THUMBS UP to the Legislature for rejecting a proposal from the LePage administration that would have unwisely increased logging on state-owned public lands.
L.D. 1838 would have increased the timber taken from more than 400,000 acres of Maine public lands from 141,500 cords per year to 180,000 per year over the course of the next 20 years. The revenue gained by selling the timber would go to Efficiency Maine programs that subsidize energy efficiency upgrades for residents.
The land in question is managed for sustainable forestry by the Bureau of Public Lands, which set the current management plan in a public process. The plan has worked well, and the last few decades have seen an increase on public lands of older, bigger trees, in contrast to most of Maine’s private forest lands.
But it was the Maine Forest Service that suggested the logging increase — first by more than 60 percent — in a memo to Gov. Paul LePage in 2012, according to documents obtained by the Natural Resources Council of Maine. The BPL objected to the increase, but ultimately relented to a compromise in light of the governor’s wishes.
The funding would have gone to a good cause, but at the expense of Maine’s public forests. The logging levels should be set through policy, and by the BPL.
THUMBS UP to the Kennebec Local Food Initiative, which is planning to open a locally sourced food cooperative and cafe in a Gardiner storefront later this year.
Co-ops are member-owned, and the groups says they have almost 100 members, with a goal of 360 by the time the store opens.
The group now works with a dozen Maine vendors. That number is expected to grow, providing an additional commercial outlet for the area’s many small agricultural-based businesses.
There is a real economic benefit to cooperatives. According to the National Cooperative Growers Association, food co-ops keep more money in the local economy and involve more local farmers than traditional stores.
THUMBS DOWN to Democrats for killing a bill from LePage that would have allowed children age 14-15 to work in bowling alleys or movie theaters while also making it easier for students to obtain work permits in the summer.
LePage’s rhetoric on this issue has been inflammatory, as he has argued for looser and looser child labor restrictions, including allowing very young children to work, and others to work longer hours.
The changes in this bill, however, hardly conjure up Dickensian images. Instead, they would have helped more students make a few bucks during the summer, while helping the Maine businesses that need help in the brief tourist season.
THUMBS UP to the Amy Buxton Pet Pantry, set to open April 12 at the South Parish Congregational Church in Augusta.
Named for an Augusta native and nursing student who died in 2012 at the age of 26, the pet pantry will provide food for the pets of people experiencing financial hardship.
People going through a temporary tough time shouldn’t have to give up their pets. Pet pantries help keep this from happening, and help lessen some of the demand on already overpressured animal shelters, which have been particularly burdened by surrendered pets during the recent economic downturn.