Ice fishing, ATVS and boats debated at legislature

Last week the legislature’s Fish and Wildlife Committee acted on several bills.

The committee had a public hearing and work session immediately after on a bill giving DIF&W’s commissioner authority to extend the ice fishing season. This bill was presented by Rep. John Martin on behalf of the governor.

DIF&W Commissioner Judy Camuso testified for the bill, and the committee unanimously approved the bill after making it an emergency, so if it is quickly acted on by the legislature and signed by the governor, Camuso could extend the ice fishing season this year, which is scheduled to end on March 30. Everyone agreed there will be plenty of ice to allow fishing to continue after March 30.

By a vote of 8 to 2, the committee endorsed a bill to raise ATV registration fees. The fee for residents would go from $33 to $45, for nonresidents (7 days) from $53 to $75, and for nonresidents (annual) from $68 to $80. $10 of the nonresident fee will go to an enforcement fund.  $12 from each fee will go to the ATV recreational management fund.

Three aquatic plant bills received unanimous ought-not-to-pass votes including a bill to prohibit the use of seine fishing in great ponds and a bill requiring that all water be drained immediately from boats when they are pulled out of the water.

Finally, there was a long discussion of a bill to raise the cost of stamps required for boats to fund projects to deal with invasive aquatic plants. 80% of that money goes to the DEP and 20% to DIF&W. The committee voted to increase the cost for residents to $15, from the current $10. Nonresidents, who currently pay $20, would pay $35 in 2020 and $45 in 2021.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.