As MFPC Executive Director Patrick Strauch wrote in a recent op-ed for the Portland Press Herald, after some of the toughest years in the long history of Maine’s forest products industry, a new, stronger forest economy is emerging. Just a back-of-the-envelope tally shows investments of about $1 billion is revitalizing our industry.
- Dave Harvey – ND Paper
- Alex Ingraham- Pingree Associates
- Dick Pierce – Columbia Forest Products.
- Elgin Turner – H.C. Haynes
- Eugene Mahar – LandVest
- Anthony Hourihan – Irving
- Winthrop Smith – Limington Lumber
- Jack Wadsworth – Wadsworth Woodlands
“This a crisis in many respects and not for just the forest sector but for a number of sectors in the state,” Wallace said. “We need to think about how we are going to tap the local supply chain – cultivate the local displaced and discouraged workers. Find young people who are not set in their jobs. How do we attract and target those age cohorts to tell them the story about the opportunities in the forest products sector?”
Gov. Mills and several members of her administration spoke at the annual meeting. Mills talked about many issues facing the state and also about the resurgence of the forest products industry.
“Maine’s forests have breathed life into our communities, powered our economy, driven innovation across the world,” Gov. Mills said. ” There’s no question we’ve been through difficult times, but you have always been and always will be at the core of our economy and our state’s success.”
Members heard two interesting presentations, one from William Perritt – Maine’s pulpwood and biomass markets. Perritt is a senior editor for Fastmarkets RISI. The second speaker was Rod Young, former RISI CEO and chairman, whose presentation was on the North American Pulp and Paper Outlook.
Yet concerns about the industry’s work force dominated much of the discussions during the meeting. Wallace started his presentation with a sobering look at Maine’s forest products sector’s work force, which is one of the oldest in the state. Then he moderated a spirited discussion by panelists Jason Brochu, co-president, Pleasant River Lumber; Randy Chicoine, vice president and general manager of Maine Operations for ND Paper; Jim Contino, fiber supply director, Verso, and Justin Merrill, Merrill Logging.
“To summarize some of the key points for the forest products sector, workers are retiring so you’re going to need 4,200 in the next 10 years,” Wallace said. “And that doesn’t include any expansion for added opportunities that do come up, which are just going to put added pressure on. ”
Certainty and predictability are important to potential workers, as well as training options, Wallace said. “Wages already are a challenge to recruitment, especially for supply chain industries,” he added. “How are we going to address these challenge?”
Recruiting workers in Maine is essential, he said, but the industry also should recruit outside the state. “Let’s think strongly and seriously about how we can target youth in other places to come Maine and help build our communities and our industry,” Wallace said.
Each of the panelists also provided insight into their companies’ workforce challenges.
“Unemployment is effectively zero in Maine and has been for a while,” Brochu said. “So regionally we’re having to do something different to attract people and we’re having difficulties in practically every area right now. We’ve got a mill in southern Maine, in Sanford, and that area is completely saturated and you’re competing on labor scales and pay rates with everybody from McDonalds all the way up to the tech companies. There are not enough people to go around.”
ND Paper, which employs about 650 workers in Rumford and 130 in Old Town, considers an aging work force as “one of the largest threats to being competitive,” Chicoine said. “At the Rumford mill, we’re expected to see turnover in the next four or five years of 50 percent,” he said. “Most of that is due to retirements and when someone retires you lose your most experienced folks — people you’ve invested a lot of training in”
Contino is concerned about the “understandable loss of logging capacity” in the past few years, as mills closed or cut back. “What we’re seeing is wood being imported into the state of Maine – from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Quebec — and every time you do that it’s a second leg of freight and a lot of transportation,” he said. “What I think we need to do is take some of the expensive sources wood from far away and figure out how to redistribute it in the supply chain to try to encourage more employment and capacity growth.”
Merrill agreed, saying more resources need to go to the logging and forestry programs at Maine’s Career and Technical Education Centers (CTEs) around state. “The biggest thing that we face is the labor shortage and the aging workforce,” he said. “It’s hard for us to invest money with the market fluctuation. The prediction is for a growing economy and the need for us to produce fiber for the paper and lumber industry.”
