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Public invited to participate in annual ice-out reporting

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AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) is tracking Maine lake “Ice-Out.” This annual effort provides boaters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts with information, data and resources to help plan outdoor adventures on Maine lakes. It is available for spring 2017 and for previous years on an Ice-Out webpage maintained by the Department. The public is invited to assist this effort by reporting ice-out dates for water bodies throughout the state.

“Maine is open year-round for outdoor recreation,” said Gov. Paul R. LePage. “Ice-Out is a sure sign that spring is here and is eagerly awaited by boaters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore Maine lakes and waterways. Residents and visitors can help plan their next trip with information on current conditions and historical data on ice-out dates for lakes throughout Maine on one webpage.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed that collection of the historic data available is greatly assisted by public participation. “The amount and accuracy of historical data collected as part of this annual effort is greatly enhanced by people that contact the department to report ice-out dates on individual lakes and waterways. By reporting current conditions and then recording traditional ice-out dates, it is possible to project ice-out dates. I encourage people to visit the department Ice-Out page and explore what is available.”

This Year’s Ice-Out Dates
Although the winter of 2016/2017 has brought a lot of snow to most of Maine, lake ice conditions are considered to be normal or below normal in ice thickness. A heavy blanket of snow has covered most of our lakes since early December insulating the ice and has generally reduced the ice quality and thickness throughout Maine. Many areas that may typically see more than 4′ of ice late in the season are currently covered by 24-30” of ice and much of that is “soft” ice meaning it is very porous. A late season cold snap may change conditions but if the current weather pattern continues, lakes covered with ice should go out when they normally do.

Ice-Out Webpage: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/wateractivities/boating/iceout_dates.shtml
Webpage Resources:
Current conditions report – You can also sign up to receive ice—out email updates
Ice-Out dates from previous years
Ice-Out dates for a specific lake or town can be searched or the date ice was reported out
Public Participation Encouraged:
The public is encouraged to make the page as accurate as possible by sending a quick email when the ice goes out in their area to timothy.thurston@maine.gov . People should include the name of the water body, town(s) and the ice out date in your email and it will be posted as soon as possible.

What’s Ice Out?
Department’s web page considers “ice-out” to be when you can navigate unimpeded from one end of the water body to the other. There may still be ice in coves or along the shoreline in some areas but when a person can traverse the entire water body without being stopped by ice floes, the department considers the ice to be out.
For more information: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/parks/wateractivities/boating/iceout_dates.shtml

In other news in Augusta, LD 42, which would enable prosecutors to pursue a Class A manslaughter charge against anyone who provides drugs that cause a death, is on its way to floor debate in the Maine Senate. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Scott Cyrway, R-Benton, who is a former law enforcement officer, was voted out of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Friday with a divided report. It will head to the full Legislature for further consideration in the coming weeks. — Christopher Cousins

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