Maine's Forestry Ban Referendum - 8 Myths
dodd at somtel.com
Sun Jun 23 09:34:56 EST 1996
There will be a referendum in Maine this November that was put on the ballot by a
petition drive organized by Maine's Green Party. Billed as a "clearcut" ban, the bill
bans virtually all sound, scientific forestry practices.
As a professional forester, I have studied this issue and want to share with you my
findings. First and foremost are the myths that Green Party wants the people of the
State of Maine to believe. I HEARTILY ENDORSE A "NO" VOTE ON THIS ISSUE!!!!
PART 1: 8 Myths
GREEN PARTY FORESTRY BAN
8 Myths That the Greens Want You to Believe
Myth 1: This is a clearcutting ban.
This measure, if enacted, would prohibit most forestry practices. Only 10% of the
language in the referendum question deals with clearcutting. The remaining 90%
restricts timber management.
Charles Gadzik, Director, Maine Forest Service:
"The biggest impact of this referendum is NOT to clearcutting . . . The biggest impact
is to ALL wood harvesting by creating complex standards that can prevent some of the
best examples of forest management in Maine from continuing."
Myth 2: Clearcutting is destroying the Maine forest.
The Maine forest has more volume today than it did 30 years ago. Spruce and fir
inventories dropped in the 1980's due to the devastation of the spruce budworm and many
acres were clearcut for salvage. Clearcutting today is a small component of all types
of cutting - about 1 percent of all harvested acres are clearcut. Inventories of spruce
and fir are now building and hardwood inventories are better than they were in 1980.
Myth 3: It is based on scientific studies.
The U.S. Forest Service has published forest management prescriptions. The Greens took
one element - basal area limits for intermediate or thinning cuts - and ignored all
other elements. The Forest Service prescriptions include clearcutting, shelterwood
cutting, seed tree cutting, salvage, and improvement cutting. All of these practices
would become illegal.
Myth 4: It is good for forest health and vigor.
The Forestry Ban requires that harvested stands be of the same species mix and age
distribution as they were before harvest. This would prohibit harvests where the
objective is to improve the quality of the stand by removing short lived trees,
(poplar), or removing diseased or damaged trees. Such trees would have to be left in
proportion to their numbers in the original stand.
Maine's forests would actually begin to decline in growth and vigor as short lived trees
began to decline and die. Forest quality would decline as damaged trees took up more of
the growing space.
Myth 5: It is good for forest diversity.
The Forestry Ban gives one, and only one, timber management prescription for a vast area
of the State. The science of forestry would be reduced to counting trees in pre-harvest
stands and cutting in proportion to those counts. Most stand management options would
be lost. The result would be a vast homogenous forest.
Myth 6: It is good for wildlife.
The Forestry Ban would result in a closed canopy forest across the unorganized towns in
the State. Some species flourish under such conditions, but many do not. Deer, for
instance, need the cover of a closed canopy but also need the young growth in harvested
areas for feed. Deer and moose populations have increased as areas have been opened up.
Ken Elowe, Director Wildlife Division, Maine IF&W:
"The proposed restrictions will not satisfy the needs of many of Maine's most highly
valued species. It would significantly impact the State's ability to effectively manage
public lands for wildlife."
Myth 7: It is good for the Maine economy.
The harvest on unorganized towns would decline by fifty percent or more. Less wood
means less products and fewer jobs. Further more, rural towns will be disproportionally
Governor Angus King:
"[The Green Party's measure] is a loaded gun pointed at the head of the Maine Economy."
Myth 8: It is good for Maine's woods workers.
It is true that there are fewer workers in the forest today, but it is also true that
wages and quality of life are increasing for the workers as the skill level required for
those jobs increases.
Chainsaws are giving way to mechanized harvesters. These machines do all types of
harvests including light thinning cuts. Workers are now in closed cabs and earning
wages comparable to other heavy equipment operators. Accidents rates have dramatically
declined. The quality of life for woods workers has improved. All of this would be
lost under this referendum.
PART 2: Referendum Specifics
GREEN PARTY FORESTRY BAN
Guide to Forestry Restrictions
The Green Party Forestry Ban, if enacted, would severely restrict sound forest
practices. This card is a guide to those restrictions.
Enact Sec 6. 12MRSA Sec 685-A, §12 to read:
Forest management standards. Notwithstanding subsection 5 or any other provision of
state law to the contrary, all timber harvest ing activities within the [LURC]
commission's jurisdiction must comply with the following minimum standards.
A. Clearcutting is prohibited.
B. Not more than 1/3 of the volume may be removed in a 15 year period. (Trees 4.5"
DBH and larger.)
- AND -
C. (1) Post harvest basal area of trees 4.5" DBH+ cannot be less than:
65 FT² in hardwood stands; or
75 FT² in mixedwood stands; or
90 FT² in softwood stands.
- OR -
(2) Post harvest stands must have an "R" of 1. or more when calculated by
the formula R = S + T, where:
S = (number of trees 1" to 4.5" DBH) / 1000
T = (basal area of trees 4.5" DBH+) / BA standards
for SW, MW, or HW stands as listed in (1)
- AND -
D. Trees in post harvest stand must be well distributed. Post harvest stand must
maintain tree species, tree size, and tree age compared to preharvest stand.
- AND -
E. No openings greater than 1/2 acre.
- AND -
F. Trees must be delimbed at cutting site. Slash must be left in the woods.
(Prohibits chipping of tops and limbs for biomass.)
A sample of the impacts created by the Forestry Ban:
Forest health and vigor would decline due to the ban on targeting specific species for
removal in a harvest. For example, current practice for a commercial thinning in a
young mixedwood stand target short lived trees for harvest, such as poplar. The
Forestry Ban would prohibit this, as the Ban requires that trees be harvested in
proportion to their occurrence in the preharvest stand. Such trees would likely decline
and die before the next harvest at the required 15 year interval.
Stands of nonproductive trees, which do not benefit the Maine economy, would have to be
left. For example, the current practice is to identify stands of low quality hardwoods,
such as diseased beech, growing on high quality sites and replace them with a vigorous
stand of softwood by planting. Instead of growing low value pulpwood, these stands grow
high value sawlogs. Nonetheless, less than 1 percent of forest land in Maine is
clearcut each year.
Shelterwood cutting, the practice of regenerating a mature stand by seed, would be
prohibited. Current practice is to enter a stand 2 or 3 times over a 20 year period to
harvest timber in a way that provided seed and shade for seedling establishment. This
would be prohibited under the Forestry Ban.
Forest diversity would decline with the single timber management prescription under the
Forestry Ban. Habitat for wildlife would be less diverse and meet the needs of few
species. For example, deer need both the shelter of a dense canopy and the food source
of young growth. The food source would decline.
Thinning in dense stands would be placed in jeopardy. The Forestry Ban may result in a
prohibition on biomass chipping - an important market for small diameter trees that must
be removed during a commercial thinning. These dense stands would stagnate if thinnings
cannot be accomplished. Growth, vigor, and stand quality would decline.
dodd at somtel.com
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