Topsham tour to explain timber-harvesting plan

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TOPSHAM — The town’s Tree Committee will host a site walk Saturday, March 25, for residents to learn about an upcoming harvest of timber on town-owned property.

The 9 a.m. walk at the Topsham Solid Waste Facility, 97 Townsend Way, will be guided by Paul Larrivee, a licensed state forester. The walk will cover both the forested and harvested areas.

The town in 2010 contracted with Mid-Maine Forestry to develop a forest management plan, completed the following year, Town Planner Rod Melanson said in an interview March 16.

In recent years the Tree Committee looked into implementing the plan, and the town last year chose Sappi Global, where Larrivee is employed, to conduct the work. Cutting trees by the solid waste building will be the first time the harvesting portion of the management plan will take pace, Melanson said.

“Because … it’s a municipal project, we do want to have a component of public outreach and education on forest management with this transfer station piece,” hence Larrivee’s walk-through, the planner explained.

Light selective thinning of about 75 acres began earlier this month, so the public will be able to see both the work that has taken place, and get an idea of what will occur. Larrivee aims to complete the project while the ground is still frozen, Melanson said.

There is no out-of-pocket cost to the town for Larrivee’s work, Melanson said; Sappi is profiting from part of what is being harvested.

The town receives $7 per ton, and, so far, nearly 63 tons have been cut and processed, earning the town about $438, according to Topsham Parks and Recreation Director Pam LeDuc.

Each load of wood taken out averages about 30 tons, she added.

Forests are a revenue source for the town on a long-term basis, Melanson said, noting also that “the transfer station has great trails right now, and the idea would be to enhance the public use of these areas over time.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

This image shows the 110 acres covered in Topsham’s forest management plan.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.