State Park Managers, Rangers need more training, legislators told

A legislative committee heard testimony March 7 that the park managers and rangers at Maine’s state parks are woefully undertrained and that immediate action is necessary to correct the problem. The testimony was in support of LD 527, Resolve, Directing the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Forestry, Bureau of Parks and Land to Establish a Law Enforcement Training Program for Park Managers and Certain Bureau Staff.”

Matt McGuire testifying

“Many days I hear parents tell their children: ‘That’s a park ranger. They’re here to protect the visitors and the park.’ That’s what we do, but we are not receiving the training and equipment necessary to safely carry out this mission. LD 527 will help us continue to safely and effectively allow the public to recreate and be good stewards of the land we are charged with protecting,” MSEA-SEIU Member and Sebago Lake Park Manager Matt McGuire, speaking on his own time and as a union member, told members of the Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. Read Matt’s testimony here.

Rep Skolfield introduces the bill

In introducing LD 527, State Rep. Tom Skolfield said state park managers and state park rangers are in desperate need of training.  “The enforcement training, certification and authorization to utilize that training has, over the past decade or so, fallen by the wayside,” Rep. Skolfield told the committee on which he serves. “I urge the committee to vote to require the Bureau once again to train, equip and designate those devoted and dedicated people, who are charge to protect the resource from the people, protect t the people from the resource, and protect people from one another, while at all times, having the tools and training for protecting themselves.” Read Rep. Skolfield’s testimony here.

Tim Caverly

Tim Caverly of Millinocket, who worked as a park ranger for 32 years throughout the state, urged passage of LD 527. “I truly feel that passage of LD 527 will ensure that rangers and managers of Maine Parks will have the professional training, authority and professional encouragement that our rangers need, visitors deserve. Training should be available for this upcoming summer season, and not delaying until September.” Read Tim’s testimony here.

Rep Richard Pickett

State Rep. Richard Pickett, a retired law enforcement officer, also testified in support of LD 527. “Training is essential to ensure that law enforcement officers can be successful in their day to day operational duties,” Rep. Pickett said. “It should be no different for Bureau of Parks and Land employees and agents who manage lands or waters within the department’s jurisdiction and who exercise law enforcement powers of the Bureau in enforcing Bureau rules and state law within the jurisdiction of the bureau.” Read Rep. Pickett’s testimony here.

Reps Maxmin and Plueker

State Reps. Chloe Maxmin and Bill Pluecker listen to testimony in support of LD 527, Resolve, Directing the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Forestry, Bureau of Parks and Land to Establish a Law Enforcement Training Program for Park Managers and Certain Bureau Staff.”

MSEA-SEIU Member and Range Pond State Park Manager Adam McKay told the committee, on his own time in support of LD 527, “The only training I received was in 2011 where I went through a basic Enforcement Academy with the forest rangers. There has been minimal training since then. No other defensive safety tactics training since then.” Read Adam’s testimony here.

Sen Dill and Rep Craig Hickman

The Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee heard testimony that the park managers and rangers at Maine’s state parks are woefully undertrained and that immediate action is necessary to correct the problem. The testimony was in support of LD 527, Resolve, Directing the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Forestry, Bureau of Parks and Land to Establish a Law Enforcement Training Program for Park Managers and Certain Bureau Staff.”  Here, committee Co-Chairs Sen. Jim Dill and Rep. Craig Hickman listen to testimony.

Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Cpl. Aaron Skolfield provided the committee with call logs documenting the many trips that Sagadahoc County sheriff’s deputies made to Reid State Park and Popham Beach State Park over the years. Read the call logs here.

Reps Roberts-Lovell and Skolfield.

State Reps. Tiffany Roberts-Lovell and Tom Skolfield listen to testimony in support of LD 527, Resolve, Directing the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Forestry, Bureau of Parks and Land to Establish a Law Enforcement Training Program for Park Managers and Certain Bureau Staff.”

Updated: March 8, 2019 — 1:12 pm