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Friday
Nov142014

Introduction to Holt Research Forest By Jack Witham

Since 1983, the University of Maine has been conducting a long-term forest ecosystem study at the Holt Research Forest in Arrowsic, Maine. The Holt Woodlands Research Foundation funded this study, now in its 32nd year, until 2014, when the Maine TREE Foundation merged with the Holt Foundation.

Since its inception the property has functioned primarily as a site for research. It is one of a few sites around the world where private funding has maintained such a study. The research plan emphasized two major goals, to monitor long-term changes in the forest's plant and animal populations and to document the effect of forest management on these populations.  The management objectives for the Holt Research Forest have been in concert with the needs of many small woodlot owners.  The long-standing management goals have been: Financial - to provide a continued economic return from the sale of forest products; Wildlife - to maintain and improve the diversity and abundance of wildlife; and Aesthetics - to maintain and improve the aesthetic appeal of the forest. By using these objectives to direct harvesting, opportunities were created for research that is useful to small woodlot owners.  The Holt Research Forest was one of the first efforts in Maine to incorporate ecosystem science into forest management.

Years of data collection under the direction of a multitude of faculty and staff from the University of Maine has created a large data set.  Over sixty articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals, and numerous presentations and posters given at professional meetings. Efforts are currently underway to update the data management system to meet national standards. This effort will result in data that can be more readily shared and utilized by UMaine classes and faculty and other researchers.

As part of meeting the research and educational objectives, the Holt Forest has been a site for cooperating researchers, research and work opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students, and public service and outreach to the community.  Graduate and undergraduate students have made up a significant portion of the work force carrying out the field work that forms the 30+ year data base. To date, more than 20 research scientists have studied here or used Holt data, over 100 students have had career building work experience at the forest and some 1,000 people including natural resource professionals, woodlot owners, and the interested public have attended workshops and other educational programs here. The Holt Forest has worked with many partners and has forged good relationships to enable future opportunities for both research and education.

The 40-hectare (100 acre) study area is within a nearly 300-acre forest tract. Most of the acreage is forested uplands dominated by oak-pine forest.  Wetlands of various types, primarily salt marsh make up an additional 50 acres.  The property is bordered by the Back River, an estuarine branch of the Kennebec River, on the east.  Sewell Pond, the only great pond on Arrowsic Island, and State Route 127 form the western boundary.  The property is bisected by Old Stage Road with the eastern portion as the principal land base used for research.

 

Jack Witham is the University of Maine Associate Scientist for the Holt Forest.

Friday
Nov142014

CHADBOURNE TREE FARMS RECEIVE 2014 AUSTIN WILKINS AWARD

The Austin H. Wilkins Forest Stewardship Award was presented by Governor LePage to Robert Chadbourne and Chadbourne Tree Farms, LLC during a Blaine House ceremony recently.

The Wilkins Award is the major recognition for landowners and individuals who are outstanding examples of managing the working forest of Maine in an exemplary and sustainable way.  Established in 2004, it is named after Dr. Austin Wilkins for his lifelong leadership in stewarding Maine’s forests.  The award recipient is chosen by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Maine TREE Foundation.Robert Chadbourne and Family Members with Governor LePage and Commissioner Whitcomb

“Maine’s working forests are a vital part of our past, present and future economy,” said Governor LePage.  “I am pleased to publicly recognize Chadbourne Tree Farms for their leadership in promoting exemplary management of our working forests.”

Also attending this year’s award ceremony and commending the Chadbourne Tree Farms were Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walter Whitcomb, Don Mansius representing the Maine Forest Service and Sherry Huber, Executive Director of the Maine TREE Foundation.  A letter of congratulations from Senator Susan Collins was read by her representative.

Previous recipients have included: Dr. Wilkins, Seven Islands Land Co. and the Pingree Heirs, John Hagen of the Manomet Center for Conservation Science, Sherry Huber of Maine TREE, Roger Milliken Jr. and the Baskahegan Timberlands Co., Jensen Bissell for his work in the Baxter State Park Scientific Forest Management Area, Prentiss and Carlisle, Robbins Lumber Company, Robert Linkletter and the Linkletter Family and the Maine Tree Farm Committee.

Thursday
Nov062014

For the right person, Maine’s forests make a great ‘office’ 

Patrick Strauch, executive director of the Maine Forest Products Council, often says, “This is not your father’s forest products industry or your grandfather’s, but it may be your granddaughter’s.”

The challenge is getting Mainers to realize that. Some can’t see past the legends – river drives, bucksaws andAndrew Poulin, who operates a forwarder in his family’s logging company, talk about all the things he likes about logging as he’s videotaped by Andy Collar, owner of Digital Spirit Media, and associate producer Ed Porter.  many meals of beans – and others don’t understand that forestry is now a high-tech industry that contributes $8 billion and nearly 40,000 jobs to Maine’s economy. It’s especially troubling that young men and women don’t know that good jobs are opening up across the state.

The forest products industry has an older workforce than the private sector as a whole, according to the Maine Department of Labor (MDOL).  Sixty-two percent of workers are ages 45 and older, compared to 47 percent of workers at all private firms. MDOL estimates that in logging alone, 440 equipment operators will be needed by 2020. With an improving economy the number of jobs available will only increase.

