MFPC Newsletter March 2016

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Landvest ad November 2014 for web

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Farm Credit

The heat is on

Legislative discussion see-saws on biomass bill

With the Legislature speeding toward its Statutory Adjournment date of April 20, MFPC has been firmly focused on biomass. Executive Director Patrick Strauch testified neither for nor against around 7 p.m., near the end of the marathon public hearing Monday before the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee on LD 1676, An Act
To Establish a Process for Procurement of Renewable Resources.
Strauch told the EUT Committee that Council is neither for nor against because “our members have diverse interests” and then summarized the perspectives of each of the industry’s sectors.
Since it was announced that two Covanta plants would close this week (although the West Enfield facility is still open), biomass has become a very hot topic. Wednesday, the see-saw arguments resumed along the same lines at a work session — will the proposal save more jobs than it costs? Another work session is set for today, but Strauch did not expect a vote until next week..
“It’s a simple question without an easy answer: If Maine electricity customers pay millions of dollars more on their bills, can they be guaranteed that the state’s six biomass energy plants, which have become crucial to retaining hundreds of forest industry jobs, will keep running?” the Press Herald reported.

A lot of concern has been expressed for what MPBN called “the state’s suffering forestry industry,” but ultimately it will come down to the cost and the consequences of a legislative solution.

“There’s no question it’s a huge problem and a complex issue,” Strauch said later. “Despite the time crunch, it will take some time for the Legislature to work out what to do.”

Speaking of biomass

Science fundamentals of forest biomass carbon accounting

Numerous studies have found that sustainable, low-carbon biomass can provide a significant part of the renewable energy needed to reduce emissions and transition to cleaner energy. That’s why more than 100 university scientists sent a letter to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board on March 21. Members of the National Association of University Forest Resources Association provided a summary of science fundamentals that “are essential to understanding and benefitting from the low carbon attributes of managed forests and the biomass derived from them.” Included among the signers were two experts from the University of Maine, Dr. Ivan J. Fernandez, School of Forest Resources and Climate Change Institute, and Dr. Robert Wagner, Henry W. Saunders Distinguished Professor in Forestry.

Click here for larger image.
Click here for larger image.

And more on biomass

Where Are We Now, Where Are We Going

Eric Kingsley of  Innovative Natural Resource Solutions, Mark Thibodeau of ReEnergy and Jim Robbins Jr., of Robbins Lumber and Georges River Energy, will speak on “Biomass in Maine – Where Are We Now, Where Are We Going” at the FRA Maine Forestry Forum Thursday, April 7. The forum will be held at Jeff’s Catering, 15 Littlefield Way, Brewer, with With the Social “Hour” starting at 5:30, p.m., followed by a buffet dinner at 6:15 and the speakers at 7 p.m.  (Pre-registration is requested to assure an accurate head count for meals!)  At the NERCOFE conference in Orono March 15, Kingsley also delivered an interesting presentation on “Alternative Hardwood Markets.” There’s no reproducing his style or humor, but Kingsley’s presentation slides provide plenty of food for thought.
Wagner graphic photo web
Click here for larger view

Forest economy ‘roadmap’

Legislative resolve supporting a strategic plan gains bipartisan support

As reported earlier, a wave of interest and support followed a presentation by Dr. Robert Wagner, director of UMaine’s Center for Research on Sustainable Forests and Cooperative Forestry Research Unit, at a special MFPC briefing for legislative leaders in late January. Wagner proposed that Maine follow the lead of the European Union, Sweden, Finland and Minnesota, and develop a strategic plan for our state’s forest economy.

This “roadmap” should include, Wagner said, a comprehensive analysis of Maine’s forest products sector, the current and potential markets, and what must be done to capture these markets. MFPC proposed a legislative resolve, which has bipartisan support, to encourage the creation of research-supported plan. Click here for larger view.


Tree Growth bill

Governor is determined to continue the discussion

The governor’s latest effort to revamp the Maine Tree Growth program, is LD 1691. For parcels enrolled on or after April 1, 2017, it would include harvesting as an expressly stated activity for land in the  program; increase the minimum size of parcels for inclusion from 10 to 25 acres, and disqualify from the program any parcel of land that is located within 10 miles of the Atlantic Ocean. The Bangor Daily News reported, “The timing could sink the bill, as it’s three weeks from the end of the 2016 legislative session, leaving lawmakers little time to consider it.”

Maine FPI exports all for web

Paper still Maine’s top export 

Forest products make up 27% of state’s 2015 total

Last year was a tough one for Maine’s paper mills, but when you look at Maine’s top 10 exports by industry, paper was still Number 1, while forest products and wood products also are among the state’s top 11 exports, with a combined value of $736,783,355 – 27 percent of Maine’s total exports in 2015. Those numbers come from the Maine International Trade Center (MITC), whose staff produced a report for MFPC that provides a wealth of information about exports, including what’s happening with wood pellets and exactly what product goes where. Canada continues to be the top destination for Maine forest products exports, while Malaysia is a surprising second – increasing exports 97.74 percent from 2014 to 2015. Read more.

Mr. Strauch goes to Washington

Rep. Poliquin arranges meeting on monument with Obama officials

Rep. Bruce Poliquin (center) arranged the meeting for Executive Director Patrick Strauch (left), Bob Meyers (right), director of the Maine Snowmobile Association, and Dana Doran of the Maine Professional Loggers Association.
Rep. Bruce Poliquin (center) arranged the meeting for Executive Director Patrick Strauch (left), and Bob Meyers (right), director of the Maine Snowmobile Association.

