- Views 2011
FOREST OWNERSHIP The people of Maine own just 6% of Maine’s forests; i.e. public forests. Over 90% of Maine’s 17+ million acres of remaining forests are in private ownership. Despite private ownership, the industry is supposed to stay within the boundaries of the Maine Forest Practices Act. And the Maine Forest Service “oversees” this, but they are not responsible for “managing” it….according the person I interviewed (what is the difference I ask). IMHO the owners are cutting far outside the Act’s rules and the Maine Forest Service is looking the other way. And I am sure that Maine’s Fish and Wildlife Department is also aware of this. Despite Maine Forest Practices Act rules….and despite what we are told: The diameters of the trees in northern Maine are decreasing rapidly. The ages of the stands are decreasing rapidly. Another way of putting this is that over the last 3 decades (at least)…..Maine’s northern forests have been harvested at a much faster rate than they are growing. And this rate of harvest is increasing. Prior to Maine’s last bear referendum I interviewed Maine Forest Service’s Biometrician. He admitted that Maine’s northern forest was being harvested at a rate of about 750,000 acres per year, compared to a rate of about 500,000 acres several years ago. Although he said that the forest was being cut below the annual growth increment (and I do not believe they really know), he also said the average tree ages were decreasing. To me, one statement conflicts with the other. But I could be wrong on this. The fact is that Maine’s northern forests are being harvested at an increasingly faster rate and….at a rate significantly faster than they are growing. To me, this means: The owners of the North Maine Woods are liquidating stocks; getting get out of the forest harvesting business. If you Google Earth northern Maine and compare the scope and intensity of today’s harvesting to past decades, it will become clear to you that the forest industry is becoming much more aggressive. As I wrote this, I found a research article on the intent to sell everything to real estate people in this process called liquidation harvesting. I believe the FOREST INDUSTRY WILL ANNOUNCE INTENT TO SELL……. I would guess that this announcement by the forest industry is much less than 1 decade away and probably coming in the next few years. The reason they are not making this known now might be that they do not want to draw attention to the fact that they are cutting the forest outside the rules of Maine’s Forest Practices Act. Also, they do not want the loggers in northern Maine to know that they are planning to sell. But of course, the loggers have got to have a clue because the trees are getting increasingly smaller and the clear cuts are sometimes the size of some rural towns. We who remember northern Maine’s forestlands agree that clear cuts are much, much larger than they were in the 70′s. BEAR, LYNX AND SNOWSHOE HARE POP EXPLOSION: Of course the Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife is aware of the truth: This over-cutting is the crux of the reason the populations of these three species has exploded. MDIFW does not talk about this unless asked. I interviewed a bear biologist and we discussed this…we agreed. There has been a dramatic increase in the biomass of low to mid story vegetation (brush!!!) and that is because the industry is taking everything that has any value to it. In all stands, they are removing dominant and co-dominant trees faster than ever before. More canopy is being removed. The trees are being harvested at an earlier age. I did have trouble relocating a quote from the Department’s Wildlife Chief, countering the bear referendum, and stating that the bear pop explosion was due to “improved habitat”. Because (and up to a point) this “liquidation” cutting has resulted in a dramatic increase in food and cover. I wanted to include the comment in this post but could not find it again. ROXANNE QUIMBY’S GIFT A major roadblock to the creation of this National Park is that northern Mainers deeply distrust the intent of the person who originally proposed the park. Roxanne Quimby was willing to donate much of her northern holdings for the creation of this park. Maybe it was the way she presented the proposal. I do not know; I was working in the southeast in those years. Northern Mainers believe that if this park goes through, Quimby will see to it that there is no hunting allowed. Both sides need to get together before both lose it all. I did a little research: It’s true, few National Parks allow hunting….but some do. And this park could be managed in many ways if it was brought into the National Wilderness Preservation System first. I would not oppose well-regulated hunting…… in some areas. There could be compartments where hunting is allowed. There could be others (where I would spend much of my time) where hunting is not allowed. There are many, many different options for a tract that comes into the NWPS. NORTHERN MAINERS ARE BEING STUBBORN (on this issue). To say “NO” to this incredible gift is downright ignorant because differences can be worked out if there is an effort on both sides. Many northern Mainers believe that they will always be able to make a living logging. They are being naive. Logging in northern Maine is rapidly coming to an end, whether they like it or not. When the sale of the North Maine Woods does happen, the forest will be posted and inaccessible to the public. Northern Mainers had better wake up and get together to decide to save the North Maine Woods. This must be brought to the attention of all the people of Maine. Northern Mainers do not have an exclusive voice in the fate of this issue. One big problem in Maine is that overwhelmingly, the greatest voice in wildlife issues is the Sportsman Alliance of Maine (SAM). This lobby is so powerful in Maine that it controls virtually everything Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife does. And in the past, SAM has not liked Roxanne Quimby. Again, I am hopeful that both sides will begin warming up on this issue for the best for all solutions. I hope to start working on this issue. I hope to now begin to do some good by getting the truth out to the people. MY TRAPPER ASSOCIATE One of my closer associates is the president of the Maine Trappers Association. Now, I hate trapping and he knows I hate trapping. I tell him this at least once a month. But it is like I said to NSN forum’s Paul Leverington: I have to keep all lovers of the outdoors as my allies, even if I do not agree with their pastime. It is because we all need habitat….wildlife habitat. I have a much greater enemy in the likes of an industrialist than I do in the likes of a trapper. This trapper I know is vehemently opposed to Roxanne Quimby and any offer she has. Thusfar, regardless of what i have said to Brian, his mind is closed to this park. BTW, Brian does agree that the clear cutting has dramatically increased. However, he just does not believe that they are going to sell. I tell him that he is naive. Consider the contrast between rural Maine/NH/VT and the money-generation of the rest of the northeast. The juxtaposition of Maine’s northern woods, makes them highly salable for subdivided estate properties. This would be a tragedy. So, the mindset of most northern Mainers is a huge roadblock to all of this. Until they can accept the big picture (they probably do see the inevitability), the clock will continue to run down to the day when the land owners make that announcement. It is coming sooner than later….a lot sooner I feel. Better to prepare ahead of time. I want that land locked up in perpetuity for the public. I want to see northern Maine purchased with public funds and hopefully through Roxanne Quimby’s gift too. I hope to begin focusing on this issue soon….to get the truth out to all Mainers. Of course, I have limited means. But everything starts by taking step one. And Roxanne Quimby’s son is already involved. Maybe she is simply waiting for the day the industry pulls the trigger. Because when that happens, it makes sense that all parties would opt for her gift, rather than the alternative of the public being excluded forever. Phew ….If you got this far….thanks for reading Robert - This article was first posted at Naturescapes.net.