West Paris voters asked to OK woodlot harvest


WEST PARIS — Town officials are asking residents for permission to selectively harvest timber from a town lot to fund future needs. 

The town will hold a special meeting Thursday, Oct. 9, seeking voter authorization to hire a company to harvest trees from the 125-acre lot. It’s a mix of hardwoods and softwoods off High Street near the border with Paris. 

The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. in the Town Office.

Longtime Selectman Wade Rainey said the harvest would be the third time in memory the town has asked voters to draw from the land, and the first in nearly 25 years.

The measure would allow town officials to stake trees for harvesting and those which foresters believe should be allowed to grow, Rainey said. The harvest is not expected to begin for at least a year.

Money received would be placed into a special account only accessible with voter authorization. Town officials are hoping to eventually use the proceeds to purchase equipment for the highway department and build a sand-storage shed.

A harvest in the 1990s paid for the $80,000 addition to the Town Office in 1995, Rainey said. 

Winter woes worry town officials. The town is without a sand shed, and the town has recently begun contracting for a new $20,000 salt shed after its old site caved in.

“We don’t really know. We’d like to get a sand shed, we may look into that, but it will be almost two years down the road before we can realize it,” Rainey said. 

A forester has recently begun scoping out the plot to assess whether growth over the past three decades has been sufficient to warrant another harvest. As a sustainable resource, Rainey said the town is committed to mitigating damage to young trees.

After a bidding process, the chosen company will be limited to conventional equipment for the harvest. Trees must be cut down by hand-held chain saws and hauled out by unobtrusive equipment.

“We’re not looking for someone to wipe it out over a season. We’re looking for someone to do it more sustainably,” he said.

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