Maine: Plum Creek makes big clearcut and 900 ft-long musdlide for eco-friendly wind farm

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.

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“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.” 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.

Based on an evaluation of internal documents from Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC), the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) concludes that Plum Creek and one of its logging contractors, Theriault Tree Harvesting (TTH), last fall violated Maine regulationsdesigned to protect water quality and Maine forests from poor timberpractices. Specifically, in late October 2008 these companies caused massive erosion problems in Kibby Township, Franklin County, including a mud slide approximately 900 feet long. Plum Creek and its contractor ignored communications calling on them to stop work until proper erosion control measures could be implemented (1). Plum Creek and TTH also declined to even show up for an after the fact site inspection meeting with LURC officials to view the damage to the site(2).

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