The Maine Forest Products Council invites you to attend our 59th annual membership meeting at the Sugarloaf Ski Resort on 5092 Access Road, Carrabassett Valley, ME. This year, attendees will have the opportunity to play golf at the Sugarloaf Golf Course on Sunday and enjoy a BBQ at Strokes Bar and Grille right at the clubhouse.
Monday morning starts off with an early breakfast at the hotel before our annual membership meeting. The meeting will involve an election of officers, and a report of legislative activities.
The rest of the morning will be devoted to work force issues. We’ll start off with a presentation by Ryan Wallace, director of the Maine Center for Business and Economic Research, Muskie School of Public Service, on an overview of the work force issues facing Maine’s forest products industry, followed by a panel discussion.
The afternoon session will focus on the outlook for lumber, wood products, and pulp and paper in the U.S. and across the global markets.
William Perritt is Executive Editor for Fast markets RISI’s North American Wood fiber & Biomass Markets, News Editor for International Wood Fiber Report, and editor of Log Lines. He also produces RISI’s North American and European Wood Biomass Project databases. Perritt has covered pulpwood market news for decades and is in regular contact with industry sources, including in Maine.
Rod Young, former RISI CEO and chairman, now chief economic advisor, will provide the outlook on pulp and paper. Young started modeling and forecasting in the pulp and paper industry in 1977. Since then, his work in international pulp and paper markets has received worldwide recognition. Rod now consults on a regular basis with companies throughout the world. He continues to assist in the development of the Fastmarkets RISI analysis and forecast of the world pulp and paper market, along with working on individual projects. In addition, Rod is the primary person responsible for the Fastmarkets RISI analysis of the global dissolving pulp market.
“Getting a RISI person to speak is outstanding because they are very knowledgeable, able to accurately convey trends and most importantly, they are neutral arbiters, said Ron Lovaglio. “They tell it like it is.”
DON’T WAIT! REGISTER NOW.
Message from MFPC Board President Gordon Gamble, of Wagner Forest Management: “The success of this meeting depends greatly on membership support. As a MFPC member, I would like to extend to you the opportunity to participate as a sponsor. As you know, sponsorship is an essential component to all the events we hold, and it is especially important to subsidize the cost of the events. This allows broader participation of our members by keeping individual expense down. A special form for sponsorship registration is enclosed with your registration materials. We hope that you will join us for our biggest event of the year. Registration forms for all events and meals are below. If you have any questions, please feel free to call our staff at 622-9288 or email Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m looking forward to seeing you there.”
Gov. Janet Mills presents the 2019 Austin Wilkins Award to the Maine Association of Conservation Districts
AUGUSTA, Maine, Oct. 22 — Gov. Janet Mills presented the prestigious 2019 Austin H. Wilkins Forest Stewardship Award to the Maine Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) at the Blaine House. The award was created by the Maine TREE Foundation and the Department of Conservation in 2004, to recognize people or organizations that stand above their peers to further forestry, forests, or forestland conservation in the State of Maine.
“I think any time we can come together and applaud good forestry in this state – sustainable forestry – we should do it,” said Marcia McKeague, president of the TREE Foundation Board (TREE stands for Timber Research and Environmental Education).
MACD is a non‐profit, private organization that represents Maine’s 16 local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, which work with landowners, nonprofit organizations and federal, state, and local governments to protect soil, water, forests, wildlife, and other natural resources for more than 75 years.
“There’s no question we’ve been through difficult times but our forests are and always will be the core of Maine’s history, its culture and Maine’s future,” Gov. Mills said when she presented the 2019 award. “So congratulations to the Maine Association of Conservation Districts on this well-deserved honor and, on behalf of the people of Maine, thank you for all you do for this great state.”
The award is named after its first recipient Austin Wilkins, who pioneered the development of the Maine Forest Service, led the fight against the devastating forest fires of 1947, assisted Gov. Percival Baxter in the creation of Baxter State Park and served under 13 governors as a commissioner or deputy commissioner. He died in 2005 at age 102. More information and previous winners.
