Landowner Resolves Water Quality Violations with Maine Forest Service
June 22, 2020
AUGUSTA - The Maine Forest Service (MFS) entered into an administrative settlement agreement with GR Timber Holdings LLC (GRTH). GRTH, based in Van Buren, agreed to pay a $20,000 civil penalty and to institute training and oversight measures to reduce the risk of future violations. The settlement resolves GRTH's violation of Maine's rules governing timber harvesting activities in the town of Woodland, in Aroostook County.
During a 2018 timber harvest, GRTH constructed a land management road on the property and installed a crossing on the Caribou Stream to access the northern half of the property, without obtaining necessary MFS permitting. In the process, GRTH installed two culverts that did not meet the minimum opening size requirements. Because the culverts were undersized, the fifty-foot stream crossing failed and washed out during the annual spring high water event, causing a large amount of sediment discharged into the Caribou Stream. In addition to the crossing failure, non-terminating ditches associated with the crossing consisting of exposed soil also delivered large sediment discharges to Caribou Stream during rain events from January through August 2018. GRTH removed the remaining culverts and stabilized its approaches to Caribou Stream, at the direction of MFS.
"Our goal is to improve the management of Maine's forests," said Patty Cormier, MFS Director. "We focus 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."
"GRTH was cooperative and took full responsibility for the violation," commented Dave Rochester, MFS Regional Enforcement Coordinator. "These violations resulted from inadequate harvest planning and a failure to review the forestry rules before the operations began," Rochester continued.
Regional Enforcement Coordinator Dave Rochester conducted the investigation and settlement negotiations with the assistance of MFS staff. Rochester is available for comment at (207) 441-3817.
About MFS Since 1891, the mission of MFS is to protect and enhance forest resources through fire prevention, technical assistance, education, outreach to a wide variety of audiences; and enforcement of forest protection laws. MFS offices are found throughout Maine and provide its citizens with a wide range of forest-related services. For more information about the Maine Forest Service and its programs, visit our website at www.maineforestservice.gov.