May the Forests be with You: Strong Forests, Strong Economy, Strong CommunityBy: Amos S. Eno
Posted on:11/11/2019 Updated:11/22/2019
Welcome! May the Forest be with you! Two June’s ago I attended Start-Up Maine. The two featured speakers were both Vets with multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Nate Fick, CEO of Endgame and Josh Broder of Tilson, both had recently moved to Maine even though they were running companies outside the state. They both definitively stated: - that they moved to Maine for the amenity values and lifestyle the state offers - clean air, clean water, wildlife and forests. Click here for the booklet we produced
This resonated with me, as I moved to Maine in 1996 from Washington, DC for these same reasons. I grew up summers in Hulls Cove, Mt. Desert, so I have always been familiar and devoted to Maine’s coast, but I owe it to John Cashwell, then President of 7 Islands Co., for introducing me to Maine’s forest lands my first summer as a Maine resident when he took myself and son Amos Pinchot on a 5-day tour of Pingree forest lands.
My first years’ in Maine coincided with Jonathan Carter’s attempt to shut down Maine’s forest products industry, and I might add on totally specious grounds. I underwrote the polling to defend the industry, but that experienced seared in my mind the importance of the forest products industry for the culture, economy and superb environmental values that
combine to make Maine the state that attracts people like Nate Fick and Josh Broder.
Here in Cumberland County which represents 70% of Maine’s GDP, people are generally unappreciative of the scale, health, and economic impact of Maine’s forests:
- Maine hosts 17.6 million acres of forest lands
- Unlike western states, Maine’s forests are predominately privately owned, totaling 15.9 million acres. 90.7% of our forest are PRIVATE.
- 8.3 million acres are certified to highest environmental standards by SFI (Sustainable Forest Initiative) or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), and American Tree Farm System (ATFS). That is the highest % of forest certification of any state in the country.
- Forest industry contributions to Maine’s economy in 2016: $8.5 billion.
- In 2015 estimated growth of Maine’s forests EXCEEDED harvest by 55 percent.
- Direct employment in our forest products industry: 16,551 jobs which support an additional 22,405 jobs in Maine for a total employment envelope of 38,956 jobs, which represents 4.81% of employment in Maine. One in twenty jobs in Maine are in our forest products industry.
- In terms of economic Impact of Forestry-Related businesses by state, Maine leads the nation at 20.4%, the next highest impact states are Arkansas at 16.7%, and Mississippi at 14.9%.
These facts, as you drive I-295 or the Maine turnpike are masked behind a wall of trees, but are nonetheless real and vital to the rural counties of our state.
Last Month Maine Outdoor Brands published a report assessing the outdoor recreation industry nationwide. The Report states that Maine’s outdoor recreation economy is the 3RD highest in the nation relative to state GDP, just a smidge behind Hawaii with 271 days of sun, and Montana.
- Just last month, Lonely Planet released its Best in Travel guide for 2020 and Maine is the only US destination on the list of top 10 regions to visit.
- Outdoor recreation makes up 4.8% of Maine’s economy, more than DOUBLE the national average.
- Outdoor recreation supports 40,000 jobs in Maine, 6.4% of employment.
- In terms of economic impact, boating and fishing were the largest conventional outdoor recreation activities- think of all the lakes in Maine sequestered among our forest lands.
- Maine has 6,000 ponds and lakes, 6 major rivers, and 32,000 miles of streams.
- Maine is the centerpiece of the Northern Appalachians Ecoregion, the largest temperate forest in this hemisphere and hosts a higher diversity of mammalian carnivores of any place east of the Mississippi river including the only breeding population of Canada lynx. Maine is the last stronghold of eastern brook trout and holds the last populations of Atlantic salmon, as well as breeding habitat for a hundred million migratory birds.
- Maine is also unique in guaranteed rights of “fishing, fowling and navigation”, dating back to a Massachusetts Colonial ordinance of 1641. Maines’ Great Ponds Act states “for great Ponds lying in common…it shall be free for any man to fish and fowl there”, providing the public right to cross private property on foot to access any natural freshwater body greater than 10 acres.
- Finally, Maine’s landowner liability Law is one of the strongest in the nation, protecting landowners from responsibility and liability for injuries.
When you combine outdoor recreation with forest products work force, you get over 10 percent of the employment in Maine.
That is why www.mainelandcan.org hosts all the outdoor recreation infrastructure in Maine as well as all the consulting foresters’ in Maine.
Let me conclude by telling you why LandCAN is hosting an event to promote FOR/Maine?
- Because Maine leads the nation in the highest percentage of private forest lands
- And because Maine’s forests are largely private, they are among the best managed forest lands in the nation.
- Because Maine has the best forest conservation record in the country including the largest % of conservation easements (2.5 million acres), and the largest % of environmentally certified lands.
- The proof is in the forest pudding; People come to Maine because of our forests underpin a healthy environment, and a healthy, and sustainable economy!