The Governor’s Task Force on Review of Needs, Resources and Opportunities for Efficiency Among Natural Resource Law Enforcement was established May 10, and held its first meeting July 10. The task force will likely meet every two to three weeks with its report due on Dec. 1.
The governor’s charge to the task force was to:
- Develop recommendations for short-term and long-term solutions in addressing the role of Forestry as the lead agency in forest fire suppression and forest land protection (law enforcement), including reviewing the Forest Ranger duties, and mission and their need to carry a sidearm. The Task Force shall review safety questions regarding whether arming forest rangers aids in carrying out their duties or increases personal safety;
- Review and consider opportunities for cross-training and reduction in redundancy among the Maine Warden Service, Maine Marine Patrol, and Maine Forest Rangers;
- Review the core mission of each of the Maine Warden Service, Maine Marine Patrol, and Maine Forest Rangers;
- Review and consider costs associated with proposed changes;
- Consider anything else needed to achieve safety and maximum efficiency among Maine Natural Resource Law Enforcement and the Maine State Police.
The task force is made up of:
- John Morris, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, serving as chairman
- Walt Whitcomb, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Forestry
- Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources
- Chandler Woodcock, commissioner of the Department of lnland Fisheries and Wildlife
- Joel Wilkinson, colonel of the Maine Warden Service
- Joe Fesseden, colonel of the Maine Marine Patrol
- Bill Hamilton, chief forest ranger of the Maine Forest Service
- One representative, Mark Doty, of a large landowner (greater than I0,000 acres) engaged in forest management;
- One representative, John Cashwell, of a small landowner (less than I 0,000 acres) engaged in forest management
- One forest ranger, Jeff Currier, currently employed at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, who is familiar with the concerns shared by Maine forest rangers.