system” and allowed it to issue electronic burn permits on a class 3 (high fire danger) day in the fall. One of the fires escaped and the local Fire Dept. was called in to contain it. This would not have happened with the state system, because it automatically shuts down on a class three or higher day.

The Maine Forest Service online burn permit system does not allow burning until after 5pm, when the winds die down and the temperature drops. If these citizens used the state system, it is likely that the escaped fires would not have occurred. There are only two ways to obtain a valid permit in Maine. One is a paper permit provided to towns by the Maine Forest Service at no cost. The other is through an online system developed by the Director of the Maine Forest Service. Municipalities can adopt additional permits through ordinance, but the Maine Forest Service permit is still required. No other permit is authorized by statute and individuals burning without one of the two Maine Forest Service permits are in violation of Maine law and may be responsible to pay suppression costs should their fire escape.

It is proven to be a safe and convenient system and has greatly improved our fire prevention efforts. The system only allows burning on class 1 or 2 days after 5pm, when the risk of an escaped fire is lower. It should be noted that escaped brush piles are the leading cause of wildfires in Maine.

The Maine online burn permit system allows Forest Rangers and Town Fire Wardens monitor all permits issued via email or text messaging. In the event that fire conditions change, they also have the ability to shut the system down temporarily, block unauthorized users and increase the restrictions listed on the permit.

Although the permits cost $7.00 each, the permit is valid over a 48 hour period and $2.00 from every permit goes back to the town. The intension of the revenue sharing is to benefit the fire departments, but it is up to the town how the money is used.

Maine State Parks report strong attendance during July holiday week!

July 6, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Initial reports: increased attendance over last year, despite a government shutdown

AUGUSTA – Maine State Parks are reporting that there was strong attendance during the first four days of July 2017 at Reid, Range Pond and Crescent Beach State Parks. When the figures for all Maine state parks are finalized, it is believed that they will exceed the number of visitors during a similar period in July 2016.

Governor Paul R. LePage, who kept Maine State Parks and historic sites open during the recent government shutdown, was quick to praise state employees for their efforts to ensure that visitors enjoyed the parks, incident –free, during the Independence Day holiday.

“I wish to publicly thank Maine state employees, in this case Bureau of Parks and Lands employees, for their service and professionalism in the face of a difficult situation,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Amidst a government shutdown, during one of the busiest times of the year, they safely handled more visitors than last year. Their efforts are a testament to the commitment, dedication and talents of Maine State employees. Because of them, the holiday vacation plans and public safety of Maine residents and out-of-state guests were not compromised.”

PARTIAL JULY 1-4 ATTENDANCE NUMBERS:

REID STATE PARK 2016 - 6,843 2017 - 6,987

RANGE POND STATE PARK 2016 - 5,870 2017 - 7,318

CRESCENT BEACH STATE PARK 2016 - 7,298 2017 - 7,886

Maine Open Farm Day is July 23!

July 13, 2017

For more information contact: Samantha Howard, John Bott at 207-287-7620, 207-287-3156

Participating farms will open their gates to the public

AUGUSTA – Over 80 Maine farms will be open to the public on Sunday, July 23, for the 28th annual Open Farm Day. Open Farm Day is an opportunity for consumers to learn about Maine food producers and for farms to show the public their products. Participating farms are generally open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"This is an exciting time for Maine-made products and Maine agriculture,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Maine’s 8,200 farm operations provide wholesome foods, thousands of jobs and over $740 million in farm receipts, not including direct sales at farms or farmers markets. The recent success of Maine farms, as well as the hard work that produces locally-grown food, can be experienced firsthand on Open Farm Day.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb urged families to visit local farms on Open Farm Day. “Maine farm families have a history of agricultural productivity and provide a rich diversity of agricultural crops not seen on a commercial scale in the rest of New England,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Our state is notable for the number of farms, new farmers, artisanal cheesemakers and its support for farmers markets and agricultural fairs.”

Open Farm Day is an annual family event that connects consumers with the men and women who help produce their food. Farms throughout Maine will open their gates to offer the public an opportunity to learn about the business of agriculture. Many farms will have demonstrations, displays, animals, crops and farm-raised products for sale.

Activities may include: barn and field tours, milking, hay rides, nature trails, beautiful scenery, samples for tasting, refreshments and animals to view.

For more details on participating farms visit:

http://www.getrealmaine.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/calendar.detail/event_id/318/index.htm

Meeting for Public Comment on Management and Opportunities on Public Lands in the St. John-Allagash Region

August 9, 2017

For more information contact: Jim Vogel at 207-287-2163

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Bureau of Parks and Lands is seeking comments on management of Public Lands in the St. John-Allagash Region.

The Bureau is holding a Public Scoping Meeting for the upcoming St. John-Allagash Region Management Plan. This plan will guide the Bureau’s management of public lands in this region—which includes Gero Island, Telos, Chamberlain Lake, and Round Pond Public Reserved Lands, as well as several smaller Public Lots, most near the Town of Allagash. All of these lands are managed for multiple uses including recreation, wildlife habitat, scenic and natural areas and timber production.

Public scoping meeting:

Wednesday, August 30 6:00-8:00 p.m. Bureau of Parks and Lands Northern Region Office 45 Radar Road, Ashland

The upcoming scoping meeting is the first of two public meetings that will be held on the St. John-Allagash Region Management Plan. At this meeting we will be asking the audience: What is working well on these public lands? What concerns and issues should be addressed in the Plan? What vision should guide management of these lands over the next 15 years? The Bureau will work with the St. John-Allagash Region Plan Advisory Committee to develop a draft Plan. Once a final draft of the St. John-Allagash Plan is written, a public meeting will be held to receive comments, sometime in the spring or early summer of 2018.

Bureau Properties Included in the Public Management Plan Effort

  • The 22,760-acre Telos Public Reserved Lands Unit is at the south end of Chamberlain Lake and adjacent to Baxter State Park. Several campsites are located near wild brook trout ponds on the Unit.
  • The 3,175 acre Gero Island Ecological Reserve comprises most of the Gero Island Unit, along with more than 700 acres surrounding Chesuncook Village. Several boat access campsites (part of the Penobscot River Corridor) are on the island.
  • The 10,300-acre Chamberlain Unit is divided among eight separate parcels on Chamberlain, Eagle and Allagash Lakes. This Unit includes the 2,890-acre Chamberlain Lake Ecological Reserve, between Chamberlain and Eagle Lakes, crossed by the historic Eagle Lake tramway and close to the famous Eagle Lake locomotives.
  • The 20,800-acre Round Pond Unit surrounds the Allagash River about 25 miles downstream of Churchill Lake and dam. The Plan area also includes seven smaller public lots up to 1,000 acres in size, most located within a few miles of the Town of Allagash. Most of these public lands are adjacent to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, managed by the Bureau under a Plan adopted in 2012. The properties in the Plan region serve important roles for hunting and fishing opportunities as well as motorized trail networks and destinations.

To see the webpage for the St. John-Allagash Region Management Plan, go to http://www.maine.gov/dacf/stjohn-allagash. You will find the current management plans for the Gero Island, Telos and Round Pond Public Lands and information on the Eagle Lake and Gero Island Ecological Reserves. The page will be updated throughout the planning process with draft plans and meeting minutes.

For more information about this meeting or to be added to the mailing list for the plan, please contact:

Jim Vogel Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands 22 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333 Jim.Vogel@maine.gov 207-287-2163

Mainers Urged to Sign Up for Free Disposal of Unusable Pesticides

September 1, 2017

For more information contact: Cam Lay at 207-287-2731

AUGUSTA— This October, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) will team up with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to help Mainers dispose of unusable and waste pesticides. The Obsolete Pesticides Collection Program, jointly sponsored by the BPC and DEP, and funded through pesticide product registration fees, has kept more than 99 tons of pesticides out of the waste stream since its start in 1982.

This free annual program is open to homeowners, family-owned farms and greenhouses. Collections will occur at four sites: Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta, and Portland. Participants must pre-register by September 29, 2017. Drop-ins are not permitted. The collected chemicals will be taken to out-of-state disposal facilities licensed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency where they are incinerated or reprocessed.

Pesticides may become unusable due to age, freezing or evaporation, or because their legal registration changes. It is important to remember that the term “pesticides” includes not only insecticides, but also herbicides, fungicides and rodenticides. Past participants in the program have reported finding obsolete pesticides in barns of inherited properties, garages of newly purchased homes and other unexpected places.

Governor Paul R. LePage is urging Mainers to take advantage of this opportunity to protect the environment and save money through this once a year collection event that highlights cooperation between government agencies. “This is an opportunity for Mainers to dispose of unusable pesticides properly and at no expense,” said Governor LePage. “Through consolidated collections at four central locations and the use of in-house resources and expertise, disposal costs are reduced to about $2 per pound. That is a great value for Maine taxpayers lowers costs and helps protect the environment.”

DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb is encouraging Mainers to seize this free opportunity for pesticide disposal. “This program provides essential protection of the public, wildlife, and environment. Pesticides thrown in the trash or poured down the drain contaminate drinking water and cause environmental damage,” said Commissioner Whitcomb. “I urge people storing these products to contact the BPC and register as soon as possible for the October program.”

“Providing Maine residents with a free and easy solution to properly dispose of pesticides gives everyone an opportunity to make a positive impact on our environment and public health,” said Paul Mercer, DEP Commissioner.

To register, get details, and learn important information about the temporary storage and transportation of obsolete pesticides, go to the BPC Web site at thinkfirstspraylast.org, or call 207-287-2731.

  • For more information on the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, go to: thinkfirstspraylast.org .
  • For more information on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, go to: maine.gov/dep

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Important Note to the Media: Since pre-registration is required, please post any information from this release as soon as possible. This will allow adequate time for participants and the Board of Pesticides Control to process applications. Thank you for your help in getting the word out!

Support for Maine Specialty Crops!

October 13, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott, Jessica Nixon at 207-287-3156

Augusta – Agriculture Commissioner Walter Whitcomb announced that Maine is partnering with USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to invest $529,722.59 to support Maine Specialty Crop Producers. Funding will allow Maine to pursue 8 initiatives that will strengthen and enhance Maine specialty crops. Projects include: Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) assistance for farmers, landscape and nurseries marketing, the branding and quality of Maine maple products, and support for wild blueberry and potato growers.

"These investments strengthen many of Maine’s most important agricultural crops, defined by the federal government as specialty crops,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Selected projects benefit farmers and consumers by helping growers make food safety enhancements, solve research needs for better pest management, and make informed decisions that will increase the profitability and sustainability of Maine agriculture. These investments strengthen markets for Maine crops and help develop new economic opportunities.”

