News

Legislative Update

The Essentials: What you need to understand aerial spraying in forestry

Dr. Robert Wagner

Comments from Robert G. Wagner, Professor and head of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, and formerly Henry W. Saunders Distinguished Professor, School of Forest Resources, University of Maine.

Fields of expertise: Academic and research leadership, industry/university partnerships, silviculture, forest management, forest regeneration, vegetation ecology and management. Robert Wagner CV

Forest managers must be able to determine which tree species make up future forest

In order to successfully manage forests to achieve ecological or economic goals for the people of Maine, foresters must be able to promote the kinds of tree species needed to achieve specific forest management goals. This is a core principle that determines whether forestry is a viable business or public enterprise or whether it is a total failure. Decades of research from around the world (Wagner et al. 2006) have clearly shown that effectively managing vegetation is vital to the success of forest regeneration. Indeed, one of the longest running studies in the world, the Austin Pond study in northern Maine, has clearly demonstrated the important role that herbicides play in providing for successful conifer regeneration over many decades (Olson et al. 2012, Bataineh et al. 2013). The inability to use herbicides, especially glyphosate, will lead to forest regeneration failures in many places that will have negative repercussions for many decades to come.

Herbicides are vital for preventing the spread of invasive exotic plants in Maine’s forests

Invasive plant species are threatening native tree regeneration in forests across the United States. A number of invasive plant species are increasing in abundance across Maine’s forests every year. The Maine Natural Areas Program has identified 52 plants species that are severely invasive, and 31 species considered to be very invasive. Herbicides, especially glyphosate, are highly effective, and in most cases, the only effective and affordable tool for combating the spread of invasive exotic plants in Maine’s forests. Loss of this safe and effective tool will severely reduce the ability of forest managers to help stop the spread of invasive exotic plants.

Photo by Lonnie S. Jandreau. Forester, Prentiss & Carlisle

Herbicides are important tools for providing critical habitat for snowshoe hare and Canada lynx

Research has shown that snowshoe hare, a primary prey species of Canada lynx and other major forest carnivores, prefer habitats with high densities of young conifer regeneration. These conditions were provided in abundance following the salvage cutting and subsequent herbicide spraying following the spruce budworm outbreak of the 1970s. The increases in snowshoe hare populations were followed by substantial increases in Canada lynx populations (Simons-Legaard et al. 2013) and produced the largest lynx populations in the lower 48 states. Reduction in the use of harvesting that produces large forest openings and herbicide treatment in recent decades is associated with a projected decline in lynx habitat in the coming decades. Herbicides, particularly glyphosate, are important tools used by professional foresters to create the young, conifer-dominated habitats that are needed to promote Canada lynx and other major forest carnivores in Maine’s forests.

Reducing abundance of diseased beech in Maine’s forests

The abundance of American beech has increased substantially across the Northeastern U.S. forests over the past three decades (Bose et al. 2017). Beech has been shown to competitively exclude more desirable tree species such as sugar maple and yellow birch. Since beech across Maine is also universally infected with the invasive beech-bark disease, reducing its spread in portions of Maine forests is important to providing desirable wildlife habitat and healthier forest stands. Glyphosate has been shown to be one of the most effective herbicides in controlling beech (Nelson and Wagner 2011) and is the only affordable approach to addressing the beech problem. The loss of glyphosate will prevent forest managers from reducing the dominance and spread of diseased beech in many circumstances. Read American Beech — A Tree in Trouble

Increased carbon sequestration comes from a larger wood products pool

The important role of forests in sequestering carbon comes not just from carbon in trees and vegetation itself, but also in the carbon that can be sequestered synergistically in wood products, the use of wood energy, as well as from the forested landscape (Lippke et al. 2011, Cameron et al. 2013, Oliver et al. 2016). Therefore, long-term enhancements in carbon sequestration in Maine’s forests should also consider the ability of the forest to contribute to the long-term wood products pool. The Austin Pond study in northern Maine has clearly demonstrated the crucial role that herbicides can play in producing commercially viable forests that will be able to contribute to the wood products pools of the future (Olson et al. 2012, Bataineh et al. 2013). The loss of herbicides, therefore, could reduce the overall ability of Maine’s forest to sequester carbon by reducing the successful regeneration of commercially viable tree species and thereby reducing the abundance of forest species and stand conditions that can make a greater contribution to the long-term wood products pool, not to mention the associated gains in the state’s economy.

