Park rangers in Maine work in both state parks for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry State Parks and Public Lands and at the federal level for the National Park Service where they police and protect the many national parks located in the state. Also referred to as forest rangers, Maine’s park rangers are responsible for enforcing laws related to conservation, forestry and the environment, all while giving attention to measures that help prevent the outbreak of devastating and costly forest fires in the state.
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According to the Maine Forest Service, in 2010 there were 56 forest rangers, 9 district rangers, and 3 regional rangers working statewide. Maine’s park rangers routinely carry out investigations into crimes related to litter and unauthorized dumping, open burning and the unlawful harvesting of trees.
Maine is home to almost 40 state parks. Some of the most famous include:
- Range Ponds State Park – located near Auburn and Lewiston, containing two miles of hiking trails and areas for water sports
- Scarborough Beach State Park – located in Scarborough and famous for its beach, swimming and kayaking areas
- Aroostook State Park – located in Presque Isle in the North Maine Woods, famous for Echo Lake and Quaggy Jo Mountain
- Wolfe’s Neck State Park – located near Freeport, famous for ospreys and nature walks
- Bradbury Mountain State Park – located in Pownal, famous for fall foliage and being open all year
- Baxter State Park – located in Millinocket, famous for its 200 miles of hiking trails
Steps to Becoming a Park Ranger with the Maine Forest Service
Experience and Degree Requirements – An applicant who wishes to become a park ranger in Maine may fulfill the education and experience requirements in one of two ways:
- Hold an Associate degree with at least 15 hours of natural science courses like oceanography, geology, biology or forestry)
- Have two years of education, training and experience that is equivalent and shows the applicant’s practical knowledge in natural sciences
Coursework available at Maine’s colleges and universities that can be most helpful in serving as a park ranger includes:
- Introduction to forest resources
- Forest vegetation
- Park systems of the world
- Public communication
- Environment and society
- Forest biology
- Sustainable tourism development
- Forest operations planning
Satisfy Basic Requirements – Basic requirements that must be satisfied by all applicants for state park ranger jobs in Maine are:
- Be a legal U.S. resident eligible to work
- Have a valid Maine driver’s license
- Be at least 21 years old (unless an applicant has an associate degree with 60 credits of postsecondary education, in which case the applicant must be at least 18 years old)
- Pass a physical fitness test, consisting of a 1.5 mile run, sit-ups, push-ups and sit-and-reach
- Pass an Oral Interview which will gauge the applicant’s problem solving abilities, leadership, motivation, diplomacy, decisiveness, judgment, and independence
- Pass a polygraph test
- Pass a thorough background investigation
- Pass an employment reference check
Maine Forest Ranger Academy – As of 2014, Maine’s park and forest rangers are exempted from training standards required of Maine law enforcement officers employed by other state agencies. New Maine park rangers must complete the Maine Forest Ranger Academy, which trains them in:
- Fire suppression
- Law enforcement
- Agency policies
- Natural resource protection
After this training is completed, Maine’s newly hired park rangers work in the field under a Field Training Ranger for at least six months.
Every year, forest rangers in Maine must attend refresher fire line training.
Becoming a Park Ranger with the National Parks Service in Maine
The National Park Service operates five national parks, international parks and/or historic sites where Maine’s federal park rangers work:
- Saint Croix Island – Calais (international historic site famous as the beginning of French explorer Pierre Dugua’s expedition into North America in 1604)
- Roosevelt Campobello – Lubec (international park named after President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who spent his summers there)
- Maine Acadian Culture – St. John Valley (the Maine Acadian Heritage Council is supported by the National Park Service as an association of Maine Acadians, who share beliefs, experiences, language, history and religion)
- Appalachian Trail – Maine to Georgia (national scenic trail that begins in Maine and runs 2184 miles through the Appalachian Mountains)
- Acadia National Park – Bar Harbor (national park famous for housing Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast, and the second most visited national park in the U.S.)
Applicants for federal park ranger jobs in Maine must satisfy similar requirements to those of state employees, which include being a U.S. citizen with a valid driver’s license.
Fulfilling the National Parks Service education and experience requirements can be done in one of the following ways:
- Through one year of specialized experience in parks, conservation areas, recreation areas, environmental education, natural sciences education, or similar fields
- Through at least 18 semester hours of related education
- Through an equivalent combination of education and experience
Maine Park Ranger Salaries
Park rangers in Maine are employed by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. In general, they work in their normal capacity as park rangers. However, they can also be appointed as park managers depending upon the locale in which they work.
