MFPC newsletter July 2020

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2020 MFPC annual meeting will be virtual

For the safety of MFPC’s members and staff, the Council decided not to hold an in-person annual meeting this year. The MFPC Board of Directors will hold a virtual meeting at 9 a.m., Monday, Sept. 21. Executive Director Patrick Strauch will deliver a report, and the financial report will be presented to the board, which will vote on the budget and on members of the board and executive committee for the coming year. All members are welcome to attend the virtual meeting. Office Manager Sue McCarthy will send out more information later.


Northern long-eared bat

USFWS reviewing status of northern long-eared bat

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing the federal listing status of the northern long-eared bat (NLEB) under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act, according to Wende Mahaney of the USFWS Maine field office. Such a review of a listed species’ status is required by the ESA to take place every five years. 
“Coincidentally, earlier this year the Fish and Wildlife Service lost a lawsuit regarding the 2015 listing of this species,” Mahaney wrote in an email, and the judge required us to review our listing decision for the NLEB (the plaintiffs argued that the species should have been listed as endangered). The NLEB remains listed as threatened with a 4(d) rule while our status review is ongoing.” Read more.


Catch up on state and federal forestry issues

The goal of the virtual meeting of the Forest Industry Associations Council (FIAC) on July 22 was to update FIAC members on issues impacting the forest products industry. For about two hours, representatives of forest industry organizations exchanged information on repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and discussed issues ranging from carbon neutrality, to sustainability. Since forest products was declare an essential industry, most states reported their facilities were operating, but nearly all expressed concerns about about the health of workers and loss of markets.
Many also were concerned about measures being taken up in state legislatures. For example, New York’s Legislature passed a bill measure prohibiting use of the herbicide glysophate on state land, including parks, certain campgrounds, and state colleges and universities as of Dec. 31, 2021. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not said whether he will sign the legislation. Read more


With federal funds and new partners, Maine MEP helps manufacturers

The Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) received a $286,000 grant to develop support programs for manufacturers that are severely impacted by the pandemic, according to a news release.

Maine MEP, an economic development organization for the state’s manufacturers, will partner with the Manufacturers Association of Maine and the Advanced Manufacturing Center at the University of Maine to provide services to develop business recovery plans for manufacturers. MAME leveraged the federal funding to secure a recent award of $100,000 from the Maine Technology Institute. Read more.


FOR/Maine hires Sutherland Weston Marketing Communications

Maine’s Forest Opportunity Roadmap (FOR/Maine) has awarded a two-year contract for marketing, public relations and coalition building to Sutherland Weston Marketing Communications of Bangor.

“Sutherland Weston understands the very broad, diverse goals of FOR/Maine and its partners and has the capacity to integrate all the elements into packages that will inform the public and excite potential investors,” said Steve Schley, chair of FOR/Maine’s Executive Committee. Read more.


Update: BTU Act would extend tax credits for renewables

The Senate bill was sponsored by Sen. Angus King and co-sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins. The House bill was co-sponsored by Maine Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden.

Last year, the Biomass Thermal Utilization Act of 2019 (BTU Act), to extend tax credits for renewables, including biomass, was incredibly close to getting signed into law through the end-of-year tax extenders bill. However, at the very end of negotiations, the bill didn’t include any new energy tax provisions based on negotiations between Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and House and Senate leadership. 
This year in the House, the residential piece of the BTU Act — but, notably, not the commercial side of the BTU Act — was included in a comprehensive green energy tax bill called the GREEN Act, which then was included in the House’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, H.R. 2/Moving Forward Act, passed July 1. However, it’s not expected to be taken up as drafted by the Senate.
The House passed a stimulus bill a few months ago now, the HEROES Act, which was an approximately $3.5 trillion stimulus bill. The Senate also has developed a stimulus bill, which is currently expected to be under $1 trillion. There is a lot of debate about the size and content of the bill, but our congressional delegation understands that Maine’s forest products industry strongly supports the BTU Act provisions. 
Maine CDC and USFWS to distribute rabies vaccine baits Aug. 3-7 
Oral rabies vaccine (ORV) baits will be distributed in northeastern Maine beginning on or about August 3-7 as part of ongoing, cooperative rabies control efforts aimed at reducing the spread of raccoon rabies in Maine. Approximately 385,000 ORV baits targeting raccoons will be distributed by air and ground over a 2,650-square-mile area. Wildlife Services, a program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, will distribute the ORV baits in cooperation with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC).
The distribution area will include places such as Burlington Township, Carroll Plantation, Chester, Houlton, Lakeville, Lee, Lincoln, Mars Hill, Oxbow, Patten, Prentiss Township, Springfield, Stacyville, T3 R1 NBPP, T7 R3 NBPP, Webster Plantation, Weston, and Winn. The vaccine packets will be distributed primarily by airplanes in rural, wooded areas. Personnel from Wildlife Services will distribute vaccine baits from vehicles in the more populated areas, such as Houlton. Read more.
IFW Advisory Council will take up proposal to restrict bear feeding Aug. 12

After an online public hearing and the end of the comment period July 20, the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Advisory Council will discuss the rule-making proposal at its Aug. 12 online meeting.

