Good News From Maine

Yesterday, the Maine Senate and then the Maine House voted to override Governor LePage's veto of LD 1671, which protects Class AA streams and certain critical brook trout and salmon habitat from motorized prospecting. http://bangordailynews.com/2014/04/08/politics/legislature-overrides-lepage-veto-of-bill-to-protect-fish-spawning-areas-from-mining/?ref=latest

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Just in case you haven’t heard, late last night the Maine House of Representative voted to override Governor Lepage’s veto of LD 1671, the Motorized Gold Prospecting Bill, by a vote of 119-23.  Earlier in the day, the Maine Senate overrode the veto with a unanimous 32-0 vote.

 

LD 1672 will therefore become law as soon as the Legislature adjourns, in time for this year’s prospecting season.  No legislation is ever perfect, and we made a few compromises along the way to have a bill we could pass, but the protections in LD 1672 are comprehensive and apply to the most important and most at-risk streams.  Just as importantly, they provide a process that can include additional streams in the future.

 

Here’s what the bill will do:

1.       We’ve added a definition for “Motorized Recreational Gold Prospecting” in Maine law—and it includes any motorized equipment used to extract metals from a stream. This avoids some loopholes used to avoid restrictions on suction dredging in other states.

2.       All streams classified as “AA” by the Maine DEP and LUPC are closed to motorized recreational gold prospecting.

3.       Twelve additional stream segments are closed to motorized gold prospecting:  Bemis Stream, Bond Brook, Bull Branch of SundayRiver, Carrabasset River and tributaries, Cold Stream tributaries, Enchanted Stream, Magalloway River and tributaries, Rapid River, Sheepscot River and tributaries, South Bog Stream, Spencer Stream and Little Spencer Stream tributaries, and Togus Stream.

4.       By December of 2015, MDIFW and DMR are directed to prepare reports to determine whether these areas should continue to be closed, and to suggest whether any additional valuable trout and salmon habitat should be closed.  In particular, they are directed to look at the Sandy River and tributaries, Sandy Stream and tributaries, Dead River and tributaries, and Kennebec River and tributaries.  (These are all areas that were originally proposed for closure but removed from the bill during the Legislative process.

 

Thank you so much for all your hard work on this.  Please take a few moments to thank the legislators who worked so hard on this bill, and on our Gold Prospecting bill last year.  Representative Russell Black (russellblack@juno.com) sponsored our bill last year and led the floor fight in the House and the veto fight in the House on LD 1671.  Senator Jim Boyle (senjames.boyle@legislature.maine.gov) sponsored this year’s bill and led the Environment and Natural Resource Committee discussion on LD 1671. And Senator Tom Saviello (drtom16@hotmail.com) co-sponsored both bills, led the fight in the Senate to pass LD 1671 and defeat the veto.

 

Also, as you certainly recall from our endless emails, we asked you to contact a lot of Representative and Senators.  Please thank those who responded to your messages and voted with us.  That included every single Senator, because we had three unanimous votes in the Maine Senate!!!!

 

It also includes a whole lot of Representatives who crossed party lines to override the Governor’s veto.  Please check out the roll call results you can find here and thank your representatives and anyone else you may have contacted who voted with us: http://www.mainelegislature.org/lawmakerweb/rollcall.asp?ID=280050691&chamber=House&serialnumber=682

 

Finally, remember that this bill WAS a compromise, and that what comes next is as important as what we’ve already accomplished.  The bill creates two possible ways to protect additional streams.  Any stream that gets upgraded to Class AA will be automatically protected.  Since most of the streams we care about are headwater trout streams with little or no development and great habitat, this is quite possible.  Every few years the Maine DEP considers reclassifications.  We should be ready with some proposed additions the next time that happens.  (Sandy River tributaries, anyone???)

 

We should also be working with MDIFW and DMR biologists between now and December 2015 on their report to the Legislature.  Paul Christman and Bobby Van Riper will likely be the two key contacts, so we need to be talking to them early and often about other waters that need protection.

 

OK—got all that additional work done?  Now you can take a few minutes and enjoy this.  Pat yourselves on the back—this was one of the best grassroots lobbying efforts in the Maine Legislature in a long time.  A lot of legislators have said they heard more about this bill than anything else this session. And the results show it.

 

Thank you again,



 
--
David P. Van Burgel and Kathy J. Scott
Ardea Bamboo Rods

Maine's LD 1671

Jeff Reardon, who penned that letter, is a tireless advocate for trout and salmon in Maine. He orchestrated a collaboration with participants from across the spectrum: anglers, prospectors, biologists, and legislators.
In a state where the Town Meeting is still very much alive, this is the way we move forward.

Yes

Jeff is a super star.

your wrong

removing lead and mercury while cleaning silt from gravels create better fish habitat, dredging is great for the rivers, wonder how your going to stop a good hurricane from disrupting your streams, glad I don't live in maine or dredge there, my guess is the team behind this law that has no respect for other peoples enjoyment are not from there either,

Yeah, sure

What I wonder is how many times suction dredgers have to repeat this BS before that start believing it.  Suction dredging spreads mercury instead of "removing" it.  And there is no evidence to suggest that suction dredgers remove any significant amount of lead.  If you'd like to learn about suction dredging please read my report on it at:

http://www.flyrodreel.com/magazine/2013/april/conservation

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