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Updated: January 10, 2024

Logging industry losses from ‘Grinch’ storm top $2.6M, as weather again pummels Maine

aerial of roads trees snow road cones Courtesy / Professional Logging Contractors Washouts and destroyed infrastructure on Route 16 through central Maine resulted in costly trucking delays in the logging industry, a survey showed.

A survey released by the Professional Logging Contractors of the Northeast shows the "Grinch" storm on Dec. 18 has caused ongoing trucking and harvesting disruptions in Maine as well as large financial losses.

The survey included responses from more than 50 logging and forest trucking companies ranging in size from one employee to nearly 100. Their estimated losses so far have topped $51,000 per company, with the total losses exceeding $2.6 million. 

The PLC says that based on a multiplier effect used in studying Maine's logging industry, the impact of the storm on the companies has resulted in a total loss to the state's economy of more than $5.5 million.

A quarter of member logging companies in Maine responded to the survey.

“In the past three weeks I have spoken with dozens of Maine loggers and truckers and the vast majority have suffered significant and, in some cases, crippling losses due to the effects of the Dec. 18 storm,” said Dana Doran, the industry group's executive director.

On Monday, Doran was among a group of stakeholders who met with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in Portland to discuss the impact of recent storms and warm rainy winters on the state’s farms and logging industry.

“Keeping loggers and truckers employed is the biggest challenge that we have, and I will tell you there are no programs, federal or state, that help logging businesses through this,” Doran said.

Doran said the industry would benefit from funds to repair critical woods infrastructure such as roads, bridges and culverts.

Research results

Responses to the survey showed:

  • More than 90% of businesses suffered financial damages or impact from the storm.
  • The most common impact was business interruptions or slowdowns, with inability to deliver harvested wood to markets. 
  • Other losses included increased expenses and damage to equipment, inventory or structures.
  • Many companies surveyed will be unable to file insurance claims in connection with the losses as the majority of the losses are not covered.

Among the areas where logging operations were especially hard hit is the Rangeley Lakes region. A washout of the Route 16 bridge connecting Rangeley and Stratton closed the vital trucking route and is expected to stay closed many more weeks to come, according to the PLC.

The closure forces loggers to take an 80-mile detour, which in turn drives up costs while hindering employees and equipment from getting to work sites.

Near the Oxford County town of Peru, Andy Irish of Irish Family Logging reported extensive damage to logging roads and bridges, and major travel disruptions due to floodwaters closing the routes.

“You couldn’t get out of Dixfield, Mexico or Rumford, on Route 17. The Swift River came over its banks and went right down the road,” Irish said. 

After a week of lost trucking, the situation is starting to normalize. But the company has 40 to 50 loads of spruce that have to be moved on indirect routes, doubling the truck mileage.

Maine logging is part of the state’s forest products sector, which is worth an estimated $7.7 billion annually. Logging contributed an estimated $582 million to the state economy in 2021.

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