Including the petitioner, John Glowa, president of the Maine Wolf Coalition, 17 people testified at the virtual public hearing July 8, according to Becky Orff, IFW Commissioner’s Office. In addition, Orff said, “I have received just over 250 public comments on the rule proposal.

“The Council will be discussing the rule proposal and public comment that was received, which is Step 2 of the process,” Orff said. “After the Aug. 12 meeting, IFW Commissioner Judy Camuso will make the determination whether or not the rule change moves forward for a vote before the Council at Step 3 at its September meeting.”

The proposal would amend Chapter 16 rules to establish a bear-feeding season, create a bear-feeding permit and set limits on the number of bear feeding permits issued annually. See Beer feeding rule-making proposal and fact sheet.

MFPC opposes the proposed bear-feeding rule because it would reduce bear-feeding permits annually until they are extinguished in 2029 and removes IFW experts from bear management.


Congratulations to golf tournament winners and those who just had fun!

By Sue McCarthy, MFPC Office Manager

We went back and forth, back and forth with the question “Should we have the MFPC Annual golf tournament this year because of Covid -19?

The Council, along with Brian Flewelling from Key Bank, have run this tournament at the Bangor Muni in Bangor since 2005. This is a big fundraiser for the MFPC, to help keep our dues down each year, and is also a great way to get our members together for a fun day.

We wanted to make sure we did not break any of COVID 19 restrictions since we didn’t want anyone to get infected. After talking with Rob Jarvis, the pro at Bangor Muni, we felt better about what needed to be done to keep everyone safe, so we decided to go ahead with the tournament and we are very glad we did. We had a perfect day with great weather and had 58 golfers who played in the tournament. Find out who won and who took home the toilet paper for last place.


Maine TREE installs interpretive signs at its Holt Research Forest

Jack Witham, University of Maine research scientist, with new Holt Forest interpretive sign.

In a partnership with The Nature Conservancy, the Maine TREE recently installed a series of interpretive signs at its 350-acre Holt Research Forest on the coastal island of Arrowsic. The signage program is the continuation of an effort to integrate Maine TREE’s educational programming at the forest, which it acquired in 2014 through a merger with the Holt Woodland Research Foundation.

Maine TREE, the sponsor of the acclaimed Project Learning Tree program within the state, sees a growing opportunity for the Holt Research Forest as a base of outdoor learning for southern Maine students and families and for owners of forested land to convene to share best practices and learn from the on-going research activities sponsored there.  That effort was aided four years ago when the SFI-SIC and numerous companies within Maine’s forest community supported nearly 20 volunteers in building an outdoor classroom at the Holt Research Forest. Read more.


Emily Dickison, project manager

PCSWCD hires Stream Restoration Project manager

The Maine Aquatic Connectivity Restoration Project is a five-year, $6 million effort that provides significant financial and technical assistance to private landowners to upgrade road-stream crossings. The project improves road safety and stability while increasing opportunities for fish and other aquatic life to thrive. Made possible through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) of the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the project is available from 2018-2022. 

This summer, the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District (PCSWCD) is joining the RCPP partnership. Through a sub-award from TNC, the District has hired a full-time Stream Restoration Project Manager, Emily Dickison, and is supporting the district’s executive director to increase capacity for stream and river connectivity in watersheds within Piscataquis County and beyond. Dickison brings field experience surveying forested lands, threatened and endangered natural communities and species, along with her background in data collection and reporting. Read more.


Covid-19 federal and state resources and guidance

MFPC has created a page on our website to list forest products industry resources and guidance documents that we hope will prove useful to members and others. We will be updating it daily. If you see something online that would be helpful to others, please email it to Roberta Scruggs. Most recent posts:

Mills Administration Announces Further Investment to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19

Governor Mills & MaineHousing Expand Rental Relief Program to Help Prevent Evictions, Counter Reductions in Federal Unemployment Benefits

All Maine schools get the green light to reopen full time

Governor Mills Statement on Revenue Forecasting Committee Projections

Maine eases 50-person limit on gatherings for outdoor spectator events

COVID19 Prevention Checklist Industry  — Guidance on Large Gatherings

Sen. King Pushes For Help Targeted At Seasonal Businesses

With federal funds and new partners, Maine MEP helps manufacturers through pandemic

To Protect Health of Students & Staff, Mills Administration Provides Public Health Guidance & Financial Support to School Systems Across Maine

Economic Recovery Committee Delivers Recommendations to Governor Mills to Stabilize Businesses and Support Maine People Amidst Pandemic

Mills Administration Announces Nearly 20 “Swab and Send” COVID-19 Testing Sites

To Fight COVID-19, Governor Mills Strengthens Enforcement of Face Covering Requirement as Maine Reopens