JAY – The Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine trade association greeted Pixelle Specialty Solutions’ announcement today that its mill in Jay will close early next year with disappointment and concern, citing the effect the loss of the mill will have on the local community and Maine’s forest economy.
“We are deeply concerned for those, including many friends and family members of our own members, whose livelihoods will be affected by this announcement,” PLC Executive Director Dana Doran, said. “Before the loss of its pulp digester to an explosion in April 2020, the Jay mill represented about 23 percent of the pulp market for the state of Maine and was critical to Maine logging and trucking firms and their ability to properly manage forest health. The decision last year not to rebuild that digester was a huge blow to the industry and the forests, and while very little of the pulp consumed by the mill today comes from Maine, we remain hopeful that a future owner may see the potential it has and create new opportunities for Maine wood fiber.”
Wood pulp has always been an anchor of Maine’s forest economy, until recently providing a large and reliable market for wood unsuitable for lumber or other high-grade products. The pulp market has also allowed loggers to better manage forest health by making it financially possible for them to selectively thin forest stands to achieve the best long-term outcomes rather than targeting only the largest and straightest trees for saw logs.
Pixelle’s announcement made no mention of whether the company intends to sell the mill. Selling to an owner willing to continue operating it to create products made from Maine wood fiber should be the top priority for Pixelle, Doran said.
“With Maine’s vast forest resource and experienced logging and trucking workforce close at hand, we believe restarting the mill and pulp production in Jay will make good financial sense for a future owner,” Doran said. “We also hope that this announcement reminds Maine’s elected officials how challenged Maine’s loggers and truckers are at the present time as they grapple with inflation, workforce challenges, and unstable markets. If we want to ensure the logging industry in this state does not become a thing of the past, the time to act is now.”