MFPC answers frequently asked questions

What does the EPA say about glyphosate?

When it comes to safety assessments, glyphosate is among the most extensively tested pesticides on the market. Evaluations spanning more than 40 years, and the overwhelming conclusion of experts and regulators worldwide, support the safety of glyphosate and that glyphosate does not cause cancer.

When it comes to safety assessments, glyphosate is among the most extensively tested pesticides on the market. Evaluations spanning more than 40 years, and the overwhelming conclusion of experts and regulators worldwide, support the safety of glyphosate and that glyphosate does not cause cancer. Regulatory authorities routinely review all approved pesticide products. Most recently, in January 2020, the U.S. EPA published its Interim Registration Review Decision on glyphosate and stated EPA scientists performed an independent evaluation of available data for glyphosate and found:

  • No risks of concern to human health from current uses of glyphosate. Glyphosate products used according to label directions do not result in risks to children or adults.
  • No indication that children are more sensitive to glyphosate. After evaluating numerous studies from a variety of sources, the Agency found no indication that children are more sensitive to glyphosate from in utero or post-natal exposure. As part of the human health risk assessment, the Agency evaluated all populations, including infants, children and women of child-bearing age, and found no risks of concern from ingesting food with glyphosate residues. EPA also found no risks of concern for children entering or playing on residential areas treated with glyphosate.
  • No evidence that glyphosate causes cancer in humans. The Agency concluded that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. EPA considered a significantly more extensive and relevant dataset than the International Agency on the Research for Cancer (IARC). EPA’s database includes studies submitted to support registration of glyphosate and studies EPA identified in the open literature.
  • EPA considered a significantly more extensive and relevant dataset than the International Agency on the Research for Cancer (IARC). EPA’s database includes studies submitted to support registration of glyphosate and studies EPA identified in the open literature. For instance, IARC only considered eight animal carcinogenicity studies while EPA used 15 acceptable carcinogenicity studies. EPA does not agree with IARC’s conclusion that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
  • EPA’s cancer classification is consistent with other international expert panels and regulatory authorities, including the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency, Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority, European Food Safety Authority, European Chemicals Agency, German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority, and the Food Safety Commission of Japan and the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR).
  • For more information, read the Revised Glyphosate Issue Paper: Evaluation of Carcinogenic Potential “EPA has thoroughly evaluated potential human health risk associated with exposure to glyphosate and determined that there are no risks to human health from the current registered uses of glyphosate and that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
  • No indication that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor. Glyphosate has undergone Tier I screening under EPA’s Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program. Based on all available information, EPA concluded, using a weight-of-evidence approach, that the existing data do not indicate that glyphosate has the potential to interact with the estrogen, androgen or thyroid signaling pathways. The screening program did not indicate the need for additional testing for glyphosate. All registered glyphosate uses have value for weed control in agriculture and non-agricultural land management.
  • In addition, The National Pesticide Information Center reports that “in humans, glyphosate does not easily pass through the skin. Glyphosate that is absorbed or ingested will pass through the body relatively quickly. The vast majority of glyphosate leaves the body in urine and feces without being changed into another chemical.
  • Also it’s important to keep in mind that most studies have focused on agriculture, not forestry where trees would be treated perhaps one or twice in 40-to 80 years.

What did Canada’s in-depth research conclude about glyphosate? Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA)recently conducted an in-depth analysis of the latest scientific data on assessed the potential human health risk of glyphosate from drinking water, food, occupational and bystander exposure, as well as the environmental risk to non-target organisms and sale and use in Canada in 2017 and concluded:

  • Glyphosate is not genotoxic and is unlikely to pose a human cancer risk.
             o Dietary (food and drinking water) exposure associated with the use of glyphosate is not expected                 to pose a risk of concern to human health.
            o  Occupational and residential risks associated with the use of glyphosate are not of concern,                           provided that updated label instructions are followed.
  • The environmental assessment concluded that spray buffer zones are necessary to mitigate potential risks to non-target species (for example, vegetation near treated areas, aquatic invertebrates and fish) from spray drift.
  • When used according to revised label directions, glyphosate products are not expected to pose risks of concern to the environment.
  • All registered glyphosate uses have value for weed control in agriculture and non-agricultural land management. Read more.

