by Eliza Donoghue, NRCM North Woods Policy Advocate and Outreach Coordinator
Senator Jackson, Representative Dill, and members of the Committee, my name is Eliza Donoghue and I live in Farmington. I am speaking today on behalf of the Natural Resources Council of Maine in opposition to LD 500, An Act to Permit Tribal Members To Access Wood Fiber for Fuel, Shelter and Traditional Woodcraft Production. This bill, while pure in intent, may result in a myriad of unintended, negative consequences to our public lands.
As drafted, this bill places absolutely no limits on how much or where wood products can be harvested. For example, LD 500 allows wood or wood fiber to be harvested for “fuel.” To most, wood fuel means a couple of cords for your wood stove; to others, fuel means fiber for a biomass plant.
In not placing limits on where wood can be harvested, this bill creates the potential for sensitive ecological resources to be unduly impacted. The location of a nest or den, or the identification of a threatened plant species, is rarely apparent to laypersons. Under this bill, folks may unwittingly harm species that they care about a great deal.
Furthermore, unregulated wood harvesting on public lands would wreak havoc on state harvest and management plans. Such plans, in order to be implemented effectively, are dependent on a careful inventory of the state’s forest resources. If folks are allowed to harvest without any public oversight, our state’s foresters will have a heck of a time assessing their own management plans.
This not to say, however, that Maine’s tribal members should not have any access to forest products on public lands for personal or traditional uses. In the past, accommodations have been made for tribal members to harvest forest products for limited specific uses on state lands, particularly items that are available in limited locations.
NRCM recommends that the Division of Parks & Public Lands continue to receive and accommodate requests for harvesting limited amounts of wood products on state lands for personal, ceremonial, or traditional uses, so long are the proposed harvests are consistent with state harvest and management plans. I urge the Committee to vote âOught Not to Pass’s on LD 500.