2017 Specialty Crop Block Grant Maine Project Profiles:

AgMatters, LLC - Assistance for Specialty Crop Growers Affected by F.S.M.A 2017-2018 - $29,120

Summary: AgMatters LLC will receive funding to provide Maine Specialty Crop Growers assistance as they prepare for the implementation of FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule. AgMatters LLC will inform growers of the requirements of the Rule and assist a minimum of 25 growers this final year of this grant, as they implement the food safety assurances required by the law. AgMatters LLC will take on the impartial role of tutors/supporters/advisors/advocates to Maine Specialty Crop growers and producers who will be affected by this law.

AgMatters, LLC - Food Safety Audit Preparation Assistance 2017-2018 - $29,120

Summary: AgMatters LLC will receive funding to provide Maine Specialty Crop growers assistance as they prepare for GAP/GHP (Good Agricultural/Good Handling) or Produce Harmonized audits during the 2017-2018 grant cycle. Success will be measured by grower’s evaluations indicating growth in understanding of fecal indicators and pathogens; increased safety knowledge of all inputs into the specialty crop chain; their increased understanding of the roles of humans, plants and animals as vectors of pathogens; and preharvest and postharvest process impacts on microbial and chemical threats to the safety of produce--basic food safety.

AgMatters LLC will speak at grower and other meetings to make growers aware of these services. AgMatters LLC will meet with at least 30 growers individually or in small groups, and offer training that makes growers aware of food safety issues, gives them suggestions for adaptation of the model to individual farms, and assists them in their creation of a Food Safety Plan for their farm as they prepare for their audits. AgMatters LLC is always available for follow up needs of farms.

Maine Landscape & Nursery Association - Fully-Integrated Marketing Campaign for Year-Round Support of Maine's Nursery and Landscape Specialty Crop Industry - $85,750

Summary: The Maine Landscape and Nursery Association (MELNA) received funding for a comprehensive, year-round marketing campaign to support Maine’s Nursery and Landscape Specialty Crop industry. The campaign will help launch two new initiatives: 1) A state-wide Public Relations awareness program that provides year-round support of MELNA and Maine’s horticulture industry across a range of strategic areas and 2) Support of MELNA leadership of, and participation in, a Maine school garden collaborative. These programs will be designed to build upon recent, successful MELNA marketing initiatives to increase consumer interest, awareness, and demand for Maine’s specialty crops, which include the Plant Something! Plant Maine! campaign and the brand new 2017 Maine Flower Show.

Maine Maple Producer's Association - Increasing and Branding Maine's Share of the Consumer Maple Market - $35,929.88

Summary: In order to expand the market for maple syrup products, the Maine Maple Producers Association will receive funding to execute a professionally designed marketing plan that will promote the growing state maple industry and increase retail sales by at least 10%. This will increase jobs, retail business opportunities and profitability of Maine’s maple economy. Professionally designed marketing plan components will establish a “Maine brand” and develop brand awareness in Maine’s target maple markets enabling Maine to compete successfully with other maple marketing states and provinces both regionally and nationally.

Maine Potato Board - Evaluating Alternative Crops in Potato Production System - $100,000

Summary: The Maine Potato Board has taken a lead role in researching and promoting alternative crops that can be grown in conjunction with potatoes with the goals of improving economic returns to the grower, providing options for growers to expand current crop rotation lengths, and directly and indirectly improving potato yields.

They will receive funding to build on the results from the previously funded two-year Specialty Crop Block Grant “Improving Maine Potato Yields through Increased Rotation Lengths and Improved Rotation Crop Profitability” in an effort to develop an informational resource for growers interested in diversifying their cropping systems. This project will continue to experiment and evaluate novel cropping systems, marketing options for alternative crops, and quantify the effect these crops have on potato quality and quantity.

University of Maine System - Microbial safety and quality of Maine maple syrup: Influence of production and handling practices - $19,932

Summary: This partnership with the Maine Agricultural & Forest Experiment Station and University of Maine Cooperative Extension (divisions of the University of Maine System acting through the University of Maine) will receive funding to address microbial quality and safety of Maine maple syrup. This project will reduce product loss and evaluate risk of potential mycotoxin production due to fungal contamination by defining processing steps needed to inactivate fungal contaminants during production and packaging of syrup. It will also generate previously unavailable data regarding the fate of Listeria monocytogenes during syrup production and packaging that will assist producers with preparation of FDA food safety plans.

University of Maine System - Development of Advance Phosphorous Recommendations for Maine Potato Growers - $91,432

Summary: The University of Maine Cooperative Extension will receive funding to develop soil and climate based phosphorus (P) recommendations, to improve nutrient use efficiency and reduce grower’s input cost with environmental issues as well e.g. eutrophication of lakes and rivers due to P pollution. Objectives of this study are to create robust grower specific P recommendations, with multiple sites that will include varied soil textures, soil moisture, and weather conditions. Yield, quality, soil moisture, weather data, P uptake, tissue sampling, and soil physical, chemical, and biological data will be used for this study. A ground-based active optical (GBAO) sensor will be used to monitor plant health, and adjust fertilizer application, which may help in developing yield prediction models. There will be significant outcomes from this study. An online mobile application will be prepared where growers will be able to access required P rates for his field using maximum yield potential, soil type, and closest weather station. It will help in managing P variably, which will benefit in reducing its application rates. Since recommendations will be economical using potato size, and other quality parameters, growers will be able to decide whether additional P application will improve their revenue.

University of Maine System - Optimizing inputs for wild blueberry weed and disease integrated management (IPM) - $99,200

Summary: The Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine (WBC) in collaboration with the University of Maine will receive funding for determining Optimizing inputs for wild blueberry weed and disease integrated management (IPM) for Maine’s 510 wild blueberry growers with 44,000 acres of commercial production. Wild Blueberry growers have consistently ranked controlling weeds and diseases as two of their top concerns for sustaining crop production and yield. If funded, this project will continue to: 1) evaluate herbicides and identify the best material and timings that will provide the most cost effective control of weed species, 2) evaluate fungicides and timings to control mummy berry and leaf spots to provide the most cost effective control of these diseases. This program will also educate growers on how to manage diseases and weeds by rotating or combining pesticides to provide the most cost effective controls to prevent yield reductions. Growers will be surveyed at educational sessions to determine understanding and adoption of the disease and weed management strategies evaluated in this program.

Since 2006, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which is administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), has awarded over $4.5 million dollars through the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry as funds that go directly to support the growing number of Maine specialty crop producers who are selling into local and regional markets.

Additon information is available at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp

Governor LePage urges support for Hunters for the Hungry Program

October 25, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Deer season begins Monday and donations provide meat to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and households across the state

AUGUSTA – With the 2017 hunting season underway, Governor Paul R. LePage is again urging Maine hunters to consider supporting the Hunters for the Hungry Program by donating all or part of their harvest to feed families in need. The popular program provides a means for Maine hunters, as well as hunters from other states, to donate harvested game to food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelter.

“The Hunters for the Hungry Program is an opportunity for hunters to help families in need while participating in a traditional Maine outdoor sport,” said Governor LePage. “Donations provide meat to food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. This effort is successful because of the dedication and generosity of Maine hunters and their support of organizations working to end hunger in Maine.”

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted that since its establishment in 1996, the Hunters for the Hungry Program has provided thousands of nutritious meals to people across the state.

“Since 1996, Maine sportsmen and women have contributed to a program that provides nutritious meals to people across Maine,” said Whitcomb. “The Hunters for the Hungry Program puts high quality, native protein on the tables of Maine families.”

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry distributes many types of donations to food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. The Hunters for the Hungry Program is part of the Department’s Emergency Food Assistance Program. It is done in cooperation with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s wardens, Maine State Troopers and hunters, all working towards a common goal of helping fellow Mainers.

The program accepts bear, deer and moose donations. Road kill donations are also accepted, provided the meat is not damaged. Hunters do not pay for the processing of donated meat. Meat processing costs are paid for by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry or the charity that receives the food. Hunters choosing to keep their game can still donate a few pounds to the program. Meat processors that are interested in getting involved with the program and learning how it works should call 207-287-7513.

For more information, to donate, or to get connected to a Hunters for the Hungry participating meat processor call 207-287-7513. The program also has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MaineHuntersForTheHungry/

For more information about The Emergency Food Assistance Program:

http://www.maine.gov/dacf/ard/tefap/index.shtml

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

New species of wasp found in Maine

November 16, 2017

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Discovered in search for the winter moth

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Forest Service announced that a new species of wasp has been found in Maine. Hillary Morin Peterson of Brunswick Maine discovered a new species of Pteromalidae wasp while conducting her thesis work in collaboration with the Maine Forest Service. The new discovery is detailed in a recently published paper.

Hillary named the wasp after the motto of her home state of Maine, Ormocerus dirigoius Morin & Gates. Hillary was born and raised in Maine, before attending and graduating from the University of Maine. In addition to supporting her thesis work, the Maine Forest Service also supported her continued research at the Smithsonian. She is now a graduate student in the Department of Entomology at Penn State University.

Ormocerus dirigoius

Ormocerus dirigoius, the new species of wasp (pictured), is about 2.7 mm long (the size of a grain of rice). These tiny, non-stinging wasps actually have nothing to do with winter moth but were swept up as by-catch. They are in a genus that are believed to be either parasitoids of gall inducing cynipid wasps or inqulines (that kill the gall inducers by outcompeting them for the gall tissue that they eat). Little is known about the biology of O. dirigoius, although it may be associated with galls on red oak trees. The specimens were all collected in oak dominated forest stands and four specimens were collected from beatings of oak trees.

Hillary’s senior honors thesis was on research into the relationship between predatory and parasitoid Hymenoptera (wasps) and the invasive winter moth species (Operophtera brumata) inside and outside of the infestation area in Harpswell, Maine. In order to learn more about identifying wasps, Hillary attended the Hymenoptera Blitz at Acadia National Park in 2015 with financial support from the Maine Entomological Society and carpooled to the Blitz with Dr. Robert Kula. Hillary continued identifying the Hymenoptera after she graduated and was able to secure an internship in Dr. Kula’s lab, where she met and also collaborated with Dr. Michael Gates at the Smithsonian to further her work.

H. D. Morin, Mikó, I. and Gates, M. October 2017. A New Species of Ormocerus Walker (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) from North America and a Range Expansion for Ormocerus latus Walker. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 119(4):619-628.

