Lt. Pat Dorian’s comments on snowmobiling enforcement (BDN, Jan. 5) were right on regarding the joint efforts of the Maine Snowmobile Association and the Warden Service to improve safety on the trails. However, his take on the service’s compensation for this work and its mission is off base and needs to be clarified.
The snowmobile program in Maine is funded entirely from funds generated by registrations and a small portion of the state gas tax. The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife received almost $500,000 last fiscal year in direct funds from snowmobile registrations and is projected to receive $700,000 this year. The intent of most of those funds is to pay for snowmobile enforcement by the warden service. Unfortunately in past years, much of that money was used to cover other department shortfalls, leaving the impression that snowmobile enforcement was underfunded.
As far as its mission is concerned, the warden service has been responsible for snowmobile enforcement since the early 1970s. In addition to that, it also shoulders much responsibility for boating enforcement and search and rescue. Unfortunately, these burdens have cut into the “Mark Trail” aura of duty with the service, but as changes are made in government, the successful departments are the ones that can adapt to the times.
These clarifications should in no way take away from the excellent job the wardens are doing in snowmobile enforcement. The work is cold and miserable, and they’re doing a good job catching the few drunks and irresponsible riders who are a threat to the thousands of safe snowmobilers on Maine’s trails. Bob Meyers Executive director Maine Snowmobile Association, Augusta