Did You know
After some of the toughest years in the long history of Maine’s forest products industry, a new, stronger forest economy is emerging thanks to investments of about $1 billion.

MFPC Newsletter May 2020

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Time is needed for markets to return to pre-COVID levels

I took a ride up to Ripogenus Dam this weekend with my wife and son just to get away from the farm. My wife has been teaching eighth graders remotely and my son has been finishing his junior year at Yale sitting on our front porch with his laptop. It was time to visit Chesuncook Lake and imagine the log drives and reflect on a time when the mission to “wood the mill” and safely navigate the rushing waters kept everyone focused on their exhilarating adventure.

I was reminded that not everything has changed. Our industry is still made up of hardworking folks who are eager to be productive and uneasy if the next “chance” of wood has not been laid out. You all cut a lot of wood last winter and it is stacked in all corners of Maine. Between pulp digester “ruptures,” retrofits and increasing sawmill capacity, wood markets are reconfiguring across the state. It will take time for the market to adjust in order to get back to -pre-COVID levels.

I’ve been talking to members about their ideas for economic recovery and compiling a list of suggestions. Taking care of existing businesses has been the priority, and state and federal agencies and representatives are seeking advice. Read more.

Let’s share our good news

A disclaimer from a news story recent news story seems appropriate in these uncertain times: “Before the current global health situation disrupted many work environments . . .” It can seem like we are all simply waiting for “normal” life to resume. Yet a lot is still going on in Maine’s forest economy, so there is good news if we look for it. 

For example, two Maine forest products businesses recently were chosen for Wood Innovations Grants from the USDA Forest Service (USFS). The grants “support traditional wood utilization projects, expand wood energy markets, and promote using wood as a construction material in commercial buildings.”

For example, two Maine forest products businesses recently were awarded Wood Innovations Grants from the USDA Forest Service (USFS) in April. The grants “support traditional wood utilization projects, expand wood energy markets, and promote using wood as a construction material in commercial buildings.”

  • Limington Lumber of East Baldwin was awarded nearly $350,000 by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and will also receive more than $700,000 in matching funds.
  • Maine Energy Systems LLC of Bethel was awarded an $187,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service and $275,000 in matching funds for a demonstration project to increase whole house pellet heating clusters.

On May 11, two community forests in Maine were among 10 across seven states to be awarded grants by the Community Forest Program at USFS “to support the creation, expansion and enhancement of community spaces. There were 21 projects reviewed for the $4 million that was available in 2020.

  • The Lakeville Community Forest in Lakeville, Maine, was the top ranked project and was awarded $600,000, the program maximum. The grant will support “jobs in forest products, outdoor recreation and guiding industries, and maintains the values of the region’s forest, wildlife and water resources.”
  • Quigg Island Community Forest in Liberty was ranked 7th and was awarded $150,00 to support “a working forest that continues to provide local product to the mill, supporting jobs in the region, as well as allowing the town to enhance its outdoor recreation-based economy.” See list of all 2020 projects funded

Share your news by emailing Roberta Scruggs, communication director.

Thanks to truckers!

And thanks to H.O. Bouchard for making this video and letting MFPC share it!

Proposed IFW rule would restrict bear feeding

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) has 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 Bear feeding rulemaking proposal and fact sheet.

No public hearing has been scheduled, but comments will be accepted until Friday, June 5, on the proposal to amend Chapter 16 rules to establish a bear feeding season, establish a bear feeding permit and set limits on the number of bear feeding permits issued annually.

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. Our thanks to Don Kleiner, Executive Director, Maine Professional Guides Association, which strongly opposes the bear-feeding petition, who shared an email with more information.

Below are some initial talking points, but please share your thoughts on what should be included in MFPC’s comments with Roberta Scruggs.

  • The proposed rule would reduce would reduce bear-feeding permits annual so that they are extinguished in 2029. This is arbitrary and removes IFW experts from deciding how to manage bear.
  • The state counts on its professional wildlife biologist 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 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.

Written comments on the proposed rule should be sent to Becky Orff, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, 1 State House Station, 284 State Street, Augusta, ME 04333, 207-287-5202.

