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MFPC newsletter June 2020

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Maine Climate Council plan will shape
 
legislative discussion and market
 
opportunities for years to come
 
Last week I participated in marathon Zoom meetings representing forestry issues on the Maine Climate Change Council, appointed by Gov. Janet Mills last September (see membership below). To many of you, this may seem a low priority issue as you adjust to major market swings and payroll challenges, but from a strategic market perspective you are all major players in this global discussion. There is growing public awareness that trees play a significant role in sequestering carbon.
 
The Climate Council is responsible for integrating and prioritizing which strategies to move forward in the State Climate Action Plan that will be delivered to the governor and Legislature by December 1, 2020. So the action plan will survive beyond the pre Covid-19 vaccine period we are currently experiencing, and it will shape the legislative discussion and market opportunities for Maine for years to come. Read more.
 
Join the fun at MFPC’s golf tournament July 9
 
Please join us for the MFPC annual golf tournament at the Bangor Municipal on July 9th. Because of Covid 19, the tournament will have different rules this year. There will not be a registration at noon, instead players will be asked to go directly to the carts with their names on them. Each team will be asked to send a text message to Sue McCarthy’s cell phone, 207-841-1651, indicating that your team has arrived and they are ready to go. There will be two carts per team and players will have to alternate walking to the next hole because two people are not allowed on one cart. We will let you know if that changes. We can’t have a banquet at the end of the tournament because the restaurant is not big enough to handle 50 people so please DO NOT EAT LUNCH. A box lunch will be provided to each player at the beginning of the tournament along with a drink. Thanks to our banquet sponsors Louisiana Pacific, Cross Insurance, Huber Resources and Farm Credit East for helping making this possible. 2020 MFPC Golf Registration Form. Join us in thanking this year’s Sponsors MFPC 2020 Golf Tournament.  There are still spots for sponsorships if you would like to help. Please contact Sue McCarthy, 207-622-9288.
 
Marketing Maine to forest products investors

By Jim L. Robbins, former president of Robbins Lumber

Click image to see large ad.

FOR/Maine has been working on attracting new forest industries to Maine. We’ve been particularly interested in attracting an MDF or particle board manufacturer because of all the sawmill residuals and spruce -fir fiber we have available. Therefore, last fall Shane O’Neill and I attended the Composite Panel Association in Denver.

Panel manufacturers from all over the world were there and we got to talk to many of them. We learned that they all read and/or advertise in their industry magazine called Surface and Panel Magazine. It is a very impressive magazine. As it turned out, Patrick Adams, the owner of the magazine has several other publications, one of in which many sawmills in Maine, including Robbins Lumber, advertise. Adams took us under his wing and introduced us to many of the association members. He also offered us advertising in his magazine at half price to help us. So we thought it was a good place to advertise all the unique assets of Maine’s forest products industry and to try to attract some investors to consider coming to Maine.
 
Thanks to the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development for funding the ad. Here’s hoping that it works.
 
 
FOR/Maine, MDF announce grants totaling more than $1 million
 
for mill site redevelopment in 5 communities
 
Five Maine communities impacted by recent mill closures will share $1 million in grants awarded June 17 by FOR/Maine (Forest Opportunity Roadmap), a broad coalition working to diversify the state’s wood products businesses, attract capital investments, and develop greater economic prosperity for rural communities.
 
“This is an extremely positive step forward both to provide critical funding to these communities, but also because this funding was developed by a coordinated and concerted effort that focused on regional needs rather than just one group or community,” says Charlie Spies, CEO, CEI Capital and FOR/Maine Communities Subcommittee chair.
 
The grants are primarily funded by the Northern Border Regional Commission and Maine Rural Development Authority. They will be administered by Maine Development Foundation, which is a key partner in the coalition’s work.
  • Ashland – $150,000 to develop a new Structural Round Timber market on the east coast based in Ashland.
  • East Millinocket – $210,000 to stabilize the former Great Northern Paper mill site, including repair of several structures to make them available for long-term lease for forest-products businesses.
  • Lincoln – $185,000 to redevelop the Lincoln Paper & Tissue mill site through planning related to building rehabilitation, upgrading essential infrastructure, and restoring waste water treatment. 
  • Madison – $400,000 to demolish the special chemicals building and boiler house for use of the site by GO Labs to produce wood fiber-based insulation products.
  • Millinocket – $216,090 to energize the substation on the brownfield portion of the former Great Northern Paper site. Potential tenants are ready to locate contingent on the upgrades.  Read more.
 
 
 
New SIC Progress Report has lots of good news
  • Maine is the first state in the country to have road-stream crossing surveys of every watershed within our borders.
  • The current working draft of SFI’s revised standards reflects changing perspectives and science on climate change, including a new objective to insure forest management activities address climate adaptation and mitigation measures.
  • The strong collaboration of the Maine Forest Service (MFS) and Maine SIC has helped develop and implement a wide array of trainings relevant to the forestry community.
  • 90% of landowners satisfied with outcome of harvest
  • In 2018, timber growth exceeded harvest by 38%. 
Download report or request a printed copy from Pat Sirois or Sue McCarthy.
 
Reminder for Maine SIC Members: The deadline to provide comments on the new Draft SFI Standards is nearing the end, which is June 30. I would ask each of you to share, if you’re willing, issues you have identified in the proposed standards that affect your businesses both short and long term so that others may choose to offer comments in support for your point of view should they agree. If you have issues identified, please send them to me accompanied with suggestions for improvements. I will share with the rest of the committee for their individual considerations.
 
