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.

Facts, figures and reports about Maine’s forests

Economic Impact

Sustainable Forestry

The State of Maine’s Carbon Budget

Forest Health

Other Maine Forest Service Reports

Forests for Maine’s Future FAQ’s About Maine’s Forests – Overview

  1. How much forest does Maine have?
  2. What trees grow in Maine‘s woods?
  3. How do trees vary thoughout the state?
  4. How has the forest changed over time?
  5. Who owns Maine’s forests?
  6. How much do they contribute to Maine’s economy?
  7. What about outdoor recreation?
  8. What about the environmental benefits of the forest?
  9. How much wood is harvested in the state?
  10. What is sustainable forestry?
  11. What about clear cutting? 
 

New SIC Progress Report has lots of good news

Since its founding in 1994, the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) has worked with a broad array of stakeholders, including governments, universities, resource professionals, landowners, indigenous peoples, and conservation groups. SFI’s mission is to advance sustainability through forest-focused collaborations and today there are 360 million acres of forestland certified to the SFI Standard, including seven million acres in Maine.

Maine’s SFI Implementation Committee (SIC), includes landowners, loggers, mills, foresters, government agencies, conservation groups, management companies, recreation representatives, educators and researchers. SFI’s mission is to promote sustainable management of our state’s 17.6 million acres of forestland by continually improving forestry and harvesting practices.

The 2020 SIC  Progress Report shows good news in many areas, including:

  • 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.
 

FOR/Maine, MDF announce grants totaling more than $1 million for mill site redevelopment in 5 communities

On June 17, the FOR/Maine (Forest Opportunity Roadmap) coalition – a broad coalition working to diversify the state’s wood products businesses, attract capital investments, and develop greater economic prosperity for rural communities – and Maine Development Foundation (MDF) are pleased to announce grants totaling more than $1-million to five Maine communities impacted by recent mill closures.

The funds will be used for redevelopment projects deemed catalytic for the next generation of forest economy products, especially during this critical transition in global markets. The grants are primarily funded by the Northern Border Regional Commission and the Maine Rural Development Authority. They will be administered by Maine Development Foundation, which staffs the FOR/Maine coalition and is a key partner in the coalition’s work.

“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 need was apparent as one mill after another shut down over the last decade, leaving these century-old, forest-based economies anchorless. The recent appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbates the need. It is a model for future work that can be replicated to continue transitioning these economies to make them more diverse and sustainable.” 

The five awardees prevailed through a process aimed at identifying new opportunities that will have a fundamental impact on economic revitalization and the next generation of forest products:

  • 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 campus, including the 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 feasibility assessment and planning related to building rehabilitation, upgrading essential infrastructure, and restoring waste water treatment.
  • Madison – $400,000 to redevelop the Madison mill site through demolition of the special chemicals building and boiler house for a new use of the site by GO Labs for the production of wood fiber-based insulation products.
  • Millinocket – $216,090 for energizing the substation on the brownfield portion of the Great Northern Paper site, where potential tenants are ready to locate contingent on the upgrades.

“These funds will provide a significant boost to the efforts underway to revitalize the industrial site formerly owned by Madison Paper Industries,” explained Tim Curtis, Town Manager of Madison. “Madison is fortunate to be in a partnership with GO Lab, an up-and-coming timber products manufacturer and new owner of the site. Thank you for your contribution to make Madison an even better place to live and work. We are deeply grateful for the tireless efforts of MDF to assist municipalities hit hardest by the closure of paper mills over the past several years.  MDF’s collaboration with the Northern Border Regional Commission and the Maine Rural Development Authority has resulted in direct funding to help former mill towns rebuild”

The awards are part of the Increasing Prosperity for Maine’s Forest Economy Communities subgrant program, which is funded by the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC), Maine Rural Development Authority (MRDA), and with additional matching funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, and FOR/Maine.

“We are excited to play a role in funding this group of projects, and to see these funds go to support innovative efforts to diversify Maine’s forest economy communities,” says NBRC Executive Director Rich Grogan. “It is also crucial that these investments support new forest economy products, furthering this industry’s rich tradition in Maine, and across the NBRC region.”

Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, with the leadership of Commissioner Heather Johnson, provided crucial matching support to this federal-state partnership. The members of Maine’s congressional delegation have also been instrumental in advocating for the increased, targeted funding for the regional Forest Economy program at NBRC, as well as for the federal funding support to establish FOR/Maine in 2016 and begin implementing its recommended strategies.

