Sunday, September 19, 2010

Maine Logging and Paper

Logging. Maine had a great tradition of logging and paper production. In my hometown, there was a diner called "Lucky Loggers". The northern woods were mostly owned by paper companies and wered logged in multiple ways. Individual saw logging and later mechanized clear cutting were used to supply the paper mills. Maine's pine forests were a great source for the paper companies. That is not the case anymore and those lands are owned by private individuals in greater numbers.

Things changed with the growth of the environmental movement and more regulation. To be fair, paper mills belch out plenty of disgusting gas and soot as well as byproduct that needs to be disposed. Clearcutting also leaves tracts of land empty. The clean air acts did hurt paper companies. What also hurt the logging and paper companies of Maine were the regulations and rules put in place in the 80s-90s. Votes came up about outlawing clear cutting. International paper even had an ad campaign saying they would plant 1 million trees in Maine to help their image. There has been amazing growth in using recycled paper, but there still needs to be wood pulp source involved.

All that happened was IP and other paper companies looked around and moved where they cut down trees. Logging in Maine took a nose dive. Logging in Maine, per Maine forest service stats, went from 100K acres clear cut in '88 and '89 to 12K in 2007 (source). The firms did not want to fuss with the regulations and the threat of more strict rules, and moved operations overseas. Why do you think logging has been such a growth industry in Brazil? We've exported forest management problems. We've exported deforestation to those Amazon rain forests that teachers told me in the 80s/90s we 'had' to protect. The irony being that enviros placed such a burden on American loggers that they moved logging into a wildly unregulated area (80% of Brazilian logging is illegal), and are destroying a precious resource (Amazon biodiversity).

Back to Maine, as more northern woods land that used to be owned by paper companies is sold to private individuals, problems have risen. Maine papers have written how 'outsiders' from away buy tracts of land, build a camp on the plot and then demand fire, police, and public services. Sorry, you bought a remote property and wanted seclusion, protect yourself. The state government in an idiot move spent $31.8 mil to buy land to never be developed. Seriously, it is on that land sale list. What a waste of money!!! Roxanne Quimby is a name that pops up often and she is one of the founders of Burt's Bees. She wants to preserve the landscape forever, and perhaps start a private fiefdom in the forests "Quimbyland". These lands might sit undisturbed, owned by the beneficent wealthy so they can pat themselves on the back while the commoners of northern and eastern Maine sit at home, collecting welfare and getting fatter.

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