Maine Conservationists meet with Washington Legislators

Maine Conservationists visit with congressional delegation in Washington, DC last month. From left: Lindsey Johnson of Kennebunkport, Maine, an Intern with the National Association of Conservation Districts in Washington, DC; Sara Hopper, with Environmental Defense in Washington, DC; Tony Carroll of Limerick, Vice President of the Maine Association of Conservation Districts; Senator Olympia Snowe; Steve Hobart of Abbott, Maine, President of the Maine Association of Conservation Districts, and Curtis Bohlen of Brunswick, Maine, staff for Maine Trout Unlimited.
Leaders of the Maine Association of Conservation Districts and partner organizations recently met with Maine's congressional delegation in Washington D.C. to discuss funding levels for USDA and also EPA water quality programs in Maine.

Monday, May 01, 2006
Stephen Hobart, President of the Maine Association of Conservation Districts, Tony Carroll, Vice President of the MACD, Curtis Bohlen, of Maine Trout Unlimited and Lindsey Hopper, an Intern with the National Association of Conservation Districts made the trip to advocate for Maine's conservation issues. The Maine group that met with Senator Olympia Snowe was Terry McNaughton, the Agricultural staffer, Patrick Woodcak, the EPA staffer, and Sara Hopper with Environmental Defense. They discussed how the current Farm Bill is working for Maine, and suggestions for the next Farm Bill.

Regarding the next Farm Bill Senator Snowe said that "everything will be put on the table", i.e. commodity payments, a portion of wood stumpage money from federal lands going to the bordering communities to help with schools and roads, as well as anything else that is related. MACD representatives noted that Senator Snowe seemed very informed of the issues. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Snowe is also closely involved with proposed amendments to the Endangered Species Act, which she discussed with the Maine conservationists.

In a meeting with Mike Brownlie, the Agricultural staffer in Representative Michael Michaud's office, the Maine conservation leaders discussed coalition building helping to strengthen the Northeast region with the next Farm Bill. Hobart discussed that the building of the Northeast region within the NACD will help to bring common issues to the Legislators. They also met with Avery Day, the Agricultural staffer for Senator Collins, Representative Tom Allen, and his staff - Jim Bradley, EPA Staffer, and Emily Knight, Agricultural staffer, to discuss these same issues.

At the NACD meeting in Washington DC, Carroll reviewed New England conservation highlights from "Supporting a Bright Future for Conservation and for our Working Lands in Maine", written by Michele Tremblay, the Executive Director from New Hampshire, Curtis Bohlen of Trout Unlimited, and Bill Bell, the Executive Director from Maine. This paper discusses what's currently happening in Maine with the Farm Bill and also with "319" Funds. Carroll also discussed how Maine and Midwest farming differ, and the kind of pressure facing farmers in Maine. Tony talked about his son looking to work outside of the family farm as a personal example of what is happening in Maine.

Hobart discussed how the Farm Bill is working in Maine, except for the lack of funding for irrigation projects. Technical Assistance and staffing appear to be a problem both in New England and in the nation as a whole. He addressed the importance of Forestry in Maine, and that the Conservation Security Program (CSP) needs to be fully funded. He also noted the need for locally led programs with regional equity. This flexibility would provide for proper allocation of funding. It was also noted that many accomplishments made over the past year have come as a direct result of funding from the Department of Environmental Protection. These accomplishments are highlighted in "Maine Conservation Link", an annual publication of the MACD that Hobart reviewed with delegates.

Hobart also noted that in the last two decades there have been positive changes in how Conservation Districts partner with other conservation agencies. These partnerships were not as evident in the past, but have really strengthened local leadership working at both the regional and national levels.

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