AUGUSTA, Maine — After more than 30 years tending to Maine’s woods, the Maine Forest Service’s chief ranger has retired.
Bill Williams submitted a letter of retirement on Wednesday and Commissioner Bill Beardsley accepted it, Maine Department of Conservation spokeswoman Jeanne Curran said Thursday. His retirement went into effect immediately.
An interim or permanent successor has yet to be named, Curran said.
When contacted at his home Thursday, Williams, who has been chief ranger for the Maine Forest Service for more than a decade, said he actually retired a year ago but was asked to stay on and did so.
As chief, Williams supervised a division of about 100 employees, more than half of them forest rangers.
According to a profile published in the Oct. 22, 2010, edition of From the Field, a Maine Department of Conservation publication, Williams was a third-generation state forest ranger who followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.
He began his career in 1977, working summers as a campsite ranger at Moosehead Lake, working his way up the ranks to unit ranger, district ranger and ultimately chief forest ranger.
As chief, he established the Maine Wildfire Training Academy, which involved the creation of a nationally recognized incident management team and greater recognition of the state’s professional forest fire suppression organization, the publication noted.
He also led the effort to begin a needed upgrade of Maine’s aerial fire suppression resources and was at the forefront of implementing the Maine firewood exchange program, which bans out-of-state firewood to prevent dangerous invasive species from entering Maine.
Williams was named the Conservation Department’s Manager of the Year in 2010.
A graduate of the University of Maine at Fort Kent, Williams holds an associate of science degree in forestry and worked with the campus to create a wildland firefighting degree with the school’s forestry program.