DIFW’s landowner relations program is comprehensive






  • 94% of Maine is privately owned
  • 320 miles long and 210 miles wide and has a total area of approximately 33,215 square miles.
  • 5 million acres of forestland and 3,500 miles coastline.
  • 2,295 square miles of inland water area and over 2,000 coastal islands.
  • Population +/- 1.3 Million: highest density in southern Maine
  • 6,000 lakes and ponds and 5,100 rivers and streams
  • There are only 1.3 million acres of state and federal lands which are considered public lands
  • 6,000 + miles of ATV trails
  • 14,000 miles of snowmobile trails
  • Outdoor recreation is a major contributor to Maine’s economy




The Landowner Relations Program’s focus is to assist private landowners with nuisance wildlife, illegal dumping / littering, misuse and abuse of their property, property damage, and to educate user groups about landowner expectations.  Our focus is to prioritize the landowner’s concerns and address their issues quickly.  This is done through the assistance of Department of IF&W staff, other State agencies and volunteers through enforcement, education and awareness.  With the goal to secure Maine’s outdoor recreation and continued use of private lands for future generations.

Landowner Specialist Rick LaFlamme and David Chabot field many calls from the public, department biologist, warden staff, DACF staff, ATV / Snowmobile clubs and private landowners.  The calls are handled and vetted to the appropriate personnel or advice is given to remedy a problem.  We also personally meet with those adversely affected to demonstrate to them their importance and offer any assistance we can to remedy an issue they are having.  This program is the epitome of “Community Policing” and will continue as a foundation within the Department of IFW and other State agencies.


  • There will be a standardized expectation for all warden staff to meet with Woodland Owners of Maine and Farm Bureau members within their districts over the next several years

                                                               Mission Statement

The Landowner Relations Specialists will strive to achieve the expectations of the program by implementing change through education, partnerships, problem solving, community involvement and proactive law enforcement.




The Keep Maine Program was established and placed within the Landowner Relations Program of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.  The sole purpose is to provide relief and assistance to Maine’s landowners with illegal dumping {littering} issues.  These illegal acts are a main reason and responsible for the POSTING of private property.


By partnering with the Maine Forest Service, corporate sponsors like Kittery Trading Post, Waste Management, BDS Tire Disposal Company, and hundreds of volunteers


and organized clubs. We have collectively cleaned up over a million pounds of illegally dumped trash from private and public property within the last six years.

We organize clean-ups throughout the year to immediately remedy an issue and give relief to the landowner.


The Keep Maine Clean Program is essential for Landowner Relations and shall continue as an integral part of the program.



The use and access to private lands is unique to the Northeast and is of extreme importance to the State of Maine; this open and free access has been a longstanding tradition.  It has been an accepted and welcomed practice amongst most landowners with the beneficiaries being land users.  The historical practice of public access to private lands has been acknowledged by the State and is clearly an economic benefit.


The initial creation of the Landowner Relations Program was a direct result of the Legislature understanding of the importance of this free access as it relates to Maine’s heritage and economy.  In 2018, the Department of IF&W – Warden Service with support of the Landowner Sportsman Relations Advisory Board {LSRAB} added another Landowner Specialist position to the program.  In 2019, the Legislature approved an additional $150,000 of General Fund go towards the Landowner Relations Program.  This additional funding along with Outdoor Partners contributions and the Support Wildlife motor vehicle registration plate; will ensure the mission of the program will continue well into the future and provide benefits to the landowners, land users and the economy of the State of Maine.





