Sharp questions, sharp answers
Public lands report comes under fire
There were sharp questions, sharp answers and charges of badgering the witness when the Bureau of Public Lands annual report was presented to the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee by Maine State Forester Doug Denico. Read more.
The ACF Committee also has been putting in a lot of time on the biennial budget. On Tuesday, March 17, ACF Commissioner Walt Whitman spent 3 1/2 hours answering 40 questions from the Appropriations Committee and 38 questions from the ACF Committee. Many of the questions were about forest rangers, but Whitcomb also provided an additional report entitled, ACF Analysis of Ranger Activities 2014. And there are still more questions to be answered on Tuesday.
The ACF Committee also heard from Dr. Robert Seymour of the University of Maine. Dr. Seymour provided information on the stocking of Maine Public Lands. He demonstrated how the holdings could be organized in various stocking categories with management occurring on approximately 445,000 acres ranging from a basal area from 81 to 120+ square feet per acre. He also talked about how these lands supported a growth rate of .48 cords per acre that could be maintained into the stocking range of 40 cords per acre.
Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Franklin, noted that there also needed to be an evaluation of economic return analyzed in a determine appropriate stocking levels. Seymour encouraged a more scientific approach in determining various stocking levels by using forest modeling tools.
Still on top
Paper is No. 1 and forest products are 27.5% of all exports
When you look at Maine’s top 10 exports by industry, paper is Number 1, while forest products and wood products also are among the state’s top 10 exports, with a combined value of $758,423,964 – 27.5 percent of Maine’s total exports.
Those numbers come from the Maine International Trade Center (MITC), whose staff produced a report for MFPC, which provides a wealth of information about exports, but here are a few of the highlights.
Paper has been locked in a battle for the top spot with Computer and Electronic Products for the past 10 years, with paper winning in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Canada continues to be top destination for Maine exports, while China is second – but exports declined 9.99 percent from 2012 to 2013 and 17.5 percent from 2013 to 2014.
If you look at exports simply by commodity (not industry), Number 1 on the list is crustaceans – shrimp, lobster, crabs etc,. But there are also five categories of forest products on the top commodities list. Read more.
MFPC comments on northern long-eared bat
Forest management not a factor in decline
Thanks to the hard work of our Wildlife Committee, especially Henning Stabins of Plum Creek, MFPC submitted excellent comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on March 16 about the proposal to listt he northern long-eared bat (NLEB). Below is the summary, but you can also read the complete comments
“The potential listing of the NLEB and implementation of a 4(d) rule has large potential ramifications to the member organizations of the MFPC. Like the U.S. Wildlife Service, we value science and the role it has in guiding the management of our natural resources. We agree that forest management has not been a factor in the decline of the NLEB and is not involved in WNS, the agent causing the decline. We support the Service and States’ recognition of the contributions that forest management provides to the conservation of NLEB and other bats. Should the Service determine that a listing is warranted, a threatened listing under the ESA would better allow our member organizations to continue their forest management businesses and practices that benefit bats through the adoption of a 4(d) rule. The proposed 4(d) rule could be improved by changes to how monoculture tree plantations are addressed and how habitat conservation measures are prescribed around hibernacula and maternity tree roosts.”
H-2B visa program resumes processing
Three Maine forestry contractors and 342 positions affected
On March 17, the Department of Homeland Security announced it will immediately resume processing H-2B visas through April 15. Although this announcement provides a means to get the visas moving forward, it is a serious concern that DHS denied the continuation of “premium processing,” which is an important feature of the visa process. Without the premium processing, the wait time for a visa is unknown and could actually take months. This time lag will continue to hamstring H-2B-dependent sectors, including those reforestation contractors still awaiting the workers they need for the tail-end of their season.
DHS still intends to develop and release a new Interim Final Rule by April 30.
Two federal agencies that help administer one of the largest sources of seasonal workers in the United States had stopped processing applications, essentially shutting the program down. Many in the forest products industry – as well as other industries like hospitality and food production – rely on the H-2B program to find employees they say they can’t find domestically.
Currently three Maine forestry contractors have filed job orders intended for H-2B foreign labor certification seeking a total of 342 positions, according to Jorge Acero, who monitors the program for the Maine Department of Labor’s Bureau of Employment Services. Read more.
LUPC subdivision rules
Stakeholders group reviewing proposal
Landowners have an opportunity to discuss LUPC Subdivision Rules Review and come together on a path forward. The stakeholder process has gone well so far. LUPC responded to landowner requests for maps and data to put subdivision in context. Options for change are proposed for discussion. As a group, landowners should broadly determine what are our priorities, absolute must-haves, and dangers. Read more.
Pine Tree Camp ‘thrilled’ with donations from SFI members
Pine Tree Camp’s staff has expressed its gratitude to SFI members who have donated supplies to improve facilities for campers.
“Harvey Chesley, Pine Tree Camp’s Facilities Manager, and I have been thrilled with the support of individual SFI members including Huber Engineered Woods, Seven Islands, Pleasant River Lumber, Robbins Lumber and Viking Lumber,” said Erin Rice, marketing and development director of the Pine Tree Society. “Their support, through donations of materials has made a tremendous difference. “
So far, that support has totaled more than $55,000 but that does not include the support for the cabins that are currently under construction.For the past five years, Pine Tree Society has been working to make critical improvements at Pine Tree Camp in order to address the increasing and evolving medical and access needs of campers, modernize the aging facility and expand opportunities for programming to serve more people. These projects are a means to ensure that Pine Tree Camp is able to continue to provide Maine children and adults with disabilities a chance to enjoy Maine’s outdoors alongside friends who understand the challenges they face each day.
Two camper cabins are under construction, the family cabin is being renovated and the staff lodge and playground will be completed when the snow melts. The three remaining projects – two camper cabins and the arts and crafts program building – are scheduled to begin in the fall. Ribbon cutting events to officially open the buildings and recognize sponsors are in the works.
There is still time to help with donations of in-kind donations of materials and financial support for these projects. The support of SFI members will make a big impact to campers and their families for years to come.
Save these dates
MFPC Golf Tournament – July 16, 2015, MFPC will host its annual fundraiser at the Bangor Municipal Golf Course in Bangor. We hope you place this in your calendar to join us for a great round of golf and also help with sponsorships.
MFPC Annual Meeting – September 13-14 at Sunday River in Newry.
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