Landowner Relations Program Honors Award WinnersOctober 19, 2006 - TRC AUGUSTA -- The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s Landowner Relations Program announced the winners of its Landowner of the Year program Tuesday night in Augusta, honoring those who were exceptional in granting access to the sporting public. The Landowner Appreciation Awards Banquet is an event that is held each year and is hosted by IFW and the Maine Snowmobile Association. During the ceremony, Roland D. Martin, Commissioner, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife thanked the Maine Snowmobile Association for co-hosting the event, and said that the Governor apologized that prior commitments prevented him from attending in person; however, Martin read a letter on his behalf. “Approximately 94% of the state’s land is privately owned and more than 10 million acres of working farms and forests are open to public use for traditional uses such as hunting, snowmobiling, fishing and camping,” said Governor John E. Baldacci in the letter. “An effective relationship between private landowners and land users is essential to the future of outdoor sports in Maine, which are a part of Maine’s great way of life and a significant component to Maine’s economy.” “Land access is the number one issue facing the sporting public these days,” said Martin. “Private landowners are the most important element to outdoor recreation. Without them and the ability to access their property, opportunities to enjoy the outdoors would be severely restricted.” Nominations papers were sent out to 650 snowmobile, ATV and Sporting clubs all over the state. This year, there were 16 nominations. The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Department of Conservation, The Maine Snowmobile Association and others select the award winners. “We want to recognize and thank private property owners for their excellence in permitting access to the public for outdoor recreation on their privately owned property,” said Martin. “This event truly defines landowner relations and its significance to our state. Landowner relations is not about any one agency, one group or one person dictating what needs to be done to provide access to private land. It's about responsible outdoor enthusiasts developing partnerships with private landowners to secure access to their land and acting as responsible stewards on these private lands,” said Joel Wilkinson, Captain of the Maine Warden Service. This year’s award winners are: Private Landowner ~ 100 acres or less George McKenny nominated by: Palermo Snowmobile Club Frank & Maryann Janusz nominated by: Acadia Area ATV’ers Private Landowner ~ 100 acres or more Peter Holman nominated by: Poodunk Snowmobile Club Nate & Diana Merrill nominated by: Palmyra Snowmobile Club Corporate Landowner Plum Creek Timberlands nominated by: Kennebec Wilderness Mountain Club and Border Riders Sportsman Club Linkletter Timberlands nominated by: A.T.V. Maine NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.