FORT KENT, Maine — Keeping a more than 80-year tradition alive, former Fort Kent police chief Tom Pelletier is the latest of his lineage to play a role in overseeing the forests of northern Maine.
Pelletier, 58, has been named executive director of North Maine Woods Inc. where he will oversee nearly 4 million acres of commercial and private forestland that surrounds the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. North Maine Woods is a nonprofit organization based in Ashland.
In 1939, his grandfather Leonard Pelletier became a Maine game warden and his father Gary Pelletier followed the same path.
“I see it as a great opportunity to do something I love in a place I certainly love to be,” Pelletier said. “Being able to work and recreate in a place I’m passionate about I guess is anybody’s dream.”
Pelletier grew up hunting and fishing in those woods and owns a private camp in Allagash.
“Tom is an experienced [registered] Maine Guide, having guided moose and bear hunters, fishermen and other outdoor experiences during his lifetime,” President of the Board of North Maine Woods Benjamin Carlisle said. “He is very knowledgeable of the region, including the Allagash River and other significant forest destinations.”
Carlisle added that Pelletier is well known by many North Maine Woods landowners.
Pelletier most recently served as chief of Fort Kent Police Department, from which he retired on Sunday. He also served six years in the United States Navy and is a retired Maine State Police sergeant. Pelletier served as interim Fort Kent town manager in 2018.
He will draw from these experiences as he oversees 70 North Maine Woods employees. These include administrative staff and around 60 seasonal workers who maintain checkpoints and 340 campsites throughout the North Maine Woods.
Pelletier is married to wife Carol. They are parents to son Derek Pelletier and daughter Jamie Pelletier. The Pelletiers raised their family in Eagle Lake, and although he has traveled to many different states and countries, Tom Pelletier said there is no place he would rather live than northern Maine.
“I’ve been all over the world and I chose to settle here; that says a lot,” he said.
Pelletier will officially take over as executive director of North Maine Woods Aug. 30.
He replaces Albro Cowperthwaite, who is retiring after nearly 40 years in the position.