News

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.

Maine logger injury-illness rate is half of the national average

By Mike St. Peter, CLP Executive Director

In these extraordinary times it was expected that new certification and recertification numbers would be down, although the CLP board and administration responded is to keep the CLP viable and maintained as a full-time program. We have continued to meet the requirements of industry certification systems, insurance company requirements, state, and federal government regulations, and most importantly the health and safety of the logging community.

The Maine Department of Labor statistics for the most recent year, reports the incidence rate for occupational injuries and illnesses, for the logging sector is one half that of the national average.

Here are the outcomes and accomplishments that CLP program completed 2020:

  • The Maine Department of Labor statistics for the most recent year, reports the incidence rate for occupational injuries and illnesses, for the logging sector is one half that of the national average.
  • For the 16th straight year, contractors in the CLP mechanical category will pay less for workers’ compensation rates. The CLP mechanical rate for new and renewal policies through April 2021 will be 49% less than non-certified workers. Maine’s rate for mechanical logging the lowest in the nation, saving the industry millions of dollars over
  • The conventional logger workers compensation rate has continued to drop overall since 2008. It is currently 60% less than the rate was in 1993. Again, one of the lowest in the
  • CLP continues to partner with Maine’s Sustainable Forest Initiative and Maine Forest Service to promote use of BMPs and sound forest management in In 2020 SFI has made a generous contribution to fund 100 additional onsite logging evaluations
  • In calendar year 2020, 25 new individuals in three classes, and 225 loggers in 12 online recertification have participated in training, and education. In addition, we continue to complete performance-based worksite reviews, which provides the opportunity for one-on-one
  • Maine Tree Foundation looks to expand the “value of certification” for loggers and will receive funding to partially pay for the cost of certification and recertification for the next three years. This is great news!

 

The CLP program is committed to logger education and to the promotion and recognition of those who meet and exceed the CLP standard. The past 30 years has had a positive effect. We can be assured maintaining consistency with safety, quality, and efficiency is changing our logging legacy for the better!

Logging practices continue to improve statewide. Loggers, landowners, and mills have all assumed benefits for these efforts.

$4.8M will upgrade UMaine Forest Bioproducts Institute facilities, bolster research into renewable fuel, heating oil, chemicals, plastics

The Synthetic Crude Oil Pilot Plant is designed for continuous production for 100 kilograms per day TDO oil. SynCOPP uses mixed-acids derived from sawdust processed in a companion Biomass to Bioproducts Pilot Plant at 1 ton per day feeding capacity.                                                                                               Photo by Amy Luce                                                                                           

University of Maine News

January 7, 2021 —The University of Maine Forest Bioproducts Research Institute (FBRI) will upgrade its Technology Research Center (TRC) in Old Town and Process Development Center (PDC) in Jenness Hall to bolster ongoing efforts to create new bioproducts, increase production and find uses for woody biomass materials typically considered waste.

“It’s a significant upgrade in our pilot-scale infrastructure,” said Institute director Hemant Pendse. “This significant investment will allow us to rapidly advance development in several major areas of ongoing research.”

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) awarded FBRI $4.8 million for its research in crafting renewable fuel, heating oil, chemicals, plastics and other goods from woody biomass at a large scale. Institute director Hemant Pendse says his team will invest about $2 million in processing technology infrastructure improvements for the off-campus TRC facility, as well as the on-campus PDC facility, with the balance supporting ongoing research.

Equipment added to TRC, located on the pulp mill site in Old Town, will help researchers process biochar, charcoal derived from the pyrolysis of wood, as well as pre-process biomass. Upgrades at PDC will boost nanocellulose production.

“It’s a significant upgrade in our pilot-scale infrastructure,” says Pendse, also a chemical engineering professor. “This significant investment will allow us to rapidly advance development in several major areas of ongoing research.”

