Wagner Forest Management agrees to pay US$35,000 civil penalty for violations of Maine's forest practices law on land owned by client Bayroot

AUGUSTA, Maine , September 3, 2009 (press release) – The Maine Forest Service (MFS), under the Maine Department of Conservation, has entered into an agreement with Bayroot LLC, a Delaware company, for violations of the state’s forest practices law on land in Township 6 North of Weld.

Wagner Forest Management Ltd., whose main office is in Lyme, N.H., manages the land for Bayroot, and has agreed to pay a $35,000 civil penalty for the violations.

Improper harvest operations on the Bayroot land resulted in three Category 2 clearcuts that did not have an adequate separation zone or a harvest plan prepared by a licensed forester prior to the harvest, as required by the state’s forest practices rules governing the size, arrangement, and management of clearcuts. The operation also resulted in two Category 1 clearcuts in which the separation zones had been harvested beyond minimum standards.

Stumpage was purchased by Prime Timber LLC, a subsidiary of Wagner.

Under the settlement agreement, Wagner agreed to pay the civil penalty. The company also prepared after-the-fact site specific harvest plans for all areas involved and currently is reviewing past harvesting activities for compliance with the forest practices law. The company’s findings will be reported to the Maine Forest Service.

“To make them effective as deterrents, penalties for forest practices rule violations are intended to remove the financial benefit obtained through such violations,” Maine Forest Service Director Alec Giffen noted.

Regional Enforcement Coordinator Paul Larrviee stated that representatives from Wagner Forest Management told the Maine Forest Service that they did not intend to create any clearcuts.

“Wagner was very cooperative and took full responsibility for the violations,” Larrivee said. “They have worked with the Maine Forest Service to change internal policies and procedures. They also completed training provided by Maine Forest Service all in an effort to reduce the likelihood of future violations.”

“These types of violations often result from inadequate harvest planning and supervision,” Larrivee continued. “When landowners harvest to the minimum requirements of the Forest Practices Act but fail to leave enough of the right trees, it can result in the unintentional creation of clearcuts and forest practices law violations.”

“Our goal is to improve the management of Maine’s forests,” Giffen said. “Our agency focuses on educating and informing landowners to reduce the possibility of such violations. When violations do occur, however, we have a responsibility to uphold the law. We take this and our other responsibilities very seriously.”

The FPA investigation and settlement negotiations were carried out by Maine Forest Service staff.

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