FEN Launches 'Wilderness Matters!' Outreach Campaign
The purpose of the Wilderness Matters! Campaign is to engage the forest activist community and the public in general in the efforts to restore wilderness to Maine through silviculture reform and large scale public land acquisition. This campaign will provide the grassroots with the information and inspiration to act through direct action, educational outreach, and political dialogue. If we are ever to achieve a vision of large scale restoration, it is essential to build public support and to continue to encourage the citizens to speak out loudly.
FEN is currently working on literature development. Paul Donahue is developing educational materials and Will Sugg is focused on creating some special editions of The Maine Woods. Several slide shows have been designed around intensive management vs. low impact forestry, global pollution and atmospheric impacts on forest ecosystems, and the importance of wilderness restoration. These presentations will be advertised and offered to FEN's bioregional chapters, school groups, conservation organizations, logging associations, garden clubs, and other civic groups.
FEN is developing a speakers bureau of well qualified outreach educators. Already,
Jonathan Carter has given a talk at Bates, and Leroy and Barbara Bandy are scheduled to speak at the Forestry Forum at the University of Maine. (See page 14). Several other speaking events have been scheduled.
FEN is hoping to sponsor a Spring conference on low impact forestry and wilderness restoration, In addition, FEN is planning to conduct a series of on the ground workshops in the field and at our educational facility in Atkinson. FEN's ability to bring about restoration and reform is dependent on educational outreach and advocacy.
This campaign will harness the best of our efforts to counter the 'greenwash' PR efforts of the paper corporations and the property rights fringe. Please call us so that we can arrange a presentation in your community.
Old Growth in Maine: A FEN Field Trip to Big Reed
In mid July a group of nine FEN members made a trip into The Nature Conservancy's Big Reed Forest Reserve in Aroostook County. The 4,853 acre reserve is probably the most important forest reserve in New England, protecting the largest area of old-growth forest in the region and encompassing two-thirds of Maine's old-growth.
The trip was graciously led by Linda Alverson, The Nature Conservancy's preserve steward and a forest ecologist with Seven Islands Land Company. Linda met our group at the Four Seasons Inn in Ashland, and led our short caravan to the east edge of the reserve. Once off the road and into the forest, Linda oriented the group, indicating on a topographic map the route we would follow on our cross country walk through the trail-less forest.
With Linda out in front with her compass, we hiked through Northern Hardwood Forest, Mixed Hardwood-Conifer Forest and Northern White Cedar Swamp out to the northeast shore of Big Reed Pond. Along the way, Linda stopped frequently to explain the characteristics of old-growth forest, pointing out features we might otherwise have overlooked. Numerous other stops were made to look at and identify the abundant woodland wildflowers, ferns, and colorful fungi. Many of these plants were species indicative of or restricted to old-growth forests. One of the more interesting of the several species of orchids we found was the saprophytic Spotted Coralroot. This was a new species even for Linda, despite her numerous trips to the preserve.
In spite of most of it never having been logged, the oldest trees in the reserve are only a few hundred years old, and although beautiful, are not as tall and stately as one might expect. The significant visual difference from other patches of forest in northern Maine is that there are no sawed off stumps. Instead one sees the long mounds on the forest floor of the decaying trunks of fallen trees. We did see some big trees, however. Indeed, while we were searching, unsuccessfully, for a Red Spruce which Linda believes to be the largest in North America, we came across another very large individual whose trunk we measured to be 79 inches in circumference.
Being late in the nesting season, birds were not especially vocal or obvious, but we did have good looks at a pair of Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, lots of Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, and a number of warblers, including a beautiful male Blackburnian Warbler. Shortly before reaching Big Reed Pond we crossed the Northern White Cedar swamp, an area that was logged long ago, but has by now largely recovered. We wound our way through the swamp, trying to keep our feet dry while hopping from root to root. After a lovely lunch break in a small opening by the shore of the pond, we then recrossed the cedar swamp and continued back up the ridge on a loop that brought us back to the point where we had entered the forest.