Sen. Jackson testifies: “I’m definitely against glyphosate”

 
In a revealing answer to a question from Sen. Russell Black, R- Franklin, Sen Troy Jackson, D-Aroostook, shared his support for an outright ban on glyphosate at the ACF work session Tuesday on LD 125 An Act To Prohibit the Aerial Spraying of Glyphosate and Other Synthetic Herbicides for the Purpose of Silviculture. See video above.
 
Sen. Russell Black asked:”Is it just the aerial spraying you’re against or is it the glyphosate that you’re against, could you answer that for me please?”
 
Senator Troy Jackson: “I’m definitely against glyphosate. But look at the trouble we’re having just banning aerial herbicide spraying. It certainly was not something that I thought we were going to have an outright ban on, but certainly making sure that there’s less opportunity for drift, less opportunity for this to get in the water is at least a good start. I’m certainly more than happy, Senator Black, if you want to amend this (bill) to ban glyphosate, I’m a supporter of that.”
 
Earlier in the work session Karen Nadeau, OPLA analyst (Office of Policy and Legal Analysis), reminded the ACF Committee that Patty Cormier, director of the Maine Forest Service, that MFS “had some technical concerns, basically, I think, In a nutshell, they felt my sections, two and three, the bill were not necessary. And on some level I have to agree with that.”
 
“What I would do is I would strike sections, two and three,” Nadeau said, “and simply add a phrase to Section One of the bill at the end, that would just say, ‘including but not limited to timber harvesting activity is conducted in accordance with Title 12 Chapter 805, subchapter 3A, which is a Forest Practices Act.” 
 
The Council’s testimony, as well with that of many of our members, focused on the fact that aerial spraying is a proven and safe silvicultural tool used in Maine for decades. It is an essential part of forest management, and very important for control of invasive and other undesirable vegetative competition.
 
When the tone of the discussion seemed to be moving in that direction and Rep. Scofield said, “I would like to move not to pass on this on this bill.” But supporters of the bill said they were not ready to vote and the bill was tabled. The date of the next work session has not yet been set, but it may be set for the week of April 5.
 
According to the National Pesticide Information Center animal and human studies have been evaluated by regulatory agencies in the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, and the European Union, as well as the Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues of the United Nations and World Health Organization (WHO). These agencies looked at cancer rates in humans and studies where laboratory animals were fed high doses of glyphosate. Based on these studies, they determined that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic.(National Pesticide Information Center, glyphosate General Fact sheet.)
 
ACF will be changing its process slightly for work sessions
  • Just like for public hearings, ACF work sessions will be held on a Zoom webinar platform, where “attendees” will be able to see and hear ACF members and those individuals recognized to speak but will not be able to speak or be heard unless and until recognized by the Chairs. Unlike a public hearing, there should be no expectation that work session attendees will be called upon to provide input or additional comment. As has always been the case, work sessions are an opportunity for the committee to discuss and vote on proposed legislation and comments from non-members are typically only requested as necessary to clarify questions raised by the legislation.
  • Cheryl McGowan, committee clerk will send out a Zoom webinar registration link to those on the ACF mailing list. If you wish to attend that committee meeting, please use that link to register for the meeting. Upon registration, you will be sent by Zoom a meeting access link, which you can use to join the meeting when it begins or when the matter you are interested in is taken up. Click here if you would like to sign up for the ACF mailing list.
  • If a work session follows or is held on the same day as a public hearing and you have registered for that public hearing but also wish to attend the work session, there is no need to separately register for the work session – you can use the same meeting access link you are sent upon registering for the hearing to attend any part of the meeting. If you did not register for the hearing but wish to attend a work session on the same day, you will need to use the registration process described in above.
If you are interested in observing a work session but have no interest in providing additional comment, you should plan on viewing the meeting livestream on YouTube instead of attending directly.

Maine Forest Service online session March 3rd: Submitting Forest Operations Notifications with the new Forest Online Resource Tool

Maine Forest Service online session March 3rd at 8 a.m.

As announced last June, FONS (Forest Operations Notifications) transitioned to the online Forest Online Resource Tool (FOResT) on 01 January, 2021.