Contact: Hillary Morin Peterson, (207) 841-0581 Charlene Donahue, (207) 287-3244

Supporting documents

Ormocerus dirigoius

Moths in Snow, let the Maine Forest Service Know!

November 27, 2017

For more information contact: Charlene Donahue at 207-287-2431

Parasitic flies to be released as biocontrol, public assistance sought, to control invasive winter moth

SOUTH PORTLAND - Entomologists at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Forest Service (MFS) are gearing up for winter moth with two initiatives. On Wednesday, November 29th they will be setting out parasitic flies (Cyzenis albicans) in South Portland as part of a biocontrol project to control the invasive winter moth (Operophtera brumata). The MFS is also encouraging the public to report winter moth sightings through an online survey: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/wintermothsurvey

WHAT: Setting out parasitic flies as part of a biocontrol project to combat winter moth The flies are currently in cocoons for the winter and will be set out in a cage buried in the ground until spring. In early May when the flies start to emerge the cage will be opened to release them to go to work on the winter moth.

WHEN: 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, November 29

WHERE: 380 Highland Avenue, South Portland

Part of a larger release program

Wednesday’s scheduled release is part of a larger release program, undertaken in conjunction with the University of Massachusetts, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service to control the winter moth across New England. Flies have been released in five other locations in south coastal Maine starting in 2013 and are starting to become established in Kittery and Cape Elizabeth. In many location in Massachusetts, where the flies have been released since 2005, the parasitoid numbers have increased to the point where they are having an impact on the winter moth population.

Concurrently, the Maine Forest Service is again seeking public assistance in tracking where winter moth adult males are showing up in large numbers. This can be achieved using a simple on-line survey. The information will be used to better understand the locations and size of the winter moth population in Maine. Adults are active from late November to January whenever the temperature is above freezing and they are strongly attracted to light. Males are small, light brown to tan moths. They are attracted to lights and to a chemical released by the females. Adult females are small, gray and look like a mosquito wearing a fur coat. They have reduced wings and are flightless. Females are most commonly found crawling on the trunks of trees.

Public Encouraged to help track winter moth

The survey can be accessed online at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/wintermothsurvey. Reports of moth flights can also be made by phone at (207) 287-2431.

Winter moth (Operophtera brumata) & parasitic flies (Cyzenis albicans)

Both the winter moth and their parasites are originally from Europe. Winter moth defoliation was first recorded in Maine in 2012 and now the moths have been detected from Kittery to Mount Desert Island. The larvae (caterpillars) of winter moth feed on the leaves deciduous trees and shrubs such as oaks, maples, apples and blueberries, in early spring. Heavy defoliation for several consecutive years leads to branch dieback and tree mortality. Winter moth defoliation has contributed to tens of thousands of acres of oak mortality in Massachusetts and now there is oak mortality in Cape Elizabeth.

The parasitic flies only attack winter moth and the adult flies are around for just a few weeks in May making it a good biocontrol agent. They have been successfully used as a control strategy in Nova Scotia, parts of western Canada and the US as well in southern New England.

Supporting documents

Winter moth adult

Latest Round of Coastal Community Planning Grants Awarded

December 12, 2017

For more information contact: Ruta Dzenis at (207) 287-2851

The Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry (DACF) announces the award of nearly $167,000 through its Coastal Community Grant Program for six projects located throughout coastal Maine. This year’s grants, awarded and administered by DACF’s Municipal Planning Assistance Program, will support the coastal economy by providing planning assistance for projects that will prevent flood damage to municipal infrastructure, restore fisheries habitat, protect natural-resource-based tourism and increase the climate resiliency of coastal downtowns.

The grants are made possible by the Maine Coastal Program, Department of Marine Resources (DMR), which provides funding through Maine’s federal coastal zone management award from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Each project involves regional or local-level partnerships and each grantee provides a minimum of 25% in matching funds or services.

The Coastal Community Grants are an important element of the Municipal Planning Assistance Program’s mission to improve economic conditions by providing technical and financial assistance to Maine municipalities. This is the 8th round of Coastal Community Grants, which since 2012, have provided over $1.46 million for 62 projects throughout coastal Maine. More information on previously-funded projects can be found on the Municipal Planning Assistance Program's Financial Assistance page.

This year, the following grants have been awarded:

West Harbor Pond Water Quality Restoration Project Town of Boothbay Harbor ($12,400)

The Town, working with the West Harbor Pond Watershed Association and other cooperating agencies and organizations will design a replacement for the siphon that, for over 120 years, protected the water quality of West Harbor Pond. With the siphon’s failure in 2008, salt water seeping through the dam and entering the pond at extreme high tide is no longer being removed, resulting significant adverse impact on aquatic life. With the replacement of the siphon, evacuation of the salt water will resume, the pond’s water quality will be restored, and the adverse impact on its valuable aquatic habitat will be reversed.

Cape Elizabeth Culvert and Habitat Impact Assessment Town of Cape Elizabeth ($20,500)

The Town will survey the condition of its 20 most significant culverts, and conduct at detailed assessment of three major Spurwink Marsh road crossings. The assessment will evaluate current conditions and the environmental impacts of several possible infrastructure changes designed to increase climate resiliency. The project will build on the Maine Coastal Program-funded 2015 Cape Elizabeth Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment, prepared by the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG) with the assistance of Maine Geological Survey.

Preparation for Coastal Flooding in Harpswell: A Plan for Basin Point Road and its Wetlands Town of Harpswell ($20,000)

The Town, its consulting engineer, and the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership will develop a long-term plan for managing the potential impacts of coastal flooding due to sea level rise and storm surge on a portion of Basin Point Road. Options for managing the impact of increased salt water movement into a nearby pond and valuable wetlands will be developed, and the cost of measures to mitigate the impacts of coastal storms and flooding on the road, culverts and surrounding habitat will be addressed. This work will build on an earlier project conducted by Bowdoin College Environmental Studies students, the Maine Geological Survey and the Midcoast Council of Governments.

York River Watershed Analysis Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission ($15,000)

The Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission, in coordination with the York River Study Committee, will review existing municipal land-use ordinances within the York River watershed, conduct a watershed-wide build-out study, and recommend measures to protect various watershed resources. This work will contribute directly to the Study Committee’s development of a watershed management plan, which will be presented to each of the four towns in the watershed for possible local adoption.

Trout Brook Culvert Improvements Project City of South Portland ($54,805)

Over the past several years, the City has made considerable efforts to improve the water quality and aquatic habitat of Trout Brook. In 2012, these efforts included the development of the DEP-funded Trout Brook Watershed Management Plan. The City will now be able to begin implementation of a key recommendation of the plan: to enhance stream connectivity by improving or restoring fish passage at several culverts. This grant will fund a hydrologic and hydraulic study that will allow strategic culvert improvements to be made with assurance that no unintended flooding or erosion impacts will result.

Machias Waterfront Resilience and Renewal Town of Machias ($45,094)

The Town of Machias, working with the Washington County Council of Governments, will undertake three discrete yet related planning tasks: 1) a feasibility study which will identify conceptual designs and establish a plan to build flood protection along the existing seawall in downtown Machias; 2) an economic analysis of improving flood protection for downtown Machias; and 3) conceptual plans incorporating seawall improvements into the restoration of the historic wharf and river walk. Each task will explore ways to move downtown Machias towards greater climate resiliency, and taken together, provide a complementary approach to realizing a more sustainable and vibrant community.

Agricultural Trades Show to explore connections!

January 5, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

The 3-day event is free and open to the public

AUGUSTA—The 77th Annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show will be held Tuesday, January 9, through Thursday, January 11, 2018, at the Augusta Civic Center. Hosted by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), the show highlights Maine agriculture and the people involved through demonstrations, presentations and meetings of over 50 major agricultural organizations.

There will be over 125 exhibits featuring the newest in agricultural products, equipment and services. One of the state’s largest agricultural exhibitions, the event is expected to draw more than 5,000 people over the course of three days. Admission is free and open to the public.

Governor Paul R. LePage will be on hand Tuesday for the Trades Show opening day, to highlight the economic importance of agriculture to Maine and to join Commissioner Walt Whitcomb at the Commissioner’s Luncheon to publicly recognize this year’s recipient of the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award.

“This is an exciting time for Maine-made products and Maine agriculture,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Maine’s 8,200 farm operations provide wholesome foods, thousands of jobs and more than $740 million in farm receipts, not including direct sales at farms or farmers markets. Agricultural enterprises large and small are benefiting from the recent growth of Maine agriculture. Please join me in celebrating their efforts.”

“The 77th Maine Agricultural Trades Show expands the connection between new and seasoned Maine farmers and the everchanging marketplace,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “To grow Maine agricultural opportunities, the 3-day event will include (for the first time) the annual meeting of the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets and more extensive offerings in support of the Beginning Farmers Resource Network. There will be a lot to see at this year’s Trades Show, please join us on January 9, 10 and 11, 2018.”

Something for Everyone:

This year’s show features several new offerings for attendees in addition to a wide variety of presentations covering diverse topics of interest. New 2018 program highlights also include opportunities for growers, conventional and organic, to learn the latest developments in pest management and earn credits required for pesticide license recertification. The Maine Board of Pesticides Control will also be on hand to discuss basic safety training.

This three-day event has something for everyone, the farmer, non-farmer, hobbyist, educator or supplier. Attendees can walk through, observe and learn about how food is harvested and processed. Farmers and producers can see the most up-to-date farm equipment and processing methods and equipment.

Trades Show floor hours:

  • Tuesday, January 9, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, January 10, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, January 11, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The complete program and schedule are available at: http://www.getrealmaine.com/. It will also appear as a supplement in all of Maine’s major daily newspapers on Friday, January 5, 2018.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/dacf

Barry Higgins honored at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show

January 9, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at (207) 287-3156

AUGUSTA— Barry Higgins of Maple Lane Farms (Charleston, ME) received the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award today at the 77th Annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show Commissioner’s Luncheon. Governor Paul R. LePage joined Commissioner Walt Whitcomb to present them with the award in recognition of their many contributions to Maine agriculture. The annual award has been given since 2001.

Award inscription:

“Your leadership in defending the importance of food safety helped turn the tide of public policy. As a highly diversified agricultural enterprise, Maple Lane Farm is an outstanding example of a business that adjusts its focus to meet market demand.”

Maple Lane Farms:

Maple Lane Farms is a fourth-generation family farm and has been at the same location since 1935 when Stanley Higgins bought the farm. Today, the whole family is incorporated into the business. The farm has nearly 1600 acres in Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties, with 500 acres in Corn, 60 acres in barley and the rest in hay production. They keep about 400 head of dairy and beef cattle.

