AUGUSTA — Ahead of the final vote on a bill from Rep. Maggie O’Neil, D-Saco, to establish the Maine Forest Advisory Board, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, commits to making sure a forester is represented on the board, should the bill become law. LD 1549, “An Act To Establish the Maine Forest Advisory Board” earned support in both the House and Senate last week. The proposal is now awaiting funding on the special appropriations table before heading to the governor’s desk for a signature.
“The creation of the Maine Forest Advisory Board is about making sure the hardworking people in the logging industry have a voice in state-level forestry decisions that impact their lives. I’ve heard that some groups are spreading rumors that foresters won’t be represented on this board. Not only is that not true but I will commit right now to appointing a forester to the advisory board in my capacity as Senate President,” said President Jackson. “It’s vitally important that all stakeholders are represented on this board. As a state, Maine faces complex problems in our forests, including climate change, drought, fire, insects, and wildlife and habitat management. The way we solve complicated problems in Aroostook County is by getting everyone around the same table and working together to come up with commonsense solutions, or at the very least, the best path forward. The same commonsense approach should work statewide as we work to protect and preserve jobs, recreational opportunities and natural resources in the Maine woods.”
The purpose of a Maine Forest Advisory Board would be to advise the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Bureau of Forestry on a variety of forestry issues and to provide input on the state forest action plan required under the federal Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. The goal would be to increase participation in conversations around Maine’s forests and ensure that critical public policy decisions consider those who make a living in the Maine woods, the role our forests play in our recreation and outdoor economy and efforts to preserve our natural resources for generations of workers, tourists and Mainers alike.
“It’s our job to make Maine government accessible to Mainers. That’s what this bill does,” said Rep. Maggie O’Neil, D-Saco. “It creates a transparent public process for important conversations about forest policy. It brings all perspectives – workers, small- and medium-sized landowners, experts and others – into the process of making decisions around our forests, the same way we do with, for example, our wildlife resources and our marine resources.”
PROPOSED BOARD MEMBERSHIP
GUBERNATORIAL APPOINTMENTS (non-voting members):
- A representative of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife;
- A representative of the Department of Marine Resources;
- A representative of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Bureau of Parks and Lands; and
- A representative of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Natural Areas Program;
APPOINTMENTS BY THE SENATE PRESIDENT:
- A representative of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension;
- A representative of a statewide organization representing the forest products industry;
- A representative of an organization of professional logging contractors;
- A representative of a commercial landowner that owns a large amount of forested land in the State;
- A representative of a nonprofit corporation that owns a large amount of forested land in the State;
- A representative of a cooperative representing loggers in the State;
- A representative of a fisheries conservation organization with a statewide presence;
- A representative of a statewide organization representing small woodland owners in the State;
- A representative of a statewide organization representing sportsmen in the State;
APPOINTMENTS BY THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE
- A representative who is a member of the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over agriculture, conservation and forestry matters, who serves in an advisory, nonvoting capacity;
- A representative of a land trust with a statewide presence;
- A representative of a statewide organization dedicated to wildlife issues;
- A wildlife biologist with expertise in forest habitat;
- An academic with expertise in forest ecology;
- A representative of a soil and water conservation district;
- A representative of a statewide labor organization;
- A representative who is a member of a federally recognized Indian nation, tribe or band.
The Maine Legislature is set to reconvene on Wednesday, June 30 to wrap up all outstanding legislative business, including measures waiting to be funded off the special appropriations table.