“We are delighted to present the 2019 Austin Wilkins award to the Maine Association of Conservation Districts,” said Henry L. Whittemore, executive director of the TREE Foundation. “This is a boots-on-the-ground, get-things-done organization that has a direct impact for landowners in the management of Maine’s forests and farmland. MACDs deliver outcome-based practices that protect water quality, improve soil productivity, and thus benefit Maine’s natural resource sectors. Austin Wilkins would be proud to confer this award on the MACD; their mission and work outcomes embody the spirit and intent of this prestigious award.”
Accepting the award were MACD President Andrew Reed and Executive Director Carol Weymouth.
“I think it’s an honor and privilege and one of the best things to ever happen to MACD and the 16 soil and water conservation districts,” Reed said.
The soil and water conservation districts own and manage urban woodlots, utilizing them for education and recreation. They manage them “with forest stewardship in mind always,” Weymouth said. “We appreciate the work of the soil and water districts staff, boards and volunteers. They work tirelessly to educate and do a real phenomenal job of that.”
Both Amanda Beal, commissioner of the Maine Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Department (ACF), and Patty Cormier, director of the Maine Forest Service (MFS), emphasized that Maine’s 16 soil and water conservation districts work closely with ACF and MFS staff throughout the state.
“MACD has partnered with us to increase awareness of invasive pests in forests and the districts have offered education and outreach programs on forest pest identification, the dangers of transporting firewood, particularly from out of state and methods for woodlot owners to protect their trees,” Beal said.
Cormier, who has worked with MACD for two decades, had special praise for MACD’s Evirothon, a natural resource problem-solving competition for grades 9-12, and Yankee Woodlot, a collaborative effort of MFS and the Somerset County Soil and Water Conservation District.
“I think of the Envirothon and wonder how many of them graduate and go into other natural resource fields,” she said. “Then I think of the Yankee Woodlot and the many, many workshops, from GPS to forest management. You guys have a big reach and I appreciate that. I look forward to more years working with you.”
Cormier added that she felt “very honored to be here today. This is really special. This award in Austin Wilkins name represents commitment, public service, and stewardship of our natural resources. And I can’t think of a better recipient than MACD and the districts that make it up.”
As with most issues involving forestry matters it’s always instructive to move the discussion to the woods. That’s what we did when we invited the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF) Committee to tour forestlands where aerial applications of herbicides have been used as a silvicultural tool in the forests for more than 30 years.
During the legislative session Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Aroostook introduced LD 1691 An Act To Ban Use of Aerial Herbicide Spraying for the Purpose of Deforestation. With all the news about glyphosate, aka Roundup, it is to be expected that questions about its use in Maine would arise, and the image of aerial applications can be concerning. The ACF Committee and landowners wanted to provide context with a field visit.
Then the bill was turned into a resolve and the committee requested that the Bureau of Pesticides Control conduct a third party audit of the aerial application program this year and requested a tour of field operations. The audit was conducted by the BPC earlier in August and results of the study will be reported to the ACF Committee next session.
The tour was organized by the Council and Irving Woodlands, Weyerhaeuser and Seven Islands Land Co., among others.
Sen. James Dill, D-Penobscot, helped define the types of treatment sites that would help describe the technique and affects through time, and both Irving and Seven Islands found the sites and developed the itinerary.
After an evening reception at the Northern Maine Brewing Co., including the presence of Sen. Jackson, we started our tour the next morning with Senators Dill and Russell Black, R-Franklin, and Representatives Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, William Pluecker, I-Warren, and David McCrea, D-Fort Fairfield.
Foresters Matt Stedman and Ked Coffin hosted the start of the tour on Irving lands, and on Seven Islands ownership, we were guided by Zach Lowry, Dan LaMontagne, Jason Desjardin and Alex Ingraham.
I know the legislators appreciated the discussions and I think we reached a common understanding of the importance of this tool and the care used in making forest prescriptions that are guided by environmental and animal (including human) protection.
We’ll regroup with the ACF Committee when the Legislature returns next January and continue our conversation. We appreciated the effort of the legislators to get out into the forest.
