Public Lands surplus timber harvest revenue could support logger education, progress made on bidding requirements for public land harvests
The special Public Lands Commission organized by the legislature to consider Governor Paul LePage’s plan to fund energy upgrades for low-income Mainers with revenue from increased timber harvesting on public land voted Nov. 30 to reject the Governor’s demands, but the lengthy process has yielded two significant victories for the PLC and for loggers in Maine.
The first of these was a decision to recommend to the Legislature that some surplus Public Lands funds be diverted to support education programs for future loggers. That decision could lead to financial support for equipment purchases for high school logger training programs and potentially benefit the new community college Mechanized Logging Operations Training Program as well. The decision followed a ruling by Maine’s Attorney General that Public Lands timber harvest revenues could be used to support education.
The second win for the PLC concerned bidding eligibility for Public Lands timber harvests. Previously the process was open to land managers, mills, and others who would then generally subcontract the work out. The Commission has recommended requirements now stipulate that bids be limited to professional logging contractors, ensuring harvests are conducted professionally and lowering overall costs. The Commission has directed the Bureau of Public Lands to work with the PLC to revise these eligibility requirements.
The Public Lands Commission staff will finalize the recommendations and Commission members have until December 5 to confirm their initial vote in favor of those recommendations, cast at the end of the meeting. Those recommendations will then go to the Legislature in January.
The PLC owes a special thanks to PLC Board Member Tony Madden, owner of A.W. Madden Inc. in Milford, who served on the Commission and was a voice for Maine loggers throughout the process.
The PLC will be monitoring this issue as the Legislature reconvenes in January.