To help landowners, loggers, and foresters become familiar with the new online system, the Maine Forest Service will offer a public, online overview and demonstration session on FOResT on March 3rd. Licensed Forester Continuing Education Credits have recently been approved for these sessions. Credits: 2 hours – Category 1. Sign up for the March 3rd session

This session will contain:

  • 40-45 minute overview of FOResT followed by 15-20 minutes for attendees to ask questions.
  • 10 minute break
  • 1.5 hour in-depth demo of FOResT followed by 30 minutes for attendees to ask questions

If you have any questions or have trouble signing up, contact the Maine Forest Service at forestinfo@maine.gov or 207-287-2791.

There is no maximum number of attendees. These sessions will be repeated throughout the winter to ensure that people have multiple opportunities to attend.

In addition to March 3, future sessions will begin at 8 a.m. on the following Wednesdays: March 17 and March 31.
Invitations to each of these sessions will be sent out for you to sign up. Updates on scheduling and other information regarding FOResT will be announced via MFS’s electronic newsletters for landowners, foresters, and loggers.

All sessions will be recorded for those who are unable to attend or would like to review what was covered.

For more information about FOResT and to view recordings of previous sessions visit: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/rules_regs/forest_home.html

NOTE: If you have attended one of these sessions in the past and would like to receive these credits, please contact the Maine Forest Service at forestinfo@maine.gov with your name and the date of the session you attended.

MFPC Legislative Update Feb. 12

What a surprise! Tree Growth Tax under attack again

 

No, you’re not experiencing deja vu. LD 188 An Act Regarding the Transportation of Products in the Forest Products Industry is yet another bill that proposes to use the Tree Growth Tax to promote an unrelated issue — and this bill is similar but even worse than last session’s LD 2061 An Act Regarding the Transportation of Products in the Forest Products Industry, which squeaked out of the Taxation Committee on a party-line vote and died when the pandemic ended the session.

We hope many members will again testify against LD 188 on Tuesday, February 23, at 9:30 a.m. We’ll be sending out talking points shortly. You can submit testimony and sign up to speak at the hearing here. If you’d like to see if you know someone on the Taxation Committee, their names and contact information can be found here. Find your Legislator.

Below is a comparison of the 129th’s summary of LD 2061 and the 130th’s summary of LD 188:

  • LD 2061 Summary: This bill provides that land of a landowner that owns 50,000 or more acres of forest land in the State and allows transportation of forest products harvested on the landowner’s land from a location in the State to another location in the State in violation of federal law or regulation or an international trade agreement is ineligible for classification under the Maine Tree Growth Tax Law and the landowner may not receive certain tax incentives or state grants or other state funding.
  • LD 188 Summary: This bill requires that owners and managers of log yards and mill sites present a copy of a trip ticket to a forest ranger in the log yard or mill site upon request. The bill adds a requirement related to the transportation of forest products by providing that a landowner of 50,000 or more acres of forest land in the State may not allow the transportation of forest products harvested on the landowner’s land from a location in the State to another location in the State in violation of federal law or regulation or an international trade agreement that prohibits the transportation of goods from a location in the United States to another location in the United States. The bill also provides that a landowner with 2 prior violations of the new transportation requirement is ineligible for classification of the landowner’s land under the Maine Tree Growth Tax Law and the landowner may not receive certain tax incentives or state grants or other state funding.

 

What happened Feb. 8-12

Monday Feb. 8

Inland Fisheries & Wildlife: Twenty-three people submitted testimony at the public hearing on LD 142 An Act To Give the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Rule-making Authority To Establish a Bear Season Framework and Bag Limits. This bill is the result of a compromise in the 129th Legislature. The work session is Wednesday, February 24, 10 a.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 9

Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, 9 a.m.: James May was confirmed to the Land Use Planning Commission, and Catherine Robbins-Halsted and Bob Meyers were confirmed to the Land for Maine’s Future Board.

Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry: 1 p.m. MFPC submitted testimony supporting LD 90 An Act To Amend the Removal Process Applicable to the Position of State Supervisor of the Forest Protection Unit of the Bureau of Forestry. The work session has not yet been scheduled. MFPC testimony on LD 90 final.

