Now’s the time to call the State House

This is a war and  it’s our side against theirs: Big- Government Environmentalists  vs. the rest of us. This article from today’s Sun-Journal will  tell you why the timing is right to call the Agriculture, Conservation  and Forestry Committee members right away.

You can leave a brief  message (45 seconds) any time of the day or night for Senators  at 1-800-423-6900 and for House members at 1-800-423-2900. You  can leave a message right now!

Night time is a good time while the lines are clear. Say it in your own words. A sample message might be “My messages are for Senator Marge Kilkelly: Just fully fund the Forest Practices Act and back off. No new forestry legislation: No audits, voluntary or mandatory”. Other numbers to leave a message or (daytime) talk to a person: 287-1540 for Senators and 287-1400 for House members. You may also leave a call back request at these numbers as well.

The Compact for Maine  Forests was defeated against incredible odds in two elections.  Don’t let the Legislature willfully reconstruct any part of it!  They have no mandate from the people to do anything but fully  fund the present already- restrictive Forest Practices Act. They  do have a mandate to stop the growth of government rules and  regulations.

Tonight and tomorrow,  please make those calls to the State House and send this email  to your list to do likewise. (County Chairs, please call your  town chairs to call others and give them the phone numbers.)

Here’s the people  on the Agriculture Committee to leave messages for. I’ve put  * beside the names which are “very likely”, “likely”  or “might” go against us by supporting things like  audits, so that you can target them first:

***Sen. Marge Kilkelly
***Judy  Paradis
Leo  Kieffer
***Rep. George Bunker
***Roland  Samson
***David  Shiah
***Paul  Volenik
***Sharon  Libby Jones
***Linda  Rogers McKee
***Ruel  Cross
*Ed  Dexter
*Walter  Gooley
Priscilla  Lane


Panel Eyes Own Forestry Bill
by Bonnie Washuk, Staff Writer
Lewiston Sun-Journal, March 9, 1998

AUGUSTA-The legislative  committee studying forestry practices may reject all proposed  bills and come up with its own, said Senate co-chairwoman Marge  Kilkelly, D-Wiscasset.

Since the failure  of last November’s forestry compact, bills were filed proposing  different standards for how much cutting would be allowed in  Maine’s forests. Several were aimed at harnessing clear-cutting.

Kilkelly said Sunday  the issue of forestry management is one that shouldn’t be decided  by politicians; it should be decided by foresters.

The solution for healthy  forests “cannot be a prescriptive one,” Kilkelly said.  “That’s why we have foresters. It’s like why we have doctors.  If I have a sore throat, one doctor may give me an antibiotic,  another may tell me to rest. It’s case by case. That’s called  practicing medicine.”

The same is true,  she said, for Maine forests, which are different in different  parts of the state. What may be best in Kittery may not be in  Fort Kent, she said.

The committee is leaning  in favor of a new bill that would require large landowners (100,000  plus acres) to undergo mandatory annual audits. The result of  the audits would be made public. Landowners would be given a  numeric grade for how well or poorly they managed the land.

But some committee  members, while favoring an audit, don’t want to see it mandatory.

“I really fight  against anything being mandatory,” said Rep. Walter Gooley,  R-Farmington, who is a forester. Most of Maine’s forests are  privately owned. “The water, wildlife and aesthetics is something that Maine citizens have an ownership in… But the  bottom line is the landowner who pays the taxes,” he said  Sunday.

Whether they become  voluntary or not, the audits would be measured against best management  practices, a set of recommendations from leading silviculture  experts. The idea of the audits, Kilkelly said, is that the state  would not tell
landowners how to manage their land, but would tell them what  kind of forests the state should have, according to the practices.

Under that proposal  clear-cutting would be allowed only if it could be silviculturally  justified, Kilkelly said. “Sometimes clear-cutting is necessary.  They (large landowners) would have to refer to the best management  practices” to determine if they could conduct a clear-cut.

The cost of the proposed  legislation would be about $400,000 to support the mandatory  audits and fully fund the Forestry Practices Act passed in the  1980s. Under the legislation the committee is considering, there  would be a comprehensive initial forestry audit “that would  give us a baseline,” Kilkelly said. Then there would be  annual “State of the Forests” audits each year,
and more comprehensive reports every five years.

The problem with writing  a prescriptive law on how to harvest trees is that the best ways  of harvesting trees could be lost while the landowner is obeying  the law.

“For instance,  we looked at the restrictive language from Vermont,” which  encourages light cutting. “That sounds good,” Kilkelly  said. “But one of the points that Walter Gooley made is  it would encourage high-grading, which means to cut down all  the good wood and leave the trash. What we need is to allow foresters  to practice forestry, to ensure there’s a forest for future generations,  there’s wildlife habitat, clean water.”

How to get there,  she said should be left up to “the foresters on the ground”  conducting the audits. Those audits, Kilkelly said, “would  be verified by a third party.”

The problem with the  various bills in front of the committee, she said, “is they  have a one-size-fits-all standard that’s not going to work in  the millions of acres in the state. That’s what I found frustrating  about the bills. We’ve tried hard not to lock ourselves into  one bill.” Rather than focusing on one bill, “we’re  trying to craft a bill that would do what we want.”

Legislation sponsored  by committee member and lumberman Rep. Edward Dexter, R-Kingfield,  may be the closest of the existing bills the committee is favoring,  she said.

The committee’s deadline  to send a bill to the Legislature is Friday. “My guess is  if we needed a little more time we might be able to get it. We  lost two weeks in the beginning of the session due to the ice  storm.”

Public polls by both  the paper industry and environmentalists show support for legislation  each side endorses. The committee, Kilkelly said, has tried to  ignore those polls. “We’ve tried to stay on track and not  be pulled into either camp. We feel we’ve provided everybody  a chance to speak. It’s now our turn.”

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