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ORONO, Maine – A diverse group of forest landowners, managers, forest products companies, conservation organizations, and state agencies had a first-hand look Thursday at research focused on options for sustainably managing Maine’s northern forests into the future during a field tour hosted by the University of Maine’s Cooperative Forestry Research Unit (CFRU).
Around 90 forestry professionals representing approximately 8.5 million acres of Maine’s managed working forests participated in the field tour in Somerset County, which was sponsored by Plum Creek Timber Company. Participants represented organizations such as Baxter State Park, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Bureau of Parks & Lands, Forest Society of Maine, Katahdin Forest Management, Prentiss & Carlisle Company and others. The tour provided an opportunity for the group to discuss the most pressing issues facing Maine’s forest managers by showcasing results from long-term and current forest research in the areas of wood supply, economics, forest pests, harvesting and wildlife habitat.
The centerpiece of the tour was a visit to the Austin Pond study site established by CFRU in 1977 to study methods for regenerating the forests that were decimated by the massive spruce budworm outbreak of that era. Participants witnessed the long-term positive effects of management activities such as herbicide application during the 1970s and pre-commercial thinning in the 1980s on the forest stands that exist today. A recent report commissioned by the Maine Department of Conservation found that due to timber management practices after the spruce budworm outbreak, Maine’s stock of softwoods such as spruce, fir and pine can handle increased logging over the next 20 years.
The CFRU consists of more than 30 member organizations and was created in the middle of the spruce budworm crisis of the mid-1970’s. It was one of the first collaborative efforts of its kind to combine the resources of forest landowners and researchers in the name of finding effective, science-based solutions to ongoing issues and controversies.