Maine Department of Environmental Protection's Earthmoving Certification Program Nears 1,500 Contractor Milestone

November 15, 2012

CONTACT:
Samantha DePoy-Warren, Maine DEP Director of Communications & Education, samantha.depoy-warren@maine.gov / (207) 287-5842 or Bill Laflamme, Certified Contractor Program Coordinator, william.n.laflamme@maine.gov / (207) 215-9237

-There is record enrollment in certification courses as contractors who disturb soil in the shoreland zone seek to become state certified by the year’s end and demand grows from customers wanting to hire an earthmover who can complete their project quickly, at a lower cost and in a more environmentally-protective way thanks to certification benefits-

AUGUSTA – Mainers looking for an earthmoving contractor with a commitment to environmental protection now have nearly 1,500 to choose from thanks to a popular state certification program that has seen participation nearly double in the past two years.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s 15-year-old Certified Contractor Program is about to reach 1,500 contractors – up from 854 at the end of 2010 – who have been through its erosion and sediment control training and have had a satisfactory job site evaluation.

That evaluation, conducted by staff from one of Maine’s non-regulatory soil and water conservation districts, demonstrates the contractor’s hands-on understanding of erosion control principles and best practices that protect water resources including vegetative and slope stabilization, culvert installation and use of control materials like mulch, silt fencing and riprap.

While the certification is voluntary, under legislation passed in 2008, as of Jan. 1, 2013, a certified contractor must be on-site of any activity that disturbs more than one cubic yard of soil – including earth moving, logging or landscaping operations – in the shoreland zone until work is complete and the site stabilized. The shoreland zone is an area defined as within 250 feet of rivers, wetlands, lakes and the ocean and 75 feet of certain streams.

With less than two months until that deadline, DEP has been busy this fall delivering sold-out trainings around the state from Phillips to Portland and Newport to Newry to ensure all contractors who want to work will be able to do so. Registration in those courses is setting records, with 87 people in the first fall class, held last month in Damariscotta.

DEP’s effort to educate contractors about that deadline and the additional benefits of certification including expedited permitting and discounts at erosion control supply stores has also led to increased interest by property owners to hire a certified contractor who can decrease the duration and cost of a project while ensuring environmental protections are upheld.

Already this year, more than 400 new contractors have been certified, meaning Mainers with construction or outdoor improvement projects have more contractor choices close to home.

“The explosion in program participation in the past two years is not just a result of that upcoming deadline but because Maine’s contractors take seriously their role as critical partners in providing protections and so do the people hiring them,” explained Bill Laflamme, who oversees contractor certification and training for DEP.

“There are countless benefits to hiring a certified contractor, including assurance that work will be done in an environmentally-sound manner. Erosion control maintains and even enhances water quality, protects property values, fish and wildlife habitat, drinking water supplies and vital environmental, economic and recreational resources and contractors and their customers see great value in that.”

In the 15 years the program has been in place, only two certified individuals have ever been involved in an enforcement action because of violation of Maine’s erosion and sediment control law. Two certified individuals have also won the “Contractor of the Year” award from the International Erosion Control Association.

Paul Labbe of Ray Labbe & Sons Construction of Brunswick said he uses his certification as a “selling point” when seeking excavation work. “Certification levels the playing field and acknowledges those of us who are abiding by state environmental laws and are committed to protecting Maine’s natural resources,” he added.

To find a certified contractor by town or name, visit http://www.maine.gov/dep/land/training/ccec.html

If you are a contractor who wishes to learn more about certification, visit http://www.maine.gov/dep/training or contact Bill Laflamme at (207) 215-9237 or william.n.laflamme@maine.gov.

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