Maine’s forest economy
To understand recent changes, look at the global picture
For legislators and the general public to understand Maine’s recent changes in the forest economy, they need to look at a global picture. Two significant factors are testing even the healthiest commodity-based businesses: The strong U.S. dollar is stifling exports and China’s economic downturn is softening markets. These two factors have triggered closures of some Maine paper mills that were operating in a highly competitive market. Read more.
50 years ago, Fred Huntress
found his voice at MFPC
When Fred Huntress looks back on his much-younger self, he can’t help but laugh.
“When I was in high school I wouldn’t even talk on the phone,” he says. “Gosh, it took me a long time to get out of that shell. Now you can’t stop me from talking.”
Why would anyone want to stop him? At 82, Huntress has seen much and learned more. He cares deeply, but pulls no punches. You can read his character in his straight back, square shoulders, bright eyes and half-skeptical smile.
“There is no guile, there is no ruse,” says Ted Johnston, former executive director of the Maine Forest Products Council. “What you see is what you get. Fred is a very upfront, genuine and honest person – to a fault.” Read more.
Non-national park options
Op-ed: Everybody could come out a winner!
By Jim Robbins, MFPC Board, Special to the BDN, Dec. 16, 2015
In 2000, Robbins Lumber put a conservation easement on the 20,767 acres surrounding Nicatous and West Lakes to protect the land forever. In addition, the state acquired 76 islands and 243 acres connecting to the Duck Lake Public Reserve Unit.
I told Roxanne Quimby about this project in 2011 at a meeting of the Maine Forest Products Council because I wanted her to know she had other options — options that would unite Mainers, not divide them. Her answer was, “There is no plan B. It is a national park or nothing. There are no other options.”
I oppose her park and national recreation area because she only owns 87,500 acres of the 150,000 acres she promises to donate. The other 63,500 acres are owned by many individual landowners — many of the parcels have been in these landowners’ families for generations. How would you like it if someone promised to give your land away? Threatened? You bet. Read more.
Steady rise in budworm
MFS releases 2015 report
Entomologists from the Maine Forest Service noted a steady rise in the numbers of budworm moths caught in pheromone traps concentrated along the Canadian border in 2015, according to a report released Dec. 11. Quebec’s infestation now encompasses 15.6 million acres and has spread south onto the Gaspe Peninsula and toward Maine. The insect’s potential to become an outbreak over vast regions of commercially valuable spruce-fir forests has scientists and public officials concerned. Read more.
Spruce budworm public opinion survey
We are approaching the time when spruce budworm will once again be an issue throughout regions of the United States and Canada. Because forests provide so many benefits to local communities, including jobs and recreation, understanding the opinions of local residents is vital to addressing this issue. In order to do this, we are asking you to respond to a survey regarding spruce budworm in your area.
This survey will be used as the basis for a graduate student research project, to assess the opinions and concerns of residents on an issue which encompasses the economic and environmental impact of forests. Your participation is incredibly valuable, and the information provided will be used to help facilitate a role for the public in natural resource management. Responses are anonymous, and no personal identifying information is required to participate. Questions about the survey can be sent to the supervising professor at the University of New Brunswick, Dr. Stephen Heard. You can access the survey by clicking on the link below, or typing it into an internet browser:
Thank you for your willingness to assist in this project! — Brian Roth, associate director, Cooperative Forestry Research Unit, School of Forest Resources, University of Maine.
Long-delayed tax incentive
Significant exemption for Maine timberland owners
Back in 2005, the Maine Legislature enacted an MFPC bill that provides an incentive to taxpayers with long-term holdings of timberlands in Maine. The catch – the tax benefit did not kick in until January 1, 2015, at the earliest. As a result, this piece of legislation was largely forgotten until now. For tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2015, the law exempts a portion of the gain from the sale of certain timberlands from Maine income tax. Depending on the length of time these timberlands are held, up to 100% of the gain on the sale may be exempt. Read more.