More information is available at: http://maplelanefarmsme.com/

Maine Agricultural Trades Show:

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show highlights Maine agriculture and the people involved through demonstrations, presentations and meetings of nearly 50 major agricultural organizations. There are over 125 exhibits featuring the newest in agricultural products, equipment and services. One of the state’s largest agricultural exhibitions, the event is expected to draw more than 5,000 people over the course of three days (January 9-11). Admission is free and open to the public.

This three-day event has something for everyone, the farmer, non-farmer, hobbyist, educator or supplier. Attendees can walk through, observe and learn about how food is harvested and processed. Farmers and producers can see the most up-to-date farm equipment and processing methods and equipment.

Remaining Trades Show floor hours:

  • Wednesday, January 10, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, January 11, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The complete program and schedule are available at: http://www.getrealmaine.com/

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Campground Reservations Open Feb. 1 for Sebago Lake State Park and Feb. 5 for all Maine State Park Campgrounds

January 26, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Bureau of Parks and Lands announced that campground reservations for the 2018 season will open for Sebago State Park on February 1 and for all state parks on February 5.

Reservation Details:

WHAT: State Park Campground Reservations to Open for Sebago Lake State Park

WHEN: 9:00 a.m., Thursday, February 1

WHERE: On line at http://www.campwithme.com

The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands' reservations system and call center will be open for Sebago Lake State Park campground reservations only on February 1 at 9:00 a.m. and for all state park campgrounds at 9:00 a.m. on February 5.

Online-reservation "start-days" once again are being split, with reservations being taken for the very popular Sebago Lake camp sites only starting on Thursday, February 1, to reduce wait times.

There will be no fee adjustments for campsites at the state park campgrounds this season.

Campers can make reservations at Maine State Park Campgrounds in four ways:

  1. Online at www.campwithme.com (24-7);
  2. By calling in state at 800-332-1501; or (out-of-state) 207-624-9950 (9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., on Business Days);
  3. By mailing reservations to: Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, Bureau of Parks and Lands, ATTN.: Reservations, 22 SHS, Augusta, ME 04333. Mailed Sebago Lake reservation requests must not be postmarked before Feb. 1, 2018; and, Feb 5, 2018 for all other parks.
  4. By dropping off completed reservation forms, which will be processed during business hours at the Augusta office. On Thursday, February 1, Sebago Lake reservations will be accepted for a four-night minimum stay only. This is done because Sebago tends to average longer stays than other campgrounds.

For more information and complete registration details, go to: www.campwithme.com

PLEASE NOTE: Group Camping Reservations and Group Picnic & Shelter Reservations open, for all parks, on Feb. 1, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. as well. Call the parks directly for either of these reservations. Online listings are provided below:

Group Camping Reservations http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/camping/group_camping.shtml

Group Picnic Areas & Shelter Reservations http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/camping/grouppicnicareas.shtml

Students to Participate in Maine State Park Passport Program, Visit All Maine State Parks in 2018

February 7, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA- Students from Mount View Middle School in Thorndike, Maine visited the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) to begin their quest to visit all Maine State Parks in 2018 as part of the Maine State Park Passport Program. Eleven seventh grade “cohorts” received official park passports and maps from Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. They plan to visit all Maine State Parks as part of the new “I Know ME” program sponsored by The Game Loft in Belfast.

“We are very pleased that these students will include Maine State Park Passports as part of their journey to visit all 16 counties and learn about what makes Maine special,” said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Their educational experience also includes learning Maine history, consuming locally grown foods and experiencing what it means to be an involved Maine citizen.”

“The I Know ME program focuses on learning about the state and learning about oneself,” said The Game Loft co-Director Ray Estabrook. “We believe that if you know who you are and you know where you are from, you can find where you are going. The I Know ME program has received generous funding from the Emmanuel and Pauline Lerner Foundation.”

“Maine residents have an amazing resource in our state park system,” said The Game Loft co-Director Patricia Estabrook. “As people who have visited all 48 state parks we believe that these treasures teach us about our heritage and enrich our lives. Everyone should consider participating in the state park passport program.”

The Park Passport Program – challenges participants to visit all 48 Maine State parks and Historic Sites, have a passport book stamped and earn prizes. It has been one of the most successful promotions that the DACF’s Bureau of Parks and Lands has initiated. Since the program’s inception in 2010, families, individuals, schools and tourists have contributed to over 200,000 park passports in circulation.

The booklet is a great resource to learn about Maine’s state parks and historic sites. Using the passport is fun and easy. Visit any Maine state park or historic site from May 15 through September. Find the brown passport station and unlock the padlock using the secret code (The combination is the park’s establishment date, you can find it on the passport page). Stamp your passport.

Passport holders receive an award for every 8 stamps they collect. The more stamps collected, the better the award. The passport program was expanded to include 8 geocache’s. There is one geocache at a state park in each of the 8 tourism regions. Passports can be obtained for $1 at all Maine State Parks.

Passport Program details are available at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/discoverhistoryexplorenature/activities/passportprogram.shtml

The Game Loft is an award winning 4-H out of school time program that for the past 20 years has been serving the educational, emotional, and social needs of youth in Waldo County. The Game Loft is a free program open to all youth, 50 weeks a year, between the ages of 6-18 who are in school or are home-schooled. Currently the program serves 200+ regularly attending members in Belfast and at Mount. View Middle School in Thorndike. The Game Loft’s primary program, offered to all participants, provides friends, food, and safety. Highly trained staff mentor youth and create a safe and welcoming atmosphere. A USDA-approved menu of lunch and snacks is provided daily.

I Know ME is a program of relationships and broadening horizons. The Game Loft will guide at least ten youth per year for the next six years in a program to learn about the state of Maine and to engage with Maine’s history, geography, economics, people, promise, and challenges. The young people in the program will be studying all facets of Maine through trips and other after-school adventures.

For information is available at: http://www.thegameloft.org/31-announcing-i-know-me#rt-head-anchor

Governor LePage Taps Tree to Promote Maine Maple Sunday!

March 20, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

The annual event is this weekend throughout Maine

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage tapped a maple tree on the Blaine House lawn in advance of this weekend’s annual Maine Maple Sunday™ on March 25, 2018. The annual event is held every fourth Sunday of March. Participating sugarhouses will be open for visitors to enjoy freshly made maple syrup and candy, demonstrations of syrup production, sugarbush tours and a variety of other family activities.

The Governor highlighted the economic contributions of Maine’s maple industry and new statistics from NASS, the statistical service of the USDA, showing continued growth.

"Maine’s maple industry is growing in output and importance," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "In 2017, Maine produced 709,000 gallons, 7.8 million pounds, up 5%. The number of taps also increased 2% to 1,890,000. Gallons (0.375) and pounds (4.125) per tap were also up 3% from 2016. Maine’s maple industry contributes an estimated $48.7 million to the Maine economy, including a direct contribution of $27.7 million and multiplier effects. The Maine maple industry generates jobs, business opportunities and locally-produced products valued by consumers.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb encouraged people to visit local sugarhouses this weekend. “Maine Maple Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to get outdoors and celebrate the arrival of spring,” said Whitcomb. “We’re hearing that the recent cold weather may extend this year’s season further into spring, making for a longer maple season.”

Maine Maple Statistics:

  • Maine’s industry has an annual statewide economic contribution, including multiplier effects, of an estimated $48.7 million in output, 805 full-and part-time jobs, and $25.1 million in labor income.
  • Maine has the third largest syrup industry in this country. Maine has the largest maple producing county in the country – Somerset County.
  • Maine has around 1.89 million taps.

Some sugarhouses will hold events on both Saturday and Sunday. For a list and map of participating sugarhouses, visit the Maine Maple Producers website: http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: www.maine.gov/dacf

Agricultural Development Grants Announced

April 13, 2018

For more information contact: Jessica Nixon, John Bott at (207) 287-3494, (207) 287-3156

Investments in Wild Blueberries, Vegetables and Organic Poultry Processing

LEGISLATURE’S HALL OF FLAGS – Commissioner Walt Whitcomb announced five (5) Agricultural Development Grant Program awards totaling $187,735 during Ag Day at the Maine Legislature. The projects address critical needs in the agricultural industry, Washington County in particular, for development of new markets and processing techniques for wild blueberries and organic poultry processing. They also include support for the creation of value-added vegetable products that can be marketed on a global scale.

“The investments being announced today support producers and processors of Maine wild blueberries; value-added vegetable products to compete in the global marketplace; and organic poultry processing in Washington County,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Maine’s reputation for quality, locally-grown products, combined with the resourcefulness of the Maine people, will help agriculture realize its full economic potential.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted Maine’s efforts to support farmers and producers through enhanced marketing, technical support and promotion of Maine agriculture locally, nationally and internationally.

“Selected projects address critical needs in the agricultural industry, Washington County in particular, for development of new markets and processing techniques for wild blueberries and organic poultry processing,” said Whitcomb. “They also include support for the creation of value-added vegetable products that can be marketed on a global scale. We congratulate the grantees and look forward to successful implementation of their projects.”

The selected projects were chosen by a review committee from thirty-five (35) qualified proposals submitted in response to a formal Request For Proposals (RFP). Of those proposals received and reviewed by a committee in a competitive review process, five (5) projects were selected.

FY18 Agricultural Development Grants

  • Blue Sky Produce (Scarborough) - $10,000 In order to help stimulate demand for frozen wild blueberries, Blue Sky Produce and 13 fresh-pack wild blueberry growers will conduct 40 educational demonstrations for fresh wild blueberries in retail stores in New York and New Jersey.

  • LaJoie Growers, LLC (Van Buren) - $50,000 LaJoie Growers will expand vegetable and dehydrating processing capabilities to produce a value-added dehydrated beet product that can be marketed on a global scale.

  • Tide Mill Organics (Edmunds Township) - $50,000 Tide Mill Organics will improve its organic poultry processing plant in Washington County to become a State-Inspected Processing Facility and to develop value-added products, such as ground turkey and chicken, poultry sausages, and pet food.

  • University of Maine (Orono) - $27,735 Dr. Jennifer Perry of the School of Food and Agriculture will conduct research to optimize aqueous washing procedures for wild blueberries growers and processors to ensure improved food safety.

  • Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine (Orono) - $50,000 The Wild Blueberry Commission will expand its marketing program to expand sales of frozen Wild Blueberries in the nation’s public schools.

Agricultural Development Grant Program

In 2014, the Legislature approved Department language that improved access to the Agricultural Development Fund. The Department identified the agricultural industry need for accelerating new market development, adoption of improved technology and promotion of agricultural products produced in Maine.

The Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry may allocate the grant funds among projects involving market research, market promotion, or a combination of those activities for the purpose of expanding existing markets and developing new markets for agricultural products produced in Maine; or for testing and demonstrating new technologies related to the production, storage or processing of State agricultural products. It is anticipated that another Agricultural Development Fund RFP will be released in the future.

Over 50 Events and 2,700 School Kids at to the Northeast Livestock Expo May 17!

May 14, 2018

For more information contact: Cindy Kilgore, John Bott at 207-215-4968, 207-287-3156

Largest Ever Kid’s Day – Over 2,700 K-6th graders participating!

WINDSOR – The 13th Northeast Livestock Expo (NELE) will take place May 17-20 in Windsor, Maine. A Maine AG in the Classroom transportation grant, funded by the colorful agricultural license plate, will bring 60 busloads of students from 30 schools as well as homeschoolers to take part in Kid’s Day (Thursday, May 17). Over 2,700 K-6 students will experience class that day at the Windsor Fairgrounds through more than 50 agricultural events put on by farmers and industry volunteers.

The public is welcome to all events, admission is free. Youth events and educational seminars will also take place on Saturday and Sunday.

“Many of Maine’s future agricultural leaders will be at NELE’s ‘Kid’s Day’ this year,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “More than 2,700 students will learn about Maine agriculture via a giant outdoor classroom, the Windsor Fairgrounds. This and other Maine agricultural events this summer and fall highlight the connection between local farms, local products and consumers.”

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the Expo’s educational component. “The NELE’s ‘Kid’s Day’ will give hundreds of Central Maine elementary students more than 50 educational ‘short courses’ located across 50 acres of the Windsor Fairgrounds,” said Whitcomb. “From bunnies to Smokey Bear, this huge outdoor classroom will feature dozens of live animals and many other memorable, hands-on educational experiences.”

This three-day livestock event will showcase beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits, poultry and many science-related activities.

More information can be obtained on the web at: http://www.northeastlivestockexpo.com/

Emerald Ash Borer Discovered in Maine

May 29, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at (207) 287-3156

State officials have been prepared for the destructive insect’s arrival

AUGUSTA – Officials at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) report that emerald ash borer (EAB) has been found in Maine. Despite an aggressive search for at least a decade, the destructive forest insect from Asia had not been detected in Maine previously. It has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in thirty-four states throughout the country. The estimated commercial (unprocessed) value of Maine ash trees is approximately $320 million.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials with the Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) have confirmed the identification of a pre-pupa found in Madawaska, Maine. The discovery was made by a joint DACF – U.S. Forest Service (USFS) team on May 22, 2018. The team had responded following the discovery of EAB in Edmundston, New Brunswick, just across the river from Madawaska.

Discovery Anticipated

The Maine DACF has long anticipated the arrival of EAB and the inevitable destruction that follows. Public outreach has been conducted for fifteen (15) years. Experts have long believed that the insect has been present Maine but undetected despite an aggressive effort to find it. Its discovery in Quebec, Vermont and New Hampshire further added to the growing concern.

Steps Taken To Locate EAB (EAB Surveillance in Maine)

  • Firewood awareness (2003–present)
  • Exotic Woodboring/Bark Beetle Survey (2004–2007, 2015)
  • Girdled Trap Tree Surveys (2007–present)
  • Purple Trap Surveys (2008–present)—4,668 traps
  • Hundreds of participating volunteers, looking for visual signs of EAB, including woodpecker feeding
  • Cerceris Biosurveillance (2008–present)
  • Forest Pest Outreach Trainings (2009–present)—Outreach, events, presentations
  • Nursery Visual Surveys (2015–present)—More than 30 nurseries
  • Green Funnel Trap (2016–present)
  • Conservation District outreach and trainings (2016–present)

Current Maine Response Status

State and federal officials are meeting to implement a statewide emergency-response plan. To determine the extent of the infestation, a multi-agency survey effort has been launched including personnel from the Maine DACF, APHIS and USFS.

As recently as April 26, officials conducted a multi-agency tabletop meeting to create an emergency plan for responding to EAB’s eventual discovery and implement a planned response. That is now underway.

Additional information will be released as more is learned from teams in the field and as data is processed.

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)

Emerald ash borer was first discovered in the Detroit, Michigan area in 2002, though it is believed to have arrived in the 1990s. The beetle is about one half an inch and metallic green. Its larva tunnels through the wood just under the bark of ash trees and can kill even healthy trees in three-to-five years. Hundreds of millions of trees across the country have been killed.

Ash trees comprise 4 percent of Maine’s hardwood forest and are also an important street tree. Emerald ash borer threatens all species of ash trees (except mountain ash) and could have significant ecological and economic impacts. There are no practical means to control EAB in forested areas, though pesticide treatments can protect individual trees.

Slowing the spread of EAB is crucial. An emerald ash borer generally moves only about one half-mile on its own in a year, but can move hundreds of miles in a single day within a piece of infested firewood.

Caution Regarding Firewood

Emerald ash borer is not the only threat to our forests that can move in the seemingly benign firewood brought to camp. Numerous other insects and diseases can also hitchhike in firewood. Spread the word: use local firewood. If you have friends or family planning to visit Maine, make sure they are aware of the state and federal rules that ban movement of untreated firewood (www.maine.gov/firewood). Sources of treated or local firewood can be found online at firewood scout http://firewoodscout.org/s/ME/.

More information about emerald ash borer is available at:

http://www.maine.gov/eab http://www.emeraldashborer.info/

New Dairy Improvement Fund Loan Program Announced

May 30, 2018

Investments in Maine Dairy Cow Farms and Enterprises

For more information, contact: Stephanie Gilbert, 207-287-7520 Anne Trenholm, 207-287-7620

AUGUSTA - The Dairy Improvement Fund (DIF) is a new revolving loan program to help Maine dairy farms and enterprises fund capital improvements to maintain and enhance the viability of their farms.

The DIF program will assist farms that are engaged in the commercial production of cow milk or cow milk products. It was developed by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) and is administered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). The program will operate in accordance with three core principles to:

  1. Provide financial support for sound business propositions
  2. Offer funds at reasonable rates and terms
  3. Partner with private sector equity

More about the program can be accessed on DACF's Dairy Improvement Fund webpage and at the FAME Dairy Improvement Fund webpage, which provides the Department's Eligibility Form and FAME's Loan Application.The DACF and FAME will host an informational meeting for all dairy farms interested in learning more about this investment opportunity.

INFORMATIONAL MEETING:

WHEN: Thursday, June 14, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

WHERE: Marquardt Building (Room 118), 32 Blossom Lane, Augusta.

WHO: Ron Dyer, Director of the Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources; Roxanne Broughton, Commercial Loan Officer at FAME.

WHAT: An overview of both the eligibility and application procedures will be provided, then prospective applicants can ask questions about the new program.

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Dairy producers should also be aware of a separate USDA program that is available to help dairy producers

USDA Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy)

The Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) is a voluntary risk management program for dairy producers authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill through Dec. 31, 2018. Significant changes to MPP-Dairy for the 2018 coverage year are further authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The MPP-Dairy offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

2018 Registration and Re-Enrollment Period

The registration and re-enrollment period for coverage year 2018 ends June 1, 2018. Dairy operations must make a new coverage election for 2018, even if you enrolled during the previous 2018 signup period. Coverage elections made for 2018 will be retroactive to January 1, 2018.

For more information, contact your local USDA service center. Or see https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/Dairy-MPP/index

Emerald Ash Borer Public Meeting

June 12, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

State Officials to seek public input in affected area on June 18

FRENCHVILLE - Officials from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's (DACF) Maine Forest Service (MFS) and Division of Animal and Plant Health will hold a public meeting in northern Aroostook County following discovery of emerald ash borer (EAB) in Madawaska and Frenchville.

The purpose of the public meeting is to provide information about the department's planned response to the detection of emerald ash borer; discuss the bureau's proposed emergency order to stop movement of ash from Frenchville and Madawaska; and receive feedback and input from the public.

WHEN: Monday, June 18, starting at 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Frenchville Community Center https://www.frenchville.org/services/community-center.html

WHAT: Members of the public in the affected area are encouraged to provide feedback and suggestions prior to adoption of a Proposed Stop Movement Order for Frenchville and Madawaska.

FUTURE MEETINGS: Will cover the biology of the insect, implications for forest health and management and potential impacts to cities and towns.

Discovery of EAB will change how ash is allowed to move

The emerald ash borer (EAB) was recently discovered in Madawaska, less than 200 yards from the Frenchville town line. This is the first detection of EAB in Maine. Because EAB attacks and kills all species of ash (except mountain ash), it presents a serious threat to Maine's forest and shade trees. It is also a federally and internationally quarantined pest, which further adds priority to Maine's response.

As a first step the MFS is proposing to place a temporary, emergency "stop movement" order on all live ash, ash logs and pulpwood and on all untreated firewood from Madawaska and Frenchville, Aroostook County.

This emergency order is a temporary, stop-gap measure to address the immediate threat of inadvertent movement of EAB while the DACF and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) negotiate the size and conditions of a formal state/federal quarantine.

Ag officials pleased FDA is reconsidering 'added sugar' label on maple syrup and honey

June 21, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

DACF part of a large chorus of Maine people and consumers seeking common sense

AUGUSTA - Officials at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) are pleased by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) decision to reconsider its “added sugar†label on maple syrup and honey. The DACF previously joined many agricultural producers to express concerns in a letter to the FDA stating, among other things, that usage of an “added sugars†label will likely lead consumers to believe that Maine maple syrup and honey are not pure, natural products.

"We are pleased that FDA is reconsidering their guidance on the 'added sugar' label," said DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. "Response to the 'added sugar' warning from Maine's agricultural community has been overwhelmingly negative. The label is both confusing, misleading and inappropriate for a healthy, natural product. We are hopeful that now that the FDA knows better, it will do better."

According to the DACF's Comment Letter, that maple syrup and honey are significant Maine agricultural commodities that are experiencing a recent growth in sales as consumers seek new, unadulterated sweeteners.

Supporting documents

DACF Comment Letter

Ag officials pleased FDA is reconsidering 'added sugar' label on maple syrup and honey

June 20, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

DACF part of a large chorus of Maine people and consumers seeking common sense

AUGUSTA - Officials at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) are pleased by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) decision to reconsider its “added sugar†label on maple syrup and honey. The DACF previously joined many agricultural producers to express concerns in a letter to the FDA stating, among other things, that usage of an “added sugars†label will likely lead consumers to believe that Maine maple syrup and honey are not pure, natural products.