“The forest products industry has been a critical economic contributor to rural Maine communities for generations, and with the right investments, it can continue to play a vital role in our state for years to come,” said Senators Susan Collins, Angus King, and Congressman Jared Golden. “The work of the industry-led FOR/ME initiative has helped position this sector for continued success, and these grants for Ashland, Millinocket, East Millinocket, Lincoln, and Madison will build on its progress. Investments in these communities will bolster the development of new sustainable forest products, help support good quality jobs in each region, and take important steps toward our shared goal of revitalizing Maine’s forest economy.”

For more information, contact Adam Burk, Program Director, Maine Development Foundation aburk@mdf.org.

A new way to market 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.

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.

On June 17 and 18, Climate Council members were presented with the recommendations submitted from the following working groups:

In preliminary calculations of Maine’s carbon cycle, the University of Maine Center for Research on Sustainable Forests (CRFS) estimates that of the 5.1 million metric tons of carbon (MMTC) emitted annually in Maine, 2.8 MMTC (approximately 55 percent) is offset by carbon uptake from forest growth. An additional 15 percent of carbon is embedded in forest products.

Maine’s numbers look good because we have one of the highest ratios of forestland acres to population levels in the nation. Tom Doak, executive director of the Maine Woodland Owners; Dana Doran, executive director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, and I have been working to represent the opportunities our industry can bring to the table, while managing expectations.

The Maine 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. Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing my analysis of these recommendations with the industry and seeking feedback. I’m pleased that many of the recommendations reflect opportunities derived from a healthy forest economy. There are some regulatory approaches that concern me, and I’ll point those out in my report.

The action plan will survive beyond the pre Covid-19 vaccine period that we are currently experiencing, and it will shape the legislative discussion and market opportunities for Maine for years to come.

Maine Economic Recovery Committee

I’m trying to keep a pulse on the health of our businesses and share this insight with the administration and legislators. Steve Schley, who chairs the FOR/Maine Executive Committee, continues to serve on the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee charged with identifying short-term and long-term actions to ensure a coordinated recovery effort. I would encourage you to reach out to Steve and listen in on the public meetings. The 39-member committee includes representatives of small businesses, non-profits, financial institutions, unions, municipalities, tribal and immigrant communities, hospitality and tourism industries, and educational institutions as well as a bipartisan delegation of legislative designees. Committee meetings will be held each Friday from 8-9 a.m. from now until July 10th. See upcoming meetings.

In the face of all the challenges facing us, there’s also a hearty crew keeping the tradition of the MFPC’s 14th annual golf tournament going 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. Also at this point we can’t have a gathering at the end so a box dinner will be delivered to all players. 2020 MFPC Golf Registration Form. Although we’re prevented from gathering in an official award reception, we’ll make sure the contestants are recognized in a special way! Many thanks to the sponsors of the event.

Please don’t hesitate to call me with your questions and concerns as we all navigate these challenging times. Be safe. 

Maine’s forestry community continues to protects water quality during timber harvests, MFS study shows

The Maine Forest Service (MFS) has released the results of a study on the use and effectiveness of forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs) at timber harvests across the state from 2018-2019. BMPs are voluntary measures used to protect water quality. BMP use and effectiveness at timber harvesting operations is monitored regularly by the Maine Forest Service’s 10 District Foresters and Water Resources Specialist. The results of these monitoring efforts are reported biannually.

The following are key findings of this year’s report:

  • A substantial majority (78%) of sites had BMPs applied appropriately on crossings and approaches, or crossings were avoided. MFS BMPs emphasize planning harvests to avoid crossing streams whenever feasible.
  • Eighty-eight percent (88%) of sites evaluated for sediment input found no sediment entered a waterbody. A significant goal of BMPs is keeping sediment from reaching water bodies.
    Ninety-six percent (96%) of sites showed no evidence of chemical spills. Properly securing and storing these chemicals is a vital BMP, as is being prepared with a plan and the proper equipment if a spill occurs.
  • When applied appropriately, BMPs were effective at preventing sedimentation from entering water bodies. Sedimentation events were strongly correlated with inadequate application of BMPs, or lack of maintenance of BMPs.
  • Ninety-four percent (94%) of sample sites had no wetland crossing. Wetlands were either avoided, or effective BMPs were used to cross.
    “On behalf of the Maine Forest Service, thank you to all that work in the forestry business for your continued success in protecting our water resources in Maine,” said Maine Forest Service Director Patty Cormier. “As the results of this report show, the water quality guidelines, or Best Management Practices are being taken seriously and being implemented successfully. We all need to take care of our natural resources, and this shows the forestry sector has stepped up to the plate to do so.”

