Once again Plum Creek’s bad behavior has put them in the spotlight. When Seattle-based Plum Creek came to Maine in 1998 they had a reputation as the “Darth Vader” of the timber industry – a brand put on the company by a Republican congressman from Washington state who was upset over the company’s aggressive and controversial forest practices.
Here in Maine, just a few years ago, NRCM used Maine’s Freedom of Access Act to review internal documents, which we used to compile a report on Plum Creek’s bad logging practices. We found that Plum Creek had received the largest fine in state history for 18 violations of Maine’s Forest Practices Act. Not only had Plum Creek broken the law by overharvesting, it had also destroyed deer wintering areas, violated water quality laws, and developed a power line corridor through a forest without a permit.
If we needed any confirmation that Plum Creek hasn’t changed, we got it last week. A group of local citizens and sportsman (The Native Forest Network) warned that the company was logging near a deer wintering area in Indian Stream Township (just west of Greenville) and were likely preparing to cut in the area. After the story was reported, the company admitted that it had logged in the deer wintering area in violation of the agreement they had made with the state. This was the same agreement Plum Creek signed to protect these critical deer wintering areas after public outrage flared over the violations reported by NRCM. Since the Native Forest Network reported the likely violations, Plum Creek has denied members access to the area.
But this wasn’t the only bad news about Plum Creek last week. Since late this fall, NRCM has been researching Plum Creek clearing on Kibby Mountain in Kibby Township (northwest of the Bigelow Preserve). Again we reviewed internal documents and put together a detailed report of Plum Creek’s logging violations. We found that Plum Creek, after ignoring the “stop work” recommendation of an independent inspector, caused significant erosion resulting in an unprecedented 900-foot mudslide. You can find the story here. Plum Creek spokesman Mark Doty said this was “not a mudslide,” instead, he said, “There was an erosion event in which sediment moved down a hill.”
These stories paint a bleak picture of Plum Creek management and give us great concern for the future of the Moosehead Lake region. We don’t believe that a company that repeatedly violates fundamental Maine natural resource laws, rules, and agreements can be trusted to protect our Moosehead Lake region or treasured North Woods.
North Woods Policy Advocate and Outreach Coordinator