"We are pleased that FDA is reconsidering their guidance on the 'added sugar' label," said DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. "Response to the 'added sugar' warning from Maine's agricultural community has been overwhelmingly negative. The label is both confusing, misleading and inappropriate for a healthy, natural product. We are hopeful that now that the FDA knows better, it will do better."

According to the DACF's Comment Letter, that maple syrup and honey are significant Maine agricultural commodities that are experiencing a recent growth in sales as consumers seek new, unadulterated sweeteners.

Supporting documents

DACF Comment Letter

Warning: browntail moth cocoons are full of the caterpillars' toxic hairs!

June 21, 2018

For more information contact: Forest Health and Monitoring at (207) 827-1813

Browntail moth--an invasive species whose caterpillars have toxic, irritating hairs-is found at varying population densities over more than 6500 square miles of Maine (see map). It is a pest that has hunkered down in the Midcoast and Casco Bay area for years, and has recently expanded its footprint.

People looking to reduce browntail moth populations may look at the cocoons as an opportunity for reduction. However, you will have limited impact through cleaning cocoons. Safer, more effective control will be had through targeting larvae, either in overwintering webs (put a reminder in your calendar now to look for those structures at the tips of host branches around your property this fall and winter!) or as they feed on host leaves in early spring.

You may still want to remove the cocoons to limit potential for exposure to the toxic hairs they contain. However, do this with extreme caution. Cocoons are full of the hairs THAT CAN CAUSE A RASH or worse. If you plan to remove cocoons:

  • Wear protective clothing (in addition to long sleeves, pants, socks, socks, shoes, gloves, mask and glasses, consider protective coveralls)
  • Wet down cocoons before removing them
  • Scrape cocoons and drop them in soapy water, let them soak overnight then dispose of them

Even if you don't plan to remove cocoons, become familiar with their appearance, and learn to avoid them or wear appropriate protective clothing during your outdoor activities that might bring you in contact with them.

Browntail moth caterpillars wander and form their cocoons anywhere. Favorite places include: Under the eaves of buildings or the undersides of anything (reports include vehicles, and even a baby stroller) and wrapped in the leaves of any plant.

Traveling within the cocoons on vehicles, outdoor equipment and other items (including firewood), is a very efficient means of spread for this moth. If you have plans to travel between the affected and unaffected areas over the next month, check your belongings closely for these cocoons. This winter, be on the lookout for the tell-tale webs in new places. These are the places where control will be most effective!

Emergency Order to Stop Movement of Ash Imminent - State Still Requesting Feedback

July 12, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's (DACF) Maine Forest Service is working on an Emergency Order to Stop Movement of Ash in response to the detection of emerald ash borer (EAB) in Frenchville and Madawaska in Aroostook County. The Emergency Order will be issued within the next two weeks, but additional feedback is welcomed and encouraged.

The Department held a public meeting in Frenchville on June 18 to provide information to the businesses, residents and towns immediately affected by the discovery of EAB in Maine. A letter to attendees and stakeholders summarizing what has occurred since the meeting has been issued.

The DACF has posted preliminary FAQs regarding the order on its emerald ash borer website.

Feedback can be provided through e-mail, phone or mail to:

  • Allison Kanoti, Acting State Entomologist, Maine Forest Service, allison.m.kanoti@maine.gov PO Box 415, Old Town ME, 04468, (207) 827-1813, or
  • Gary Fish, State Horticulturist, State Plant Regulatory Official, Plant Health, gary.fish@maine.gov, 28 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333

The Emergency Order will likely be issued by early August; feedback is sought by July 25th, 2018. Discussions of parallel state and federal quarantines are expected soon, perhaps after the Emergency Order is in place.

There will be additional and more formal periods for public input during the process of setting up federal quarantines.

Supporting documents

EAB Map

Maine Open Farm Day is July 22!

July 13, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott, Anne Trenholm at 207-287-3156, 207-287-7620

Choose your own adventure, explore participating Maine farms

AUGUSTA - Nearly 100 Maine farms invite the public to their farms for a free event Sunday, July 22. The 29th annual Open Farm Day is an informative 'choose your own adventure' experience to learn about Maine agriculture and farm products. Scheduled hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"This is an exciting time for Maine-made products and Maine agriculture," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "Maine's 8,200 farm operations provide wholesome foods, thousands of jobs and over $740 million in farm receipts, not including direct sales at farms or farmers markets. The successful practices of Maine farms, as well as our farmers' hard work to produce locally grown food, can be experienced firsthand on Open Farm Day."

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb urged families to visit local farms on Open Farm Day. "Maine farm families have a history of agricultural productivity and provide a rich diversity of agricultural crops not seen on a commercial scale in the rest of New England," said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. "Our state is notable for the number of farms, new farmers, artisan cheese makers and its support for farmers markets and agricultural fairs."

Open Farm Day is an annual family event that connects consumers with the men and women who produce Maine food, fiber, flower, forest and plants products. Farms throughout Maine invite the public to learn about the business of agriculture. Many farms will have demonstrations, displays, animals, crops and farm-raised products for sale.

Activities may include: barn and field tours, milking, hay rides, nature trails, beautiful scenery, samples for tasting, entertainment, refreshments and animals to view.

Choose your own adventure, learn, meet and explore Maine agriculture:

Tips for a good visit:

  • Stay comfy: wear and pack layers, and wear comfy shoes. Just like the rest of the days on a farm, the event happens rain or shine.
  • Bring a cooler and ice. You might find that farms are offering great products to purchase and enjoy at home. Keep the quality at its best by storing items in the cooler for the ride back home.
  • Please keep pets at home.
  • Please stick to designated visitor areas on farms.

Supporting documents

Open Farm Day 2018

Governor LePage Declares Resident Fee Holiday at Maine State Parks

August 9, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Day Use at State Parks Free for Maine Residents: August 11 through Labor Day 2018

AUGUSTA--Governor Paul R. LePage has signed a financial order granting Maine residents free day use of Maine State Parks and Historic Sites from Saturday, August 11 through Monday, September 3. This action is taken in recognition of public support for Maine State Parks after record-breaking attendance levels beginning in 2010. Some restrictions apply (see below), and park fees for Maine residents will be reinstated on Tuesday morning, September 4.

"Maine State Parks and Historic Sites have experienced record-breaking attendance in recent years," said Governor LePage. "Our park staff have worked very hard to enhance the visitor experience with new offerings, year-round events and educational programs for all ages. Public support has never been higher. This is our way of saying thank you to the Maine people. Please take this opportunity to visit a Maine State Park or Historic Site and make some memories with family and friends." Resident Fee Holiday Details

Maine residents will celebrate the last weeks of the summer with free day visits to Maine State Parks and Historic Sites* from Saturday, August 11 through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. "Day Use" is from 9 a.m. to closing (sunset at most locations, but check at park entry).

The "Fee Holiday" will not extend to camping of any sort. CAMPING FEES WILL NOT BE AFFECTED (to include the PRC, AWW, Family, Group and Campground Reservations). Camping fees will continue to be collected.

Applicable State Parks and Historic Sites

Androscoggin Riverlands, Aroostook, Birch Point, Bradbury Mountain, Camden Hills, Cobscook Bay, Colburn House, Colonial Pemaquid, Crescent Beach, Damariscotta Lake, Eagle Island, Ferry Beach, Fort Edgecomb, Fort Kent, Fort McClary, Fort Point, Fort Popham, Fort Pownall, Fort O'Brien, Grafton Notch, Holbrook Island, Lamoine, Lake St George, Lily Bay, Moose Point, Mt Blue, Owls Head Light, Peaks-Kenny, Popham Beach, Quoddy Head, Range Pond, Rangeley Lake, Reid, Roque Bluffs, Two Lights, Sebago Lake, Shackford Head, Swan Lake, Vaughan Woods, Warren Island and Wolfe's Neck Woods.

*Please Note: Free admission does not apply to camping fees or Day Use at these locations: Acadia National Park, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Baxter State Park, Peacock Beach, the Maine Wildlife Park, Scarborough Beach State Park, Swan Island, Fort Knox Historic Site, the Penobscot River Corridor or the Penobscot Narrows Observatory in Prospect and Songo Lock.

For more information about Maine State Parks and Historic Sites, visit: http://www.parksandlands.com .

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, visit: www.maine.gov/dacf .

EMERGENCY ORDER ISSUED - Restricting the Movement of Certain Ash (Fraxinus spp) Products and Any Untreated Firewood from Emerald Ash Borer Infested Towns in Maine

August 10, 2018

For more information contact: Allison Kanoti, Gary Fish at (207) 827-1813, (207) 287-7545

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's (DACF) Bureau of Forestry Director has issued an Emergency Order to Stop Movement of Ash in response to the detection of emerald ash borer (EAB) in northern Aroostook County. The Emergency Order restricts the movement of certain ash (Fraxinus spp.) products and any untreated firewood from emerald ash borer (EAB) infested towns in Maine.

Current Order Area Towns: Frenchville, Grand Isle and Madawaska, Aroostook County, Maine.

To protect the ash resources of the state of Maine from the unrestricted spread and establishment of a dangerous tree-killing forest pest, the Director of the Maine Bureau of Forestry has taken action and issued the Order pursuant to authority granted by 12 M.R.S. § 8305. The full text of the order is available on the Department's EAB information page: www.maine.gov/eab.

BACKGROUND

The emerald ash borer is a highly destructive, introduced pest of forest and ornamental ash trees (Fraxinus spp.). Since its initial detection in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002 it has spread rapidly. As of August 2018, it has been found in 35 states, and 4 Canadian provinces.

Ash trees infested with EAB may die within two to three years. From 2002 to 2018, EAB has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in infested states and provinces, and has cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest products industries hundreds of millions of dollars.

In response to the significant ecological and economic threat posed by EAB, Canada and the state of Michigan established EAB quarantines in 2002. In 2003, the United States Department of Agriculture - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) established a federal quarantine to restrict movement of potentially infested material.

Federally regulated materials include:

The emerald ash borer; firewood of all hardwood (non-coniferous) species; nursery stock, green lumber, and other material living, dead, cut, or fallen, including logs, stumps, roots, branches, and composted and uncomposted chips of the genus Fraxinus.

Unless infested states restrict internal movement of potentially infested ash material, the federal government will designate the entire state as a quarantined area, which designation will subject the state to federal regulations restricting interstate and international commerce of ash material.

