AUGUSTA (AP) – A donor wishing to be identified only as an outdoors enthusiast and “proud citizen of Maine” is giving $500,000 to the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Gov. John Baldacci announced Friday.

The donor was prompted to act after reading a column in the Northwoods Sporting Journal on the shortages of funds that often plague the department, which is mostly financed by fees paid by hunters, anglers and other sportsmen.

The benefactor contacted the column’s author, Rep. Matthew Dunlap, D-Old Town, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, and decided to set an example by making the donation, the governor’s office said.

The woman wanted to be identified simply as “a proud citizen of Maine.” She described herself as a person who’s at home in the woods, who hunts and enjoys boating. She said she wants the department to continue to provide search and rescue efforts but realizes that the funds to do so may not always be there.

Baldacci called the gift one of the largest and most significant donations to the department.

“I am pleased to learn of this most generous and charitable gift,” Baldacci said. “This citizen, who takes great pride in Maine’s quality of life, recognizes the connection between the treasures of our natural resources and work of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in protecting and preserving these resources.”

The fish and game department for years has been confronted by cyclical cash shortages due to the nature of its revenues. As of last year, it had 320 employees and a $27 million budget.

The benefactor said she wants $300,000 placed in the escrow account from the sale of lifetime licenses so the contribution continues to provide additional funds. The remaining $200,000 should go to where the department sees the greatest need.

“The money could not have come at a better time,” said department Commissioner Roland “Danny” Martin. He said the agency needs funds for its newly upgraded hatcheries and the $200,000 will be put in a dedicated account for that.

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