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Baxter State Resource Manager to speak at the University of Maine at Fort Kent

March 21, 2003


Jensen Bissell, resource manager at Baxter State Park, will give a presentation entitled Sustainable Forest Management in Baxter State Park on the University of Maine at Fort Kent campus April 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Nadeau Hall Teleconference Center. The talk is part of the Spring Environmental Studies Speaker Series.

Bissell, who lives in Milo, Maine, has been the resource manager for Baxter State Park since 1987, where he has been responsible for managing the park's 29,584 acre Scientific Forest Management Area (SFMA) in the northwest corner that encompasses 14% of the park. He will discuss the management practices of the SFMA.

Students in the forestry program at UMFK will also benefit from his experience in a class taught by Jeff Dubis, assistant professor of forestry, prior to the public address.

Bissell received his bachelor's degree in resource management in 1976 from the State University of New York College of Forestry in Syracuse, New York. Prior to his position at Baxter State Park he worked for nine years as a field and plans forester and contract administrator for the Bureau of Land Management in Salem, Oregon.

"It has long been my purpose to create in our forests a large area wherein the State may practice the most modern methods of forest control reforestation and production,' said Percival P. Baxter in 1955. "I want this township to become a showplace for those interested in forestry, a place where a continuing timber crop can be cultivated, harvested, and sold, where reforestation and scientific cutting will be employed, an example and an inspiration to others. What is done in our forests today will help or harm the generations who follow us."

Baxter served in the Maine Senate, in the House, and as Governor of the State of Maine. He retired from politics in 1926, and philanthropy occupied most of the remainder of Baxter's life. He gave the State the land which eventually became Baxter State Park.

With the establishment of Baxter State Park, Percival Baxter demonstrated his commitment to sound land stewardship. His commitment included not only the preservation of wild lands, but the application of "scientific" management to the forests of Maine. Travels throughout the world convinced Governor Baxter that sound forest management was both possible and of vital importance to the state.

The Scientific Forest Management Area (SFMA) was provided by Percival Baxter to offer an accessible example to the people of the state of Maine of long-term forest management, "a showplace for those interested in forestry, a place where a continuing timber crop can be cultivated, harvested, and sold."

It is the goal of the Baxter State Park Authority to manage the SFMA in compliance with Governor Baxter's Deeds of Trust for the area. Field management of the SFMA is carried out by the park resource manager, forest technician and a seasonal forestry aide.

The SFMA is one of two areas in Baxter State Park in which hunting and trapping are permitted (with the exception of moose hunting and animal baiting). Forest management activities on the SFMA are generally favorable to game species and the area is a popular destination for local and out-of-state hunters. In addition to hunting, Webster Lake is a popular destination for ice fishing activities and Webster Stream provides some of the only white water canoeing in Baxter Park.

The SFMA is a Forest Steward's Guild Model Forest and became Forest Stewardship Council certified in May of 2001.

'My experiences have led me to believe that forests are complicated places, with few absolutes,' said Bissell. 'In addition, I believe we struggle with difficulty to view, and more specifically to actively manage, forest within a temporal scale that matches the forest itself.' Bissell added 'I believe there is a great opportunity (although little short-term incentive) to begin to develop and practice a type of forest management that matches forest dimensions, time scales and complexity. I believe that effective application of this management would ease many of the tensions surrounding forest management.'

Admission is free, and no registration is required. For more information contact Kim Borges at 834-7612.