In late May 2018, an established EAB infestation was detected in Edmundston, New Brunswick, Canada, approximately 500 yards from the Maine border (www.maine.gov/eab). Subsequent multi-agency surveys detected lightly-infested ash trees in Maine immediately across the river from the Edmundston infestation. The infested ash trees were located in Madawaska, immediately adjacent to the Frenchville town line. In early-August purple trap surveys revealed that EAB is also established in the town of Grand Isle. The detected infestation in Maine is very light and covers only a small area. If immediate steps are not taken to contain the infestation, however, this infestation will spread.

Following the initial detection, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), Bureau of Forestry, also known as the Maine Forest Service (MFS), reached out to all contacts on active commercial timber harvest operations, firewood dealers, and nursery and plant sellers within Madawaska and Frenchville and apprised them of the situation. The DACF also notified local municipal officials and legislators. The DACF held a meeting in Frenchville to discuss the implications of the situation with local residents and businesses. At this meeting, and in subsequent correspondence and media coverage, the DACF informed residents that a stop movement order was planned for early August after the MFS conducted additional delimitation surveys and sought additional comments.

Ash trees comprise 4 percent of Maine's hardwood forest, are a valuable timber species, and are also an important street tree. EAB threatens all species of ash trees (except mountain ash) and could have significant ecological and economic impacts on the state. There are no practical means to control EAB in forested areas, though pesticide treatments can protect individual trees.

To assist wood processors in complying with the order requirements, the MFS will provide a list through e-mail distribution of active forest operations within the order area. Requests to be added to this list should be directed to forestinfo@maine.gov

An informational meeting on Emerald Ash Borer is planned in northern Aroostook County for August 23, 2018 @ 6:30 pm, location TBD.

Parties interested in receiving updates regarding emerald ash borer in Maine can subscribe to the Department's electronic bulletin list "Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)." Subscriptions are available through e-mail or text message (SMS) at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/MEDACF/subscriber/new

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Contacts:

Allison Kanoti, Acting State Entomologist, Maine Forest Service, Allison.M.Kanoti@maine.gov, (207) 827-1813 or Gary Fish, State Horticulturist, State Plant Regulatory Official, Plant Health, Gary.Fish@maine.gov, (207) 287-7545

Emerald Ash Borer Public Information Session

August 15, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Public invited to emerald ash borer information session on August 23rd in Frenchville, ME.

FRENCHVILLE - Officials from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's (DACF) Maine Forest Service (MFS) and Division of Animal and Plant Health, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and USDA Forest Service will hold an information session in northern Aroostook County following discovery of emerald ash borer (EAB) in Madawaska, Frenchville, and recently, Grand Isle.

The purpose of the public meeting is to provide background information on the insect; an update on the response to the detection of emerald ash borer; and discuss impacts on movement of wood products. More information about emerald ash borer is available on the Department's webpage: www.maine.gov/eab.

WHEN: Thursday, August 23, starting at 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Frenchville Community Center https://www.frenchville.org/services/community-center.html

WHAT: Members of the public and the media are encouraged to attend and learn more about the emerald ash borer and impacts of its arrival in Maine.

BACKGROUND

The EAB is a highly destructive, introduced pest of forest and ornamental ash trees (Fraxinus spp.). Since its initial detection in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002 it has spread rapidly. As of August 2018, it has been found in 35 states, and four Canadian provinces.

Ash trees infested with EAB may die within two to three years. From 2002 to 2018, EAB has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in infested states and provinces, and has cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest products industries hundreds of millions of dollars.

In late May 2018, an established EAB infestation was detected in Edmundston, New Brunswick, Canada. Subsequent surveys in Maine detected lightly-infested ash trees in Madawaska adjacent to the Frenchville town line. In early August EAB was found on purple traps in the town of Grand Isle, ME. The MFS implemented a stop movement order on ash from the towns of Frenchville, Grand Isle and Madawaska on August 10th, 2018.

Ash trees comprise four percent of Maine's hardwood forest, are a valuable timber species, and are also an important street tree. EAB threatens all species of ash trees (but not mountain-ash) and could have significant ecological and economic impacts on the state. There are no practical means to control EAB in forested areas, though pesticide treatments can protect individual trees.

STAY INFORMED

Parties interested in receiving updates regarding EAB in Maine can subscribe to the Department's electronic bulletin list "Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)." Subscriptions are available through e-mail or text message (SMS): https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/MEDACF/subscriber/new

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Contacts:

  • Allison Kanoti, allison.m.kanoti@maine.gov, Acting State Entomologist, Maine Forest Service, (207) 827-1813 or
  • Gary Fish, State Horticulturist, State Plant Regulatory Official, Plant Health, gary.fish@maine.gov, (207) 287-7545

For more information about emerald ash borer in Maine, visit www.maine.gov/eab.

Long thought to be extirpated Unicorn Root found

August 20, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at (207) 287-3156

This summer the Maine Natural Areas Program documented the rare Unicorn Root! About 300 flowering stems were found in a damp field on privately held land in Bowdoin. This showy plant has not been seen in Maine in over 130 years and was thought to be extirpated. It is known from only three herbarium specimens, two of which were collected by Maine botanist Kate Furbish (Wells in 1879, Brunswick in 1874), and the third from near Lewiston in 1887.

Unicorn Root, also known as White Colic-root or Colicroot, ranges across most of the eastern United States and Ontario, though it is rare in most of the northeastern states and in Ontario. It grows in open, moist, sandy ground and is typically associated with tallgrass prairie habitats and damp, sandy meadows with little to no topsoil.

Unicorn Root has a basal rosette of lance-shaped leaves, and a single, tall flowering stalk with white flowers that appear in June through August. The scientific name (Aletris farinosa) is in reference to the unusual rough, grainy texture of the flowers. The species name (farinosa) means ‘floury’, and the genus name (Aletris) comes from the Greek word for grinding grain (the Aletris was the servant who ground the grain).

Supporting documents

Unicorn Root

Maine Senior FarmShare has 1,000 more openings!

August 30, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at 207-287-3156

Seniors can get $50 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers

AUGUSTA- The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) announced today that it has received additional funding from USDA's Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program to support its Maine Senior FarmShare Program. These funds will provide $50 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables to an additional 1,000 Maine seniors for the duration of this growing season.

ELIGIBILITY: The program is for Maine seniors who are 60 and older and meet income eligibility guidelines.

DEADLINE: Seniors must sign up with a farm by September 21, 2018.

PARTICIPATING FARMS

(Note: Some farms will show as full, seniors should still contact them due to the additional funds, all farms should have availability)

Maine Senior FarmShare:

Maine's Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, Maine Senior FarmShare, is managed by the Maine Department of Agriculture and supported by partner agencies throughout Maine. It utilizes a community-supported agriculture model to maximize benefits to local produce farmers and low-income seniors. During the 2017 season, participating farmers provided fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs directly to approximately 17,000 low-income seniors throughout Maine.

Maine's program provides individual Maine seniors with $50 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables during the growing season. The program is designed to maximize direct support to farmers and low-income seniors, promote community relationships and provide nutrition education.

A "share" is $50 worth of fruits and vegetables delivered directly to seniors. Farmers may also have seniors come to their farm, a farmers' market or other distribution sites where seniors can select what they want and "draw down" on their credit balance. Available fruits and vegetables vary from farm to farm, for September through November they may include: squash, corn, apples, beets, broccoli, eggplant, radishes, pumpkins and potatoes.

For additional information, contact: donna.murray@maine.gov or visit https://www.maine.gov/dacf/ard/seniorfarmshare.shtml

Seniors can also reach out to their local Area Agency on Aging for assistance by calling the toll free number: 1-877-353-3771.

#

Emerald Ash Borer Confirmed in Western York County, Maine

September 12, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at (207) 287-3156

Discovery of this highly destructive insect in southern Maine is bad news

AUGUSTA - State officials at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry today announced that entomologists have confirmed the presence of emerald ash borer (EAB) in western York County, Maine. This alarming new development follows a spring discovery in northern Aroostook County.

The emerald ash borer (EAB) is a highly destructive, introduced pest of forest and ornamental ash trees (Fraxinus spp.). Since its initial detection in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002 it has spread rapidly. As of August 2018, it has been found in 35 states, and four Canadian provinces including Maine.

Earlier this week, EAB adults were recovered on two purple traps in York County, Maine. One adult beetle was found in both Acton and Lebanon by the USDA-APHIS contractor, Delta 21. Field personnel from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Maine Forest Service are currently conducting ground surveys in the area to follow up on the trap detections.

In late May 2018, an established EAB infestation was detected in Edmundston, New Brunswick, Canada. Subsequent surveys in Maine detected lightly-infested ash trees in Madawaska adjacent to the Frenchville town line. In early August EAB was found on purple traps in the town of Grand Isle, ME. The MFS implemented a stop movement order on ash from the towns of Frenchville, Grand Isle and Madawaska on August 10th, 2018. This order will be amended to include affected towns in York County once the initial follow up survey is conducted.

Ash trees infested with EAB may die within two to three years. Since its arrival in North America, EAB has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in infested states and provinces, and has cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest products industries hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ash trees comprise four percent of Maine's hardwood forest, are a valuable timber species, and are also an important street tree. EAB threatens all species of ash trees (but not mountain-ash, Sorbus spp.) and will have significant ecological and economic impacts on the state. There are no practical means to control EAB in forested areas, though pesticide treatments can protect individual trees.

A public meeting will be held in York County in the near future, details to be announced shortly. More information on this pest in Maine can be found at http://www.maine.gov/eab

STAY INFORMED Parties interested in receiving updates regarding EAB in Maine can subscribe to the Department's electronic bulletin list "Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)." Subscriptions are available through e-mail or text message (SMS): https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/MEDACF/subscriber/new

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Contacts:

  • Allison Kanoti, Acting State Entomologist, Maine Forest Service, allison.m.kanoti@maine.gov, (207) 827-1813 or
  • Gary Fish, State Horticulturist, State Plant Regulatory Official, Plant Health, gary.fish@maine.gov, (207) 287-7545

#

Emerald ash borer Emergency Order expands to include York County towns

September 18, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott, john.c.bott@maine.gov at 207-287-3156

Public Informational Meeting to be held in Lebanon on October 1

AUGUSTA - In response to the discovery of emerald ash borer (EAB) infested trees in western York County, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's (DACF) Bureau of Forestry Director has expanded the Order Area in the Emergency Order to Stop Movement of Ash first issued in August of this year. The Emergency Order restricts the movement of certain ash (Fraxinus spp.) products and any untreated firewood from EAB infested towns in Maine.

