I have been asked to speak to the Maine Legislatures committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife next Monday. I think mostly because over time I became a fixture at their meetings. At the introductory sessions with the committee I always talked about the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation; hopefully to get them to see their role in this important and successful system. This will be the first time that I speak to the committee not working for an organization. Here is what I plan to say (well sort of; I always ad lib and tell a few stories).
Senator LaFountain, Representative Landry and distinguished members of the Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. It is a great pleasure to be allowed to speak with you.
Unlike everyone else you will hear from today I am hoping that we will not spend much time together this session.
My name is Don Kleiner and I have had the pleasure of appearing before this committee in various capacities since 1993.
I first came before the committee when we met downstairs, and all sat on folding metal chairs on vinyl tile floors. Over that time, I have worked for the Department, Maine Bowhunters, the Maine Chapter of the Wild Turkey Federation, Ruffed Grouse Society, the Maine Trappers Association Coastal Conservation Association and the Guides Association. The longest stretches for the Guides Association first in the early 90’s and for the last 13 years as the Executive Director.
In real life I’m a working Guide and Maine Outdoors (my company) has been in existence for 37 years offering Outdoor experiences in the mid coast
I specialize in families and beginners. I am currently guiding 3 generations of 5 different parties. There are few greater privileges than telling a couple of 15-year-olds stories about their parent at their age in the exact spot where the story is set. To be certain I have become an important part of these folks lives and them mine.
I offer fishing on fresh and saltwater; recently retired from offering short canoe trips and upland bird hunting over trained dogs (most recently at Libby camps in T8R9 for 20 years)
To give you some perspective my small company issues roughly $1200 worth of mostly one day fishing licenses ($13) each year. I am working to be an electronic agent but at the moment spotty cell and Internet service has made this a challenge.
I have had the privilege of serving on the Land for Maine’s Future Board, the US Forest Service Recreation Advisory Committee in the northeast region the Landowner Sportsman’s Relations Advisory Board and others. I am currently on the board of the Maine Tourism Association.
I want to thank each of you for serving. In the time I have spent here I never met a legislator who was not here to do what they thought best for the people of our state. I have always found it to be remarkable that the various viewpoints I hear from this committee reflect the opinions I might hear in any local diner in the state if a similar discussion took place.
An aspect of this committee that I have always appreciated is that the real people come to this committee and are welcomed. Over time that has certainly declined but a contentious issue will bring out a crowd of folks who do not normally interact with their government.
You will all work very hard to come to agreement on important issues and that has been a hallmark of this committee. In my long career I have seen only a few caucuses in this committee; remarkable on your collective parts.
I also want you thank each of you for taking part in the most successful wildlife management scheme in the world. The North American Model of Conservation that manages using a scientific understanding of fish and wildlife populations and is funded by user fees. In our case hunting fishing and even guide license fees where hunters and later anglers agreed to fund fish and wildlife management for all species; including those that we do not hunt. A significant commitment made well over 100 years ago. In exchange for the ability to hunt or fish for some of the more common species. Keep in mind that that our forebearers rejected the European model which had fish and wildlife owned by the landowner. Indeed, a common person could be put to death in old England for taking a hare that belonged to the Lord of the Manor.
We must all be aware of the conflict inherent in the Conservation Model and that is that while our fish wildlife belongs to everyone, fish live in waters owned by all of us but wildlife lives on someone’s land and has an impact there. This concept framed during colonial times separated the land from the fish and wildlife. Making our relationship with those who do own the land critical to maintaining our rich outdoor heritage into the future.
The success of this model is proven by the list of species that are better off today than they were 100 years ago. Granted the success with some species has gone a little too far. I expect that you have all already heard something about turkeys and in some areas deer. As an example, when I started an eagle sighting was not common and always generated a stir. Today they are very common where I work, and I sometimes need a reminder to point them out to my clients.
This committee has an important role in that North American model to set policy; really direction. It is tempting for many to want to get deeper into the process and get into the details. I must caution you that managing specific bodies of water, setting season dates or specific bag limits is not your role. If you start down that road it will consume all of your time. I encourage you to not to take that step this session.
Maine's laws and rules are designed to allow the agencies to implement the specifics through rule after the legislature has provided general direction. I think that rules are more easily adjusted and improved over time which provides a benefit to all involved. The rulemaking process while easier to change uses a hearing and public comment process much like the legislative one. It is hard to see that difference from the public side because they all carry the force of law, but the distinction is important for you to be effective in your roles.
In closing I want to thank you all for opportunity and to return the favor please feel free to be in touch if I can be helpful in your deliberations. Linda has my contact information, or I am happy to give you my card.
Please come write or call if I can be of any help at all on the important issues you will be discussing.