Maine wildfires usually average less than 1 acre each year

By Bill Hamilton, chief ranger, Maine Forest Service

Our forests don’t have major wildfires every year — in fact, the average wildfire in Maine is usually less than one acres each year. In 2019, for example, Maine had 355 wildfires with a total of 142 acres burned. (See chart above.)

Weather and fuel types help, but we also have a very professional and effective state Forest Protection Division. Wildfires are attacked quickly and kept small, protecting all of Maine’s landowners. Additionally, I think that Maine’s forest rangers do play a role through prevention and suppression. It’s not all about rainfall. Read more.

 

U.S., Maine forest products exports decline
 
In 2019, forest products exports dropped for both the U.S. (-9.7%) and for Maine (-11.7%), according to trade statistics compiled by the Maine International Trade Center (MITC).
 
Yet forest products still claimed three spots in the Top 10 Maine Exports by Commodity. In the No. 4 spot is Paper & Paperboard & Articles, which increased almost 12% from 2018 to 2019. In contrast, No. 5, Wood and Articles of Wood declined 14.88%, and No. 8. Wood Pulp Etc; Recovd (Waste & Scrap), dropped 30.6 percent.
 
Weak demand for recovered fiber began when China cut back its imports of recovered fiber in 2017 and has been further affected by the weak global economy, according to Recycling Today,
 
Exports increased in five of the 10 products listed in the Wood and Articles of Wood category, including:
  • Fuel Wood In Logs Etc; Wood In Chips, Etc., 15.73%
  • Wood, Continuously Shaped (Tongued, Grooved Etc.), 71.6%
  • Railway Or Tramway Sleepers (Cross-Ties) Of Wood, 41.63%
  • Tools/Tool & Broom Bodies Etc Shoe Last/Trees Wood, 25.53%
  • Casks, Barrels, Vats, Etc. And Parts, Of Wood, 54.12%

Comments on draft of new SFI Standards accepted through June 30

The first draft of the new SFI Standards became available for public comment through June 30. This draft includes recommendations by the Standards Revision Task Groups, the SFI Resources Committee and the SFI Board of Directors based on comments SFI received during the first public comment period last year.

SFI originally planned to conduct regional workshops throughout the U.S. and Canada, but due to COVID-19, the in-person workshops were cancelled. In order to present the major enhancements, as well as provide opportunity to comment on the proposed revisions and enhancements, SFI is conducting webinars on specific themes and requirements in the Standards until June 25, which will be a recap all discussions and conversations from the previous webinars and allow anyone to comment on other parts of the SFI Standards revision that may not have been discussed. See complete schedule and scope for the webinars. You will be able to click on the title of a webinar to link to the Zoom meeting.

Anyone who is unable to attend a webinar, can submit comments online. SFI will record all workshop webinars and make them available after the meetings.

The Nature Conservancy seeks to fill NCS forester position

The NCS Forester Job would be based either in Portland, Maine, or the World Office, Arlington, Virginia.This position fills a critical gap, providing direct input into our research in support of Reduced Impact Logging, Improved Natural Forest Management, the Family Forest Carbon Program, wood supply modelling, and forest-based Natural Climate Solutions (NCS). This person will report to me and join the global NCS Science team as scientist and forester, with links to the Global Forestry and Wood Products Team, Global Science, and Tackle Climate Change. The posting closes June 4. To apply, visit careers.nature.org and look for job posting 48679. 

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 send it to Roberta Scruggs to post on the MFPC website. Most recent posts:

Mills administration updates plan to restart Maine’s economy.

Small businesses urge Maine to slow reopening of Maine economy.

Maine eliminates testing prioritization; expands testing to anyone suspected of having COVID 19.

More resources.

Contact MFPC staff

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.

News Archive
Calendar of Events

MFPC Golf Tournament

MFPC's annual golf tournament - email Sue McCarthy if you would like to sponsor or play in the tournament.
adminassist@maineforest.org
When: Thu July 9 1:00 PM - 7:00 PM

MFPC Exec. Meeting

When: Thu August 13 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Where: Maine Forest Products Council Office - 535 Civic Center Drive
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