Current Order Area Towns:

AROOSTOOK COUNTY towns of Frenchville, Grand Isle and Madawaska

YORK COUNTY towns of Acton, Berwick, Lebanon and Shapleigh

To protect the ash resources of the State of Maine from the unrestricted spread and establishment of a dangerous tree-killing forest pest, the Director of the Maine Bureau of Forestry has taken action and issued the Order pursuant to authority granted by 12 M.R.S.  § 8305. For more information about EAB, or to view the full text of the order, visit the Department's EAB information page: www.maine.gov/eab.

BACKGROUND

The emerald ash borer is a highly destructive, introduced pest of forest and ornamental ash trees (Fraxinus spp.). Since its initial detection in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002 it has spread rapidly. As of September 2018, it has been found in 35 states, and 4 Canadian provinces.

Ash trees infested with EAB may die within two to three years. From 2002 to 2018, EAB has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in infested states and provinces, and has cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest products industries hundreds of millions of dollars. In response to the significant ecological and economic threat posed by EAB, Canada and the state of Michigan established EAB quarantines in 2002. In 2003, the United States Department of Agriculture—Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) established a federal quarantine to restrict movement of potentially infested material.

Federally regulated materials include the emerald ash borer; firewood of all hardwood (non-coniferous) species; nursery stock, green lumber, and other material living, dead, cut, or fallen, including logs, stumps, roots, branches, and composted and uncomposted chips of the genus Fraxinus. Unless infested states restrict internal movement of potentially infested ash material, the federal government will designate the entire state as a quarantined area, which designation will subject the state to federal regulations restricting interstate and international commerce of ash material.

In late May 2018, an established EAB infestation was detected in Edmundston, New Brunswick, Canada, approximately 500 yards from the Maine border (www.maine.gov/eab). Subsequent multi-agency surveys detected lightly-infested ash trees in Maine immediately across the river from the Edmundston infestation near the Frenchville/Madawaska town line. In early-August purple trap surveys revealed that EAB is also established in the town of Grand Isle. Most recently adult emerald ash borers were recovered from traps in Acton and Lebanon, York County, Maine close to the towns of Berwick and Shapleigh.

Ash trees comprise 4 percent of Maine’s hardwood forest, are a valuable timber species, and are also an important street tree. EAB threatens all species of ash trees (except mountain ash) and could have significant ecological and economic impacts on the state. There are no practical means to control EAB in forested areas, though pesticide treatments can protect individual trees. To date, emerald ash borers have been found in a fraction of a percent of the ash resource in Maine.

The detection of emerald ash borer in York County will impact individual landowners, communities, and wood industry in a variety of ways. For example, moving firewood from the order area is prohibited; woodlot owners, foresters, and loggers involved in ash harvests will see a change in markets and the loss of a valuable timber species; rapid ash tree decline may threaten infrastructure and public safety.

Informational Meeting in Lebanon October 1

Officials from the DACF Maine Forest Service (MFS) and Division of Animal and Plant Health, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and USDA Forest Service will hold an information session in Lebanon, ME on Monday, October 1st, 2018 starting at 6:30 pm, at the Lebanon Elementary School, 65 Upper Guinea Rd, Lebanon, ME.

The purpose of the public meeting is to provide background information on the insect; an update on the response to the detection of emerald ash borer; and discuss impacts on movement of wood products. Although the beetles were found on traps near the western border of York County and the order expansion only affects four towns, due to the size of the county it is likely that all of York County will be included in future state and federal quarantines.

Stay informed

Parties interested in receiving updates regarding EAB in Maine can subscribe to the Department’s electronic bulletin list "Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)." Subscriptions are available through e-mail or text message (SMS) at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/MEDACF/subscriber/new.

To assist wood processors in complying with the order requirements, the MFS will provide a list through electronic bulletin of active forest operations within the order area. You can subscribe to this Maine Forest Service list topic “MFS Forest Operations Notification System (FONS) – EAB†at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/MEDACF/subscriber/new.

Maine State Parks set all-time camping record!

October 10, 2018

For more information contact: John Bott at (207) 287-3156, john.c.bott@maine.gov

Attendance records have been broken 8 times since 2010

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Bureau of Parks and Lands announced that a record number of visitors camped in Maine State Parks in 2018. Through September, 255,553 campers have been recorded, breaking the previous all-time camping record of 254,789 set in 2016. A final camping total will not be complete until after December 31.

Since 2010, attendance records (Day-Use, Camping and Total Attendance) have been broken and re-broken eight (8) times amidst a surge in State Park popularity. Total 2018 Maine State Park attendance through September is 11 percent higher than the same period last year, due to favorable weather, increased publicity and Governor Paul R. LePage’s Resident Fee Holiday (August 11-September 3).

"Maine State Parks’ attendance continues to grow at a record pace and just set the all-time camping record,†said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “This is a healthy trend for Maine and the people and families who are enjoying the Maine outdoors. The growing success and popularity of year-round Maine State Park offerings and programs, favorable weather conditions, and our efforts to generate greater public awareness about Maine’s outdoor recreational opportunities are all contributing factors.â€

New report documents nearly $21 million annual economic benefit from modern wood heating of commercial and institutional buildings in Maine

October 23, 2018

For more information contact: Charlie Niebling, John Bott at (603) 965 5434, (207) 287-3156

Over 100 Maine campuses and larger buildings now heated with wood chips and pellets

Augusta ME - The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Maine Forest Service today released a report documenting the economic and environmental benefits of heating community, commercial and institutional buildings with modern wood chip and wood pellet technology and fuels produced in Maine.

The Maine Forest Service analyzed the use of wood fuels in calendar year 2017 in hospitals, campuses, schools, municipal buildings and private businesses across the state. In the last 10 years, over 100 new installations have been made, nearly always replacing imported heating oil.

Key findings of the analysis include:

  • Savings in annual heating costs (versus average heating oil cost) - $5.5 million

  • Direct spending on local fuels (wood pellets and wood chips instead of exporting fuel dollars for oil) - $6.3 million

  • Total value of economic impact generated - $20.6 million

"It's clear that advanced wood heating technology is generating significant benefits for Maine, said Doug Denico, director of the Maine Forest Service. "Modern, clean wood chip and pellet boilers are now heating a wide array of bigger buildings in our state. By switching to wood fuels, we keep our fuel dollars here, support our local economy and improve our forest resource base by strengthening markets for low grade wood."

The study documented wood fuel use in these buildings at 19,000 tons of pellets and 45,000 tons of wood chips during 2017. These fuels are nearly entirely produced within Maine, supporting hundreds of jobs.

The study did not evaluate residential use of wood and wood pellets, which has also grown dramatically in Maine. It also did not document industrial use of wood as a heating fuel, such as in wood manufacturing industries. These sectors have also grown significantly in the last decade and make substantial contributions to the state's economy by displacing the need for imported oil, propane or natural gas.

"Maine remains among the most dependent states in the country on imported fossil heating fuels," said Charlie Niebling, a consultant with Innovative Natural Resource Solutions and author of the study. "We can sustainably displace a meaningful percentage of this with modern wood heating fuels from Maine forests. This transition can create jobs and economic opportunity at a time when other low-grade forest product markets are declining, and support good forest management."

The Maine Forest Service, Maine Statewide Wood Energy Assistance Team maintains an interactive map feature where people can learn more about modern wood heating installations all over the state. The map feature can be accessed here. On October 25, the 1st Maine Modern Wood Heat Symposium will be held at Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle. The public is welcome to attend. More information can be found at www.woodheatmaine.org.

All data and assumptions of the analysis are available upon request by contacting Charlie Niebling, at (603) 965-5434.

The Maine Statewide Wood Energy Assistance Team, a project of the Maine Forest Service, is an education and technical assistance initiative to promote advanced wood heating, supported by the USDA Forest Service.

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Investments in Maine Agriculture - 2018 Specialty Crop Block Grants Announced

November 9, 2018

For more information contact: Leigh Hallett at 207-215-7388

AUGUSTA- Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb announced that Maine is partnering with USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to invest $538,073 to support Maine Specialty Crop Producers. The Agricultural Resource Development division of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (DACF) administers the program, with nine new projects selected for 2018. This annual program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and supports producers with projects designed to improve competitiveness, technology, or product safety.

Since 2006, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program has awarded over $5.2 million dollars to the Maine DACF to support the growing number of specialty crop producers who are selling into local and regional markets. Each year, the Maine DACF accepts applications for Specialty Crop Block Grants, evaluating proposals in a competitive, statewide process. The program provides federal funding to projects identified as critical at the local level. Past and current awards have supported research into Maine's most crucial agricultural commodities, development of pest management strategies, school initiatives, and food safety projects. Funds have been used to improve harvests of blueberries, potatoes, maple syrup, hops, honey, and other crops.

"These investments strengthen many of Maine's most important agricultural crops, defined by the federal government as specialty crops," said Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. "Selected projects benefit farmers and consumers by helping growers make food safety enhancements, solve research needs for better pest management, provide hands-on agricultural education for school children and make informed decisions that will increase the profitability and sustainability of Maine agriculture. These investments strengthen markets for Maine crops and help develop new economic opportunities."

Among this year's awards are two for research at the University of Maine to improve blueberry production. According to Nancy McBrady, Executive Director of the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, "Specialty Crop Block Grants are particularly significant to the Maine wild blueberry industry. These block grants, funded by the federal Farm Bill, enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in each state. The grants recently awarded to the University of Maine help propel critical wild blueberry research regarding Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and plant management. Further, the grants require education and training components which directly benefit wild blueberry growers in Maine."

University researchers also won awards to improve the yield and quality of the potato crop and reduce pests. Food safety Vassalboro-based AgMatters LLC is a family run crop consulting business that has successfully applied for several Specialty Crop Block Grants over the last decade. According to AgMatters' Linda Titus, "Specialty Crop Grants have allowed us to support and guide fruit and vegetable growers in Maine with their food safety needs. This has enabled growers to competitively sell their crops in larger markets and be prepared for the Food Safety & Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule. The grants have provided Maine growers the opportunity to prepare for and to meet the challenges of these new laws by educating and informing them of exactly what they need to know and do before the law is enforced."

This year’s recipients:

University of Maine ($70,539.00) - Developing Sulfur Recommendations for Maine potato growers

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension will develop sulfur recommendation for Maine potato growers to improve Maine potato yield and quality. Objectives of this study are to create robust sulfur recommendations, with multiple sites that will include varied soil textures, soil moisture, and weather conditions. Yield, quality, soil moisture, weather data, uptake, tissue sampling, and soil physical, chemical, and biological data will be used for this study.

Maine Potato Board ($100,000) - Maine potato cropping system lack diversity to remain financially and environmentally