Health & Human Service, 10 a.m.: MFPC supported LD 129 Resolve, To Protect Consumers of Public Drinking Water by Establishing Maximum Contaminant Levels for Certain Substances and Contaminants, and opposed LD 164 An Act To Establish Maximum Contaminant Levels under the State’s Drinking Water Rules for Certain Perflouroalkyl and Polyflouroalkyl Substances. Read testimony. Bill Ferdinand testified for MFPC and was quoted in the Portland Press Herald. “These are important decisions both economically and for the public health,” Ferdinand said, “so we want them to be based on the best science and do not want to use standards in other states without a thorough review.” MFPC testimony on LDs 129 and 164 final.

Thursday, Feb. 11

Judiciary, 10 a.m.: LD 159 An Act To Extend Time Limits for Placing Land in Trust Status under the Maine Indian Claims Settlement. MFPC is monitoring, but sees no cause to oppose.

 

Coming up Feb. 15-19

With President’s Day on Monday and the winter school break, we expect a fairly slow week. We will continue to monitor budget deliberations. There are public hearings on the two bills below.

Thursday, Feb. 18

Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, 9:30 a.m. LD 207 Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Portions of Chapter 1: Fee Schedule, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Maine Land Use Planning Commission. Monitoring.

Judiciary, 11 a.m.:

 

To submit testimony click here

To find your legislators click here and enter your address.

To watch a committee hearing click here to choose the right committee from a dropdown list and then on the top right side of your screen, click on YouTube (audio and video) or Live Audio.

 

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.

MFPC Legislative Update Friday, Feb. 5, 2021

What happened this week

Monday, Feb. 1, 9 a.m.

Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

LD 88 An Act To Amend Maine’s Wildlife Laws Regarding Species of Special Concern. MFPC supported this legislation with amendments clarifying the definition and how the list is used in regulatory and permitting matters. Read MFPC testimony.

All hearings on Feb. 2 were postponed because of the snowstorm.

Thursday, Feb. 4, 9 a.m.

Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry

LD 34 Agriculture, Conservation & ForestryAn Act To Create the Maine Forestry Operations Cleanup and Response Fund. MFPC supports creation of the Maine Forestry Operations and Response Fund reflected in section 1 and 2 of the legislation, but as a matter of due process we recommend a general “reasonable notification efforts” provision in the lien section to ensure responsible parties have an opportunity to take corrective action on their own. Read MFPC testimony.

LD 36 An Act To Amend the Definition of “Timber Harvesting, MFPC supports the effort by Maine Forest Service to track green wood movement in Maine. To better define the intent of the legislation in these instances we suggest the following clarification language: “Timber harvesting” means the cutting or removal of timber for the primary purpose of selling or processing forest products trees or forest products that when cut or removed are transported to a roundwood processing operation, as defined in section 8881, subsection 10. This does not include removal and transport of trees, logs or bark from wood reclaiming operations.” Read MFPC testimony.
Coming up Feb. 8-12

Online Public Hearings Feb. 8-11

Monday, Feb. 8, 9 a.m.

Inland Fisheries & Wildlife: LD 142 An Act To Give the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Rule-making Authority To Establish a Bear Season Framework and Bag Limits. This bill is the result of a compromise in the 129th Legislature. MFPC is monitoring.

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 9 a.m.

Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry

Confirmation hearings for James May to the Land Use Planning Commission, read MFPC testimony and Catherine Robbins-Halsted, read MFPC testimony, and Bob Meyers, read MFPC testimony, to the Land for Maine’s Future Board. MFPC supports the nominees.

Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry: 1 p.m.

LD 90 An Act To Amend the Removal Process Applicable to the Position of State Supervisor of the Forest Protection Unit of the Bureau of Forestry. MFPC supports because it will help insure the Forest Protection Unit (FPU) can retain experienced, knowledgeable officers after they have served as the FPU state supervisor. LD 90 would simply clarify that if a state supervisor is not chosen to continue serving in that position, he or she can resume the position held previously or a position equivalent in salary grade “without impairment of personnel status or the loss of seniority, retirement or other rights.” Read MFPC testimony.

Health & Human Services, 10 a.m.

LD 164 An Act To Establish Maximum Contaminant Levels under the State’s Drinking Water Rules for Certain Perflouroalkyl and Polyflouroalkyl Substances. MFPC opposes because of concerns about the lack of a scientific approach to establishing a drinking water standard without a process administered by the Maine Center for Disease Control in collaboration with the U.S. EPA.

Thursday, Feb. 11, 10 a.m.

Judiciary

LD 159 An Act To Extend Time Limits for Placing Land in Trust Status under the Maine Indian Claims Settlement. MFPC is researching.