The full report is available on the Maine Forest Service website at: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/policy_management/water_resources/bmps.html

For more information please contact Maine Forest Service Water Resources Specialist, Tom Gilbert at 287-1073 or thomas.gilbert@maine.gov

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.

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

Ripogenus Dam, Maine An Encyclopedia. 

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 mills” 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 hard-working 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 and orders to get the 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. Steve Schley, a longtime-MFPC Board member and current chair of the FOR/Maine Executive Committee, was recently appointed by Gov. Janet Mills to participate in the Economic Recovery Committee. This will be a good venue for sharing recommendations for both the short-term recovery and long-term strategic focus.  

We’re also moving ahead with the FOR/Maine initiative to conduct a global search for manufacturers that could fit into our wood basket. Indufor, our consultant, has initiated the project and will be reporting opportunities to us throughout the year. Global markets are shifting and in this new world economy it might make sense to relocate an established manufacturing business to Maine or commercialize an emerging technology on the strength of our forest resources.  

So while we are headlining some positive industry news, it doesn’t mean we don’t understand the gravity of the situation or the challenges that are ahead for many of you. There was plenty of momentum moving this industry ahead prior to the coronavirus and we’ll work hard to get back to that place.

Please keep in touch and let us know how we can be of service to you and your businesses.

2019 forest products exports decline for U.S. and Maine

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).  Read full report:  Maine Forest Products Council – 2019 Trade Stats – ME

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.

According to Recycling Today, 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.

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%

Maine’s average wildfire is usually less than 1 acre a 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 acre each year. In 2019, for example, Maine had  355 wildfires, with a total of 142 acres burned (see graphic above). Below are other graphics and maps, produced by Special Operations Supervisor Joe Mints and Greg Miller, GIS Coordinator, that will tell you a lot about wildfires in Maine:

Chief Forest Ranger Bill Hamilton, left, and Special Operations Supervisor Joe Mints

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

Still, with 17.6 million acres of  forestland we have had and will have major wildfires.

In 1947, the State of Maine suffered its largest forest fire disaster in modern history. The state experienced more 90 consecutive days of record-breaking high temperatures and drought. By mid-October, many small wildfires started and spread out of control.  Statewide, these fires burned more than 220,000 acres and 1,000 homes, left 2,500 people homeless and 16 dead. The damages totaled more than 11 million dollars at that time. From October 13 to October 27, firefighters across the state fought about 200 Maine fires, consuming a quarter of a million acres of forest, and wiping out nine entire towns, according to the New England Historical Society.

Depending on your definition of a major wildfire, we have had several since 1947, including the Baxter Park fire in 1977, which burned nearly 4,000 acres; the Moxie fire, 2,000 acres (1997), Red Brook fire 1,500 acres (1990); Sunken Stream fire 1,600 acres (1985); Allagash fire, 1,200 acres, (1992) and Columbia fire 800 acres in 2007. I’m sure that I have missed some.

I particularly like the trend graph above, State of Maine Wildland Fires 1903-2020, because it illustrates that the number of wildfires have increased since 1903, but the acreage continues to shrink. There is a lot of history in this graph and it tells an interesting story. One example is the spike beginning in the mid 1970s lasting through the early 1990s which overlays spruce/fir mortality caused by the last budworm outbreak. Our goal is to prevent wildfires through media, outreach, law enforcement and the Smokey program. When wildfires do happen, we attack from the ground and with aircraft to keep fires small to protect Maine landowners.

Joe Mints also took a quick dive into the weather stats since the 1947 fires and found that we have hit the same burning indices on a few occasions since 1947, but there hasn’t been a repeat of those catastrophic fires. If you compare the two maps below of wildfires by cause from 2015-2019 and 2000-2019, you’ll probably notice that there have been fewer wildfires in the past five years. Look at the 10- year totals over the past two decades (above) and the trend becomes really clear. The 10-year total from 2000 through 2009 was 5,795 fires, but from 2010-2019, there were just 4,933 fires, a decline of 16.6 percent. The drop in the total acres burned was even more striking, dropping from 9,226 acres burned from 2000-2009, to 4,984 burned from 2010-20190, a decline of a 47 percent. 

There are many factors at work in this trend, such as access, communications, industry safe guards and stand composition. However, it is clear that the major and consistent difference is our staff and the way they do their jobs.

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