Local legislators were divided over a bill that would have assured that lakes the state stocks with fish would be accessible to the public. The bill was ultimately killed.

The division crossed party lines with Republicans and Democrats both supporting and opposing LD 1508, “Resolve, Directing the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to adopt rules clarifying fish stocking decisions.”

The rules would have included an assessment of the availability of privately owned, publicly accessible points, the resources contributed and responsibilities undertaken by local residents and associations, and the threat of invasive species and the effectiveness of citizen-initiated programs to prevent such a spread.

The Senate had voted on March 9 to accept an ought not to pass recommendation from the Legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. The House voted 83-59 on March 18 to keep the bill alive but later in the day agreed to follow the lead of the Senate and accepted the ought not to pass recommendation.

State Sen. Christopher Rector said the fish stocking policies of the department should be carefully reviewed to be certain that all interests of the public are protected and clearly understood. He said the issue will need to be considered in the future.

In the House, local legislators who voted to keep the bill alive were Reps. Edward Mazurek, D-Rockland; House Speaker Hannah Pingree, D-North Haven; Wes Richardson, R-Warren; Joan Welsh, D-Rockport; Jonathan McKane, R-Newcastle; Jayne Crosby-Giles, R-Belfast; Veronica Magnan, D-Stockton Springs; and John Piotti, D-Unity.

“I believe that if taxpayer dollars are used to stock lakes, then the public should be allowed to have access,” Welsh said. “I further think that the state must do all it can to protect our lakes from invasive species.”

Voting to follow the state Senate’s recommendation were Reps. Chuck Kruger, D-Thomaston; Andrew O’Brien, D-Lincolnville; Wendy Pieh, D-Bremen; Elizabeth Miller, D-Somerville; and Michael Thibodeau, R-Winterport.

Kruger said he does not agree that the state’s taxpayers should be paying to stock lakes with no public access.

“It’s OK for lake associations to stock at their own expense, and I understand the need to limit access to lakes over milfoil, but this is not an appropriate use of public funds,” Kruger said.