FBRI staff and a student discuss the 50-liter batch reactor for Thermal Deoxygenation (TDO) to produce synthetic crude oil, also called TDO OIl from mixed-acid salts. This was used to produce the first jet fuel samples by upgrading TDO OIl.  Photo courtesy of UMaine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute                                                                                     

New equipment at PDC will allow the production of nano-fibrillated cellulose starting with wood chips or sawdust particles. Currently, PDC produces nanocellulose from pulp, and the ability to make the substance from coarse wood particles will help divert lumber byproducts from the waste stream.

“Nanocellulose, liberated from wood, has unique properties that make it ideal for use in sustainable packaging and many other applications when looking for alternatives to fossil-fuel based chemicals,” says Colleen Walker, PDC director.

“This new equipment highlights UMaine’s position as being the heart of Nanocellulose Valley — the unrivaled center for nanocellulose innovation.”

The new tools also will help FBRI create a variety of organic acids from woody biomass such as sawdust, and assess the prospects for beneficial uses of biochar, which is typically viewed as a waste byproduct. Biochar has potential for application as a carbon-sequestering additive in both soil (to improve soil quality) and concrete (to improve strength and permeability).

Jamie Harsgreaves, SynCOPP manager, working on the paddle dryer. Photo by Chris Karlen.

An enhanced facility will help institute researchers simulate the commercial-scale production of a variety of biobased goods, particularly biomass-derived jet fuel and diesel. Amy Luce, TRC manager, says, “The updates will allow FBRI to streamline and integrate the processing between multiple pilot plants at the off-campus Technology Research Center and the Process Development Center on campus, collect data on the manufacturing technologies for different co-products, and study and tackle material handling issues. Students will be able to use these top-quality tools to advance their education in engineering, materials processing, process control and other related fields.”

The FBRI team expects to procure the equipment by mid-2021, and Pendse hopes to have a demonstration for the updated facility within the next two years. Pendse will serve as principal investigator for the initiative, while Luce and Walker will serve as co-principal investigators.

“To me, it’s exciting that we could do many things at the same time,” Pendse says about the multiple upgrades. “To make progress in this field, that’s what we need.”

The institute aims to demonstrate that forest-based products can be manufactured at a commercial scale to replace fossil-fuel derived counterparts and inspire the creation of a biorefinery in Maine. Other goals include supporting new revenue streams for pulp and paper and building product makers and providing options for repurposing brownfield sites.

FBRI is actively engaged with Maine’s forest industry stakeholders and is a key collaborator in Forest Opportunity Roadmap / Maine (FOR/Maine), a coalition focused on identifying new markets for Maine wood products and advancing technology innovations to commercialize new uses of wood. The institute’s work is supported by the Maine Economic Improvement Fund.

Several federal agencies have contributed a cumulative $48 million toward the research enterprise of the institute, including the NSF, Department of Energy, Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Defense Logistics Agency awarded an overall $22.9 million toward the institute over the years through its Energy Readiness program. FBRI has been working on multiple contracts for the agency, particularly involving the production of its TDO-derived, biobased jet fuel and oil.

“DLA has been a great supporter,” Pendse says. “It’s helped us over the last few years with a substantial infusion of investments that have really accelerated our ability to undertake the entire enterprise.”

Contact: Marcus Wolf, 207.581.3721; marcus.wolf@maine.edu

Strauch updates MFPC on workforce, economic recovery, climate change

FOR/Maine Workforce Development Survey

I want to give you a heads-up that some members will be hearing soon from Dr. Ryan Wallace, Director, Maine Center for Business and Economic Research, Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine. You may remember him from his  excellent presentation at MFPC’s 2019 annual meeting on A Workforce Overview of the Forest Product Sector in Maine.

Dr. Wallace has been commissioned to interview our members about their work force needs as part of the Forest Opportunity Roadmap (FOR/Me) effort. Developing a strategic plan for workforce development is one of our highest priorities.

