MFPC Newsletter December 2019

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Special Report: How drones are changing forestry

Think of Maine’s 17.6 million acres of forestland – as well as the rest of the world — as a giant laboratory to discover ingenious and innovative ways to use drones. In Maine, drones, also known as UAVs, and UAS, are contributing to sustainable forest management plans, finding forest fires, monitoring harvest operations, training loggers, and tracking invasive insect infestations and much more.

“Right now, we’re using UAVs to help identify wet areas that need to be checked ahead of spray operations and to monitor active harvest operations for BMPs and utilization,” said Chris Fife, Weyerhaeuser’s public affairs manager for Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Jason Irish of Irish Family Logging in Peru has been exploring ways to use his UAV for the past three years and said, “It’s paid for itself many times over.”

The Maine Forest Service already has seven drones and, thanks to a recent grant, the ACF Department is planning to buy 15 more.

“It’s just incredible how much time the drone saves. How much energy it saves. How much smarter we can be,” said Regional Ranger Jeff Currier. “It’s a really great tool. And this is just the beginning.” Read more.

This hearing on DEP’s OTR petition was not like the last one

What a difference 16 months makes! When a public hearing was held on the LePage administration’s petition to opt-out of the Ozone Transfer Region (OTR) on July 30, 2018, the room was packed and the testimony passionate. When the Mills admini-stration’s revised petition went before the Maine Board of Environmental Protection Thursday, only six people testified — five, including four from MFPC, in support and just one against. Even the lone opponent, John Chandler, who represented the American Lung Association, said the revised petition was “more palatable” than the earlier version.

We’re also gearing up for the Jan. 8 start of the second session of the Legislature, with new bills and carried over bills. And there’s a lot more news to catch up on. Read more.

FOR/Maine moves forward to Phase II: Implementation

The Forest Opportunity Roadmap is now rolling into Phase II, which is “an implementation of the possibilities and pursuits that we identified in the data gathering process (Phase I),” said Steve Schley, chair of the FOR/Maine Executive Committee.

“We’re looking at some of these technologies and we’re actually entertaining CEOs of companies who are coming to Maine and saying, ‘Where might your ideas fit our forest economy and add to diversify and strengthen in existing operations and/or new operations?” Schley told the MFPC Board.

The work of FOR/Maine continues to be accomplished through a robust and dynamic committee structure, said Brianna Bowman, FOR/Maine program director, who has prepared a report outlining what Phase II will mean for each committee. There also is a new FOR-Maine Phase II fact sheet and a presentation on How Maine Developed a Vision & Strategic Plan For Its Forest Sector. Read more.

ATV Task Force report nears completion

By John Bryant, AFM, Task Force co-chair

The ATV Task Force has held seven meetings with a draft report completion by December 18 and final report expected to go to the governor’s office by December 31. The task force will be recommending size limits for ATV registration, trails built and maintained to BMPs, regular third-party compliance audits, increased funding for trails, and improved communication plans between state, ATV clubs, riders, and landowners. Meeting records, updates and more information is available on the Task Force website.

“I believe we are answering the landowners concerns about maintaining ATV trails on private property and showing respect for the generous use of their land for recreation,” said Tim Peabody, deputy commissioner of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department and Task Force co-chair. “We tried to build off the 2003 Task Force Report and address the growth in ATV riding in Maine.”

MFPC Board exploring ways to attract workers

The MFPC Board continued to focus on work force issues at its Nov. 14 meeting. Doug Cyr, regional human resources manager, talked about Irving’s analysis of its work force needs. Jorge Acero, director of labor, outreach and education and state monitor advocate at the Maine Labor Department, gave an update on bonded labor. Mike St. Peter, director of Certified Logging Professional (CLP), spoke about logger safety, which is a key element of recruitment.

Cyr also outlined work force options such as increasing training, recruiting former military, and holding job fairs. “The struggles that we see here in the state of Maine are no different right across the border,” he said. “Today I’m talking about recruitment. How do we close that gap on our work force?”