Maine park ranger salaries are divided into 8 steps. The following salary information has been provided by the Department of Administration and Financial Services, Bureau of Human Resources:
- Step 1: $24,814.40
- Step 2: $25,646.40
- Step 3: $26,582.40
- Step 4: $27,560
- Step 5: $28,766.40
- Step 6: $29,806.40
- Step 7: $30,992
- Step 8: $32,219.20
Park Manager I
- Step 1: $26,769.60
- Step 2: $27,830.40
- Step 3: $27,766.40
- Step 4: $29,993.60
- Step 5: $31,137.60
- Step 6: $32,427.20
- Step 7: $33,779.20
- Step 8: $35,131.20
Park Manager II
- Step 1: $30,721.60
- Step 2: $31,844.80
- Step 3: $33,238.40
- Step 4: $34,694.40
- Step 5: $36,192
- Step 6: $37,856
- Step 7: $39,353.60
- Step 8: $40,913.60
Park Manager III
- Step 1: $33,196.80
- Step 2: $34,611.20
- Step 3: $36,088
- Step 4: $37,856
- Step 5: $39,478.40
- Step 6: $41,475.20
- Step 7: $43,118.40
- Step 8: $44,824
It’s also important to point out that park rangers frequently work in a variety of roles. This table takes a look at those roles and their associated salary figures:
Recreation Workers Salaries in Maine
Tour Guides and Escorts Salaries in Maine
Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in Maine
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is listed among the “10 Most Visited National Parks” in National Geographic magazine, hosting 2.3 million visitors each year. Located near Bar Harbor, Maine, the majority of the park is contained within the boundaries of Mount Desert Island. It is also the first national park located east of the Mississippi River.
First opened in 1929, Acadia National Park contains over 120 miles of diverse hiking trails, from steep to flat. Some of these are “carriage roads,” or broken stone roads, originally designed for horse-drawn carriages, but that now serve as hiking and biking trails. The park also features propane-powered Island Explorer Shuttle Buses that carry visitors and their bicycles across Mount Desert Island to various places within the park.
Acadia National Park is home to Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the U.S. East Coast and the first place to view a sunset on the East Coast. Acadia also provides a panoramic view of Eagle Lake. Acadia National Park’s 47,000 acres (35,332 acres owned by the National Park Service and 12,416 privately owned acres under conservation easements operated by NPS) provide one of the most coveted locations in which National Park Rangers in Maine aspire to work.
According to the National Park Service, college students are being recruited for internships to help fill the expected vacancies in Acadia and other national parks across the country.
Teacher-Ranger-Teachers (TRT) Program at Acadia National Parks
Another type of park ranger job available at Acadia National Park is Teacher-Ranger-Teacher (TRT). This program, which has been at Acadia National park since 2007, allows K-12 teachers to spend six weeks during the summer living and working at a national park.
In exchange for a $2400 stipend and NPS paying for all related training, TRTs get the opportunity to obtain a broad knowledge base and take that knowledge back into their classrooms in the fall.
For more information on the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program at Acadia National Park and an application, click here.
Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park, near Millinocket, Maine, is listed among the state’s most popular state parks. It is named after Governor Percival P. Baxter who donated land to start the park in 1931 and, upon his death, left two trust funds to continue the park’s maintenance and operation without relying on state funding.
Although Baxter State Park is referred to as a “state” park, it is privately administered and not under the control of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. The Baxter State Park Authority, which contains the Director of the Maine Forest Service and the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, manages and controls the park, its operations and its funding. Jobs, however, including park ranger jobs in Millinocket, are still filled through the State of Maine Bureau of Human Resources.
Home to the highest mountain in Maine, Mt. Katahdin (5268 feet), Baxter State Park offers visitors more than 200 miles of steep and flat hiking trails. Its 200,000-plus acres are full of wildlife including deer, bear and moose. Whitewater rafting is a popular activity on the West Branch of the Penobscot River, which runs along the park’s southern perimeter. Ten campgrounds provide ample space for visitors to stay overnight in Baxter State Park if they wish.
Training for Baxter State Park Ranger Jobs
Becoming a park ranger in Baxter State Park presents a unique set of challenges. Because of the topography of the park, rangers may deal with a variety of safety issues, including avalanche rescue, water rescue from the park’s many remote lakes and ponds, mountain falls, dealings with bears and other indigenous wildlife, and more.
All park rangers in Baxter State Park must be certified in Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA) and CPR. If a park ranger is hired without this certification, this is the first step in training. It is preferred for Baxter State Park rangers to obtain Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification, as well as Level 1 Avalanche Rescue certification.
Much of the training for new park rangers at Baxter State Park will be done on-the-job, under the supervision of higher- level park rangers and/or the Chief Ranger, for a period of six months or more. Although Baxter State Park does not technically fall under the jurisdiction of the Maine Forest Service, higher-level park ranger jobs may require the new hire to be sent to the Maine Forest Ranger Academy for training in things such as fire prevention, safety measures and physical demands of the job.
Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park
The land that is currently called Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park was donated to the State of Maine by the Smiths of Freeport in 1969. It consists of 233 acres of marshes and open fields, with varied ecosystems, and is home to many wild animals and waterfowl including osprey and loon. When the Smiths donated the land to the State of Maine, it came with a stipulation that educational outreach be a central component of the park’s operations.
The Beauty and History of Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park
Although Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is owned by the State of Maine, it has a special endowment to provide nature programs. Guided nature programs, bird watching and hiking are just a few of the year-round recreational activities for visitors to this state park in Freeport. Nature walks in the wintertime can draw as many as 30 participants per walk, per a park ranger’s estimate. Nature walks are free with park admission (currently $1.50 per person ages 13 to 65). Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is the only state park in Maine that offers these free nature programs.
Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park also contains the Casco Bay Trail, providing a view of the islands surrounding the park. Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is open year-round. In the winter, visitors enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The Wabakani Native American tribe once inhabited the land on which Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is located. Educational programs on this tribe and their activities, including clamming, is also included in the park’s educational outreach programs.