Worcester Holdings pays penalty for clear-cut

Posted June 10, 2009, at 7:12 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Washington County firm has agreed to pay a $7,000 civil penalty for harvesting 40 acres of timber in an illegal clear-cut.

Worcester Holdings LLC recently self-reported the violation on a parcel of land in the town of Deblois, according to Maine Forest Service officials. The company has accepted responsibility for the Deblois violations and has agreed to pay the civil penalty in keeping with a July 7, 2008, consent order approved by the Washing-ton County Superior Court.

The July 2008 consent order was agreed to by Worcester Holdings and the state of Maine. It allowed the landowner to review past harvesting practices for compliance with Maine’s forest practices rules and to voluntarily self-report any violations at a reduced penalty.

Worcester Holdings created a 40-acre clear-cut intending to convert the area to a wreath brush plantation. The landowner, however, failed to complete the conversion from forestry to wreath brush within two years of completing the timber harvest as required by Maine’s forest practices rules. The landowner therefore was respon-sible for complying with the state’s law and rules governing the size and arrangement of clear-cuts, the forest service said.

The 40-acre harvest resulted in the creation of a Category 2 clear-cut that lacked a required harvest plan prepared before the harvest by a licensed forester and that also lacked required separation zones as a buffer between clear-cuts.

Based on the requirements established for voluntary compliance in the consent order, Worcester Holdings has prepared an “after-the-fact” harvest plan for the harvest area identifying areas to be maintained as separation zones for the life of the clear-cut, the forest service said.

“Our goal is to improve the management of Maine’s forests,” Maine Forest Service Director Alec Giffen said Wednesday in a statement. “Our agency focuses on educating and informing landowners to reduce the possibility of such violations. But when violations do occur, we have a responsibility to uphold the law and to en-force the Forest Practices Act.”

Worcester Holdings officials could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

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