Senator Tom Saviello (R-Franklin Cty.) has submitted a bill to set up a Maine Forest Resources Council, with members appointed by the governor. 

As envisioned by Saviello, the council would objectively look at the Maine forest, the forest industry, markets, forestry workers, new technology, products, training and other forest-related values and needs in a broad way to identify short-term goals and establish longer-term strategies that strengthen the forest economy. That could include assessments of traditional forest products like pulp and lumber, new opportunities like the California carbon market that offsets pollution there by paying landowners here to sequester carbon by not cutting trees, new entrepreneurial opportunities, and nano-tech wood products that are being developed at the University of Maine for nontraditional uses — like pharmaceuticals and stronger-than-steel bridges.

The council may also integrate analysis and efforts done by others — such as by the federal inter-agency Economic Development Assessment Team that is currently assessing many of these factors in cooperation with the Maine Development Foundation. 

As proposed, the governor currently in office would set the mission of the council and appoint members, incluing at least one legislator. Saviello said he would not favor having the council being under control of the Legislature or the Maine Forest Service. Questions about the amount of authority the council would have and who they would report to will likely be asked at the public hearing, scheduled for 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 2, in Room 214 of the Cross Building in Augusta.