“We'd like young people to see what an enjoyable career/life can be found in the forest industry,” said Joel Swanton, northeast region manager of the Forest Resources Association (FRA).

But how can the industry get that message out? Well, seeing is believing. That’s why the Maine TREE Foundation the Maine Forest Products Council sought and received a grant from the Plum Creek Foundation to produce a video. And they didn’t need to script it from scratch. The Pacific Forest Foundation already has produced an award-winning video called “This is my office,” to tell a very similar story. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkuQXVcAGEU

Now, with additional financial support from J.D. Irving, Farm Credit East, Re-Energy, the Certified Logging Professional program (CLP) and Professional Logging Contractors (PLC), production has started on a Maine version of the “This is my office” video.

Trucker John Abraham enthusiastically speaks the signature line of the video: “This is my office!”The video, produced by Andy Collar of Digital Spirit Media, is a first step in a broader effort to create a career path for Maine’s youth to be trained to operate modern state-of-the-art logging equipment and to insure there are certified professionals for future logging jobs. It will also focus on training for veterans and participants in adult education and Maine Career Centers.

The video will give the people of Maine’s forest products community an opportunity to say, “This is what I like best about my ‘office’ and my job.” Their enthusiasm is compelling and could spark a young person’s interest in the forest products industry. 

The video also will address the problem that the general public does not appreciate the attention to safety and environmental concerns that resource professionals bring to their jobs.

 “Their professionalism and respect for the land on which they work will be conveyed directly by their own words,” Huber said.

 

Roberta Scruggs started work as MFPC’s communications director on Oct. 1 2012.  Previously, she was membership/outreach director at the Lakes Environmental Association in Bridgton for eight years. She is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and spent much of her professional life as reporter, columnist and editor at newspapers as large as the Miami Herald and as small as the Arab (Ala.) Tribune. In Maine, she worked for the Portland Press Herald, Maine Sunday Telegram, Sun Journal, Maine Times, Down East, Yankee and developed, along with her late husband, George Krohne, a website called The Scruggs Report. She has two grown sons and lives in Buckfield. 

Friday
Oct242014

Carrying Aldo Leopold's Flag – One Land’s Trust Perspective

If Aldo Leopold were alive today, he would certainly be celebrating the efforts of land trusts and our forestland conservation work. Collectively we are a voice for a personal land ethic, for stewardship of the earth’s finite natural resources, and for preservation of wild places in the midst of a civilized landscape. Increasingly, as well-regarded community organizations, we have the capacity to champion Leopold’s conservation principles. 

Today there are ninety land trusts in Maine. Kennebec Land Trust's (KLT) 412,000-acre service region isPhoto Credit: Dale Waldron geographically centered in Augusta, where we are currently working with many supporters to conserve Howard Hill, the 164-acre wooded hillside that frames our state's Capitol. In many ways, Howard Hill symbolizes the connection between Maine people and the land.

Over the past twenty-six years KLT has conserved 4,800 acres that will forever benefit the people, wildlife, and waters in our communities. However, as impressive as that work has been, our holdings represent just 1% of the land in our service region. So, as we continue to permanently protect forestland, wetlands and lake shorelines, farmland, and ecologically important reserves, we have also recognized the importance of working with partners who focus on a landscape   approach to forestland conservation in our communities.

Photo Credit: Brian kentIn 2009, inspired by work at the Harvard Forest, and with support from the Maine Forest Service, KLT organized a forestland conservation lecture series. A year later the Maine Forest Service and KLT founded the Kennebec Woodland Partnership (KWP), a group which now includes thirteen organizations. The member Partners recognize that our tourism, recreational and wood products economies, as well as our wildlife, water quality, and sense of beauty and place, are directly connected to the long-term conservation and stewardship of  Kennebec County's 374,000 acres of forestland. As a diverse partnership we have developed broad conservation education programs and we have also addressed many of the common misunderstandings inherent in the use of words like “conservation,”  “preservation,” “forest management,” and “sustainability”. 

Two years ago, with support from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, two Kennebec Woodland Partners (KLT and the Maine Forest Service), and three statewide partners, (Maine Coast Heritage Trust, CEI, and GrowSmart Maine) launched a second forestland conservation project – Local Wood WORKS (LWW). 

The new LWW initiative aims to highlight the benefits of regionally harvested and locally producedPhoto Credit: Jane Davis wood products.

Local Wood WORKS partners developed a set of principles that underscore our commitment to sustainable forestry, strong and resilient local economies, conservation of both working woodlands and ecological reserves, reduced energy consumption and transportation costs based on local products, and providing support to landowners, loggers, processors, manufacturers, and consumers.

There are many untold stories of entrepreneurial ventures that source sustainably harvested Maine wood. As in the local food movement, we envision that consumers will be interested in how people and nature are connected to those products.

