October 2013

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The first stop on our tour was a visit to Kennebec Lumber in Solon.

Tour brings Maine legislators into the woods

“Eye-opening” was one word used to describe the Maine Woods and Wildlife Tour for legislators on Oct. 2-3.Twenty-two legislators joined staff, members and presenters for the tour, which was co-sponsored by MFPC and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

 “I enjoyed it and found it to be interesting, informative and fun,” Rep. Paul Gilbert, D-Jay. “The hosts were very welcoming, presenters were knowledgeable, and the food was great and the lodging very comfortable. Thank you all for what you did to make this a success.  I wouldn’t change a thing and I would recommend the tour to anyone.” Read more.

Feedback is great on forest economy report

We have been getting a very good response on MFPC’s report on Maine’s Forest Economy and many requests for more copies. Here are two recent emailed comments:

 Sarah Medina, Seven Islands: “Congratulations on a truly outstanding report. Key facts and figures, in a highly readable format, with a personal touch.  I’m very  impressed. This is one report that will not sit on a shelf and collect dust…people enjoy reading it! Great work, team. Thanks.”

Erin Plummer, marketing and communications director, Hancock Lumber: Kevin Hancock recently received a copy of the council’s Maine’s Forest Economy report.  He shared it with me and he and I both LOVE it.  Just, really well done, a very informative piece!!”

 Patrick and Roberta have also been talking about the report with many groups and officials, from the state’s vocational forestry instructors to Maine’s Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission. Next Thursday (Nov. 7), we’ll have a luncheon presentation for the Mobilize Eastern Maine, the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce and the Forest Resources Association NE  Region Policy Committee. Please join us if you can from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Sea  Dog Conference Center in Bangor. See registration details.

The Department of Environmental Protection’s Materials Management Advisory Committee:  Roberta represented MFPC at the first meeting of on October 21 in Augusta to revise the 2009 Waste Management and Recycling Plan. By law, DEP must review and revise the plan every five years. Melanie Loyzim, director of the Bureau of Remediation & Waste Management Maine Department of Environmental Protection, summed up the first meeting this way: “The first meeting went well, and I appreciated that many attendees actively participated in discussion about the topics. The context of the meetings – five year update to the state’s plan – is fairly narrow, and I think we did a good job focusing productively on that, with a great discussion about how to make the document more useful for its intended audience.”  Another meeting will be held in mid­ November. If you have concerns, issues or comments regarding waste management, please contact Roberta or Patrick.

The Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future continued listening to ideas and recommendations on Oct. 22, including a presentation from the Manufacturers Association of Maine by Lisa Martin, Executive Director; Marion Sprague, outreach communications Director, and Alan Dorval, Mega Industries. These meetings have been an education in what is happening in Maine’s economy, what individuals and organizations are doing to improve the outlook and many ideas about steps that need to be taken. You might be interested in the recommendations to the committee so far and the list of presentations set for the committee’s Nov. 7 meeting.

Tom Doak, SWOAM’s executive director, shared his report on a bill on discontinued and abandoned roads, which was held over to the upcoming session. A subcommittee formed by the State and Local Government Committee to look into this complex issue is meeting now. Its recommendations, Doak wrote, “are likely to include a system of determining the legal status of existing discontinued and abandoned roads, eliminating inconsistencies and simplifying existing laws governing how roads are discontinued or abandoned, and making sure that when roads are given up by municipalities, landowners are not landlocked.” The subcommittee will meet through December. Then their recommendations will be considered by the full State and Local Government Committee and ultimately the Legislature when it reconvenes in January, though we may not have final resolution until late spring.The next subcommittee meeting is Friday (Nov. 1) at 9am in the Cross State Office Building, Room 214. If you wish to listen in, there should be a live audio feed available online.

Updates on Rangers task force and more

The Governor’s committee reviewing the safety of Rangers and opportunities for coordination among other law enforcement agencies has met for the fifth time and is working on a final proposal for consideration by the Governor.  The Council along with SWOAM has maintained that arming rangers is unnecessary and a shift in policy from resource protection to public safety. The discussion has been contentious but we are hopeful several recommendations will emerge next month. It is interesting to note that Maine Forest Service Director Denico and Commissioner Whitcomb have examined how other states structure their ranger divisions and it is clear that there is a clear pattern of separating enforcement and fire fighting personnel. In some cases states create a small division of armed conservation officers focused on forestry law enforcement while the majority of staff remain focused on fire fighting activities. This is one of those issues that will take considerable time to resolve in the next legislative session.

 Other updates: 

John Butera, senior economic advisor for Governor LePage’s administration, has recently been assigned to cover issues pertaining to the ACF committee as Carlisle McLean assumes responsibilities in her new role as chief counsel to the Governor. Butera advises on economic development and job creation issues. In addition, he has policy responsibilities for economic and community development, business finance, workforce development and labor issues.

Patrick testified on the rules pertaining to mining in a day-long hearing predominantly represented by anti-mining perspectives. The council testified that the rules were in general agreement with the Mining Act created in the 125th legislature, with a few exceptions noted in our  testimony.

The Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee met Oct. 21 to discuss renewable energy policies regarding everything from solar and wind rebates to long-term contracts. The committee learned that there are currently two long-term contracts in effect, one involving Verso and the other an unnamed wind power company. Verso is fulfilling the terms of its five year contract, but that is not the case for the 20-year power contract, according to Jean Guzzetti, the committee’s policy analyst. The committee spent the morning discussing its goals and in the afternoon heard from Thomas Welch, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission, on the Economics of Renewable Energy Policy.

Tax Expenditure Task Force: Michele MacLean watched over the last meeting of the tax expenditure task force. Testimony from the Maine State Employees Association encouraged the task force to cut business tax programs such as BETR and the Jobs & Investment Tax Credit to find the $40 million in savings. The committee continues to struggle with the task of reviewing expenditures and obtaining the resources to do a thorough job. Jon Block from Pierce Atwood continues to keep MFPC posted on developments as he monitors the proceedings. The task force will meet again on November 4. See the Maine State Chamber newsletter for more information.

BETR/BETE Task Force: Task force members including Bill Cohen of Verso Paper along with Dana Connors from the Maine Chamber of Commerce  met on October 24 to continue their discussions for a plan to transition from the BETR to the BETE program. Discussions will continue November 12. The focus of the group is to find transition approaches that minimize disruptions to communities and businesses alike.

Pat Sirois works on ice shack.

Win this fish friendly, easy-to-assemble ice shack!

Buy a raffle ticket and you might win one of two Fish Friendly Ice Shacks. What makes them “Fish Friendly?” Proceeds from the raffle will be used to upgrade snowmobile stream crossings to improve fish passage and habitat connectivity. Snowmobile trails can impact stream crossings and fragment habitat just as roads do.

“There have never been ice shacks whose purpose is more friendly to fish,” Pat Sirois, Director, Maine’s SFI Implementation Committee. “This is a great project not only to raise money but to raise awareness on the stream connectivity issues. This is a win for fish, snowmobilers and fishermen.”  (Above, you can watch Pat and his daughter Lizzie assemble one of the shacks as his daughter Talia shoots video of their efforts.

The value of each ice shack is estimated at $2,000. These raffle tickets — $10 each and three for $20 — make great stocking stuffers and might just provide you or your favorite angler with a very Happy New Year! The drawing will be held Monday, Dec. 30, and you don’t have to be present to win. The ice shacks can be taken apart for easy transport and then easily reassembled. Read more.

Flume and ice shacks are a hit at the snowmobile show  

By Pat Sirois, director of Maine’s SFI Implementation Committee

For the third year, the SIC managed a booth at the Maine Snowmobile Show.  In addition to the flume water table demonstration, we featured two ice shacks being raffled off for the benefit of improving stream crossings on snowmobile trails.It was amazing how much interest there was in the culvert and stream demonstrations for the second year running.

 Children and adults alike engaged the presenters with questions and comments about their own experiences. There were many opportunities in the course of the three day show to talk with people who own woodlots about their plans and needs. Closely related were the conversations spurred by the ice shacks (see photo above of Sirois and Gov. LePage inside ice shack), located in the booth adjacent to the flume.  The combination of the flume table with the raffle helped raise awareness of the movement by private landowners to improve stream crossings for the purpose of fish passage and introduce the Fisheries Improvement Network (FIN) to the public.

Our booth was a success largely because of the quality of volunteer presenters who worked shifts during the three days of the show, including Mark Doty (Plum Creek), Gordon Gamble (Wagner), John Starrett and Kevin McCarthy (Sappi), Sue McCarthy (MFPC), Barry and Emma Burgason (Huber Resources),  Sarah Medina (Seven Islands) and Jed Wright (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Thanks to all for another successful outreach project on behalf of SFI and FIN.

UMaine’s summer forestry camp program announced

The School of Forest Resources (SFR) at the University of Maine has announced a new summer camp program.   Officially known as SFR 300 Field Practice in Forest Resources, it is an intensive three-week course that provides field experience in multiple forest resources disciplines and develops skills necessary for professional careers in forest resource management. It will also provide students with excellent field and analytical skills to enable them to be productive summer interns. Read a letter with more information from Jeffrey Benjamin, associate professor – Forest Operations and director of our Summer Camp in 2014

Full steam ahead on Tailoring Rule amendments
By Dave Tenny, NAFO President and CEO

Last week the Supreme Court announced it would review the validity of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Tailoring Rule” or the rule that “tailors” the application of the agency’s new greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations to new or renovated power plants and factories that emit a sufficiently large amount of GHGs. The Court considered petitions to review a variety of issues but granted review on a single issue-whether EPA’s regulation of GHG emissions from mobile sources triggers the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources, such as factories and utilities, under the PSD and Title V permitting requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA).  The Court’s answer to this question could determine whether the Tailoring Rule remains on the books or whether the agency has to go back to the drawing board.