Maine Landowner Relations Job Created
Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has created a landowner relations position, following the expiration of a similar position at the Department of Conservation.
As Maine’s tradition of public access to and across private land continues to evaporate, the importance of maintaining a good relationship between landowners and recreationists is paramount. So far neither state agencies nor recreationists as a group have been able to foster the type of relationship and program that will sustain this tradition of neighborly access.
The landowner relations job at the Department of Conservation, held by former state legislator Bob Duplessie, expired in early June. When Andrea Erskine was promoted from assistant to the commissioner to deputy commissioner at the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, IF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock replaced her old position with the new landowner relations position. Erskine kept some of her former duties and the rest were parceled out to others.
More than fifty resumes were received in response to an early summer ad for the landowner relations job, and IF&W’s leaders expect to have someone in the position before the end of September. That person will report directly to Commissioner Woodcock, a good indication of the high priority he and his agency place on landowner relations.
Erskine told me that IF&W’s landowner relations specialist will continue programs that had been assigned to Duplessie, including distribution of “Access by Permission Only” signs and response to landowner complaints. “Our focus will be on keeping land accessible,” she said. “And we will expand that to include looking at incentives that landowners might need to keep their land open.”
Erskine indicated the landowner relations specialist would work with all of her department’s divisions, including the Warden Service, and might even get involved in projects such as protection of deer yards.
It’s a pretty big portfolio, but good news for landowners who have sometimes felt alienated from this government agency, where a chronic lack of funding has made it difficult to respond promptly to landowner complaints, concerns, and requests.