“The program was inspiring,” said an attendee as they departed the Annual Certified Logging Professional Banquet. Maine’s Logging Community members gathered on the first Friday of December for the 33rd Annual CLP Banquet at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer. The evening, centered around the community enjoying a fantastic as-always meal together, celebrated the accomplishments of this year’s class of 64 new CLPs, the 2023 CLP Loggers of the Year, and three guest speakers who provided innovative solutions to challenges we are all facing in the logging community.

The banquet began with an opportunity for everyone to socialize and mingle, followed by opening remarks from Bill Taylor, the CLP Advisory Committee Chair, and Logan Johnson, the Executive Director of the Maine TREE Foundation. After dinner, Mike St. Peter, the CLP Associate Director, recognized the achievements of the new CLPs for this year, and Johnson presented the 2023 Logger of the Year Awards. Gene Daigle from Lincoln won the Conventional Logger of the Year award. Kent Perreault from New Canada, who works for TNT Road Company of Fort Kent, won the Mechanical Logger of the Year Award.

Gene Daigle, Conventional Logger of the Year and Kent Perreault, Mechanical Logger of the Year.

The program’s highlights included noteworthy talks from three speakers: Maine Forest Service Director Patty Cormier, Vice-President of Innovative Natural Resource Solutions (INRS) Eric Kingsley, and Mark Savage and the Forestry Immersion Program from Brewer High School.

Maine Forest Service Director Patty Cormier shared with the group two new resources specifically for Logging Professionals. The first was a new cost share program to help forest operation professionals purchase skidder bridges. Director Cormier also announced the creation of the Adaptive Best Management Practices (BMP) Cooperative. Also known as ABC, the new program endorses BMP-specific training programs to ensure quality and consistency while allowing professionals to track their training progress.

Eric Kingsley of INRS provided an overview of new and emerging products that may soon come from Maine’s Forests. These products included wood fiber insulations, which have already begun production in the state, cross-laminated timber, and biochar, among others. Kingsley acknowledged the lack of excitement that the current wood market invokes while providing an inspirational outlook on the future of Maine’s forest product sector.

Mark Savage of the Forestry Immersion Program at Brewer High School provided an overview of how the program brought nine (9) students into the forest this summer to offer an alternative, hands-on style of education. The students spent six weeks learning everything from forest ecology to lumber production while having the opportunity to operate a cut-to-length system with a processor and forwarder. Fellow instructors and a student joined Savage to share why they found the program immensely valuable to the students who attended.

The close of the event was the annual raffle of a chainsaw-carved bear and safety equipment. CLP Mike Thurlow donates the chainsaw-carved bear annually to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish foundation. Brian Flewelling of Key Bank won the bear this year, and the raffle tickets raised $490 for Make-A-Wish. Finally, many CLPs were excited to win new safety and operations equipment. Gene Daigle recognized earlier in the evening as the Conventional Logger of the Year, also won the Chainsaw raffle.

Thank you to everyone who made the evening possible, including the sponsors.

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