Logging and trucking capacity
The good news is that markets in many areas of Maine have rebounded with more demand in sight for pulpwood and logs. The challenge is we’ve moved from the fear of losing too many jobs to an immediate shortage of trucking and logging capacity.
Mills, landowners and contractors are all scrambling to respond and the interest in this topic was emphasized at the MFPC annual meeting. Dr. Ryan Wallace, Maine Center for Business and Economic Research at USM, set the stage with a review of industry workforce challenges and various perspectives were shared by a very knowledgeable panel, including Randy Chicoine, ND Paper; Jim Contino, Verso; Justin Merrill, Merrill Logging, and Jason Brochu, Pleasant River Lumber.
This is a discussion that needs both short- and long-term solutions, which will be examined in the meeting of the FOR/Maine Workforce Development Committee. Representatives of all the sectors will gather along with government and University of Maine officials to focus on actions required.
We have built considerable momentum in the resurgence of our industry in a relatively short period of time, but all these efforts could be stalled if logging capacity is not addressed. Stay tuned for more opportunities to participate in this effort.
Climate Change Council
I have the fortune and challenge to have been named to the Gov. Janet Mills’ Maine Climate Council as the forest industry representative. This is a signature issue for the Mills administration and I’m honored to be selected, but it’s clear that many eyes are on the ability of Maine’s forests to solve a big part of our CO2 emissions challenges.
I’m also participating on the Climate Council’s Natural and Working Lands Work Group, which will meet Nov. 1, from 9 a.m. to noon in Room 101 of the Deering Building, 90 Blossom Lane in Augusta. I’ll report regularly on the issues discussed at each session and seek your input as we navigate these issues. The MFPC Executive Committee is working on a white paper that tries to encapsulate a collective position of the council and we’ll share this for input by the members.
Some of the initial talking points we’ve discussed include:
- Carbon in the form of trees and soil is the property of private landowners;
- Landowners have the right to decide if they will participate in carbon offset programs; and,
- Ensuring markets for wood is critical in maintaining forests and their carbon sequestration capability.
It’s clear our millennials are concerned about this issue, and it’s our opportunity to demonstrate how green our industry is, and how we have opportunities for meaningful and productive careers.
Please take a look at the Stora Enso video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUElPYaxgqs) that I recently saw at the University of Maine forestry symposium Oct. 23, and you will begin to see how we will position our own communications about the state’s future forest economy.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.
By Sen. Susan M. Collins
Maine just made the Guinness World Records. Not for anything like eating hot dogs or skipping rope, but for leading the world into a new era of environmentally responsible advanced manufacturing.
On Oct. 10, the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center unveiled the world’s largest 3D printer that produced not just the world’s largest 3D printed boat but the world’s largest 3D printed object of any type. Guinness, the legendary keeper of records, confirmed all three of these unmatched achievements.
This event was a wonderful preface to National Forest Products Week, which runs from Oct. 21-26. It is a time to celebrate both our heritage and a bright future exemplified by the exciting UMaine project. The printer – 70 feet long with a planned extension to 100 feet – produced a 25-foot boat in 72 hours.
In addition to the record-breaking boat, UMaine demonstrated that it can produce a bio-based, cutting–edge material that is strong, durable, and recyclable. During this same event, UMaine showcased a 3D printed boat mold that was made from a combination of wood and corn fibers and developed alongside Hodgdon Yachts.
Just as important, this project provides exciting new opportunities for Maine’s forest-products industry. It is a collaboration between the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, which is a global leader in the additive manufacturing techniques that form the basis of 3-D printing, and UMaine, a global leader in bio-based composites research and development. Together, these two strengths will improve environmentally responsible advanced manufacturing throughout America and strengthen the forest-products industry right here in Maine.
I worked hard to secure $20 million in federal funding for this exciting collaboration this year. In addition, the Appropriations Committee on which I serve has approved another $20 million for the next fiscal year. This project is an outstanding example of our national labs working cooperatively with universities to support new technologies. In addition, I championed the $454,000 federal grant awarded to UMaine to establish the Mass Timber Commercialization Center. Our University and our forest-products industry have the vision and expertise to discover innovative ways to develop new products from our natural resources.
