AUGUSTA — Former Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap has been selected by the Augusta-based Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to be its interim executive director.

Dunlap, a Democrat from Old Town, was House chairman of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee for six years during his legislative career. Dunlap said he also served on the alliance’s 11-member board of directors for about 18 months before stepping down in recent weeks.

“When it looked like (the board) really wanted to go in a different direction and they were starting to talk to me, I said, ‘Look, I can’t be a part of this decision,’ so I resigned from the board,” he said.

Dunlap was chosen Monday to replace Tim Bell, who was executive director for less than six months. The organization’s board felt a change in leadership was necessary to achieve its goals, Dunlap said.

Bell became executive director in October, replacing George Smith of Mount Vernon, who had guided the advocacy and lobbying organization for 18 years.

At that time, Dunlap was a member of the board and anticipated serving another two-year term as secretary of state. But Republicans won control of the Legislature and nominated and confirmed Charles Summers, a Republican, as secretary of state, freeing Dunlap for other work.

Jim Gorman, president of the board of directors, said he believed Dunlap was the right choice to lead the group.

“With all the changes and challenges that face sportsmen right now, we felt we needed someone who would have instant credibility with the powers that be in Augusta and with the rest of the outdoor community,” Gorman said in prepared statement.

Rep. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, the current House chairman on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, is the alliance’s treasurer and a member of its board. He praised Dunlap’s past work and said he would be a good leader.

“He’s well known over at the State House and is well accepted by both sides,” Davis said.

Dunlap said he hopes to refocus the state’s largest sporting group on its core mission and help expand its membership, which is about 12,000.

“The new plan is the (original) plan — getting back to the grass-roots, reaching out to members and being a resource for our members,” he said. “We’re a member organization first, and that’s really something that we need to focus on.”

Legislative goals for the group include better use of wildlife resources, stabilizing the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and ensuring that Maine has enough game wardens with the right training and equipment to do their jobs, Dunlap said.

 

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: [email protected]