Maine’s first ever 'Local Wood' conference will be held on November 14 at the Augusta Civic Center and outdoors at several locations on November 15. Presenters will highlight existing programs that encourage local wood economies in New England, growing for value, forestland sustainability, improvement forestry, lessons learned from the local food movement, landowner and business resources, and many other topics. Everyone is welcome – students, loggers, foresters, landowners, innovators, business owners and the general public. For more information, see www.localwoodworksmaine.com for a schedule of speakers and panelists.

Fifty years from now, our communities’ well-being and our landscapes will reflect today’s ethics, conservation practices, and partnerships. There is more hope for a sustainable commons if we work together now. 

An earlier version of this essay was first published in the Land Trust Alliance's Saving Land Magazine, Spring, 2011 issue.

Theresa Kerchner, Executive Director, Kennebec Land Trust

Theresa was hired by KLT in 2002 as the Trust first staff person to develop KLT’s stewardship and outreach programs. In 2009 she became the Trust’s first Executive Director. Theresa oversees the operations of the Trust and works with the Board of Directors and KLT staff to develop and implement organizational, land conservation, and fundraising goals.

Friday
Oct172014

“Ticked Off” Report should tick you off - George Smith, Guest Blogger

One morning my Kennebec Journal came with a deer tick. I start the day with a cup of coffee and the KJ, seated in a comfortable rocker with a view out the kitchen window to Linda’s beautiful flower gardens. Opening the paper to grab the section that includes the weekly travel column that Linda and I write, I spotted a tick on the edge of the paper. Ticks are everywhere these days! Perhaps the tick was just reading our column.

In August I spoke at a press conference, organized by the Natural Resources Council of Maine, in the Baxter Woods conservation area in Portland on the National Wildlife Federation’s “Ticked Off” report. The news is all bad and it’s almost too late to do much about it. Not too late. But almost.

Dr. Sheila Pinette, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control, reported that deer ticks have sickened a record number of Mainers this year. And that was with four months to go in 2014.

Susan Elias, a clinical research associate at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute, reported that by 2050 “Southern Maine’s going to feel more like Massachusetts, and northern Maine and central Maine are going to feel more like current southern Maine. What that means is the deer tick will be able to complete its life cycle statewide, and what that means is more ticks.”

Growing up in Maine, I spent much of my time hunting and fishing and never encountered a deer tick.  Turkey hunting last spring, I was guaranteed to come home with ticks. Even though I am diligent, I’ve had to take antibiotics four times due to embedded ticks. 

Earlier this year I wrote a series of outdoor news blogs about deer ticks and diseases, which you can read on my website, www.georgesmithmaine.com. Here’s what I reported in one of those blogs. Deer Tick - Engorged

Tick, tick, tick: Three deer ticks before lunch yesterday – and one came in the mail! Yesterday morning I fished on my remote secret Smallmouth bass pond. Caught lots of fish, and took all precautions against bugs including ticks. Hiked out and when I got to my vehicle, leaned down to pull my pants legs out of my socks, only to find a deer tick crawling up my sock. Squashed him between two rocks.

 Got home and went to the mail box to get the day’s mail. Pulled it out and found a deer tick on one of the envelopes! Squashed him too.

Stripped to take a shower, and like I always do, grabbed a small mirror to check my body for ticks. Sure enough, there was one on my backside. Luckily I could reach him, and he had only begun to attach, so I was able to pry him off with my fingers. Washed him down the sink. Just another beautiful morning in Maine.

Sitting at my desk one morning, writing another column about Lyme and ticks, I felt something on my leg under my pajamas. Pulling up the right leg of the pajamas, sure enough, there was a deer tick, making its way up my leg! Did it know I was writing about it? I carefully picked it off my leg, transported it outside, and crushed it between two rocks.  Tick removal is almost an everyday task these days.

Two years ago I was attending a hearing of a legislative committee, when I felt a tick crawling up the back of my neck. I reached around and grabbed it, confirmed that it was a deer tick, got up and went to the men’s room where I flushed it down the sink. After taking my seat back in the hearing room, the guy behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “George, what was that?”

It was a deer tick, I whispered. “Oh. Well,” he replied, “You should have put it on someone you don’t like.” Even I wouldn’t do that to a legislator!

There are many more – and many very serious – problems caused by the warming climate. I am especially concerned about the impact on Maine’s premier inland fishery – our native brook trout – that require very cold water. We’ve already lost this precious resource in southern and central Maine.

And Maine hunters were disappointed this year when the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife slashed moose hunting permits by 25 percent, in response to a study that showed devastating losses last winter to – you guessed it – ticks. They are killing our moose in alarming numbers. I don’t believe we will ever again get 4,000 moose permits as we did in 2013.

Exotic animals have established themselves here, thanks to our warming climate, crowding out our native species. And the list of problems goes on and on and on.

I concluded my remarks at the press conference in Portland’s Baxter Woods with this warning to those in attendance: All I can tell you today is this: the Baxter Woods is a beautiful place – but you better check yourself carefully for ticks when you get home. They are here. And in southern Maine, 70 percent of them carry Lyme disease.

 

For more of George’s writing, check outwww.georgesmithmaine.com Islandport Press recently published George’s book, “A Life Lived Outdoors,” a collection of his columns about rural Maine, home, camp, family, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor fun.