  • To submit testimony click here
  • To find your legislators click here and enter your address.
  • To watch a committee hearing click here to choose the right committee from a dropdown list and then on the top right side of your screen, click on YouTube (audio and video) or Live Audio.

 

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.

MFPC Legislative Update Jan. 29, 2021

 
Online Public Hearings Feb. 1-5
 
Monday, Feb. 1, 9 a.m.
 
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, LD 88 An Act To Amend Maine’s Wildlife Laws Regarding Species of Special Concern, Sponsor Rep. Lester Ordway, R- Standish. MFPC supports this legislation with required amendments. Support clarifying the definition but simultaneously need to define how the list is used in regulatory and permitting matters.  
 
Tuesday, Feb. 2, 10 a.m.
 
Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Commerce, LD 105 An Act To Adopt the Department of Economic and Community Development’s 10-year Economic Development Strategy for Maine, Sponsor Sen. Donna Bailey, D-Saco. MFPC supports, particularly themes relating to the importance of the forest sector.  Work session Tuesday, Feb. 11, 9:30 a.m.
 
Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry:
 
  • LD 90 An Act To Amend the Removal Process Applicable to the Position of State Supervisor of the Forest Protection Unit of the Bureau of Forestry, Sponsor Rep. Thomas Skolfield, R-Weld. MFPC supports.
  • LD 65 An Act To Invest in the Stewardship and Management of Properties Acquired with the Proceeds from the Land for Maine’s Future Fund or the Public Access to Maine Waters Fund, Sponsor Rep. Margaret O’Neill, D-Saco
 
Thursday, Feb. 4, 9 a.m.
 
Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry:
 
  • LD 34 Agriculture, Conservation & ForestryAn Act To Create the Maine Forestry Operations Cleanup and Response Fund, Sponsor Sen. James Dill, D-Penobscot. MFPC supports creation of the fund, but has language changes to ensure due process in the lien section of the bill. 
  • LD 36 An Act To Amend the Definition of “Timber Harvesting, Sponsor Sen. James Dill, D-Penobscot. MFPC supports with clarification on definition that specifies tracking of only green wood products (i.e. not salvaged wood or ancient bark piles).

 

To submit testimony click here.

To find your legislators enter your address here

To watch a hearing, click here  to choose the committee,  then on the top right side of your screen, click on YouTube (audio and video) or Live Audio.

Coming up Feb. 8-12
 
Monday Feb. 8
 
Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, 9 a.m.: LD 142 An Act To Give the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Rule-making Authority To Establish a Bear Season Framework and Bag Limits. Sponsor Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake Eagle Lake.
 
Tuesday, Feb. 9
 
Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, 9 a.m.: James May confirmation hearing to the Land Use Planning Commission. MFPC supports. 
 
Health & Human Service, 10 a.m.:
  • LD 129 Resolve To Protect Consumers of Public Drinking Water by Establishing Maximum Contaminant Levels for Certain Substances and Contaminants. Sponsor Sen. Trey Stewart, R-Aroostook.
  • LD 164 An Act To Establish Maximum Contaminant Levels under the State’s Drinking Water Rules for Certain Perflouroalkyl and Polyflouroalkyl Substances. Sponsor Rep. Ralph Tucker, D-Brunswick.
 
Thursday, Feb. 11
 
Judiciary, 10 a.m.: LD 159 An Act To Extend Time Limits for Placing Land in Trust Status under the Maine Indian Claims Settlement. Sponsor Rep. Barbara Wood, D- Portland.

 

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.

Maine Forest Products Council Legislative Update Jan. 22, 2021

MFPC Policy Committee goes to work

More than 30 members joined in Friday morning as the MFPC Policy Committee convened for the first time (virtually on Zoom) to discuss the bills to be considered by the 130 Legislature. So I thought this would be a good time I’d briefly run through our procedures.

I check through all the bills — out of nearly 2000 proposed only 187 LDs have been printed as of today — and then flag the ones of interest to MFPC members. Office Manager Sue McCarthy places them in an Excel file and updates them as public hearings and work sessions are scheduled.

Then the Policy Committee, which includes lobbyist Michele MacLean and attorney Bill Ferdinand, discusses what positions MFPC should take. We are still researching these bills, but by next Friday’s update we’ll likely have decided whether we are for, against or just monitoring. Communication Director Roberta Scruggs and I will then start work on the Council’s testimony, which members help us refine.

