Maine: An Encyclopedia
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Forestry

is the science of managing forest resources for human benefit. Maine has had a long history of using forest resources and an equally long history of controversy over whether proper management of those resources has been adequate.

Forest Fires in Maine

Year No. Acres Damage$
1903 345 267,587 947588
1904 31 6,958 12655
1905 142 20,316 63623
1906 67 7,621 21028
1907 33 4,524 14567
1908 237 142,130 618816
1909 157 39,028 96699
1910 30 848 2841
1911 202 111,077 337355
1912 99 20,240 71548
1913 194 30,214 176842
1914 157 15,716 29307
1915 156 25,657 78116
1916 72 11,616 19765
1917 28 458 2134
1918 79 8,938 77891
1919 104 5,020 8930
1920 165 39,803 185908
1921 362 68,830 517115
1922 216 21,388 114776
1923 181 70,339 341366
1924 220 40,357 113788
1925 115 6,053 43118
1926 144 12,212 52181
1927 109 11,620 129,354
1928 64 2,814 6,035
1929 168 2,465 44,757
1930 263 33,309 143,861
1931 226 4,807 52,997
1932 321 42,827 69,807
1933 281 15,294 48,927
1934 266 136,370 421,664
1935 301 18,828 37,558
1936 136 1,640 20,295
1937 262 5,713 30,214
1938 173 16,139 33,521
1939 287 7,433 36,710
1940 240 4,111 22,936
1941 481 40,350 511,340
1942 225 4,993 11,633
1943 131 7,168 39,910
1944 408 24,203 278,864
1945 214 4,950 64,583
1946 576 10,327 95,932
1947 700 213,547 11,990,855
1948 814 7241 135,433
1949 763 21,052 65,841
1950 951 18,051 164,791
1951 421 3,685 30,981
1952 948 24,695 625,951
1953 877 14,558 120,055
1954 341 3,180 22,522
1955 490 1,782 29,477
1956 443 2,580 13,076
1957 726 30,967 316,277
1958 221 1,562 11,676
1959 485 6,571 57,234
1960 472 2,810 128,302
1961 402 2,481 27,265
1962 463 3,438 99,543
1963 544 1,808 58,000
1964 695 3,582 20,603
1965 972 16,480 24,010
1966 580 1,361 11,611
1967 347 1,619 7,045
1968 516 6,248 45,533
1969 300 2,399 10,270
1970 430 1,011 56,439
1971 476 767 68,546
1972 430 1,652 57,616
1973 374 1,508 28,492
1974 684 2,266 76,395
1975 911 1,973 144,186
1976 727 6,360 122,192
1977 975 10,075 233,740
1978 1,024 3,170 67,435
1979 851 3,829 177,720
1980 1,029 2,255 175,076
1981 1,027 3,905 48,856
1982 840 1,529 42,622
1983 651 1,197 150,927
1984 955 4,653 269,295
1985 1,402 5,460 342,956
1986 752 2,904 349,612
1987 850 3,537 247,690
1988 857 2,375 188,078
1989 651 2,404 604,296
1990 657 1,275 275,793
1991 1,110 2,797 759,301
1992 761 4,427 1,544,815
1993 824 1,800 231,902
1994 609 2,046 52,658
1995 1,054 1,180 1,437,244
1996 342 419 74,950
1997 667 919 133,374
1998 677 1,533 660,462
1999 786 1066 799,920
2000 383 393 776,825
2001 980 2220 1,671,160
2002 719 766 268,111
2003 634 844 587,191
2004 534 983 649,369
2005 480 729 327,418
2006 619 1772 1,256,741
2007 491 425 860,872
2008 456 544 664,538
2009 484 481 944,920
2010 562 342 434,959
2011 310 118 n.a.
2012 579 474 n.a.
2013 579 730 n.a.
2014 334 226 n.a.
2015 412 645 n.a.
2016 742 858 n.a.

Major paper companies have argued that clear cutting is an efficient management technique. (See Georgia Pacific clear cut photo, May, 1973, U.S. EPA photo. National Archives # NWDNS-412-DA-7869.)

