AN ACT REGARDING FOREST PRACTICES
"An Act Regarding Forest Practices" is a
reasonable approach to solving the problems of over- cutting
and clearcutting in Maine. It addresses the issue of sustainability
by making sure that cut does not exceed growth and it will ensure
that clearcutting will only occur when it can be silviculturally
Why Do We Need "An Act Regarding Forest Practices"?
The recent U.S. Forest Service inventory documented that Maine
forests are being cut two to three times faster than they are
growing back. For some tree species and in some counties the
rate of cut is more than ten times the rate of growth. This can
not continue. Unless cut and growth become more equal, the fiber
supply will be depleted and the thousands of jobs associated
with the woods products industry will be lost. Maine has been
spending its forest capital faster than it has been replacing
it. Like your bank account, if you continually spend more than
you are depositing, you will go broke.
Most of the clearcutting in Maine is driven by short term economics,
not science. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that clearcutting
is devastating to forest ecosystems and that it reduces long
term fiber yields. While clearcutting in response to disease
or insect infestation may be warranted, the vast majority of
the tens of thousands of acres clearcut in Maine annually can
not be justified.
"An Act Regarding Forest Practices" Two Point
Plan - Cut Not to Exceed Growth and Clearcut by Permit Only.
1. Reasonable Cut Levels - Cut Not to Exceed Growth
This provision in the Act simply requires that landowners enrolled
under the Tree Growth Tax Law cut sustainably. "An Act Regarding
Forest Practices" endorses Governor King's Sustainability
Council's recommendation that annual cutting activities not exceed
the average annual growth for the past ten years. This will ensure
that cut always on average remains close to growth. For example,
if a landowner's forest is growing at an average annual rate
of 50 cords per year then the landowner could cut 50 cords a
year. If the landowner did not want to cut every year then the
growth per year could be accumulated until the landowner decided
to harvest - after ten years at 50 cords of growth per year,
the landowner could harvest 500 cords. Not cutting each year
is like putting money into a savings account which can be drawn
at some future date.
The Tree Growth Tax Law was designed to give landowners an incentive
to practice sustained yield forestry. The Tree Growth Tax Law
states that in order to qualify a landowner must commit to "sustained
yield" forestry. While data shows that small landowners
are not cutting more than is growing (so they will not be impacted
by this section), the large corporate landowners on the other
hand are cutting far in excess of growth rates. These landowners
are getting millions of dollars of tax breaks (average tax one
dollar/acre) and yet, they are not practicing sustain yield forestry.
By tying reasonable cutting levels to the Tree Growth Tax Law,
this will require the large corporate landowners to carry out
their part of the bargain or face loosing millions of dollars
in tax breaks.
2. Clearcutting Permit Required
This provision of the Act simply requires that all landowners
who want to clearcut get a permit from the Maine Forest Service.
This is not a ban. Currently, permits are only required for clearcuts
over seventy-five acres. This is why 95% of all clearcuts in
Maine are less than 75 acres - to avoid permitting.The patch
work design of 35 acre clearcuts separated by 250 feet so common
to the forest landscape of Maine avoids all oversight and regulation.
By requiring permits for all clearcuts, Maine citizens can be
sure that clearcuts will only be allowed when no alternatives
exist, when no ecological damage will occur, and when they can
be silvicultural justified. The Maine Forest Service will issue
permits and there will be a right to appeal any permit decision.
It is important that the rules around the two point forest
protection plan, be developed not by partisan interests ( no
paper industry or environmentalists), but by a group of objective
experts. "An Act Regarding Forest Practices" establishes
a Maine Council on Sustainable Forest Management which will be
composed of the Director of the Maine Forest Service, the Director
of Baxter Park's Scientific Forestry Management Unit, and seven
other appointments made by the Governor from the following categories:
independent logger, professional forester, forest ecologist,
conservation biologist, a soil scientist, a professor of silviculture,
and a freshwater ecologist. The rule making will involve the
public hearing process.
Text of An Act Regarding Forest Practices:
STATE OF MAINE
To the Legislature of the State of Maine:
In accordance with Section 18 of Article IV, Part third of the
Constitution of the State of Maine, the undersigned electors
of the State of Maine, qualified to vote for Governor, residing
in said state, whose names have been certified, hereby respectfully
propose to the Legislature for its consideration the following
"An Act Regarding Forest Practices" The full
text of this Act is printed on this petition.
DO YOU FAVOR REQUIRING LANDOWNERS TO OBTAIN A PERMIT FOR ALL
CLEAR-CUTS AND DEFINING CUTTING LEVELS FOR LANDS SUBJECT TO THE
TREE GROWTH TAX LAW?
"An Act Regarding Forest Practices"
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:
Sec. 1. 12MRSA sec.8869,sub-secs.13 to 15 are enacted
13. Reasonable cutting levels. In accordance with the
Governor's Maine Council on Sustainable Forest Management report
of July 1996, total cutting activities and cutting activities
for each species group may not exceed sustainable cutting levels
for any rolling 10-year average. This means that the yearly allowable
cut levels may not be greater than the average annual growth
during the past 10 years. This subsection applies only to landowners
who are enrolled under the Maine Tree Growth Tax Law.
14. Clear-cutting permit required. A landowner shall obtain
a permit from the Maine Forest Service prior to undertaking cutting
activities that will result in a clear-cut. Prior to issuing
a permit for a clear-cut, the Maine Forest Service shall determine
that the clearcut is silviculturally justified, that there are
no reasonable alternatives to the proposed clear-cut and that
no undue adverse ecological damage will result from the clear-cut
or the clear-cutting activities. There must be public notice
of any permit application and an opportunity to appeal any decision
by the Maine Forest Service on permitting.
15. Rules. A Maine Council on Sustainable Forest Management
appointed by the Governor shall establish rules, which are major
substantive rules pursuant to Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter
II-A, implementing subsections
13 and 14 through the public hearing process. In addition to
the Director of the Maine Forest Service and the director of
Baxter Park's scientific forestry management unit, the
council consists of one representative from each of the following
A. Independent logger;
B. Professional forester;
C. Forest ecologist;
D. Conservation biologist;
E. Soil scientist;
F. Professor of silviculture; and
G: Freshwater ecologist:
All rules must be consistent with and guided by current scientific
research. Rules must be established no later than 6 months after
the effective date of this subsection.
This initiated bill sets limits on timber harvesting on land
subject to the Maine Tree Growth Tax Law and requires that a
landowner obtain a permit from the Maine Forest Service prior
to undertaking harvesting activities that will result in a clear-cut.
Total cutting activities and cutting activities for each species
group may not exceed sustainable cutting levels for any 10 year
rolling average. The yearly allowable cut levels may not be greater
than the average annual growth during the past 10 years. Prior
to issuing a permit for a clear-cut, the Maine Forest Service
must determine that the clear-cut is silviculturally justified,
that there are no reasonable alternatives to the proposed clear-cut
and that no undue adverse ecological damage will result from
the clear-cut or the clear-cutting activities.
THE FOREST FOR THE FUTURE CAMPAIGN, P.O. BOX 2218,
AUGUSTA, ME 04338 TEL/FAX 207 623-7512