Executive Director Patrick Strauch traveled to Washington D.C. March 21 to tell Obama administration officials that the Council opposes creation of a national monument in the Katahdin Region. Rep. Bruce Poliquin arranged the meeting for Strauch, Bob Meyers, director of the Maine Snowmobile Association, and Dana Doran of the Maine Professional Loggers Association. They met at the Eisenhower Executive Office building with Christy Goldfuss, managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and her senior staff. The CEQ coordinates environmental initiatives for the administration, including requests for a monument designation.

During the hour-long meeting, the Maine group told Goldfuss and her staff about the shared-use roads, Maine’s leadership in private conservation easements and recreational access, and state management of public lands.

“While the meeting wasn’t a game-changer, it did significantly expand the discussion,” Meyers said.

WCSH and WGME sent teams to the news conference in the governor's Cabinet Room.
WCSH and WGME sent teams to the news conference in the governor’s Cabinet Room.

Getting the word out

Release of budworm report gets great coverage

There was extensive coverage of the release of the final version of “Coming Spruce Budworm Outbreak: Initial Risk Assessment and Preparation & Response Recommendations for Maine’s Forestry Community.” Gov. Paul R. LePage and the Maine Spruce Budworm Task Force released the recommendations about how to respond to the upcoming spruce budworm infestation on March 16 in Augusta. “We are on the verge of another spruce budworm epidemic and our goal is to lessen its damage,” Gov. Paul LePage said at a news conference in the Cabinet room. The report and other budworm information is available at more.

Be a budworm tracker!

You could play an important part in monitoring spruce budworm in Maine

The Budworm Tracker Program, a component of the Healthy Forest Partnership, is looking for volunteers to join its Budworm Tracker citizen science program in Northern Maine.  The research team is particularly interested in recruiting volunteers in locations as far south as Bangor, north to the border with Québec and New Brunswick.  Volunteers are asked to trap and collect spruce budworm moths during the moth flight season, between June and August, and send the data and moths back to the research team. The traps are supplied for free and come with simple instructions. A short video also describes the program. More details. People interested in volunteering can sign up on-line at or by calling Emily Owens, Program Coordinator, at (506) 452-3507.


PLT names Kevin Doran chosen as 2016 outstanding educator

Kevin Doran
Kevin Doran

Kevin Doran, natural science educator at the Maine Forest Service has been chosen as 2016 Outstanding Educator Honoree by Project Learning Tree (PLT). He will be formally recognized along with other outstanding educators May 24 at the 30th annual PLT International Coordinators’ Conference in Salt Lake City. Doran has used PLT as a cornerstone of his programs with children throughout the state. He’s been instrumental in training more than 90 percent of the MFS field and office staff in PLT, helping them to increase their outreach to others in their communities. He annually leads PLT.

“Kevin’s contributions improve people’s understanding of Maine’s working forests and how they greatly impact our well-being. He is a real asset to the department and the State of Maine,” said Doug Denico, Maine state forester.

Pat sirois better
Pat Sirois and hundreds of students enjoyed the Maine Science Festival.

Back on the road

Ever-popular flume table heads to Bangor

Pat Sirois, Maine SIC coordinator, took the flume table to the Maine Science Festival on March 19 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.  Hundreds of students there from all over the state, many displaying their science projects as part of the festival’s competitions in a variety of categories. This was a joint outreach effort by the SIC and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Sarah Bailey and Rory Saunders from NOAA along with Sirois took shifts manning the flume table for a continuous flow of students, parents and educators interested in stream connectivity, barrier mitigations and advances being made on this front by Maine’s private forest landowners.

Working forest videos

Oregon’s approach to fostering understanding  

MFPC Board member Mark Doty of Weyerhaueser passed along this link where you’ll  find nine short (two minutes) videos on working forests including topics such as clearcutting, reforestation, etc. created by the Oregon Forest Resources Institute. It is a series called a Walk in the Woods and features University of Oregon experts.  “Nice content for sure and thought you might want to watch when you have time or keep in mind for future uses.

Save these dates!

Sue McCarthy tries her luck at Hollywood Casino on a fact-finding mission for the annual meeting.
Sue McCarthy tries her luck at Hollywood Casino on a fact-finding mission for the 2016 annual meeting.

2016 MFPC golf tournament, July 14, at the Bangor Municipal Golf Course, Bangor.  Brian Flewelling and Sue McCarthy will be sending out invitations and sponsorship requests in early May.

2016 MFPC Annual Meeting, Sept. 18-19.  This meeting is all about the future of our industry. We’ll be staying at the Hollywood Casino in Bangor,  touring the Composite Center and the Process Development Center at the University of Maine, and holding our business meeting at the Wells Center in Orono. Of course, there also will be plenty of time for fun and fellowship. We’ll begin on Sunday with golf and a barbecue at the beautiful Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono. On Monday morning, we’ll have breakfast and our business meeting at the Wells Center at the University, before setting off to find out about amazing new products at the Composite Center and the Process Development Center.  The evening banquet will be held at the Hollywood Casino. Start thinking now about who you want to nominate for an MFPC award this year.