Rene Noel from Southern Maine Forestry Service, Inc. arrived on Chebeague Island at the request of Alexandra Zaugg Swafford, to evaluate the ecological ramifications and removal of ~2 acres of downed and compromised trees on their family land. Leila and Suhail Bisharat joined initial evaluation of the "Zaugg Woods". We 'toured' the Ashwoods to Burgess-Trower east end woods, then headed to the Bisharat's home were we were joined by Tommy Calder (as a representative of the Town of Chebeague and the Fire Department) and Bob Halpin (Shattuck) for the '40 Back Acres'. After reviewing maps of the islands, discussing potential needs of Rene and those of the island community, we headed to the Bisharat's "Littlefield Woods" to evaluate downed and harvesting trees. The Littlefield Woods has little storm damage. It needs instead the implementation of the existing forest management plan that would mean the removal of selected trees, especially the spruce that have reached their age limit. This means that the operation there is not urgent and could be phased in various ways. The group headed to Second Wind Farms, were we were joined by Chuck Varney, who proceeded with the group to view the "40 Back Acres" and forests along the road, after the Bisharats and T. Calder departed.
Rene Noel is currently working on the removal of THE storm (Patriot's Day Storm) damaged and downed trees from both Cliff and Long Islands. He has been integral and instrumental in constructing the short term removal (Disaster relief) and a long range plan for forest health with the Towns of both islands and FEMA. He said that associations had been formed to orchestrate the plans and recommended that perhaps Chebeague do the same. He is working as the General Contractor for Long Island and from all reports; the joint ventures are quite successful.
General Comments on Chebeague by Rene:
· Chebeague has more and better soil than the other two islands he has been working on, which results in healthier trees and hardwood tree succession.
· Chuck Varney pointed out that in some areas (40 Back Woods) the soil is always VERY wet (streams running throughout) and it would be extremely difficult to negotiate heavy equipment unless the ground was frozen, which is rarely.
· Because of the previous agricultural community on Chebeague (sheep farming, etc) most of the tree growth is coastal spruce (primary growth). Therefore, most of the trees on the island are less than 85 years, and spruce.
The trees in
the various stands are the same age. Where a single species
dominates a stand they all reach old age at the same time. This limits the options
for harvest methods and cultural treatments. What may be good forestry and good
ecologically may not be very pleasing aesthetically
· The life span of an 'average' spruce ~100 years (200 years inland), which means that a majority of the trees on this island will become increasingly susceptible to environmental 'life ending' factors (wind or insects, etc) and should consider being harvested.
· The logging operation can include thinning, leaners as well downed trees.
Long Island Short Term (Disaster Relief) Plan:
· An association was formed to handle the overseeing of legal, community and financial issues.
· FEMA is paying 75% of the barging fees ((transport fees includes on island trucking and some processing)
· Town is paying ~15%
· State is paying ~10%
· Long Island is in the process of developing a long range Forest Management Plan for conservation, which at this point, includes a logging operation every 5 years.
· Wayne Field = logger
· Western Maine Logging
· Barging - provided at a discounted rate ~$400 (per trip). This is a negotiated rate for Longs, no guarantee that this rate will hold for the other projects.
· Mike Lindley (langly, longly?) is the island coordinator and interfaces with loggers & Rene, as well as the landowners and committee.
· Leila Bisharat recalls that on Long they have also had the services (pretty much fulltime) of the Island Institute Fellow, Alden Robinson who works as the coordinator on the ground for the clearing operation. Part of his role is to ensure timely contact with landowners to obtain their permission. As many landowners live off island this requires a lot of communicating with both landowners whose property is being cleared as well as those who had adjacent property or over whose property the equipment must move. She will be meeting with Alan 8/9/07 and can update this paragraph this evening.
Costs and Considerations:
· Barging - $400 per trip, may be higher.
· Housing - needed for the workers while they are on the island...2 men per crew
· Truck fee - $95/hour
· Crew fee - $75/hour/man
· Rene fee - $75/ hour and 5% of the price lumber worth (fee as the general contractor at Longs)
· three crews runs ~12-15K per week (includes equipment rental)
· "break even" = "worth it"
· To be "worth it" one should harvest ~500 cords of wood. 'Zauggs¹ have 100+ cords (would take 2 crews about a week); the Bisharats¹ can have the other 400, with thinning (30%) of spruces should be harvested (see initial comments).
· The Lukac & Silin (Currit Farm) would like to join in on the short term run (they were already working independently with Rene on a long term conservation plan).
· The Zauggs and the Bisharats have enough wood and will initiate the process for late fall 2007; others will be welcome to join in as the news gets out.
· Equipment will require 12-13 foot height clearance
· Large equipment can harm fragile ecosystems, leave logging roads, etc.
· The loggers may be able to cut back overhang from town roads for Chebeague.
· Signed releases by all neighbors- required for the logging company, where blow down timber crosses boundary lines (or access).
· FEMA – whereas FEMA may not provide any monies (we are past deadlines), Leila Bisharat will contact Beth Howe and ask her to investigate¹.
· Island Trust & Second Wind Farms- Leila Bisharat is on the board (and active) on both of these organizations, and will consider the many ways that they could be involved.
Chuck Varney expressed concern regarding the potential of a long term logging operation impacting lumber and work availability for himself (probably a few others). Rene felt that there was a mutually beneficial relationship that could be forged for the needs of all concerned. Leila Bisharat also feels that there are many ways that Chuck would be a huge benefit to the process with financial remuneration. Rene felt that Chuck could play an integral role as the 'island coordinator with his vast and specialized knowledge of trees, lumber and the community. I wanted it noted that Chuck should have every lumber consideration possible from the Zaugg property. It was my understanding that both gentlemen, in alliance, were hugely capable asset and of tremendous benefit to any project; honest and respectful of each other.
Addendum from Rene (8/9/07)
As I mention the logger has been
trying to figure ways to lower his costs so that once FEMA money is not
available logging can be still get done on the islands. The goal is to actually
be able to pay stumpage, at least on the higher value wood products. (As Chuck
pointed out people feel better if they get a little something for their trees
even if the main goal is to keep the forest healthy.) The early numbers from
Long give reason to be optimistic. Right now it looks like the total cost of
harvesting the trees, on island transport and barging is in the $50 per ton
range. That is roughly $1,000.00 to $1,500.00 per truck load to convert it to
something more people may be able to visualize. (There are no costs figured in
for forester or island coordinator.) Mainland trucking is $8.00 to $15.00 per
ton depending on distance. The value of a truck load of wood delivered to a
mill ranges from a low of $500.00 for fuel chips to $3,000.00 for high grade
logs of pine or hardwood. Salvaging blown down trees is more expensive than
cutting standing timber. So, that is a fact for the positive column.
The concern about soil damage is a constant in timber harvesting. Timing when heavy equipment is working on the soil, best management practices to control water flow and protect streams and other drainages, and assuring disturbed soils revegetate either naturally or by seeding are regular concerns and practices.
Slash, the unmerchantable parts of trees is both a resource and an eye sore. A resource in that it protects the soil, decays and produces humus, provides woody debris which is part of the habitat required by many creatures. On the other hand it is what most people find most objectionable about logging jobs.
alexandra zaugg-swafford cell phone (408) 313-0872
104 Bond Court and 5 Ben Webber Road
Los Gatos, CA 95030 Chebeague Island, ME 04017
(408) 356-0904 (207) 846-4589