Landowner Relations: Objectives for 2020/21


The following thoughts, ideas and objectives come from LSRAB and the Landowner Relations Specialist: Corporal Rick LaFlamme and David Chabot:


Continue with current LOR program operations and maintenance

  • Estimated cost: $129,950k
  • Expand education to promote respect and appreciation for landowners
  • Continue support for nuisance wildlife damage issues on private property
  • Ensure the importance of landowner relations and its program mission is delivered to the public
  • Continue involvement in Governor’s ATV TASK FORCE and follow the legislation
  • LOR Program controlled moose, deer and turkey hunts to address nuisance wildlife issues
  • Be an advocate for landowners
  • Keep Maine Clean
  • Education thru all IFW
  • Training for staff on LOR problem solving
  • Offer safety and education courses with LOR messaging
  • Specialized LOR equipment for Warden Service & Forest Rangers (Landowner Relations relief gear bags)
  • Update and print educational and informational material/handouts
  • Landowner sign program (Safety zone, Access by permission, Informational, etc.…)
  • Specialized and focused landowner details, speaking engagements, attendance at events
  • Landowner appreciation awards, prints, hats
  • Work with all other state and federal agencies spread the word about the importance of LOR


Proposed item to establish a standardized training program for all organized recreational groups, not show in current budget proposal

  • Estimated cost: $50K
  • Landowner relations liaisons within groups
  • Mission statement, response, problem solving, appreciation, guideline, do’s & don’t
  • Promoting a multi-use system, common goals, and benefits
  • Build partnerships with schools, and other organizations in their area


Continue full time marketing strategy of LOR, thru contract with Rink advertisement firm and I&E

  • Estimated cost: $60k
  • Messaging to user groups thru all media-based venues
  • Seasonal PSA’s
  • Use current GIS mapping for problem solving, and develop landowner identification mapping technology (ONXMAPS)
  • Seasonal and area dependent based messaging
  • Call to action to all individuals this program supports
  • Need to find a way to get the messaging to our landowners, so they know we are working for them and programs exist.  This has been a constant dilemma and we do so much.  I think the next RINCK contract should concentrate on this by advertising to farmers and people buying farming equipment and chainsaws.  We need to get to this group.


Reminders, messaging and education to all who recreate, represent, or work with Maine’s landowners by encouraging them to:

  • Becoming an Outdoor Partner
  • Purchasing a support wildlife vehicle registration
  • Donating to Landowner Relations
  • Purchasing Outdoor Partner hats or stickers
  • Being an advocate for responsible and ethical use of private lands
  • Call to action via social media
  • Grow the program thru Information and Education reaching nontraditional land users
  • Continue to apprehend the violators that ruin it for all responsible users
  • Continue the recognition of landowners
  • Continue and expand the “sign program”
  • Educate land users and youth about the importance of good landowner relations, with new info commercials thru social media
  • Broaden the support thru all state agencies, that the landowners need

Things the Department of IFW could do:


  • We need total employee buy in of the importance of access and Landowner relations.  This can be accomplished through personal relationships, continued communication and employee performance evals – list it as an expectation.
  • Explain the importance of handing all the public complaints or questions in a timely manner. Regardless, if we think it is a minimal complaint or question.  You never know who you are talking with and it may be their first impression of the Department.
  • Proper staffing has its importance, being proactive and available to the landowner’s needs is the utmost importance.
  • Give the supportive measures necessary for employees to be successful
  • The new LOR biologist position will be an avenue for a proactive approach – just going to take him some time.
  • The real estate division could also use some publicity to the employees of the Department and general public to show how the Department is progressing with trying to obtain public access – leading by example.
  • When issues arise “the out of the box” or “nothing is off the table” problem solving process needs to come into play.  This has been very successful for Rick and me.
  • We need to involve and message to all conservation agencies and state agencies – have a working relationship.  It is imperative DEP, DACF, Marine Resources and IFW work for the common goal.  This is not just an IFW program but a “statewide program” – proactive piece.
  • We need the Governor / Commissioner’s to also sell the importance of the program to Judges, District Attorneys, and other Commissioners.  We have done outreach to all of Maine’s DA’s and it was received well by some, but others do not see the big picture.  This program is very political and needs to stay in the forefront.
  • Understand the importance of municipalities.  They play a huge role and we need them to know we are here to help; not take over like many fears.
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, georgesmithmaine.com, 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.