Throughout Maine’s history, our forest products industry has helped drive local economies and sustain rural communities. As the economy changes, this vital industry is evolving to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
I have seen firsthand this evolution around our state in recent months. The opening of the ND Paper Mill in Old Town, which was shut down for more than three years, along with the reopening of ND’s mill in Rumford, is the result of that company’s vision and Maine’s skilled and dedicated workforce. I also visited the Louisiana-Pacific mill in New Limerick and was so impressed by the innovative laminated strand lumber products they are producing. In Lincoln, I toured Treeline, Inc., a diversified forest products company that manages forest land, harvests, chips, and trucks all kinds of wood to a variety of places.
This summer, I visited the Mechanized Logging Operations Program at an active timber-harvesting site in the woods of Western Maine. MLOP is an outstanding initiative created in partnership among many logging industry partners and Maine’s community colleges. Students enrolled in this training program learn to harvest timber using sophisticated state-of-the-art machines like those they will encounter in the logging industry. It was inspiring to meet these young Mainers who are passionate about learning new skills that will propel them on a promising career path and strengthen our state’s forestry sector.
As our forest-products industry evolves to meet global challenges, the commitment to protecting our precious natural resources remains strong. In September, I joined in celebrating Don Newell as Maine’s Tree Farmer of the Year. Like landowners throughout our State, Don and his family are stewards of our forests and caretakers of the natural resources that are vital to our forest-products industry. In addition, they are the hosts for our increasingly important recreation economy and uphold the Maine tradition of public access to private lands.
I was honored to be called upon to christen the world record boat at UMaine with the name “3-Dirigo,” a play on our State’s motto, “Dirigo,” which is Latin for “I Lead.” Maine truly is the leader in both innovation and in upholding traditional values.
Auburn, Maine, October 21, 2019 — In honor of Maine Forest Products Week, Farm Credit East recognizes the important contributions of the forest products sector to the state’s economy. According to Farm Credit East’s Northeast Economic Engine report, Maine’s forest products industry is responsible for $5.3 billion in direct sales annually, $8.8 billion in economic impact, and supports more than 40,000 jobs throughout the state.
“The forest products industry constitutes a critical business opportunity in the Northeast, especially here in Maine, and is a very important part of Farm Credit East’s portfolio,” said Fred Morton, Farm Credit East executive vice president.
In fact, forest products represent Farm Credit East’s second largest portfolio sector,
extending more than $700 million in loans to the forest products industry across the Northeast. Farm Credit East finances the diversity of forest products businesses, from those that own and manage the timberland, to the loggers who harvest and transport timber and biomass, as well as the manufacturing side of the industry, which includes pulp and paper, sawmills, biomass and small specialty mills.
To learn more about Farm Credit East’s service to the Northeast forest products industry, including a video interviewing Fred Morton on this diverse industry, visit FarmCreditEast.com.
Please register online by Monday, Nov. 1. Contact Kathy Becvar, LandCan Director of Development.
SEATING IS LIMITED SO MAKE YOUR RESERVATION SOON!
- Oct. 18-20, Augusta Civic Center, Visit the Maine Forest Product Council’s booth at the Maine Snowmobile Show.
- Oct. 21, 12-2 p.m., University of Maine in Orono. The Maine North Atlantic Development Office (MENADO) and the Maine International Trade Center (MITC) are hosting a FOR/ME partner and business luncheon roundtable on October 21st at the University of Maine in Orono from noon to 2 pm. MENADO and MITC are delighted to welcome Dr. John Kettle, the director for Customer Solutions and International Relationships for Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke),who will talk about new solutions towards the sustainable development of the Finnish bioeconomy and the promotion of new biobased businesses. RSVP to George Lindbom, MITC International Trade Specialist, at email@example.com or (207) 517-3514.
- Oct. 22, 9 a.m., Blaine House, Augusta – Gov. Janet Mills will announce the winner of the 2019 Austin Wilkins Award, created by the Maine TREE Foundation to recognize outstanding stewardship of the working forest.
