Should controversy surround the decision by the Appalachian Mountain Club to pursue sustainable logging in northern Maine? A group pushing to see the area designated as a national park is furious over the club's move.
AMC officials, as part of their Maine Woods Initiative, decided to embark on forest thinning operations on their Katahdin Iron Works property with a goal of long-term forest health. The organization is working with Maine-based Huber Resources Corporation to manage annual harvests using local logging crews.
From AMC's viewpoint, sustainable timber management has been one of the key elements of the Maine Woods Initiative, "along with backcountry recreation, land conservation, and community economic development."
"We recognize that the wood products industry is, along with recreation and tourism, one of the two foundations of the local economy and will remain so for a long time. It is not our goal to replace timber harvesting with wilderness-based recreation, but to integrate the two," says Dave Publicover, a senior staff scientist for the AMC. "It is our hope that this combination can provide a model for future land conservation in the region, and demonstrate that conservation is not an 'either-or' proposition that pits wilderness against timber. Our intention to sustainably harvest timber on a portion of our property is one reason our project has been strongly supported by the local communities, and community support will be critical to our overall success."
Among the goals behind the logging is to nurture a forest containing larger, old-growth stands of trees. You can read about the AMC's approach to this form of logging at this site.
And here's a video on the actual logging:
But not everyone is thrilled to see AMC enter the logging business. Folks at Maine North Woods, an organization pushing for a national park in northern Maine, disagree with AMC's approach. In an unsigned comment below the above YouTube video the organization wrote:
Appalachian Mountain Club a conservation organization? What a joke! This part of the Maine Woods has been identified by the National Park Service as an area which ought to be studied for consideration of permanent protection as a new national park. Conservation organizations don't act like the Plum Creeks of the world. A.M.C. - you should be ashamed for logging your property like this. "Sustainable forestry"...what a sad, sad joke.
However, more than a few Maine residents support sustainable forestry practices, and would rather seem them than vacation homes in the area being pushed for a Maine North Woods National Park status. Polling conducted for the National Parks Conservation Association shows Maine residents overwhelmingly would prefer to see their state's "North Woods" preserved as "parkland" complemented by sustainable timbering rather than dotted with vacation homes.
What do you think? Is the AMC on the right track? Or should the forest be left to natural progressions?