Quimby’s views of Maine, for Maine are flawed

By Peter Triandafillou, Special to the BDN
Posted Oct. 11, 2011, at 4:06 p.m.

As a representative of the “very tight-knit group of industry people who own, manage and call the shots,” as described by Roxanne Quimby in her recent interview with Forbes, I find myself insulted but no longer surprised by her accusations (“Roxanne Quimby calls Maine a ‘welfare state,’” BDN, Oct. 8).

The interview was full of hyperbole and falsehoods which seem to escalate in tone and scope with each interview. While Ms. Quimby is entitled to her opinion, it is important to set the record straight — again.

I read the interview, and Ms. Quimby does indeed call rural Mainers from the Katahdin area “tone deaf when it comes to the environment,” as reported in the BDN. I’ve lived and worked in Maine for over 30 years, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it is that Mainers, both rural and urban, have a deep respect and love for their environment.

Ms. Quimby would have us believe that the large land holdings of northern Maine are mismanaged and unable to support the forest products industry. The fact is that Maine has the largest contiguous private forest east of the Mississippi. This also happens to be the largest block of undeveloped land east of the Mississippi. These two facts are not coincidental.

Maine’s forests support a diverse and healthy forest products economy that has struggled, but so far persevered through one of the worst housing and general recessions in memory. Maine remains the second-largest producer of paper in the nation, and our high-quality pulp is exported all over the world.

Maine also has numerous modern sawmills owned and run by dedicated companies and

entrepreneurial families. Unlike Ms. Quimby, these companies did not outsource their businesses to another state.

Maine has a growing inventory of timber, and unlike the assertions made by Ms. Quimby, the forest is healthy. Recent modeling by the Sewall Company shows that Maine will have a surplus of conifer forest in the next two decades.

The wages paid in the forest products industry are significantly higher than the average in Maine, and the forest supports Maine’s largest manufacturing sector.

The forest is hardly fragmented; it is still in very large ownership blocks. A wonderful example of the hyperbole in Ms. Quimby’s interview is her assertion that the selling of easements is an example of fragmentation and desperation. In fact, a number of large landowners in Maine have sold conservation easements that prevent development and fragmentation and are designed to keep the forest as it is today: working to fuel our economy while providing habitat and public access.

Maine has one of the largest percentages of land under conservation easement in the nation. Our model has been to conserve land while keeping it in productive economic use.

Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the interview, one that has been promulgated elsewhere, is that Ms. Quimby is a reasonable person willing to compromise and who is only working for the greater good. Instead, the truth becomes more evident every day.

Where she has leverage, she uses it to try and get support; just ask the snowmobile clubs who were asked to trade access for a few years for support of her concept. Where she can, she buys favorable opinion, and where she cannot, she reverts to exaggeration and falsehood.

In the interview, Ms. Quimby goes out of her way to mention Maine’s aging population, obesity rate, Oxycontin abuse and refers to Maine as a “welfare state” because of the receipt of federal funds. I have no idea what this has to do with her plan to donate land to the National Park Service.

She seems to be telling Maine that we are too old, fat, drugged up and stupid to know what is good for us, and that we should simply accept her vision and thank her for her largesse. I feel otherwise, and I hope the people of Maine do as well. I think we are too proud, intelligent and resourceful to fall for her outrageous claims and flawed vision.

Peter Triandafillou, of Old Town, is vice president of the woodlands for Huber Resources, which manages approximately 600,000 acres of timberland in northern Maine. Huber Resources also manages timberland in Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Texas.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/10/11/opinion/contributors/quimby%e2%80%99s-views-of-maine-for-maine-are-flawed/ printed on July 31, 2014