Robert Rice, a professor of wood science and technology at the University of Maine, spoke with the Bangor Daily News for an article about innovation playing an important role in the future of Maine’s pulp and paper industry. The article states an integral part of the innovations occurring at Old Town Fuel and Fiber is the mill’s collaboration with UMaine and its Forest Bioproducts Research Institute (FBRI). The relationship gives the mill the opportunity to take advantage of R&D capabilities it wouldn’t necessarily have access to. Rice said there are no huge changes in technology that will suddenly appear, but he thinks the industry’s economics have the potential to change over time with the addition of new conversions and methods.
Rep. Mick Devin of Newcastle who is also a researcher and shellfish hatchery manager at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center was interviewed for a WLBZ (Channel 2) report titled “Crabs and climate change pose threat to Maine shellfish.” Researchers at the Darling Marine Center say climate change is putting more carbon in the ocean which lowers the pH level and makes the water more acidic. Devin said ocean acidification will hurt more than clams because all marine animals are used to living and evolving in a certain pH range. He said scientists and the shellfish industry need to learn a lot more in order to cope with ocean acidification.
A proposed offshore wind pilot project by Maine Aqua Ventus, which includes the University of Maine and partner companies, was mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article about businesses working to launch offshore wind energy facilities urging Congress to renew tax credits that would help kick-start an industry that could bring jobs to Maine and other coastal states. Doug Pfeister, president of the Offshore Wind Development Coalition, called the prototype floating wind turbine launched off the coast of Castine by UMaine and Cianbro last June “a great first step” for the offshore wind industry.
The University of Maine and its working relationship with Kepware was mentioned in the Mainebiz article “Little-known Portland software company Kepware surges in growth.” The company is tapping UMaine and other local universities to offer internships and scholarships that could lead to new employees, the article states. Kepware also recently donated $36,000 worth of its software licenses to UMaine so students can familiarize themselves with the software, as well as benefit from its application, according to the article.
Mainebiz published a Q&A with Carrie Enos, the University of Maine Pulp & Paper Foundation’s new president. In January, Enos formally took over leadership from Jack Healy, who is retiring in the spring. Enos graduated from UMaine in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and has worked in the paper industry since 1997. She said she sees the appointment as her opportunity to give back to the foundation and industry.
Spring meetings and training offered by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension were mentioned in the Bangor Daily News article “Maine wild blueberry industry may benefit from farm bill pilot program.” Blueberry growers will gather in March for meetings planned by the UMaine Cooperative Extension in Waldoboro, Ellsworth and Machias. The meetings will include briefings on pollination, weeds, fertilizers, regulations, diseases and pests. The article also stated the Cooperative Extension and Maine Board of Pesticides Control will conduct training in Machias to prepare growers for the private pesticide applicator core exam and the blueberry commodity exam. Both exams will be administered after the training sessions.
A Portland Press Herald article about proposed waterfront concert venues in South Portland and Westbrook cites a study by Todd Gabe, an economics professor at the University of Maine. Gabe’s study found Bangor’s Waterfront Concerts have generated more than $30 million in local spending in the first three years of the series.
A Maine Public Broadcasting Network report titled “Bill to protect Maine lakes sparks disagreement,” cited information from former University of Maine graduate student Ian McCullough’s study on water clarity in Maine lakes. The study found the clarity in Maine’s lakes has declined since 1995.
A Times Union article on Tech Valley Connect, a nonprofit group in North Greenbush, N.Y. that helps newly relocated families settle into the area, cited a similar program at the University of Maine. The article states Tech Valley Connect’s success has encouraged the National Science Foundation to replicate the program in other areas of the country. UMaine’s Maine Career Connect received a $284,093 grant from the NSF to network a consortium of employers in central and eastern Maine with newly relocated professional families, with an emphasis on spousal employment. NSF is also funding a similar program at the University of California at Davis.
University of Maine researchers are studying the most efficient way to commercially thin regenerating clearcuts from the spruce budworm outbreak of the 1980s that are starting to reach profitable size throughout northern Maine. With no consensus among foresters and those in the logging industry about how best to thin stands, the researchers are investigating commercial thinning treatments that are silviculturally effective.
Jeffrey Benjamin, associate professor of forest operations, and Robert Seymour, the Curtis Hutchins Professor of Forest Resources, teamed with Emily Meacham, now with American Forest Management, and Jeremy Wilson, executive director of the Harris Center for Conservation Education, to compare thinning methods.
In the team’s recent study, they compared two whole-tree and two cut-to-length systems in terms of residual stem damage, retention of downed woody material, product utilization and production cost. While initial results were mixed in terms of residual stand damage, more than four times more biomass was produced from the whole-tree operations. The study also found commercially available equipment can conduct these treatments with skilled operators, but at a high production cost. The best system silviculturally was also the most expensive.
The researchers say efforts to develop cost-efficient harvesting machines to treat the stands should continue. No matter what technological advances are made, logging contractors carry the biggest responsibility for success because they need to balance residual stem damage and crop tree selection with production costs, according to the researchers.
Details of the study were published in the December 2013 issue of the Society of American Foresters’ Northern Journal of Applied Forestry.