Below you’ll find the first bills from out watch list that are scheduled for public hearings. Feel free to contact Roberta or me if you have comments, questions or simply share your opinions. Our contact information is below. If you want to submit testimony, we are happy to help in any way, including with research.

This session, which will almost entirely virtual, will be challenging, but we always know we can count on our members to work with us. As always, we appreciate all you do for the Council and for the forest products industry.

 

Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Public Hearings

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 10 a.m.

LD 90 An Act To Amend the Removal Process Applicable to the Position of State Supervisor of the Forest Protection Unit of the Bureau of Forestry, Sponsor Rep. Thomas Skolfield, R-Weld.
LD 65 An Act To Invest in the Stewardship and Management of Properties Acquired with the Proceeds from the Land for Maine’s Future Fund or the Public Access to Maine Waters Fund, Sponsor Rep. Margaret O’Neill, D-Saco

Thursday, Feb. 4, 9 a.m.

LD 36 An Act To Amend the Definition of “Timber Harvesting, Sponsor Sen. James Dill, D-Penobscot.
LD 34 Agriculture, Conservation & ForestryAn Act To Create the Maine Forestry Operations Cleanup and Response Fund, Sponsor Sen. James Dill, D-Penobscot.

 

Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Public Hearing

Monday Feb. 1, 9 a.m.

LD 88 An Act To Amend Maine’s Wildlife Laws Regarding Species of Special Concern, Sponsor Rep. Lester Ordway, R- Standish.

 

Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Commerce

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 10 a.m.

LD 105 An Act To Adopt the Department of Economic and Community Development’s 10- year Economic Development Strategy for Maine, Sponsor Sen. Donna Bailey, D-Saco.

 

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.

MFPC’s challenge: How to reach legislators in a ‘virtual’ session

The biggest challenge facing the Maine Forest Products Council right now, along with every organization in the state, is how to advocate for members during the first “virtual” session of 130th Legislature. As with so many things right now, we are uncharted territory. Here’s what I know now, but keep in mind things are changing rapidly all the time.

Don’t expect to be in a committee room with legislators around the horseshoe this session. Instead everybody will be looking through a computer screen.

Due to the pandemic, this legislative session is going to be totally remote. The State House is closed to the public, and pretty much closed to legislators. There will be no legislative sessions or joint sessions of the House and Senate until much later in the spring. Since we can’t talk to them in the halls, legislators are going to be overwhelmed with information from alternative sources, such as calls, emails, texts etc., from various interest groups across the state.

The Legislature’s intent is to begin the session slowly, so it didn’t start Jan. 6 as it normally would.  Bill titles are all we have to work with right now, but the Office of the Revisor Of Statutes has been authorized to print the bills. They will then be sent to the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate for direct referral to committees. Normally, bills and papers would have been referred through the House and the Senate.

Once bills are printed, committees will begin to do their work on a virtual platform, which at this point is expected to be Zoom. They will go through orientation as new committees, have presentations from various stakeholders, starting with the administration and state agencies, and briefings on materials relevant to what’s before the various committees. They’ll also go through briefings on protocols and expectations, especially with this new platform.

It’s going to be an incredibly different dynamic for both legislators and our members and we will have to work hard to communicate and advocate, especially since not everyone has access to broadband and high speed internet.

I’ve been doing an enormous amount of outreach with legislators, including committee chairs, and here’s where we have some opportunities.  

First, the analysts and staff of the committees will be central to this entire process. Imagine being a legislator on multiple committees, watching hearings on a computer screen for entire days or even into the evening. We know people are going to get saturated. So legislators will rely heavily on the staff, especially the analysts for information. It’s our job to provide them with timely, accurate and succinct testimony and other information.

The Council also has a real advantage because the forest products industry is a statewide constituency that we can tap into. The greatest messengers we have are our members, from individuals to companies, because you have the greatest impact on legislators who will be voting on bills. MFPC members have always worked hard for our industry’s interests, but this time we need them to engage in ways beyond what we’ve asked in the past.

Having said that, the MFPC staff and lobbyist we will do anything everything we can to help with messaging and also help you to feel comfortable communicating directly with legislators.

Don’t forget that at the end of the day, the people who represent you at the legislature are your neighbors. They not only need to hear from you, they will welcome your ideas and insights.

