Sifting Through the LePage FY 2016/2017 Proposed Budget: DACF Meets With AFA, AG Committees
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walter Whitcomb met before a joint meeting of the 127th Legislture’s standing Appropriations and Agricultural Committees on January 20th to discuss Governor LePage’s 2016/17 biennial budget’s impacts upon his department in a surprising overhaul of the department, including elimination of 25 Maine Forest Ranger positions, 12 of which are currently vacant, and creation of new law enforcement positions.
Walter E. Whitcomb, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, said in a statement that the budget “represents an important shift in public resources to provide more comprehensive forestry protection and better meet the wide range of forest management threats. It also addresses safety issues raised last year through a proposal to arm rangers.”
Whitcomb said he participated in budget discussions and is comfortable with the direction his department may be headed.
“I think what we’re causing to happen is an investigation of what we want our rangers to do,” Whitcomb said in an interview. “And I think we’re getting to that point … We want them to be doing more of those firefighter duties, and less of the chasing bad guys.”