The down side of legislative harmony was on display for hour after hour Monday as opponents and proponents of wind power finally had the all-out debate they didn’t – perhaps couldn’t – have nearly six years ago. Now it appears likely the discussion will continue in a study group over the coming year.
At the EUT work session Thursday, Sen. John Cleveland, D-Auburn, proposed that rather than take a piecemeal approach — one bill and/or one issue at a time — to wind power, they should “look at the bigger picture.” He asked the committee to create a study group of stakeholders to develop recommendations for the Legislature next year and won the support of most committee members. Two bills were tabled and a third was voted ought not to pass by a 9-3 margin.
“My sense is that the wind bills will either get thrown into the study group or they’ll get killed,” MFPC Executive Director Patrick Strauch said Friday. Read more.
Landowner rights, rangers and discontinued roads
The Council gets involved with wind power bills because of the unintended consequences of regulations relating to visual quality and zoning that will have much broader applications to landowner value. You can read my testimony (on LD 1147 and LD 1323.), but the principle of land rights is always juxtaposed to the public interest in many of these debates. Some legislators, like Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Aroostook, believe these bills are all an attempt to throw roadblocks at development opportunities and create precedents that threaten harvesting operations.
“This issue that we’re dealing with today is about wind, but when you open this door would you be concerned that we’ll be talking about things like logging next?” Sen. Jackson asked at the LD 1147 hearing. “You know people on these trails don’t like to see a clearcut 15 miles away or something like that. Today it’s wind but and next year or a couple of years from now will we be here talking about no cutting in these sites around these ‘crown jewels?'” Read more.
Maine’s forest community is mourning the death of W.T. Gardner, 74, on Jan. 15, but also is remembering all he accomplished.
As his obituary in the Tampa Bay Times notes, he began his life-long career in the land, truck, and logging industry at the age of 17 when he purchased his first dump truck.With his family’s support, he built, WT Gardner & Sons, into a successful and influential business.
“He was a powerful figure in our industry,” said Executive Director Patrick Strauch.
Somehow he also found time to support his community and many organizations, including the Maine Forest Products Council, where he served on the board and the executive committee, providing a strong voice for logging and forestry. He also was a regular at MFPC’s golf tournament. According to the Bangor Daily News obituary, his body will be flown to Lincoln for a funeral service at the Mattanawcook Academy gymnasium at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25. Friends may also call upon the family at the academy gymnasium on Friday, Jan. 24, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Our thoughts are with the Gardner family.
Each year the Maine Forest Products Council hosts a reception for legislators, state officials and, of course, our members. It’s a chance to get to know each other in a relaxed session before the legislative session gets really revved up. It’s also an opportunity to enjoy hors d’oeuve, beverages and good conversation.
This year the reception is set for Thursday, February 13, from 4-7 p.m. (immediately after the board meeting) at the MFPC office, 535 Civic Center Drive, Augusta. Please RSVP to Sue McCarthy.
Last year’s reception was crowded with legislators, state officials and members talking about everything from the Agriculture-Conservation merger to the SFI flume.
“It was a great success and well-attended,” said Executive Director Patrick Strauch. “It’s a good opportunity for both members and legislators to get to know each other.”
On Thursday, March 20, MFPC has reserved the Hall of Flags at the Capitol in Augusta for a celebration of the state’s forest products industry. The theme is “Made in Maine” and it’s a great opportunity to tell — and especially show — legislators, lobbyists, state officials and all who visit the State House how many practical, beautiful and essential products we make. This will be the first time MFPC has done this so we need to get many companies involved and present our industry effectively. You can reserve an entire table or half a table (but contact us as soon as possible because there are only a limited number available) or you can send us one great product and we’ll display it for you with information about your business. We’ll also have a slide show running and could include your photos. For more information or to reserve your spot in the Hall of Flags, contact Sue McCarthy.
Saucier sees barriers and opportunities facing Aroostook forest industry
At the January meeting of the Aroostook Community Guided Planning and Zoning committee, forestry consultant Dana Saucier cited a list of barriers blocking the forest products industry, ranging from energy costs to a poor image of logging and forestry work. Saucier, from the Forestry Working Group of Mobilize Northern Maine, also saw opportunities ahead, including Irving’s redevelopment of the Pinkham mill site and Ecoshel relocating to the former sawmill on Levesque Mill Road in Ashland. Read more.