JAY – The Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine is disappointed by Pixelle Specialty Solutions’ announcement today that the pulp digester destroyed by an explosion at its Jay mill in April will not be rebuilt, and alarmed by the effect the permanent loss of the digester will have on Maine loggers and forest truckers.
“We are deeply concerned for those, including many of our own members, whose livelihoods will be affected by this announcement,” PLC Executive Director Dana Doran, said. “The Jay mill represented about 23 percent of the pulp market for the state of Maine, and that market is critical both to the financial survival of Maine logging and trucking firms and to their ability to properly manage forest health. Both will suffer from its loss.”
Most Maine logging contractors who are members of the PLC are reporting a 30-40 percent reduction in wood markets in 2020. Many are suffering severe revenue losses, layoffs, loss of clients, reduced productivity, and inability to plan for the future. The loss of the Pixelle Specialty Solutions pulp mill in Jay has been a major contributor to these challenges, which are also compounded by the severe economic effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
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.
“We are hopeful that Pixelle will revisit this decision once the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on markets subsides,” Doran said. “Once markets recover there will be tremendous pressure on kraft pulp sales and it seems likely Pixelle’s demand for pulp will exceed the supply available for sale. With Maine’s vast forest resource and experienced logging and tucking workforce close at hand, we believe restarting pulp production in Jay will make good financial sense for Pixelle but it will also be a lifeline to so many who are impacted by their announcement today.”
“We also hope that this announcement reminds Maine’s elected officials how challenged Maine’s loggers and truckers are at the present time. Federal and state assistance is needed now if we hope to see Maine’s forest industry recover and it’s time to treat loggers and truckers with the same respect that has been afforded other legacy industries like farming and fishing,” Doran added.