Unsettled: BIA questions Passamaquoddy forest management

A sign to Indian Township, one of the reservations of the Passamaquoddy Tribe in Maine. Photo from Maine Encyclopedia

The Portland Press Herald continues its Unsettled series with Chapter 27 about questionable forest management practices within the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township:
Documents obtained by the Press Herald show that the Bureau of Indian Affairs has expressed numerous concerns with the tribe’s forestry management in recent years, including the low stumpage rates.

In early 2012, the bureau learned the tribe was allowing Billy Nicholas’ company, Nicholas Family Logging, to harvest timber without a BIA-approved permit or contract from tribal lands at Lowelltown, northeast of Coburn Gore on the Quebec border. It ordered the tribe to have Nicholas’ company “cease operations immediately” until a valid contract was approved.

The BIA’s annual review for 2012 found serious problems, including missing reports, the absence of a full-time forester at the tribe and the illegal cutting of “a still undetermined amount of timber” from tribal lands near Blood Brook in northern Washington County. BIA officials confirmed to the Press Herald that Nicholas Family Logging was among the harvesters involved in the improper cutting.

The BIA also found “that tribal loggers were paying stumpage at less than the approved contract rates” in an adjacent area, and noted that the Joint Tribal Council had for months failed to provide the agency key documentation related to the incident.

In mid-December 2012, Scott Meneely, a regional forester with the BIA, wrote to the head of the Passamaquoddy Forestry Department, Ernie Neptune, seeking justification for the low stumpage rates at Holeb, but received no response. In late January 2013, agency officials informed the tribe that the low rates were unacceptable and threatened to shut down the Holeb operation.

Get the Story:
Tribe’s forests, a crucial resource, fall prey from within (The Portland Press Herald 7/25)

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