It is comforting to know that at least this one large remnant of Maine's original forest has remained wild and unmanaged in a sea of clearcuts. All of us were reluctant to leave the peaceful forests of Big Reed. The trip gave us a better appreciation of the importance of establishing large forest reserves in Maine where old-growth forest will be allowed to evolve again.
- Teresa Wood and Paul Donahue
FEN at Phish II: The Lemonwheel
After last year's successful event at the former airforce base at Loring, Phish invited FEN to join them for this year's event -- The Lemonwheel.
August 15-16 saw an amazing transformation of a major military industrial complex in northern Maine into a camp of over 70,000 young people for a weekend of fun, art, revelry, education, art, and most of all music. 'Phishheads' had driven from as far away as Georgia and Indiana for the concert at Loring Air Force Base near Houlton. The band Phish, from Burlington VT, did a great job not only playing, they pulled off an amazing logistical challenge by keeping everyone fed, entertained, and happy. The concert pumped millions of dollars into the local economy, and the locals welcomed the Phish phenatics enthusiastically.
The Forest Ecology Network tabled the event to bring attention to the problems of clearcutting, overcutting, and herbicide spraying in Maine's North Woods. Hundreds of folks came by to learn and get involved with FEN's campaign. It was a great opportunity for FEN to tap into the amazing energy these kids have not just for their favorite band, but for environmental and social change causes.
Maine Pulp and Paper Association vs. FEN at Bates College
In October, in a roundtable debate between Jonathan Carter, Director of FEN, and Jeff Toorish, president of the Maine Pulp and Paper Association was held at Bates College. The discussion/debate organized by Chris Beam of the Muskie Archives focused on the future of the Maine Woods. In spite of overwhelming scientific evidence presented by Jonathan, Toorish continued to push the industry propaganda by defending clearcutting and herbicide spraying as good for wildlife and the general health of forest ecosystems. When confronted with U.S. Forest Service and Maine Forest Service data showing harvest levels not to be sustainable, Toorish's only response was that, "there are more trees growing in Maine today than a hundred years ago."
Student participants in the discussions asked numerous pointed questions on the ecological and economic impacts of deforestation. One student asked Toorish what happens to wildlife when their habitat is destroyed by clearcutting. Toorish's response was that wildlife "simply moves somewhere else". Jonathan tried to point out that good quality low impact forestry will protect wildlife habitat while improving forest productivity.
While the debate was cordial, it was apparent from Toorish's comments that the industry is to still committed to short term profit based destructive intensive management and is unwilling to seriously look at long term profitable low impact forestry techniques.
FEN Tables at New Common Ground Country Fair Site in Unity
Where in Maine can you find out about powering your house with solar and wind and powering your plow with a horse? Where can you eat organic blueberry cheesecake while watching sheepdog trials or a wooden canoe being made? Nowhere else but the Common Ground Country Fair, hosted by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, now at its new location in Unity.
FEN tabled the fair in the environmental concerns area, and Jonathan gave daily presentations on forest reform in a yurt -- a tent like building. Hundreds of folks stopped by over the three days of the Fair to learn more about the work of the Forest Ecology Network. We hope to see you at Common Ground next year!
For more information about the fair, check out MOFGA's new web site at http://www.mofga.org.
FEN Sets 1999 Legislative Agenda
This legislative session the Forest Ecology Network will be pushing for a moratorium on the application of chemical pesticides for forestry purposes. Vermont recently passed similar legislation. For details on the ecological and public health effects of herbicides, you can download a bibliography from FEN's web site at http://www.powerlink.net/fen.
FEN will also be supporting legislative initiatives to ensure sustainable harvesting levels (see page 13), and to end the practice of liquidation "cut-and-run" forestry.
To participate in these efforts, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 623-7140.