Forest Rally Shakes State House
The State House reverberated with a call to action from over 130 forest activists from around the region on March 24. The rally and press conference, organized by the North Woods Coalition, demanded that the legislature "DO SOMETHING" to reform Maine's abysmal forest practices law.
After rousing speeches by Brownie Carson of NRCM, Thomas Urquhart of Maine Audubon, Bob Kimber of Western Maine Audubon, Jonathan Carter of FEN, and others, the group marched past the "Chuck Gadzik Memorial Forest" laid out in the snow on the lawn of the capitol. It was a forest of stumps.
Later the group took their message directly to the legislators, marching through the halls and talking with their representatives.
Their efforts came to nought. The four part plan the North Woods Coalition offered up to reform forest practices was defeated soundly. For more on the story, see page 8.
FEN Cosponsors Alternative Paper Conference at Bates
On April 4th, 1998, environmentalists, college students, business owners, farmers, paper producers and others concerned about environmentally friendly paper choices met at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine for the First Annual Alternative Paper Conference.
The conference focused on the basics of alternative fibers: what they are, their benefits, and where they can be grown; what some of the economic impacts of some 'alternative' agricultural fibers (like flax) could mean for Maine/New England farmers; the importance and viability of totally chlorine-free fiber processing, and how consumers can advocate for change and a transition in the paper market. Key-note speaker Andy Kerr, former Executive Director of the Oregon Natural Resources Council and current board member of the North American Industrial Hemp Council, presented an overview of alternative fibers and their importance to our environment and to a sustainable future.
In addition to informative discussion panels, there were tables with information from various organizations, businesses, and paper companies. The goal was to provide hard to find resources and access to the network of 'alternative' paper producers.
Co-sponsors of the conference were FEN, Bates Environmental Coalition, Compassion Unlimited -- Respecting Everyone (CURE), Native Forest Network, Maine Chapter of the Sierra Club, INVERT, RESTORE: The North Woods, and the Katahdin Center.
For much more information on the conference, click here.
Email Action Alert Network Links Activists
Point and click to save the forest? If only it were that easy. But FEN has used virtual reality effectively to affect forest reality with its new email network and site on the World Wide Web. Over 500 activists from Maine and throughout the region participate in FEN's email alert and infor-mation service, and thousands have visited the FEN Web site.
Recent alert notices have focused on the SAPPI land sale, the funding crisis for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, plus announcements of meetings and workshops on forest reform and ecological forestry. FEN's Web site contains links to all groups working on forest issues in Maine, plus extensive scientific bibliographies on the ecological effects of clearcutting and herbicide spraying.
The network and Web site are free and use no paper! You not only stay up to date on all the issues, but will be provided with detailed information on how you can take action! To join, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.powerlink.net/fen.
FEN Joins Northern Forest Alliance
The Northern Forest Alliance is made up of over 25 organizations from New York to Maine that are working on issues that affect the region. The vision of NFA is "to establish a sustainable 26 million acre Great Northern Forest Ecosystem, including preserved wild core areas connected by corridors, managed forest lands, and healthy, viable human communities."
The mission of NFA is "to work together to protect and enhance the ecological and economic sustainability of natural and human communities in the Northern Forest."
NFA is headquartered in Montpelier, VT and their Maine staff person is Maureen Drouin. "We are happy to welcome FEN as a member of the Alliance," says Maureen, "they have led the way in forest practices reform in Maine."
Members of the Alliance include the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Vermont Land Trust, and the Wilderness Society.
"The combined strength of these organizations could really be important in helping us reform forest practices in Maine," says FEN Executive Director Jonathan Carter.
To find out more about NFA, call 802-223-5256 or connect to their Web site through the FEN site under "Link Pages."
Summer Interns Join Team FEN
The Forest Ecology Network welcomes interns Ailene Kane and MaryLee Haughwout for the summer. They are working on projects ranging from researching forest harvest permitting to the role of alternative fibers for paper production.
"It's a wonderful experience," says Ailene of her internship at FEN. "I've always felt strongly about environmental issues, but I've never been involved in a grass-roots organization like FEN. I'm learning a tremendous amount about the environmental issues and decisions facing Maine, as well as how action comes about on such issues. The people at FEN are great to work with, too."
Ailene is a sophomore environmental science major at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. She lives in Hallowell, and was salutatorian at Hall-Dale High School.
She is also interested in education, and will be working as a counselor at the Augusta Nature Camp this summer, in addition to her FEN internship. Ailene has numerous other interests, including hiking, modern dance, and music.
MaryLee is a student at Oberlin College in Ohio. She is double majoring in trumpet performance and environmental studies. She manages Oberlin's recycling program, is active in the Greening Oberlin program, and is the environmental concern's representative for the Student Cooperative Association.
She graduated with honors from Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham.
MaryLee spent last summer in San Francisco working for the Rainforest Action Network, where she arranged rainforest art displays at local libraries and taught kids about the importance of protecting the world's rainforests.
FEN plans to keep the internship program going through throughout the year, sponsoring work study experiences for forestry and environmental studies students from local colleges. If you are interested in the program, please contact the FEN office.
Mel Ames Hosts FEN Members
FEN members were treated May 9 to what is becoming a meaningful annual event -- a tour of Mel Ames woodlot in Piscatiquis county. The adventure begins at FEN's education center near Atkinson. The 10,000 acre forest preserve surrounding the Center always provides an inspirational setting for discussions on where we've come and where we need to go to protect the splendor of the Maine Woods.
After a crackling fire, stiff coffee, cakey muffins, and vibrant conversations, enough momentum is gathered to propel the group over disinterested dogs and into their red, green, and wooden canoes and down the Piscataquis river towards Mel's place. Spotted Sandpipers cheep cheep cheep back and forth low across the river and Kingfishers laugh wildly as the colorfully gortexed flotilla paddles lazily into the misty morning rain.
After a few miles, the group rounds the final riverbend before approaching Mel's land. No fewer than five types of warblers -- species as yet unheard on the trip -- now greet the group as they pull out carefully onto the trillium and lily speckled bank. This is a special place.
Mel Ames has been harvesting wood from his 600 acre woodlot since 1947. When he purchased the land, there were about 17 cords of wood per acre standing there, fifty years later he estimates there are about 35.
"Now let me just tell you," Ames warns FEN members on the tour, "when you cut trees sometimes it's just not that pretty." But an inspection of the recent cutting reveals a few large stumps in a small area, with barely an opening in the canopy and most adjacent trees left carefully in place for a future generation of the Ames family. In contrast to the huge clearcuts and forest devastation many FEN members have witnessed, Mel's warning hardly seems necessary.
"Those large landowners are not just cheating themselves out of making more money over the long run," notes Ames, "when you cut all the trees you lose lots of warblers that eat your pests like spruce budworms" and he ads with a trademark grin, "plus the birds keep me comp'ny here in the woods."
The Ames property holds great diversity of wildlife and plants. Species richness (number of species per unit area) is much higher here than in the sprayed, monoculture, even-aged stands created by industrial forestry.
FEN board member and resident avian biologist LeRoy Bandy was along to point out birds and to describe his research in Mel's woodlot. His work compares species diversity and population dynamics on land managed for wildlife and high quality wood like the Ames' property, versus similar parameters on industrially managed lands.