- Oct. 23, 1 – 4:30 p.m., Symposium on Maine’s New Forest Economy, Wells Conference Center, University of Maine. Free and open to the public. Learn about national trends and innovations in sustainable forestry practices, product technologies, innovative applications and business reinvestment into Maine’s forest economy. Moderator Steve Schley, FOR/Maine, speakers Adam Constanta, Program Manager of Sustainability Metrics: NCASI; Dr. Adam Daigneault, UMaine School of Forest Resources; Dr. Joshua Henry, GO Lab; Beth Cormier, SAPPI North America. Read more.
- Oct. 23, Celebration of National Bioenergy Day, ReEnergy Livermore Falls. Tours at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. RSVP to Jamie Jackson: (207) 320-7022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more.
- Check out three display cases devoted to the Maine forest products economy at Fogler Library, University of Maine, now through November.
- Read the Bangor Daily News special section devoted to Maine’s forest products economy, available Oct. 25.
Additional forest-related events:
- Nov. 4, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. – 3rd Maine Modern Wood Heat Symposium, USM, Portland, 96 Falmouth St., Events Room, 7th floor, Glickman Library, sponsors, Maine Forest Service, Maine Statewide Wood Energy Assistance Team. Features panels and discussions about important new incentives for heating commercial and institutional buildings; industrial process heat, plus how public institutions and private companies can creatively finance new wood chip and pellet heating and CHP installations.
- Nov. 8, 9:30 a.m., “Climate, Forests & Ecosystems,” 43rd Maine Woods Forever Roundtable, being held Friday, Nov. 8, at the Unity College Center for the Arts, Depot St., downtown Unity. Guest speakers are Dr. Sean Birkel, University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute and Jay Wason, assistant professor of Forest Ecosystem Physiology at the University of Maine School of Forest Resources. Birkel also is Maine’s State Climatologist and will share data he has gathered about climate through time. Wason’s research shows the physiological responses of northeastern forest ecosystems to long-term weather patterns. Please feel free to invite other colleagues to the Roundtable. RSVP for the catered lunch by emailing Paul Johnson, email@example.com by Nov. 5.
- Nov. 8, noon to 1:30 p.m. LandCAN Forestry Event with Senator Angus King, Oceanview at Falmouth Auditorium, 74 Lunt Road, Falmouth, $10 registration includes a light lunch. Please register online by Monday, Nov. 1. Contact Kathy Becvar, LandCan Director of Development. Visit www.MaineLandCAN.org or email info@LandCAN.org, or call (207) 536-0831 to reserve your seat. SEATING IS LIMITED SO MAKE YOUR RESERVATION SOON!
Events, inventions and ideas have sometimes taken Maine’s forests and forest economy in an entirely new direction.
1. The King’s Broad Arrow
Starting in 1605, the availability and high quality of white pine played an important part in the development and economy of Maine. After Captain George Weymouth of the British Royal Navy brought samples back to England, the British wanted to ensure that the best of the mast trees remained available for British ships. So in 1691, England declared the largest white pines to be the property of the King and they were marked, protected, and harvested for the government’s use. Some historians believe colonists’ anger over the prohibition on their use of these trees was as important as tea taxation in sparking the American Revolution. To learn more, visit: Maine History Online.
2. Bangor — lumber capital of the world
The first sawmill in Bangor was built in 1772. It marked the be- ginning of a century of dominance by Bangor in the world lumber industry. In the mid 1830s, Bangor was home to more than 300 saw- mills, earning the city the undisputed title “Lumber Capital of the World.” Bangor’s prosperity in the lumber industry began to fade in the late 1800s, as Americans began to settle farther west. By the end of the century the city began to lose its mills. Today, Bangor has no mills.
3. Using wood for pulp sparks Maine paper industry
Paper-making in Maine began in the 1730s, when a small mill was built on the Presumpscot River in Westbrook. In 1854 Samuel Dennis Warren purchased the mill for $28,000, starting the S.D. Warren Company. At that time discarded clothes were beaten to a pulp and poured into molds to make paper, but because of a rag shortage in the 1850s, methods were invented for making paper from wood. The first wood pulp in Maine was produced in the basement of a Topsham sawmill in 1868, marking the beginning of the paper industry’s rapid growth in Maine. In 1880 the S.D. Warren mill in Westbrook first blended wood fibers with rag pulp and five years later the Westbrook mill was the largest paper mill in the world.
