Congressman Mike Michaud and Eliot Cutler, independent candidate for governor, held wide-ranging discussions with members of the Natural Resource Network on Sept. 26 at the Maine Farm Bureau in Augusta. Gov. Paul LePage had a scheduling conflict, but is working with the NRN to find a time to meet.
“Eliot Cutler and Mike Michaud both provided the group with some insight on how they would focus their administration on natural resources,” said MFPC Executive Director Patrick Strauch.
The discussion ranged from farming and forestry issues, as well as the opportunities for recreation on private land and the merged Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Department.
“We’re always interested in understanding the candidates criteria for selecting department leaders — there are at least 15 political appointees in the consolidated ACF department alone!” Strauch said.
Many of the themes and topics would have been familiar to MFPC members who attended similar forums with the candidates in May (Cutler) and June (Michaud and Lepage). Cutler focused on planning as the major need of state government, while Michaud stressed budget stability.
The NRN is made up of organizations that represent a wide-range of natural resource interests, from farming to forestry to recreation. The network’s goal is to work together to inform policy makers and Maine citizens about the importance of the natural resource economy and need to support Maine’s natural resource businesses. What ties the NRN together is the desire to be able to continue to responsibly use Maine’s land and water for both business and pleasure. The group meets regularly during the legislative session to review legislation and discuss policy positions.
Members of the NRN wanted to demonstrate some unity to the candidates so that they understood the collaborative nature of the group and the resource they offer in providing a unified voice on natural resource issues.
“Both candidates recognized that one of Maine’s greatest opportunities for growth has traditionally been, and continues to be, the natural resource economy of the state,” Strauch said.