AUGUSTA – The Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine will continue working to preserve forest access in the Katahdin Region for Maine’s hard-working loggers following the announcement that President Barack Obama has signed an executive order creating a national monument there.
The President signed the order creating the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument this morning, a day after landowner Roxanne Quimby’s Elliotsville Plantation Inc. (EPI) transferred 87,563 acres of her property in Maine to the federal government following decades of controversy and strong opposition from the region’s forest products industry.
“While we are disappointed with the decision to proceed with establishment of a national monument in the Katahdin Region, we will focus our efforts on ensuring that this decision does not cost jobs in Maine’s logging industry,” PLC Executive Director Dana Doran, said. “Maine loggers need reliable and safe access to the area’s working forests and the PLC will work closely with our Congressional delegation, the communities surrounding the proposed monument and the U.S. National Park Service to address the very real access and road safety issues this monument creates.”
The PLC has opposed the creation of a national monument or park in Maine’s north woods due to negative effects it will have on the logging industry. The establishment of the monument is expected to have an immediate chilling effect on future investment in the region’s forest products industry. As the monument is developed, safety issues surrounding logging trucks sharing roads with tourists are expected to arise, and limits on access through and around the monument’s borders are expected to hinder logging operations across the region.
Some of these risks and potential losses have even been substantiated by EPI’s own studies. According to a 2015 wood flow study commissioned by EPI, “It is hard to believe that given a National Park scenario that the private land along the park would remain in timber production.” This would jeopardize the livelihoods of over 50 PLC members’ businesses located within a 60-mile radius of Millinocket and over 1,000 of their employees. These jobs will not be replaced in number or salary by the jobs that “may” be created in a national monument scenario.
Maine loggers working in the Katahdin Region supply the raw material not only for pulp and paper mills, but biomass electric facilities, sawmills, wood pellet plants, and producers of plywood and fiberboard in Maine and beyond.
Supporters of the monument may be under the illusion that the parcel donated to the federal government, as well as the surrounding land, is a pristine wilderness of old growth trees and undisturbed acres. In fact, most of the region has been a working forest for generations. The beauty people see there today is a result of responsible forest management and logging. Far from destroying the forests, loggers are part of this responsible management.
Maine’s loggers are a vital part of the state’s forest products sector, which is worth an estimated $8 billion annually.
The PLC of Maine was formed in 1995 to give independent logging contractors and sole proprietors a voice in a rapidly changing forest industry. A Board of Directors made up entirely of loggers makes the PLC the only logging organization in Maine run by loggers for loggers. The mission of the PLC is to promote logging as a profession, advocate for logging professionals, cultivate responsible forest management, and sustain a strong forest products industry. PLC members are responsible for 75 percent of the timber that is harvested from Maine’s forests annually.