Acero spoke on the current H2A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Temporary Agricultural Employment of H-2A Nonimmigrants in the United States focusing on the addition of Forestry Workers to the H2A program and related requirements such as employer provided housing which must meet OSHA Farm Labor Housing Standards 1910.142.

Other changes proposed in the rule change include advertising and recruitment requirements now eliminate the use of newspaper advertisements, requiring the employer to use not only the state job bank (Maine JobLink), but other web-based platforms as well as social; media to advertise and recruit for H2A related job posting. Anyone who has questions can contact Acero by email or by calling 207-623-7928.

As the forest products industry seeks new loggers, one important question they may ask is how safe is logging? Safer than private industry, said St. Peter, director of the Certified Logging Professional program (CLP), in his presentation. As you can see from the chart above, injuries and illness have dropped 83 percent in the past three decades.

The project comprises over 86,000 acres in northern Washington County.

Baskahegan sells carbon offsets from Maine forest

Baskahegan Co., a Forest Stewardship Council® certified forest, recently announced the sale of carbon offset credits from the Bluesource – Baskahegan Improved Forest Management Project in Brookton, Maine. In 2018, the project generated nearly 700,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emission reductions. The offset credits were sold into the California cap-and-trade market to help regulated entities meet greenhouse gas reduction requirements and into the voluntary market to help corporations achieve sustainability goals.
The project comprises over 86,000 acres of hardwood and conifer forest in northern Washington County. A generation of careful forest management has produced a standing volume of trees well in excess of average stocking levels in Maine. Read more.

2018 Wood Processor Report is now available

As always, the Maine Forest Service has compiled a huge amount of great information about our industry in the 2018 Wood Processor Report  Including Import and Export Information. Here are the highlights:

  • Maine’s forest products industry consumed 13 million green ton equivalents in 2018, up from 12.8 million green ton equivalents in 2017. Seventy eight percent of the processing total (10.1 million green ton equivalents) was harvested in Maine, while 22% (2.9 million green ton equivalents) was imported.
  • Maine landowners harvested 12.1 million green ton equivalents of wood in 2018, down from 2017 (12.3 million green ton equivalents). Seventeen percent (2.1 million green ton equivalents) of the 2018 harvest was exported, down from 2017 (2.3 million green ton equivalents). Maine’s pulp and paper producers processed 6.5 million green tons of pulpwood, same as 2017 consumption. Seventy-four percent of the pulpwood originated from Maine’s forests; 26% was imported.
  • Biomass harvesting volume was 2.2 million tons in 2018, down from 2017 (2.4 million tons). Biomass energy facilities consumed 2.2 million tons in 2018, down 3% from 2017 (2.3 million tons). Eighty-six percent originated from Maine’s forests; 14% was imported.
  • Maine’s sawlog processing in 2018 was 0.93 billion board feet, up from 2017 (0.86 billion board feet).
  • Maine’s forest products industry imported 2.9 million green tons during 2018, compared to 2.8 million tons in 2017. 2.0 million green tons were exported in 2018, down from 2017 (2.3 million tons).

Save these dates
The Maine Tree Foundation‘s 2020 Teachers’ Tours are set for July 14-17 and July 28-31.

Check it out
Office Manager Sue McCarthy has added a new element to MFPC’s home page. At the bottom of the page is a search box that will help you find whatever you’re looking for on the website.

About MFPC 

Since 1961, the Maine Forest Products Council has been the voice of Maine’s forest economy. MFPC’s members are landowners, loggers, truckers, paper mills, tree farmers, foresters, lumber processors and the owners of more than 8 million acres of commercial forestland, but they are also bankers, lawyers and insurance executives. The Council represents members at the Maine Legislature and across the state, in Washington D.C. and across the U.S.

Patrick Strauch, Executive Director;

Pat Sirois, SFI Coordinator

Roberta Scruggs, Communications Director

Sue McCarthy, Office Manager