In 2018, nearly 3 million people visited Maine state parks.

By statute, the Bureau of Parks and Lands has the authority to designate its rangers to enforce state laws and regulations. Yet the bureau refuses to either adequately train their staff in effective law enforcement or authorize park rangers to issue summonses or make arrests.

L.D. 527 – introduced by Rep. Thomas Skolfield, a respected retired regional park supervisor – requires the Bureau of Parks and Lands to establish a law enforcement training program for park managers and rangers.

Park officials refuse to acknowledge that parks experience the same safety issues as small villages, such as opioid crises, sexual predators and meth labs. Rep. Skolfield has seen through the ruse and is working to protect our park visitors.

Though the bureau claims otherwise, Maine park rangers are first responders to dangerous situations. Rangers often respond to domestic disputes, which often turn violent. Parks director Tom Desjardin has described those instances as mere squabbles.

In 2018, drug needles were found on park benches and in bathhouses. Public intoxication, stalking by a convicted sex offender and many other serious law violations were reported.

At a time when the Maine Legislature has authorized Maine Forest Service rangers to carry sidearms for their and the public’s safety, the Bureau of Parks has not only removed law enforcement authority but also refuses to provide safety equipment and ignored training.

As a retired park ranger, I believe that when it comes to providing public safety and resource protection in our magnificent state parks and historic sites, our own Bureau of Parks and Lands has left visitors and rangers out in the cold.

Tim Caverly

Millinocket