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PLC of Maine issues statement on bankruptcy and shutdown announcements at Lincoln and Old Town paper mills

AUGUSTA – The Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine issued a statement of support today for the workers and communities affected by the bankruptcy and shutdown announcements this week at paper mills in Lincoln and Old Town, which will affect more than 2,500 jobs directly related to the logging industry throughout Maine.

“Our members are very supportive of our paper mill partners and without their business logging in Maine as a viable profession would in many cases cease to exist,” said Dana Doran, Executive Director of the PLC. “While this latest news is another challenge for Maine’s evolving pulp and paper industry, the PLC and loggers across the state will do all we can to help and make the best of  a tough situation.”

Expera Specialty Solutions of Kaukauna, Wisconsin, which acquired the assets of the former Old Town Fuel and Fiber pulp mill last year, announced today the mill will be shut down by the end of this year. The shutdown and closure affects 195 workers at the Expera Old Town LLC facility, which provided pulp for the parent company’s mills in Wisconsin.

That announcement came one day after Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The mill, which employs 179 workers at the Lincoln facility, will be auctioned, leaving its future uncertain.

Those announcements came on the heels of a Verso Paper Corp. announcement in late August that Verso plans to lay off 300 people at its mill in Jay at the end of this year or in early 2016, shutting down its No. 1 pulp dryer and No. 2 paper machine, and reducing its coated paper capacity by about 23 percent.

“With the news at Verso, Lincoln and now Old Town, there will be a major decrease in the demand for fiber statewide,” Doran said. “This will decrease the price for fiber and reduce the marketplace for suppliers.”

Maine has traditionally been a net importer of fiber from outside sources, including Quebec, New Brunswick, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts, Doran noted, adding the long-term health of the logging and paper industries in Maine would be better served by greater use of local fiber.

“It is time for the remaining Maine mills to circle the wagons with suppliers and other partners to ensure the strength of our industry for the long term. Maine suppliers and Maine mills should work together to ensure that the fiber that is consumed comes from Maine loggers and Maine landowners so that the circle protects all Mainers and our pulp and paper mills for the long term,” Doran said.

In the coming weeks the PLC will be working with its members, paper mill partners, and local legislators to seek solutions to the challenges facing the pulp and paper industry in Maine and the loggers who supply roundwood, clean chips, and biomass to local mills.

Maine’s loggers are a vital part of the state’s forest products sector, which is worth an estimated $8 billion annually.

The PLC of Maine was formed in 1995 to give independent logging contractors and sole proprietors a voice in a rapidly changing forest industry. A Board of Directors made up entirely of loggers makes the PLC the only logging organization in Maine run by loggers for loggers. The mission of the PLC is to promote logging as a profession, advocate for logging professionals, cultivate responsible forest management, and sustain a strong forest products industry.