Voices of Maine’s New Forest Economy: Ted Wright of TCNEF

This month, GrowSmart Maine will be featuring speakers and subject matter experts on the topic of Maine’s New Forest Economy – leading up to our forum on the subject on March 24th in Hallowell. More information and Registration here.

Ted Wright is the Executive Director of the Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands. He grew up in Aroostook County on a potato farm in Littleton, ME within sight of the Canadian border. He first became interested in logging through a friend, and began harvesting wood from the farm and discovered he really enjoyed the work.

Ted attended the University of Maine at Fort Kent and graduated in 2005 with an Associate’s degree in Applied Forest Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies, then went to work at Louisiana-Pacific in Houlton for a year. Ted then took a job at the Region Two School of Applied Technology in Houlton teaching in their Wood Harvesting/Forestry program for seven years before accepting the TCNEF Director’s job in the fall of 2015. He and his wife, Maggie, and children, Madigan and Ben, recently moved to Brunswick.

GSM: How did you get involved in the forestry industry?

Ted: I grew up on a family potato farm in Aroostook County. My family had never done much logging on the land so there was plenty of wood that needed to be harvested. My friend got me interested in forestry and logging and I began to harvest with a tractor.
I decided to attend college at University of Maine at Fort Kent for Forestry. After college I became the Logging/Forestry Instructor at Region Two in Houlton teaching students forestry, chainsaw and machine operations and general work skills.

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GSM: What do you see as Maine’s biggest challenge and biggest opportunity?

Ted: Maine’s biggest challenge is markets. Second I believe is image. I work for loggers and landowners helping them achieve third party certification. Maine has some of the most conscientious loggers and landowners around. My job is to share our story through outreach to young people and to the general public. If we don’t tell our story, then who will? I think recognition of certification by the general public is the greatest opportunity to help Maine with its image and in turn will help grow markets.

GSM: If you had a magic wand and could change something over night, what would it be?

Ted: I would like to see more mills call for certification. Maine could easily achieve this because our logging and forestry practices are so exemplary. This would help the industry’s image.
Paper is made all around the world. Maine was the leader. We went through the environmental era of the 80’s and 90’s and complied with the laws. This raised costs but nonetheless, we made do. Once a cheaper wood supply was found in other parts of the world we turned to that. Some of these mills are not up to the environmental standards as our mills but they profit as our compliance causes hardships. We (Maine) need to be rewarded for environmental efforts.

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GSM: Where is your favorite place in Maine (in relation to forestry)?

Ted: In a Logging yard or landing that’s full of activity. You can’t beat the smell of fresh cut wood and watching logging equipment and skilled operators work in unison with each other to be productive and safe. So that could be basically anywhere in Maine!

 

To learn more about Ted’s organization, visit their website: http://www.tcnef.org/ 

Ted will be presenting with other experts as part of the Community Development in the New Forest Economy session of the forum on Friday March 24th. 

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