Community-based forestry in Maine

Forest management and harvesting can be contentious and controversial, especially in a densely populated area or public lands that are cherished for their serenity, recreational opportunities and conservation values. 

At Sappi, we believe that the right approach when managing timber is to integrate forest management–especially timber harvesting–into the local culture by sharing information and collaborating with local communities and the public, as showcased in these three coastal Maine harvests.

Dodge Point Preserve

The Dodge Point Preserve, owned by the State of Maine, boasts an extensive trail system leading to spectacular views along the Damariscotta River in mid-coast Maine. Towering plantation Red Pine still dominates much of the forest landscape and the state continues the longstanding tradition of careful timber harvesting at regular intervals. Sappi has been contracted by the state to manage the winter harvest at this popular site.

Working with foresters from the Maine Bureau of Public Lands, as well as the Damariscotta Land Trust, we prepared a harvest plan for the winter which included holding public informational sessions before any work began with all abutters, inviting them to discuss the plan and identify any concerns.

Beatrice B. Baxter Memorial Forest

Sappi led a similar community-oriented approach to harvesting on state and town-owned land in Topsham, Maine. In 1969 John Baxter gifted a 125-acre tract of land to the state under the stipulation that the state would manage it for high-quality timber and demonstrate exemplary forest management. The state contracted Sappi to help conduct the harvest to meet John’s wishes.

The harvest was designed to enhance a multi-aged timber stand, thin the forest to remove dead material, improve health, promote the growth of high-value pine and oak and preserve existing wildlife habitat. Sappi oversaw the timber harvest, working in co-operation with foresters from the Maine Bureau of Public Lands.

Town of Falmouth Community Forest

The Town of Falmouth has more than 2,000 acres of open space available on 29 individual land parcels. The area was heavily farmed until the early 1900s, when the farms were abandoned and they quickly reverted to forest. Forestry operations are prohibited on much of Falmouth’s open space land, but the town’s open-space ombudsman worked with the community to have Sappi develop a harvest plan to fit with the town’s vision. The goal was to allow commercial harvesting in selected areas while protecting the wildlife habitat and improving the overall health of the forest.

The resulting harvest generated enough cash to pay for forest improvements and provide funds for the trail work and maintenance. Town officials and residents enjoying the trails and the forests now understand the value of forest management thanks to Sappi’s community-oriented approach.