Forest Ecology Network News


Mel Ames explains low-impact forestry to Governor Angus King.

In July FEN organized a day long outing for Governor Angus King. While the weather prohibited a three hour flight(to be rescheduled), the Governor did come to the education center in Atkinson to hear from Mitch Lansky on low impact forestry, Spencer Phillips of the Wilderness Society on the positive economics of wilderness restoration, and Jym St. Pierre of RESTORE:The North Woods on the National Park and Preserve proposal. After a hearty lunch -thank you Betty Ames - Angus was taken, along with his forestry confidant, John Cashwell, president of Seven Islands, to view Mel Ames 600 acre woodlot. The Governor was given opportunity to view firsthand how quality sustainable forestry can be practiced. Sam Brown and Ron Locke, foresters, helped Mel explain why and how low-impact forestry can and should be practiced on an industrial scale. Mel pointed out how his forest, through selective cutting, can provide a return on investment which can be higher than "blue-chip stocks". Long rotations and cutting practice which enhance forest stand quality will provide a solid flow of income while protecting the ecological integrity of the forest. The Governor wondered out loud why industry didn't use Mel's model since the yield is two to three times greater. The answer being that industry is driven by short term profit incentives even though a long term approach would guarantee higher yields on a sustained basis.



FEN director Jonathan Carter viewing Plum Creek's logging operations in Montana.

Last January Jonathan Carter, at the invitation of Plum Creek, took a trip to Montana to view the company's forest practices. While Jonathan was aware that the invitation was designed to dispel Plum Creek's reputation as the "Darth Vadar" of the timber industry, he felt that by listening to their rhetoric and taking a look at their forest practices in Montana he would be better able to predict their behavior here in Maine. Although Jonathan also visited with several forest activist groups in Missoula and the Swan lake region, he came away ready to endorse Plum Creek's forest practices in Maine if the company promised to use the silvicultural practices shown him in Montana (knowing full well that what was presented was in all probability "greenwash").

Needless to say, while Plum Creek talks environmental forestry, they are not walking the talk here in Maine. Recent visits to Plum Creek's land north of Flagstaff Lake, on the west side of Mt. Abraham, and west of Jackman around Williams Mountain reveal massive forest destruction. Intensive industrial management, with clearcuts, herbicide spraying, and plantations, is being utilized and promoted. It is unfortunate that Plum Creek did not rise to Jonathan's challenge. "Plum Creek had the chance in Maine to set an industry standard which would have promoted long term sustainable stewardship. Unfortunately they have decided to sink to the lowest common denominator and continue to practice slash and burn forestry" said Carter at a recent meeting of forest activists.



Jonathan Carter was a panelist at the Fire and Grit Millennium Conference at the National training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The conference brought folks together from all over the country. It was an excellent opportunity to network and get the message out nationally that Maine is leading the fight for forest reform and that the great North Woods is the last Alaskan-size bastion of wildlands on the eastern seaboard that needs national protection. Jonathan presented the notion that a new land ethic is developing across the country which dispels the old paradigm of a "working forest" being simply a fiber farm. A forest does by giving us clean air and water and by protecting biological diversity.

Jonathan was also invited to talk to the Northeast Summer Training Academy being sponsored by the Campus Green Vote at Tufts University. He presented, along with pollster Janet Grenzke, and media consultant Ken Swope, a Case Study of the Ban Clearcutting campaign.



Paul Donahue speaks to Stephanie Allard's natural resources class at the Eastport High School.

FEN's educational Wilderness Matters program has reached out to all corners of the state, from Machias to Fryeburg. Paul Donahue has a slide presentation on the impacts of atmospheric changes on forest ecosystems and FEN also offers presentations on low impact forestry and the National Park and Preserve proposal. The programs are offered free to community groups, churches, schools, and other civic groups. If you are interested in hosting a presentation, please call the FEN office (623- 7140) to schedule a time and place.



Linda Alverson discusses the ecology of the old-growth forest with our group on the Big Reed Pond Preserve field trip.

     FEN members and their families met in Ashland on the 11th of July, 1999 for FEN's second annual field trip to the Nature Conservancy's Big Reed Pond Preserve. Linda Alverson, forestry consultant and TNC Reserve Steward for Big Reed, again graciously led the day long outing to the preserve, the largest remaining remnant of old-growth forest in New England.
     The previous night's light rain lasted just until we were about to carpool from town to the edge of the preserve. Once there, we started our cross-country hike by entering mixed hardwoods along a ridge and gradually worked our ways down towards Big Reed Pond. The rain had threatened to make the trip a wet drudge through the woods, however, happily for the hikers, the ground was essentially dry inside the forest. As last year, our route took us through a beautiful Northern White Cedar swamp with its tall, straight trunks, exposed roots and bright green mosses. Only then did wet feet became a possibility as we crossed the swamp, hopping from root to root and clambering over fallen logs.
     Overcast skies made for cool, pleasant temperatures and biting insects were not bothersome during the hike. By mid day we had wound our way across the swamp and out to the shore of the pond. We ate our picnic lunches on a small spit of land which sticks out into the pond. While some of the group went for a dip in the lake waters, most of us just sat and rested and shared conversation for an hour or so before beginning our return hike to the forest's edge. Linda is an excellent guide, eager to share her knowledge of the area but not adverse to learning from others. She is now a private forestry consultant and was much more open about discussing forest practices than last year when she still worked for Seven Islands Land Company. Consequently, there was lively discussion at times.
    On the way back, we completed the circle we had started in the morning, guided by the youngest hiker, who had received some orienteering instruction from Linda. The trusty compass pointed the way to the edge of the forest and we came out only a few yards from where we had entered hours earlier. Most left the forest revitalized, content in the knowledge that at least this patch of the old-growth forest that once covered Maine has been protected for future generations.

283 Water Street, 3rd floor, P.O. Box 2118, Augusta, Maine 04338
Phone: 207-623-7140

Contact webmaster at with problems or suggestions regarding these pages.