Some things are better late than never. This includes the protection of Maine’s fast disappearing deer wintering areas. Last fall, the Plum Creek Timber Company was scolded by the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) for failing to adapt its forest cutting practices to proper deer-yard protection. Some outdoor writers, including this one, also took Plum Creek to the woodshed on this issue.

Apparently Plum Creek is paying attention and is heedful of its corporate image.

To its everlasting credit, the big timberland firm has come through with flying colors when it comes to protecting 20 major deer wintering areas located in its Maine timberland holdings. Unlike a number of other large timberland owners, that have yet to sign deer-yard agreements with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, Plum Creek has affixed its signature to an agreement, and gone two steps further. First, Plum Creek, in a bold, unprecedented move, has legally agreed to turn over to its biological staff all of its deer-yard cutting decisions on 32,000 acres of historic deer wintering areas. Secondly, Plum Creek will require that any future buyers of its currently owned timberlands continue to honor the deer yard agreement, with the state, for a period of five years.

This is good news. It is cutting edge stuff when it comes to cooperative deer yard protection and state/private partnerships. Plum Creek is to be commended for its vision, sense of commitment and can-do attitude. Predictably, Plum Creek’s detractors remain suspicious. The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) refused to even begrudgingly acknowledge Plum Creek’s positive step. While it’s true that the timber company’s concern for Maine’s deer wintering habitat may have been late in coming, the depth and scope of their agreement shows good faith and an abiding concern for its community relations and corporate image. Deer yards are so critical to the survival of Maine’s wintering deer, we can only hope that other large state timberland owners will take a cue from Plum Creek’s commendable example.

Outdoor events

In the weeks ahead, there are plenty of events taking place that will help sportsmen get through the long winter. Maine’s largest ice fishing derby, the Sebago Lake Ice Fishing Derby, is on for Feb. 24-25. Thanks to a more normal Maine winter, ice conditions at Sebago and most of Maine’s other waters are good. Some big prizes being offered, too, including a new truck and even cash. You can get derby entry forms by calling 1 888 ICE-FLAG, checking out the Web address at www.icefishingderby.com, or pick up a copy of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, which publishes an entry form in its February issue. The entry fee for this event is $30. All proceeds go to worthy charities.

The Penobscot Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will hold its annual banquet Feb. 17 at the Elks Club in Old Town. This is always a fun affair with great food and a big post-dinner auction. Tickets for dinner are $15 each. Doors open at 5 p.m. and dinner is served at 6:30 p.m.

Whatever you do don’t forget to mark your calendar for the 69th Eastern Maine Sportsmen Show at the University of Maine in Orono. Put on by the Penobscot County Conservation Association, this is always a winner with something for the whole family. This year the show will be held March 16, 17 and 18.

Maine’s other premier sportsmen show is the Pine Tree State Sportsmen’s Show in Wilton. Dates this year for that show are March 23-25.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WCME-FM 96.7) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is [email protected]


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