by John Richardson, staff writer for Portland Press Herald
Mark Doty, resource manager and spokesman for Plum Creek Timber Co. in Maine, said the company regrets the erosion caused by a hillside logging operation on its land in Kibby Township in Franklin County last fall.
He said the company did stop the cutting as soon as it got word that there was a problem and took steps to stabilize the hillside before going back to work.
Doty said a consultant’s warning of potential erosion took several days to reach a company forester, and that the company has since set up a faster communication system.
“There were erosion control measures in place, but they weren’t sufficient,” he said. “We do regret it. It was an unintentional problem and we’ve taken steps to correct it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”>/p>
Soil washed down a skidder trail and was carried about 100 to 200 feet passed the road, he said.
The erosion was mostly contained on a skidder trail.
Plum Creek owns the property west of Greenville, and its logging contractor was clearing land for TransCanada, the developer of a wind farm. The Land Use Regulation Commission issued a notice of warning to TransCanada based on the erosion.
A Maine environmental group called for the state to fine Plum Creek and a logging contractor for cutting trees too aggressively.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine released photos of the erosion, which it said was effectively a 900-foot-long mudslide, along with internal communications that it says show Plum Creek’s logging contractor was warned to stop working in the area until after the ground froze.
“We have carefully reviewed this case and firmly believe that Plum Creek should not get away with this type of behavior in Maine’s woods,” said NRCM Executive Director Brownie Carson.
The company’s logging contractor in this case, Theriault Tree Harvesting, was cutting in an area last October that is to be developed into a wind farm when the erosion occurred, the group said.
In 2006, Plum Creek was fined $57,000 for multiple clear cutting violations.
On Monday, complaints by another group, the Native Forest Network, led the company to acknowledge that it had cut part of a protected deer wintering area west of Greenville. The company said the incident was a boundary mistake.
The Natural Resources Council has been an opponent of Plum Creek’s development plans for two resorts and 975 house lots in the Moosehead Lake region.
It said today that the company has shown again that it will cut corners to meet its lumber supply contracts and should face fines to show that the state will not tolerate such practices as it cuts more trees for timber or for development.