Results from Dr. Wallace’s survey will define the industry’s current and future workforce needs and identify the skills and credentials the state should include as it seeks to modernize Maine’s career training programs. We also want to understand what workers now and in the future are looking for as we build outreach programs designed to attract young people into forest and wood manufacturing professions. This information will be used to build a public communications program that will attract workers now and build aspirations for young people who are seeking career paths.

The interviews are voluntary and any information collected during the interview process will be kept confidential, but it’s really important to get pretty high participation rate. So I hope you will participate. We appreciate the investment of your time that your organization will make in the survey that will   help shape the future of Maine’s forest industry.

Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee (ERC)

In response to the COVID crisis Governor Mills created the ERC seeking guidance from policy  and business leaders on how to recover Maine’s economy and link these efforts back to the Maine Economic Development Strategy 2020-2029.  Steve Schley of Pingree Associates and a long-time MFPC Board member, was tapped to represent the industry.

A draft report was released Wednesday, and the final report is scheduled on Dec. 1, 2020, for recommendations on sustainability and growth that bridge the COVID-19 response to the state’s 10-year economic development strategy released in 2019. In the most recent draft, the recommendations are divided into two major sections of Grow Maine’s Economy and Sustain Maine’s People.  

Within the recommendations are important references to forestry’s role in diversifying the bioeconomy as illustrated by these draft quotes:

“Developing these focus areas and the opportunities afforded at their intersections will enable Maine to add significantly more value to its natural resources and reimagine and reposition its heritage industries to future growth.”

“Maine has an opportunity to advance industry-led, public-private initiatives that grow key innovation sectors, such as seafood and agricultural product processing, forest products, bioproducts and renewable energy, and agile manufacturing.”

 Steve’s successful efforts in representing our interests as a forestry community are greatly appreciated.

Governor’s Climate Change Council (CCC)

I’ve been participating as an appointed member of the CCC as this report is also nearing completion and presentation to the Governor for inclusion in her legislative agenda.  From the perspective of greatest opportunities to reduce fossil-based carbon emissions focus was centered on the transportation and home heating sectors and focused on solutions that highlight electric vehicles and heat pumps among many other ideas.

The  sequestration potential of our forests was also acknowledged. The CCC Technical Committee’s work on forest sequestration calculates that over 55 percent of the state’s emissions are offset by forest sequestration, with an additional 15 percent captured in durable forest products, which was calculated by University of Maine scientists. It looks like about 70 percent of Maine’s emissions are offset by sequestration in our forests, so our industry will play a prominent role going forward. Additional draft recommendations that are related to forestry include:

  • By 2024, local biofuel and biodiesel production will increase  
  • Develop and enhance innovation support, incentives, building codes, and marketing programs to increase the use of efficient and climate-friendly Maine forest products, including mass timber and wood fiber insulation.
  • Launch an Industrial Task Force to collaboratively partner with industry and stakeholders to consider innovations and incentives to manage industrial emissions through 2030 and reduce total emissions by 2050.
  • By 2030, increase the total acreage of conserved lands in the state to 30 percent through voluntary, focused purchases of land and working forest or farm conservation easements (staff will add estimate of additional acres to meet 30 percent of land area– number being fact checked).
  • Grow Maine’s forest products industry, through bioproduct innovation, meeting goals for industry growth and sustainable forest management
  • By 2023, the Maine DEP will conduct a comprehensive, state-wide inventory of carbon stocks on land and in coastal areas to provide baseline estimates for state carbon sequestration, allowing monitoring of sequestration over time to meet the state’s carbon neutrality goal
  • By 2022, Maine will establish a stakeholder process to develop a voluntary, incentive-based forest carbon program (practice and/or inventory based) for woodland owners of 10 to 10,000 acres and forest practitioners
  • By 2024, increase technical service provider capacity within the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Maine Forest Service, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Department of Marine Resources
  • Develop and implement updated land use regulations, laws, and practices in order to enhance community resilience to flooding and other climate impacts by 2024. 

I think the industry is recognized as  an important player in climate change, But we’ll need to remind people that healthy actively managed forests require  markets, and policies that support our industry.