Georgia Pacific Clear Cut, May, 1973 (U.S. EPA photo)

Georgia Pacific Clear Cut, May, 1973 (U.S. EPA photos, left and above)

Reforestation by St. Regis Paper Co., about 20 miles south of Woodland, May, 1973 (U.S. EPA photo)

Reforestation by St. Regis Paper Co., about 20 miles south of Woodland

Reforestation by planting young trees has been one method of regenerating growth, though often of a single species rather than the older mixed species. The products are uniform wood with known properties, easily harvested at a time when most are at the peak of maturity.

Critics argue that a single species forest is more susceptible to insect infestation, thus requiring heavy use of pesticides. In addition, herbicides (another chemical application) are necessary to suppress competing hardwoods. (See photo of reforestation by the St. Regis Paper Co., about 20 miles south of Woodland, May,1973, U.S. EPA photo, National Archives # NWDNS-412-DA-7871.)

Here are two views of the Fraser Paper Company’s tree plantations in Aroostook County. These are clearly focused on age and species specific monoculture forestry.  That is, the same type of tree is planted on a large tract, all at the same time, so that all may be harvested at the same time years later.

Fraser Paper Plantation Management: "1992" White Spruce (2003)

Fraser Paper Plantation Management: “1992” White Spruce (2003)

Fraser Paper Plantation Management: "1996" Black Spruce (2003)

Fraser Paper Plantation Management: “1996” Black Spruce (2003)

Road Linking U.S. Routes 2 and 2A through T1 R4 WELS

Road Linking U.S. Routes 2 and 2A through T1 R4 WELS

Fraser Paper Sign in T1 R4 WELS in Aroostook County

Fraser Paper Sign in T1 R4 WELS in Aroostook County

The state’s forest resources stood at a record low 80 million cords of timber in 1919, because of intense harvesting, fires, and clearing for farms.

Transporting wood to sawmills or paper mills has been a major component of the forest products industry. Weather has played a significant role as “mud season” bogs down the private roads in the deep woods. Where horses were used to “skid” logs in the winter, motorized vehicles like the Lombard, then more modern vehicles, are now used moving more wood than ever. According to the Maine State Museum,

Alvin O. Lombard of Waterville invented and manufactured steam-powered, and later gasoline-powered, tractors to haul logs. Beginning in 1901 these “Lombard Log-Haulers” (photo of exhibit at the Maine State Museum) revolutionized work in the Maine Woods. The principal Lombard invention was the system of moving tracks. Skis were placed in the front for steering, but no vehicles were equipped with brakes.  Steam engines, like “The Lion,” were used on narrow gauge railways to move logs to mills.

"The Lion" Steam Engine (courtesy Maine State Museum)

“The Lion” Steam Engine (courtesy Maine State Museum)

Gasoline Lombard, c. 1920, used in the Allagash

Gasoline Lombard, c. 1920, used in the Allagash

Currently, the mode of transportation consists of large trucks using private roads to mills or to public roads. The “Golden Road,” privately owned, begins (or ends) at the former  Great Northern Paper mill in Millinocket and extends to the Quebec border after snaking along the West Branch of the Penobscot River then along Caribou Lake, Seboomook Lake, and finally to T5R20 across the border from St-Zachaire, Quebec.

Skidder with Balloon Tires and Chains (2010)

Skidder Balloon Tires, Chains

Skidder and Delimber on Plum Creek land in Bowerbank (2010)

Skidder and Delimber on Plum Creek land in Bowerbank (2010)

Grabbing Tool on a Skidder in Bowerbank

Grabbing Tool on a Skidder in Bowerbank

Golden Road Entrance Sign

Golden Road Entrance Sign

Unloading Logs From Truck to Sawmill

Unloading Logs at a Sawmill

Lumber Stacked Near Sawmill

Lumber Stacked Near Sawmill

These vehicles harvest, move, delimb and load logs with incredible speed and efficiency. In contrast, during the 1930’s, the Civilian Conservation Corps helped build fire roads and towers in the Maine woods with simple tools and much labor.


