Session 9: Forest Practices and Water Quality: Progress and Challenges

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Afternoon Session – 1:30PM-4:00PM
Washington/York Room, Second Floor

  • Foresters: This session is approved for two Cat 1 CFEs through the Society for American Foresters. Sign-up sheets are located in the session room.
  • Drinking Water Operators: Two Training Contact Hours (TCH) are available for this session from the Maine CDC Drinking Water Program. Sign-up sheets are located in the session room.

Session Co-Chairs
Lloyd C. Irland

Patty Cormier, Director, Maine Forest Service

At one time, loggers operated in the winter on snow and frozen ground. Waters of the state were affected by log drives and the re-engineering that enabled smooth movement of logs from remote woodlands to the mills. With the advent of trucking and powerful construction equipment, log drives vanished and new forms of impacts on water quality arose: bridges; mainline haul roads; summer logging, and modern machines working on higher ground especially to harvest  hardwoods. These talks will summarize how the logging world changed after the 1972 Amendments, with new rules and methods for stream protection, and outline what  the challenges for the future look like.

Session Schedule

1:30PM – 1:50PM

Logging and Streams in the Northwoods in the 70s and 80s

Alec Giffen, New England Forestry Foundation  

This talk will summarize the logging impacts commonly seen in the mid 70s soon after the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) was founded and during the period of controversy over regulation for best management practices (BMP). On the woods, careless logging often led to skid trails down slopes, skidders running in streambeds, and shoving tops and debris into brooks. The rush to salvage budworm damaged stands during the 70s and early 80s sparked considerable clearcutting and hasty road construction including poorly sized and installed culverts. Early field studies documented erosion/sedimentation issues and gradually compliance with newly issued BMPs improved. 


Current Maine Forest Service Role in Logging and Water Quality 

Patty Cormier, Director, Maine Forest Service  

At present, water quality rules supervised by the Maine Forest Service encompass a range of issues. A small field staff responds to issues and complaints. Changes since the 80s include different kinds of logging equipment, shorter and more difficult logging seasons, and shifts toward partial cutting which actually mean that more acres are entered for harvesting annually. Economic strains on the logging infrastructure due to shrinking markets for key woods products add a layer of stress.


Protecting Water Through Logger Training and Certification

Ted Wright, Executive Director, Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands

This presentation will describe a range of programs aimed at helping the logging community reward good performance in waterway protection and at the same time deal with continuing economic stresses. Evolving rules and training efforts will be discussed and various organizations involved will be outlined.

2:30PM – 3:00PM

Afternoon Break – Auditorium

3:00PM – 3:20PM

Protecting Rivers by Conservation Easements and Fee Acquisitions

Alec Giffen, New England Forestry Foundation   

Going back to the Allagash Waterway in the 60s, protecting riverways by land acquisition and easements has been a feature of policy in Maine. The number of actors has certainly changed along with the shift of landowners from large multinational corporations to investor and other owners. Thus far, academic research shows that protections have been ad hoc and unsystematic leaving numerous gaps for future attention. 

3:20PM – 3:40PM

Sebago Clean Waters and Natural Water Treatment  

Paul Thomas Hunt, Portland Water District   

Lake and watershed protection efforts typically involve some combination of water monitoring, direct actions like invasives and/or erosion control, and outreach. Beginning in the year 2000, the Portland Water District added “forest conservation” to the lake protection tools we had employed for the previous century. In that year, the District collaborated with a land trust to conserve a 200-acre watershed parcel because, it was reasoned, that piece of conserved forest would naturally treat water that flows forever to Sebago Lake. From that humble beginning has grown Sebago Clean Waters, an 11-organization collaborative that has collectively conserved more than 14,000 acres in the Sebago Lake watershed, with work ongoing. The goal of the collaborative is to bring the Sebago Lake watershed from 10% conserved, as it was in 2000, to 25% conserved by 2032.

The talk will describe how the collaborative works, how it has evolved over the years, the progress to date, and some lessons learned in the process.

3:40PM – 4:00PM

Q&A with presenters