Maine Launches New Department

By Erin Voegele | September 04, 2012

On Sept. 30, Maine inaugurated a brand new agency that focuses on the use and development of the state’s land-based natural resources. The new agency, named the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, essentially combines two existing departments—The Department of Agriculture and Department of Conservation—into one that can more effectively support the state’s people and economy while protecting its natural assets.

“The new ACF department is truly a department of Maine lands, which, for the first time, brings together agriculture, forestry, outdoor recreation, conservation, public access and an array of land-use planning assistance,” said Gov. Paul LePage in a statement. “I expect this new department will accomplish great things and ensure that Maine’s natural resources, which are such an important part of our heritage, will continue to play a leadership role in our future prosperity.”

I’ve looked over the new department’s website. While the transition to combine the departments seems to be in progress at this time, it appears that several of Maine’s biomass-related programs, including its Wood-to-Energy initiative will be rolled into the new department.

According to the information provided by the governor’s office, the new department will have 732 full-time and seasonal employees with an annual budget of $96.5 million. The expanded department will also be organized into seven different divisions, including the Division of Agricultural Resource Development, the Division of Forestry, the Division of Parks and Public Lands, the Division of Quality Assurance and Regulations, the Division of Animal and Plant Health, the Division of Geology and Natural Areas, and the Division of Land Use Planning, Permitting and Compliance.

With the new department literally in its first week, I think it’s hard to determine exactly what impact the new organizational system could have on Maine’s biomass and pellet industries. However, my guess it that it will be a good one, if only through increased efficiently and resource sharing by the new department. Better efficiency and coordination between government entities is rarely a bad thing.