Maine's Forestry Ban Referendum - 8 Myths

Dodd 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 
effected.

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.

Thom
dodd at somtel.com




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