4. End of log drives
Beginning in the 19th century, Maine’s rivers were used to move vast amounts of timber from the North Woods to markets. Although impressive to see, the great log drives left huge amounts of silt, bark, and detritus that took a heavy toll on fish and other river life. The last log drive was held on the Kennebec River in 1976. Today timber is transported from the North Woods by truck.
5. Spruce budworm infestation
After fire, the greatest enemy of Maine’s forests is the spruce budworm. At least six separate and serious outbreaks have been recorded – 1770, 1806, 1878, 1910, 1949 and one from 1970-85 killed 21 percent of all fir trees in the state by 1982. From 1976-81, 7 million cords of spruce and fir were directly lost to the budworm and another 8 million cords were so damaged they simply blew down. “In all my career since 1929, I have never by far witnessed the grave and extensive holocaust posed to Maine forests by the budworm for 1975,” said former state entomologist Robley Nash.
6. Forest Practices Act and clearcutting referendums
A direct line can be drawn between the spruce budworm outbreak of 1970-85 and efforts to change Maine’s timber harvesting laws. The scramble to salvage wood before it was killed or damaged set off alarms with environmental groups. The Legislature passed the Forest Practices Act in 1989 to regulate harvesting, but the limits didn’t allay all the
concerns and three referendums on clearcutting were fiercely debated in 1996, 1997 and 2000. All were defeated.
7. Energy crisis sparks biomass boom
The energy crisis started in October 1973, when OPEC and other oil pro- claimed an oil embargo in response to U.S. decision to supply weapons and supplies to Israel during the Yom Kippur war. Oil prices immediately jumped from $3 per barrel to $12, resulting in massive gas shortages and panic. But it also resulted in a surge in interest in biomass energy, including construction of biomass plants in Maine. In 2017, 2.4 million tons of biomass was harvested. Biomass energy facilities consumed 2.3 million tons in 2017, up 11% from 2016. In 2018, about 22% of Maine’s electricity came from biomass, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
8. Maine leads nation in sustainable forest certification
The concept of identifying products from well-managed forests emerged after at the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Today, independent auditors, such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), the Forest Stewardship council (FSC), and the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), certify that sustainable forest practices are being used to manage forests in a particular location. Maine now has 8.3 million certified acres – nearly half of the state’s forestland – making our state the national leader in forest certification.
9. Conservation easements
In the 1980s, concern about preserving Maine’s special places grew as real estate speculation increased and paper companies, which had owned much of the north woods, began to change hands. Conservation easements allow landowners to own and use their property, but permanently remove development rights. Now nearly 4 million acres in the state are covered by conservation easements. See map of conserved lands 2019.
10. Working forests provide habitat for Maine’s wildlife
Maine’s wildlife species, including deer, moose, bear, Canada lynx, marten and hundreds of species of birds, de- pend upon the working forest, which creates a mosaic of habitats from early succession to mature forests. Maine’s moose population is the larg-est in any of the lower 48 states. The young softwood forests of northern Maine support the largest resident breeding population of Canada lynx in the lower 48 states. No longer considered rare, our bald eagle populations continue to expand. Maine has about 97 percent of all of the wild brook trout lakes and ponds in the eastern U.S. Healthy forests are essential to wildlife populations.
Mainers must thank the forest landowners whose stewardship over the last 250 or so years brings us to where we are today, with millions of undeveloped acres of land, much of it open to recreation and managed for future forest growth. This is a remarkable accomplishment on its own, not to mention how important the forest products industry is to our economy, providing good jobs in every corner of our state.