MFPC preliminary watch list has 106 bills, including many familiar ones

Despite a pandemic and a crisis in national leadership, Maine’s forest industry keeps adapting to changing conditions as it works to remain competitive in a global marketplace. Many Maine residents, especially those in rural communities, are dependent on our members’ success in surviving these challenges. So we want to ensure that every newly elected Maine legislator understands the relationship between supporting businesses in their community and protecting jobs.

Legislative exuberance is rarely limited, so at last tally, Rep. Christopher Kessler, D-South Portland, had the highest LR number on the list – LR 1957 An Act To Enact the Zero Tolerance Hazardous Air Emissions Act.

As of Feb. 4, about 300 bills had become LDs (Legislative Documents). According to the Legislative Information Office,  it will take several weeks before we will know the content of all the bills that will eventually come before legislative committees.

There are many important ideas legislators are putting forward that are pandemic related (i.e. healthcare, employee COVID safety, business protection). So it’s no surprise LD 1 An Act To Establish the COVID-19 Patient Bill of Rights was sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Aroostook, and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford.

“We cannot have cost be a barrier to testing or to treatment,” Fecteau said. “Also, the importance of requiring insurance companies to cover immunizations for COVID-19 is critical,”

There also is an urgent need to focus on approving a budget in these tough economic times. On Jan. 8, Gov. Janet Mills released her $8.4 billion budget proposal, which largely holds state government spending flat while increasing education spending and a key reserve fund.

 “To me, it’s a no-nonsense, no-drama document, plain and simple,” Mills said during a briefing with reporters.

Narrowing my focus to bills that may affect our forestry businesses directly, I have placed 106 titles on my preliminary watch list.  A title doesn’t always convey the total intent of a bill, but we can flag concerns and seek clarification from legislative authors before the bill language is drafted in the Revisor’s Office and referred to committees of jurisdiction. 

The Agriculture Conservation and Forestry Committee’s docket includes last session’s bill by Senate President Jackson to eliminate aerial applications of glyphosate (currently it’s just LR 577 An Act To Prohibit the Aerial Spraying of Glyphosate and Other Synthetic Herbicides for the Purpose of Silviculture).

Landowners spent considerable time and expense with field studies and an ACF tour in 2019 (see video below) to help inform committee members about the importance of this silvicultural tool, so it is discouraging to see Sen. Jackson has not changed his approach to this issue. Our agriculture colleagues also will be dealing with a number of pesticide issues and we’ll need to work together to continue to educate policymakers. On a positive note, a bill to replace Maine Forest Service helicopters through bonding has been proposed.

The Environment and Natural Resources Committee (ENR) will be reviewing several climate change bills. As a member of the Climate Change Council, I’ll be participating in a presentation to the committee on Jan. 27. We also will be revisiting several PFAS bills, which would affect our pulp & paper businesses, that were dropped last session.

In the Energy and Utilities Committee (EUT), we will be talking about the MFPC sawmill residuals bill that encourages investments in community Combined Heat and Power projects (CHP). This is a modest request (50MW of capacity) within the larger discussions about increasing wind and solar energy production. Some additional CHP bills have been introduced as well. There also will be a debate about the merits of a publicly owned utility structure in Maine.

Recommendations from the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Task Force will be reintroduced this session in the Judiciary Committee since these issues were unresolved when the 129th legislature shut down. We continue to be concerned with changing the sovereign rights of a group of landowners and the effect of those actions on the greater landowner community and forest manufacturing base. I am hopeful that this discussion will be respectful of the many perspectives that are at stake.

It would not be the beginning of a new legislative session without the three Sunday hunting proposals in the queue. Two Tree Growth bills that were dropped last session are returning to the Taxation Committee. Sen. Jackson has reintroduced his bill on cabotage[1], which perpetuates the false narrative that federal transportation laws are being violated. Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, feels compelled to make another statement that public access is a condition of Tree Growth program enrollment. 

Yet despite COVID, a pulp digester explosion, and changing markets, the Maine forest economy remains resilient and a strong economic engine. I’m also optimistic that the majority of the legislators believe healthy forests and forest products are an important part of Maine’s economic, ecological and societal future. We look forward to working with them this session. 

[1] (The transport of goods or passengers between two places in the same country by a transport operator from another country.