FARMINGTON — On Monday, May 20, Patty Cormier will begin her duties as the director of the Maine Forest Service.

Patty Cormier of Farmington has been named the new State Forester. She will begin her duties in Augusta on Monday, May 20. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

The position is also known as the state forester. She will report to Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal.

In her new role, Cormier  will interface with federal agencies to represent the forests and forestry interests of Maine, and oversee three divisions, the Forest Protection Division (Forest rangers and planning staff), the Forest Policy and Management Division (foresters including planning staff such as urban forestry, water quality, stewardship) and the Forest Health and Monitoring Division (entomologists, pathologist and inventory staff).  She will also serve on the Baxter Park Advisory Committee.

Cormier said several people asked if they could put her name forward for the position. After thinking about it, she decided it was something to explore.

“I met with the new commissioner a few times,” Cormier said. “About three weeks ago she said she was moving forward with her appointments and asked if I would take the position. It was exciting.”

A formal announcement hasn’t yet been made, but it has been made known internally, she said.

“I feel it’s kind of everyone’s position,” she said. “I’ve been a district forester for 20 years.

“I hope the public knows what a great, committed group of people make up the (Maine Forest Service). I’ve worked with all the rangers, entomologists, pathologists. I know what everyone does.

“I want to make sure I am getting out, getting ideas about improving efficiencies, what we do. Speak with partners, consider technologies we’re not exploring.

“I hope to have a field component,” Cormier said.

She spent 10 years with Georgia Pacific before joining the Maine Forest Service. Most recently she has been Franklin County’s district forester.

Cormier will have to step down from her current roles on Farmington Fire/Rescue and NorthStar ambulance. She would like to stay involved in an on-call capacity.

“It keeps me in touch with things,” she said.

Cormier is looking forward to new ideas and directions from the new administration. She is excited about Beal’s ideas and outlook.

Cormier said there has been a changing of the guard, and she looks forward to what that means for the Forest Service and the people it serves.

“I also look forward to forming new partnerships and exploring new technology to help us serve the public. An example is the use of drones, which the Rangers are already using. This is already saving the taxpayers money and I think more can be saved.

“There are more opportunities out there to take advantage of new technology. My overall goal is to provide MFS employees with what they need to provide the great service they already give to the public and to do that within our budget.

“I have been getting ideas from folks already inside and outside the agency, and I say keep those ideas coming on how we can serve people better!

“I look forward to getting out and meeting with the folks in the forest products industry too, and seeing where we can be of assistance to them as they look for new markets to keep Maine people employed. I also look forward to meeting with the many user groups of the forest. The foresters, landowners large and small, loggers, non-consumptive and consumptive user and users of the urban forests. I’m always looking for their ideas on how to balance all the values our Maine forests represent,” she said.

Cormier noted some of the challenges ahead for her.

She said threats to the Maine forest include both invasive and native insects. More occurrences of the emerald ash borer are being seen. A close eye is being kept on the Spruce budworm and other insects and pests that could spring up.

Other challenges are keeping the budget in check while remaining effective and providing service, encouraging and maintaining a healthy forest products environment, keeping Maine’s water clean and providing the fire prevention and suppression efforts MFS does so well, Cormier said.

“As an agency, we are taking on more enforcement responsibilities which can bring its own challenges,” she said.

Cormier noted this year is Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday.

“It’s perfect timing. I’m fortunate. There will be all kinds of celebrations for that. We’ll be at the Balloon Festival in Lewiston.

“The office time is going to be hard for me. I plan on getting out when I can,” she said.

Cormier welcomes any ideas people might have. She can be reached by calling 287-8421 beginning next week.

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