An easily forgotten byproduct of the forest products industry are the boundless recreational opportunities available to Maine residents and visitors alike. Family and corporate landowners have provided generous recreational access to millions of acres throughout our state in the organized and unorganized territories. This open-door policy has made the outdoor recreation industry we have today possible, from fishing and hunting in remote regions to 14,000 miles of snowmobile trails, 6,500 miles of ATV trails and endless opportunities for hiking, camping and paddling.
All play an important role in our economy and the culture of our state. A recent study values outdoor recreation at $2.2 billion in wages and salaries, and $548 million in state and local tax revenues per year. This significant piece of the Maine economy is a result of generous access policies and good forest stewardship.
Fortunately for all of us, a good part of Maine’s forestland has been conserved for future generations through the sale of easements that limit development and promote sustainable forestry. The efforts of many independent groups and government conservation efforts through programs such as Land for Maine’s Future have helped achieve this result. This could not have been accomplished without the willing support of private landowners.
No matter what your pleasure is, from canoe trips on remote rivers to snowmobiling from town to town to hiking or birdwatching, it is impossible to overstate the critical role that forest landowners and our forest products industry play in your activity.
Maine Forest Products Week is a wonderful opportunity to visit the woods and enjoy our great outdoors. The successful stewardship of forest landowners goes a long way in providing the quality of life that both residents and visitors have come to expect in Maine.
Don Kleiner of Union is executive director of the Maine Professional Guides Association. Bob Meyers of Bath is the executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association.
After some of the toughest years in the long history of Maine’s forest products industry, a new, stronger forest economy is emerging. Just a back-of-the-envelope tally shows investments of about $1 billion is revitalizing our industry.
They were right. Maine is ready to play a bigger role in the New Forest Economy, thanks in part to intensive research into global markets by the Forest Opportunity Roadmap/Maine, a unique collaboration between industry, communities, government, education and nonprofits. FOR/Maine thinks our forest products industry, which contributed an estimated $8.5 billion to the state’s economy in 2016, could grow to $12 billion by 2025.
That’s an ambitious goal, but Maine has something the world, with its ever-growing population, wants and needs – enormous resources of sustainably managed wood. We’re also optimistic because our remaining mills have modernized, retooled and diversified their product lines.
For example, Verso’s Androscoggin Mill once focused on making glossy catalogue and magazine paper, but now also produces specialty papers that are in demand, such as liners for cardboard boxes and paper used in food packaging and labels.
“It could be microwave popcorn bags, dogfood bags or fast food wrappers,” said Jim Contino, fiber supply director for Verso. “You see our labels when you go to grocery stores. They might be anything that’s got color printing on it.”
ND Paper restarted the Old Town mill, which closed in 2015, and recently announced more investments in its Rumford mill. St. Croix Tissue Inc., formed in 2014, started two tissue machines on the Woodland Pulp mill site adding 80 jobs.
Sappi rebuilt a paper machine at the Somerset Mill in Skowhegan, which is expected to boost its global competitiveness and increase the mill’s production capacity by almost 1 million tons per year. It also improved the mill’s wood yard to optimize efficiency and reduce costs.
Twin Rivers Paper reconfigured a paper machine at its Madawaska mill to produce specialty paper that’s used primarily for packaging and labels.
Maine’s lumber and wood panel mills also have invested in their facilities to keep up with advances in technology. Some stud mills are turning logs into lumber at the rate of one piece of lumber every half second. As the mills rebound, so does the demand for wood, which benefits Maine’s loggers.
Challenges remain in biomass energy markets, which use tree tops, limbs and otherwise unusable wood. Yet biomass energy, a renewable resource, still produced 22 percent of Maine’s electricity in 2018.
As our industry rebounds, we still have much to do. We must increase our capacity to harvest wood and manufacture more wood products, from lumber, to tissue paper, to biobased plastics. We need more trained workers and continued support from policymakers and the public.
About 30,000 people are employed, directly and indirectly, in Maine’s forest products industry. No matter where you live, we are part of your community. So we want to thank our neighbors for their support through the difficult years and we look forward to sharing the brighter days ahead.
Scott Beal of Woodland Pulp recently said what most in the industry feel: “We have been through a tough period and now, instead of looking over our shoulders in doubt, we’re excited to look ahead to the future.”