Forest Fires

Destructive fires in Maine’s forests in 1903 (268,000 acres) and 1908 (142,130 acres) led to the establishment of the Maine Forestry District in 1909 to protect the nearly 10 million acres in the state’s unorganized northern townships. By 1924, sixty-four fire towers had been built and were connected to 80 Warden’s camps throughout the District. Over the years, millions of dollars in damage has been done to woodlands by forest fires, the worst year having been 1947 when Mount Desert and many other areas were devastated. See Hollis, Newfield and Waterboro.

With more than 26,000 square miles of forest, fire is always a major concern of Maine citizens. The Maine Forest Service was created in 1908 to coordinate the prevention and fighting of forest fires. Early fire statistics are somewhat incomplete because only the larger fires were reported. Today, any size fire in a forest or threatening a forest is reported.

In the fifty years 1903-1952, the average number of reported fires was 265 and the average acreage burned was 33,757.  From 1953 through 1988 the average had jumped to 671 reported fires, but burned acreage had dropped to an average of 4,565.  From 2006 through 2008, fires averaged 517 per year, but acres burned has plummeted to 914.

For a scientific and historical look at the fires of 1947, consider programs offered by North Atlantic Fire Science Exchange. Check the October 2017 schedule at http://www.northeastwildfire.org/1947-fire

Insect Infestations

In 1909 and for the next decade, an outbreak of spruce budworm spread throughout the north and east of the Forestry District. After killing 33-80 percent of spruce and fir trees in affected areas, an estimated 30 million cords of pulpwood (about a 20 year supply for papermaking) was lost.

The gypsy moth was brought to Massachusetts from France in 1869 as an experiment in silk worm breeding. Some of the moths escaped and by the early 1900’s they had spread to southern Maine thriving on hardwoods. By the mid-1930’s, the infestation was so great that forest products suspected of harboring the moth larvae were prohibited from being shipped outside a quarantine zone. [Silk production was also pursued in Newport in the 1830’s.]

The brown-tail moth and the spruce sawfly are other periodic threats to Maine forests.

Diseases

Town meetings in the 1920’s,30’s and 40’s appropriated matching funds to pool with state and federal efforts for the control of the White Pine Blister Rust. See Porter (1925), Boothbay Harbor (1931), and Dover-Foxcroft (1944) Town Warrants.

Additional resources

Fire data was contributed by Kent Nelson of the Maine Forest Service, Forest Protection Bureau. September 29 2017.

The 2001 Biennial Report On The State Of The Forest And Progress Report On Forest Sustainability. State of Maine. Forest Policy and Management Division.

Augusta, Me. Dept. of Conservation, Maine Forest Service [i.e. Bureau of Forestry], 2001.

Birch, Thomas W. Forest-Land Owners Of Maine, 1982. Broomall, Pa. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Station, 1986.

Flatebo, Gro., et al. Biodiversity in the Forests of Maine: Guidelines for Land Management. Orono, Me. University of Maine Cooperative Extension. 2008.

Laustsen, Kenneth M., et al. Fourth Annual Inventory Report on Maine’s Forests. Augusta, Me. Maine Forest Service. 2003.

Liddell, James D. Conservation Easements and Maine’s Northern Woods: suggestions for Maine’s policy-makers. INDEPENDENT WRITING PROJECT (J.D.)–University of Maine School of Law, 2004.

Northeast Historic Film, Bucksport, Maine.  (See related moving images in Movies.)

McGuire, Harvey Paul. The Civilian Conservation Corps in Maine: 1933-1940.  Thesis (M.A.) in History–University of Maine, 1966.

Tree Growth Tax Law Program: Enrollment Statistics For The Organized Territories For 1993. Maine. Bureau of Forestry. Augusta, Me. Maine Forest Service [i.e. Bureau of Forestry]. 1994.

White, Eric M. A Closer Look at Forests on the Edge: future development on private forests in three states. Portland, OR U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 2008. (includes Maine case studies)



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This entry was last modified: September 30, 2017 01:30 AM

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