Great turnout and program at Legislative Breakfast

Executive Director Patrick Strauch

Attendance was great at the MFPC’s Legislative breakfast — more than 70 people, including about 30 legislators — at the Senator Inn Jan. 30. But even more heartening was the enthusiasm for the program, which highlighted the important role Maine’s forests and forest products play in climate change and carbon sequestration.

“I received a lot of feedback from legislators,” said MFPC Lobbyist Michele MacLean, ” And it was very bipartisan across the board, and the feedback has been pretty impressive.”
Executive Director Patrick Strauch started his presentation by showing the video above “What a tree can do” produced by Stora Enso) and then showed a PowerPoint presentation that took legislators and members through Maine’s “green” forest economy step by step.
“Maine should provide incentives for traditional and new construction methods that utilize wood as a primary building material, and actively support the use of products that have lower carbon footprints in the construction of public buildings,” Strauch said. “Long-lived wood products from sustainably managed forests have the benefit of storing carbon while leaving a growing resource that continues to actively remove carbon from the atmosphere.”

Catherine Robbins-Halstead
Following Strauch’s presentation was an update on sawmillsupdate on sawmills by Catherine Robbins-Halstead, manager and co-owner, Robbins Lumber in Searsmont. She is part of the fifth generation to run this family-owned mill.

“By 2050, we will be adding 2.3 billion people to the world’s population,” Robbins-Halstead said. “That is 80 million people per year – the equivalent of a new United States every 4 years. They will all need homes. These homes can be made out of wood.  A 20-story building of wood grows every 13 minutes in North America. The average wooden urban house can store 48 metric tons of carbon. ”

Scott Beal, Communications and Environmental Manager at Woodland Pulp, provided a pulp and paper update, emphasizing recycling and renewability in the industry.

“The Kraft pulping process is a process that is unique to our industry” Beal said. “It is a process that was, arguably, at the vanguard of the business of recycling. It is a process that is in every sense of the term, ‘carbon neutral.’ And last, but certainly not least, it is a process that is in every sense of the word: ‘renewable.’”

Chris Fife

Finally, Chris Fife, public affairs manager at Weyerhaeuser, talked about the strong industry support that allowed for Tri-County Technical Center (TCTC) in Dexter to add log truck and loader training to its commercial driver’s license training program. The Weyerhaeuser Giving Fund contributed $20,000 and other MFPC members also donated, including Pallet One, Pleasant River Lumber and Seven Islands. Weyerhaeuser also loaned an experienced logging truck drive to the program. 

“Five students who received their Class As enrolled in the program last spring and are currently working with Mark Niles – a 40-year career as a logging truck driver — who is on Weyerhaeuser’s payroll,” TCTC Director Patrick O’Neill wrote in a letter to Chris Fife. “He is on loan to us every other day and takes these five trainees out to wood lots to observe harvesting, loading and mill deliveries.  The students have actually moved loads to local mills and processing plants as they gain experience driving and handling this type of cargo.”