 
Online hearing scheduled for July 8 and comments accepted
 
until July 20 on bear-feeding restriction
 
The Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department (IFW) has reopened the comment period on a proposal to 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.
 
An online public hearing has been scheduled for 4 p.m., Wednesday, July 8, via video conference (Microsoft Teams. Contact Becky Orff, 207-287-5202, by the close of business on July 7 for details of the video conference. Written comments should be sent to Orff at Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, 41 State House Station, 284 State Street, Augusta, ME 04333, More information.
 
IFW received a petition to restrict the feeding of bears with the required number of signatures (150+) from John Glowa, president of the Maine Wolf Coalition. See Beer feeding rule-making proposal and fact sheet. This is a proposed rule change, not something that the Legislature will take up. It will be reviewed and either approved or denied by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Advisory Council.
 
MFPC opposes the petition. Below are some talking points:
  • The proposed bear-feeding rule would reduce bear-feeding permits annually until they are extinguished in 2029. This is arbitrary and removes IFW experts from bear management.
  • The state counts on professional wildlife biologists to maintain species populations.They have considered this argument several times before and determined it inappropriate.This is a complex issue and requires expertise. Let state biologists do their jobs. 
  • This rule would set a dangerous precedent, undermine the state’s rigorous permitting procedures and add another level of risk to investing in the state. Regardless of intent, this isn’t good policy. “Ballot box biology” sums it up well.
 
All forest operations notifications going online January 2021
 
For more than 30 years, the Forest Operations Notification (FONS) system has been paper-based. Landowners and managers submit paper copies to the Maine Forest Service (MFS); data is entered by hand; acknowledgment letters printed and mailed; FONS filed, etc. Repeat the process with amendments. Then paper copies of landowner harvest reports are sent out at the end of the year. More paper, more data entry, more filing. That’s all about to change.
 
Starting in January 2021, FONS will become Forest Online Resource Tool (FOResT), and it will be all online. Landowners, designated agents, foresters, and loggers will need to create individual accounts in FOResT to participate in harvest notifications.
 
MFS currently is testing the system with a small set of users to identify and fix glitches before the system goes fully live. It will continue to offer additional information, including how-to videos, as the year progresses. For now, you don’t need to do anything different. Just be aware that paper FONS are going away soon.
 
 
LaBonte succeeding Whittemore as Maine TREE executive director
 
By Jonathan LaBonte, Maine TREE Foundation
 

Labonte photo by Russ Dillingham, Sun Journal.

With a background in chemical engineering from UMaine’s pulp and paper program, six years managing a regional land trust along the Androscoggin River, and a decade in various public service roles, I am excited to bring a varied background to the Maine TREE Foundation in supports of its mission to support the sustainable use of the forest and the many values it provides to the state’s forest community.
 
As many of you already know, Maine TREE connects with a diverse set of stakeholders as we deliver our programming. That programming includes training and empowering PreK-12 educators through our role as state sponsor of Project Learning Tree and our Teacher Tours, forest research through a partnership with UMaine at the Holt Research Forest in Arrowsic and our own emerging program for citizen scientists known as the Forest Ecology Research Network (FERN), and providing administrative support to the Certified Logging Professional program and the Maine Tree Farm Committee, to name a few. In fact, new efforts through a partnership with SFI will involve Maine TREE sharing programming for career pathways in Maine’s forest products industry with Maine guidance counselors and students, engaging us in an area of critical need for the state and this industry.
 
During the early part of my tenure, I am seeking to learn from stakeholders and partners to our efforts. The Maine Forest Products Council and its members represent a strong part of that stakeholder group and I’d welcome a chance to connect to learn about your experiences with our programs and to hear feedback on ways we might better engage you in this work. Since I’m right down the hall from your MFPC staff team, I hope to learn much from them. 
 
Should you wish to connect directly, please do so at jonathan@mainetree.org or by calling our office at 207-621-9872. More information.
 
 
Maine TREE offering online alternative to teachers tours
 
The Maine TREE Foundation is delighted to offer a new online course called “Window to the Woods.” Maine’s environment, economy, and communities depend on the forest and the people who work in them. Throughout this course, we will ask the questions:
  • Who are the people that own the forest?
  • How are the forests managed, and what do managers consider?
  • What happens to the log of a harvested tree?
  • And who works in the woods?
This course is an alternative offering to the ever-popular “Forests of Maine Teachers’ Tours.” Maine TREE is excited to present this online course since it is unable to offer the in-person tour option in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. We are also pleased to announce that beyond our typical teacher/educator audience, registration is open to the general public. We encourage land trust members and staff, as well as Maine woodland owners and Tree Farmers, to participate in this short, interactive online course. The goal is that participants leave this course with a strong understanding of the forest in their communities and of the resources available.
 
Email questions to info@mainetree.org. Space is limited, so reserve your spot today! For more information and to register, visit: mainetreefoundation.org/windowtothewoods.
 
 
Covid-19 federal and state resources
 
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 send it to Roberta Scruggs to post on the MFPC website. Most recent posts:

Patrick Strauch, Executive Director, cell, 207-841-6869.
Pat Sirois, SFI Coordinator, 207-837-0101.
Roberta Scruggs, Communications Director, 207-689-6401.
Sue McCarthy, Office Manager, 207-841-1651.
MFPC Office: 207-622-9288.

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MFPC Board Meeting

When: Thu November 12 1:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Where: MFPC Office, 535 Civic Center Drive, Augusta Maine

MFPC Exec. Meeting

When: Thu December 10 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Where: MFPC Office
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