Public Lands timber revenue
Commission recommends improving recreation and accessibility
A legislative commission decided not to recommend Gov. Paul LePage’s proposal to fund energy upgrades for low-income Mainers with revenue from increased timber harvesting on public, making LePage’s plan unlikely to advance in 2016. (Read BDN story). Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, who co-chaired the Commission to Study the Public Reserved Lands Management Fund, said their recommendations include using surplus timber revenues to improve recreational opportunities and accessibility on public lands. The commission’s report, which was released Dec. 16, will go to the Legislature in January.
Thanks to a federal grant, improvements are coming
A better freight rail system has been on the top of MFPC’s wish list for years. Now there’s finally hope for improvement. Nate Moulton, the director of the MaineDOT Rail Program, made a presentation at November’s MFPC Board Meeting on the Maine Regional Railways Project, which is expected to remove bottlenecks and create faster and more reliable service. On 26, the state received a $20 million in federal funding, which will be supplemented with $14.5 million from the Pan Am Railways, Central Maine & Quebec Railway, Maine Northern Railway and Eastern Maine Railway, and another $400,000 from MDOT.
Tour and discussion of the Maine Forest Biomass Initiative Dec. 22
MFPC Board members and guest are invited to a tour and discussion of the Maine Forest Biomass Initiative, 10 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 22, at the Port of Eastport, 141 Water St., Eastport, Maine. PHYTO-CHARTER offers proven phytosanitary technology, resource procurement and merchant marketing to supply biomass fuel to meet the European Union’s ambitious climate and energy targets for 2020. Executive Director Christopher Gardner will host your board members and member guests. RSVP to Stephean Chute, managing director, Phyto-Charter Inc., 207.650.4216. Read more.
Tracking the impacts of the pellet trade
Exports represent a very small part of southern harvests
The U.S. export of industrial wood pellets to meet renewable energy goals in the European Union is not a threat to the sustainability of U.S. Southern forests, according to a new report by independent forest analysts and economists using U.S. government and marketplace data. The report was commissioned by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) and the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association (USIPA). The report reveals that industrial pellet exports represent a very small part of forest harvests in the U.S. South and will continue to do so into the future. Read more from NAFO.
Certified Logging Professionals (CLP) announced its annual awards, sponsored by Huber Resources, on Dec. 4 at its 25th. Above, from left, are Mike St. Peter, CLP director; Kenny Fergusson, Huber Resources; Roger Avery, Mechanical Logging Award; Tim Wing, Conventional Logging Award, and Tony Madden, Contractor/Supervisor Award. Each received a check for $1,000, a monogrammed jacket and an engraved plaque. “We had great line up of winners, with all recipients’ awards well deserved,” St. Peter said. Certificates also were awarded to 177 loggers who completed training during 2015, bringing the number of CLP’s trained since 1991 to over 6,300. “We continue to face changes and challenges in our industry in 2015 and expect more to come,” said Erik Carlson, chairman of CLP’s Board of Directors. “One thing that remains the same is that CLP loggers get up each morning put their boots on and continue to supply the forest products industry with a vast amount of fiber for the paper, sawmill, pellet, and co-generation facilities. CLP loggers continue to make their workplace safer, productive, and environmentally sound.” Read more.
Since 1961, the Maine Forest Products Council has been the voice of Maine’s forest economy. The MFPC represents the diverse needs of Maine’s forest products community. Our members are landowners, loggers, truckers, paper mills, tree farmers, foresters and lumber processors, but they are also bankers, lawyers and insurance executives. We feel we represent anyone who has an interest in seeing the Maine woods remain a viable, sustainable resource. We serve our community by gathering information, bringing groups together to discuss concerns, hosting events, conducting tours and helping people find common ground. We represent our members at the Maine Legislature, but also across the state, in Washington D.C. and across the nation.
Patrick Strauch, Executive Director;
Pat Sirois, SFI Coordinator
Roberta Scruggs, Communications Director
Sue McCarthy, Office Manager
Address: 535 Civic Center Dr., Augusta ME 04330
Phone: 207-622-9288 Website: www.maineforest.org