In a unanimous vote May 16, the Criminal Justice and Safety Committee held over until next year LD 297, the bill that would have armed Maine’s forest rangers. Committee members decided to wait for the report of of a task force ordered by Gov. Paul LePage.
Below is the press release issued by the governor’s office.
The order follows a lengthy debate during the 126th Legislature about Maine Forest Rangers carrying firearms. The Legislature is currently considering LD 297, “An Act to Require Forest Rangers To Be Trained in Order To Allow Them To Carry Firearms” which could dramatically alter the role of government responsibility to the forest products community and lead to tax increases for landowners throughout Maine. In an effort to address the complexity of this issue, the Governor’s task force will develop a set of recommendations including those pertaining to arming forest rangers aids in carrying out their duties or increasing personal safety. Additionally, the group will review and consider opportunities for cross-training and reduction in redundancy among the Maine Warden Service, Maine Marine Patrol, and Maine Forest Rangers. Costs associated with proposed changes will also be a consideration of the task force.
The task force will consist of ten members, appointed by the Governor to include:
- Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Forestry, ex officio, or designee;
- Commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources, ex officio, or designee;
- Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, ex officio, or designee;
- Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, ex officio, or designee, as chair;
- Colonel Warden, Maine Warden Service, or designee;
- Colonel Maine Marine Patrol, or designee;
- Chief Forest Ranger, Maine Forest Service, or designee;
- One representative of a large landowner (greater than 10,000 acres) engaged in forest management;
- One representative of a small landowner (less than 10,000 acres) engaged in forest management;
- One Forest Ranger currently employed at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry familiar with the concerns shared by Maine Rangers.
The task force will convene in July and submit a report to the Governor no later than December 1, 2013.