ALC Fall Tradition Travels To Maine In 2023

Article by David Abbott, Senior Editor, Timber Harvesting November/December 2023

NEWRY, Maine – Logging industry professionals and advocates from throughout the U.S. (and a few from beyond) converged on the far northeastern state for this year’s American Loggers Council annual meeting on October 4-6. The theme for this year’s conference was “Family Tradition,” and indeed, the ALC annual meeting has become an annual tradition every fall for many logging families.

In conjunction with the Professional Logging Contractors of the Northeast (see news), Maine native Andy Irish, who served as ALC President for the 2022-2023 term, hosted the conference in his home state. This is the third ALC meeting in Maine, which has been closely involved with the organization since its inception in 1994.

Another ALC tradition: on the first day, attendees attend a logging tour, affording loggers from other parts of the country a chance to see a typical logging operation in the host state. Irish set up a demo of his own Tigercat machines on an eastern white pine stand managed by Wagner Forest Management. Following a very wet summer, Maine greeted the ALC group with an unseasonably warm and sunny day, perfect weather for the demo. Afterwards, Irish showed a less easily accessed, mountaintop stand his crew had recently finished, an included an upclose look at a massive windmill installation on the land.

Maine Senate President Troy Jackson kicked off the second day’s seminars by delivering the keynote speech. Jackson is a logger and member of a logging family who entered the political arena and has worked to further legislation on behalf of loggers. He has successfully championed the right of Maine loggers to collectively bargain. Jackson is currently next in line to fill in as the state’s Governor in the event the current office holder becomes unable to serve.

“Your greatest strength is your independence,” ALC Executive Director Scott Dane told those in attendance. “Your greatest weakness is also your independence. People play that against you.” He strongly urged loggers to work together to attain common goals.

The second seminar brought with it some spirited discussion of the pros and cons of certification systems. Representatives from the Forest Stewardship Council (Derik Frederiksen, FSC President) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (Nadine Block, SFI Senior VP of Community and Government Relations) made presentations and answered audience questions on the topic.

During a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis on the industry, Dane offered perspective from speakers on two promising opportunities. The panel included Josh Henry, President of TimberHP, a Maine company that is the first in North America to offer wood fiber insulation, an alternative already popular in Europe; and Julie Tucker, U.S. Forest Service National Program Manager, Wood Innovations, who discussed the wood bioenergy, biofuels and bioproducts sector.

Kelly Madison from Associated Insurance Services, Idaho, spoke on her state’s efforts to provide affordable employee health insurance coverage opportunities for logging companies, a key to attracting and retaining quality employees in an ever-more competitive labor market. Notably, other states, including North Carolina and Alabama, have also made some progress on this front.

A presentation by national and local representatives of Log a Load for Kids and Children’s Miracle Network hospitals spoke on the logging community’s positive impact. In 2022 alone, Log a Load raised $3.6 million for Children’s Miracle Network.

At the Log a Load for Kids banquet and fundraiser in Maine, the gathered loggers in one night raised $51,000 that was split between two local children’s hospitals.

Following vigorous discussion of various industry issues at Friday morning’s board of directors and membership meetings, Irish and Dane presented the 2023 National Activist Award to Hatton-Brown Publishers, parent of Southern Loggin’ Times and Timber Harvesting, and the President’s Leadership Award collectively to the members of the ALC Executive Committee for 2022-2023.

At the President’s farewell banquet Friday night, Hatton-Brown’s senior editor Dan Shell presented this year’s Timber Harvesting Logging Business of the Year to Montana’s Ken Swanstrom. Then…after receiving a standing ovation from the crowd for his work on the industry’s behalf over the last 12 months, Irish passed the gavel to his successor as ALC President, California’s Mike Albrecht. He will serve as President until fall next year, when ALC hosts its 30th annual meeting October 2-4, 2024 in Sonora, Calif.


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