“A Magnificent Obsession”
Baxter State Park is the result of a dream of former Governor Percival P. Baxter who donated the first parcel of land in 1931 and over the years added various parcels until his final acquisition in 1962 brought the Park’s area to 201,018 acres. Since then, the Authority has purchased and been gifted additional acreage to bring the Park to its current size of 209,644 acres. In addition to the various gifts of land, Governor Baxter also left two sizeable trust funds to carry out the operation and maintenance of the Park without the need for state funding.
- While Baxter State Park bears the name “State” it is separately administered, free from any connection with the larger State Park system (Bureau of Parks and Lands/Dept. of Conservation). The Baxter State Park Authority, a three-person authority consisting of the Attorney General, the Director of the Maine Forest Service and the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, has full power in the control and management of the Park and in the exercise of all Trust obligations.
About 40% of the costs of Park operations are financed from a combination of entrance fees, camping, and wood products revenues with the remaining 60% provided by revenues from trusts established by Percival Baxter in 1945 and again through his will after his death in 1969 to provide funds for the care and maintenance of Baxter State Park. Park operations are also assisted by donations from independent trusts and organizations such as the Baxter Park Wilderness Fund and the Friends of Baxter State Park. The Baxter State Park Authority also accepts numerous donations from individuals every year.
The Authority operates the Park through a Park Director and an administrative staff consisting of a Chief Ranger, Park Naturalist, Business Manager, and Resource Manager. The Park currently employs 22 year-round, and 39 seasonal employees to protect, maintain and operate the Park. Park operations are also supported by the Maine Conservation Corps and other contracted personnel to prepare firewood bundles, perform road maintenance and forest harvesting and management operations and other maintenance work.
The Park is assisted in the development of policy and operational procedures by a number of committees including the Baxter State Park Advisory Committee, the Scientific Forest Management Area Advisory Committee, the Baxter Park Director’s Research Committee, and the Baxter Park Investment Committee. These groups of dedicated volunteers are composed of individuals with either a wide range of Park experience or specific technical expertise who are interested in assisting the Park. The committees operate at the pleasure of the Authority and provide helpful advice on emerging Park policy or operational concerns.
Percival Baxter submitted legislation in 1939 that established the Baxter State Park Authority as the sole governing body of the Park consisting of the Director of the Maine Forest Service, the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Maine Attorney General.
Some background regarding the Baxter State Park Authority:
Aaron M. Frey – Maine Attorney General
In January of 2019, the House and Senate jointly elected Rep. Aaron Frey, D-Bangor, to succeed Governor-elect Janet Mills as attorney general. Frey, born and raised in Bangor, graduated from Saint Anselm with a Bachelor’s degree in politics and later received a Juris Doctor degree from Roger Williams University school of law. Prior to being elected to serve as Maine’s 58th Attorney General, Mr. Frey worked in private legal practice in Bangor, focusing on matters involving criminal defense and family law. He represented part of Bangor and part of Orono for three terms in the Maine House of Representatives, from 2012 to 2018. In the Legislature, he was a member of the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. Mr. Frey presently resides in Bangor.
The Attorney General is Maine’s chief law enforcement officer and represents the state in legal matters ranging from child support enforcement, civil rights and consumer protection to the prosecution of homicides, felony drug cases, and major frauds. “I am honored and excited to lead a department with such a talented professional staff who work tirelessly on behalf of the people of Maine,” said Frey. “I look forward to working productively with Maine’s Legislature and the executive branch in what I hope will be a new era of cooperation and civility in state government, leading to positive results for our state.”
Judy Camuso – Commissioner, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso, appointed to the position by Governor Janet T. Mills, was Director of the Wildlife Division since 2013 and has 10 years experience with MDIFW. Judy lives in Freeport, Maine and is responsible for the division’s $12 million annual budget, directing a staff of 45 wildlife professionals, including field staff, species specialists, and group and section leaders.
Camuso previously served as an assistant regional wildlife biologist and as a special projects coordinator. Before joining IFW, Camuso worked as director of Gilsland Farm Audubon Center in Falmouth, where she was responsible for the management of Maine Audubon’s headquarters facility, oversaw operations of the nature center and sanctuary property, and coordinated educational programming for families, adults, and children.
In 2015, she received the department’s Employee of the Year, Governor’s Award. She also is a licensed bird bander and an avid birder, as well as a hunter who likes to hike, canoe and bike. She is a graduate of the University of Vermont and holds a bachelor’s of science degree in wildlife biology.
Patty Cormier – Director, Maine Forest Service
As Director of the Maine Forest Service, Patty Cormier also represents the final triad of the completely new BSP Authority in 2019. In her position as director, Cormier will interface with federal and state agencies, representing the forestry interests of Maine and will oversee three divisions – Forest Protection, Forest Policy and Management, and Forest Health and Monitoring. Bringing over 30 years of forestry experience to her position, Director Cormier is well poised for the opportunities and challenges this new position brings. As for her additional role as Baxter’s new Authority member, Cormier stated, “ I am completely humbled to be part of one of Maine’s earliest efforts for land conservation. To be part of the Baxter Park Authority is not something to be taken lightly, and I appreciate the trust put in myself and the other members to uphold the values Percival P. Baxter worked so hard for, for the people of Maine.”
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BSP Staff 2019
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