Wed October 18, 2023
Professional Logging Contractors of the Northeast
The Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine has entered a new era, as the 28-year-old trade association officially expands beyond Maine and becomes the Professional Logging Contractors of the Northeast.
The expansion, which begins with contractors from the state of Vermont eligible to join the PLC, marks the biggest step for the organization since it was founded by loggers and for loggers in Maine in 1995.
"The PLC has been the voice of Maine loggers and forest truckers in a rapidly changing industry for nearly three decades, and in that time, it has become clear that we are strongest when we stand together," PLC Executive Director Dana Doran said.
"Loggers and truckers throughout the Northeast share many of the same challenges and opportunities, and we believe that now is the time to grow the organization to meet those challenges and take advantage of those opportunities together."
PLC Members reviewed and unanimously approved changes to the organization's bylaws pertaining to the expansion at the association's annual meeting on May 5.
"The PLC is now ready, willing and able to expand to other Northeast states if sufficient demand from loggers in those states exists," Doran said. "Vermont loggers deserve credit for taking the lead on this, and the PLC stands ready to respond should loggers in other states seek the same representation and benefits a regional logging trade association can afford them."
Three new board members have been added to the PLC's board of directors to represent Vermont: Sam Lincoln, owner of Lincoln Farm Timber Harvesting of Randolph Center; Jack Bell, co-founder of Long View Forest of Westminster and Hartland; and Gabe Russo, owner of Southwind Forestry of Pawlet.
As a result of the expansion, logging and forest trucking contractors in Vermont will now be eligible to join the PLC and share in the many benefits of membership, including representation and advocacy by the organization on their behalf at the state and national level, access to a safety dividend program, discounts from PLC Supporting Members, membership in the American Loggers Council(ALC), access to The Loggers Voice quarterly magazine and free safety training and other professional development opportunities.
Meanwhile, the PLC is gearing up operations in Vermont and preparing to add staff there to ensure its support and services in the new territory are equivalent to what members in Maine have come to expect.
The three new Vermont board members agree the time for a regional organization to represent logging and forest trucking interests in their state has come. While Vermont does have organizations that logging contractors can join, they are umbrella organizations for forest-related businesses rather than logger-specific.
"The PLC's ‘by loggers, for loggers,' standard says it all," Bell said. "It's a logging business trade organization, and the total focus on the issues and challenges loggers face is unique."
The expansion to Vermont has been in the works for more than two years, following interest from Vermont loggers who learned of the PLC through fellow loggers from Maine, training programs the PLC was involved with, exposure the organization gained through logging expos, and publicity surrounding its successes.
At a meeting in December 2022 in Barre, Vt., attended by 50 Vermont contractors, discussion centered around whether to form a new separate logging organization for Vermont or to pursue the idea of a regional association. The consensus at the end of the meeting was that a regional approach would save organizational time and allow for a more immediate impact.
"I think every single person raised their hand at the end of that meeting as far as whether there was interest to move forward," Bell said, adding that more than a dozen loggers volunteered to join a steering committee to guide the process and have remained consistently involved in the year since.
Russo has participated in past efforts to bring logging issues before Vermont's congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., as part of the annual ALC Congressional Fly-In, and said the trend nationwide seems to increasingly be shifting to regional efforts to advocate for loggers.
"When we go to D.C. with the ALC you see other areas in the country grouped together and represented by these regional type logging associations, so I think the writing was on the wall as far as that for the future in my opinion," Russo said.
Lincoln said Vermont loggers and forest truckers face the same challenges with markets, workforce and business regulations that loggers in Maine and across the Northeast share. Vermont loggers also face significant anti-forest management sentiment. He looks forward to the PLC being able to advocate on behalf of loggers in the state.
"We need to be taking back our place in society as responsible producers of essential human needs and contributors to the rural community. I think the opportunity to join an organization that is already up and running and has a tremendous track record of accomplishments and professional staff was a no brainer for me," Lincoln said.
In addition to its strong track record on advocacy, training, and promotion of logging as a profession, the PLC's charitable efforts on behalf of Log A Load for Kids to raise money for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals — PLC's efforts have raised more than $2.135 million since 1995 — drew a positive response from Vermont loggers considering joining the organization.
"I'm very enthusiastic to be a part of that here, and it's going to be pretty exciting as well to be out there taking the initiative to promote ourselves as important to Vermont's economy and as protectors of the environment," Lincoln said.
PLC Board Member Steve Hanington of Hanington Bros. Inc. in Macwahoc Plantation Maine, a founding member of the PLC, said it is gratifying to know that all the hard work by the many Maine loggers who formed the PLC and grew it through the early years into what it is today have led to a moment when the association will grow beyond Maine into a stronger regional force for the logging and forest trucking industry.
"There is no way you can be an advocate and please everybody, and if you're in an industry there's going to be segments of that industry that's not going to like to hear what you have to say sometimes no matter how much they may like you personally, but to say something collectively just generates more acceptance," Steve said.
"I'm very happy that the loggers in Vermont chose to go this route, not for the benefit of PLC, but the benefit of loggers in the Northeast. I still believe they'll be able to get a lot more accomplished without five or six years of organizational heartburn, and I commend them for recognizing that and it will move all loggers forward, there's no question about that in my mind."
Founded in Maine in 1995 by a handful of loggers who were concerned about the future of the logging and forest trucking industry, the PLC has grown steadily to become a regional trade association which provides independent logging contractors and truckers in the Northeast a voice in the rapidly changing forest products industry. Board membership consists of only loggers, making it an organization that is run by loggers on behalf of loggers.
For more information, visit www.plcloggers.org