Picture of Phyllis Austin

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Personality strengths and weaknesses greatly influence decision making in the American pulp and paper/forest products industry. Two key decision-makers are Charles W. Schmidt (L.), senior vice president, Raytheon Corp; and Taggart Edwards (R.), executive vice president, Champion International Corp.

Calling the Shots

Balancing potential human health hazards versus herbicide spraying, bartering long-term forest improvement for needed short-term profits, gambling on untested energy systems–all are complex decisions that reflect the philosophies and styles of the forest industry executives who make them. In 1979, St. Regis Paper Company banned herbicide spraying on its Maine timberlands after a spray drift accident that killed vegetables in 200 gardens and allegedly caused human health problems. As a result of the incident, 28 Washington County residents filed a $100 million lawsuit that still isn’t completely settled. St. Regis vice president Taggart Edwards was the senior executive who stopped the spraying, and he held to the prohibition over the protests of company foresters, even when St. Regis was taken over by Champion International Corp. Edwards admits to a strong personal bias against herbicide spraying. He believed exposure to the chemicals potentially threatened the health of employees working with them. His high-level position enabled him to stave off the economic pressures for spraying until the summer of 1986, when Champion reintroduced herbicides on a small

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Papermaker Bill Burnette, who has worked for 23 years for Great Northern Paper Co. (Ed Note: This picture was badly split over the spine of the issue.)

Mill Town Blues

Millinocket, Maine–For 85 years, all roads around Millinocket have led to the two Great Northern Paper Company’s pulp and paper mills that sit at the edge of Maine’s huge North Woods. Four generations have enjoyed high-paying, cradle-to-grave jobs. Unrestricted hunting and fishing on the company’s 2.1 million acres have been a bonus for the workers’ isolated existence. But almost overnight, the guarantee of’ “the good life” has evaporated. Great Northern, the largest papermaker in Maine’s largest industry, has been clobbered by foreign competition and is shrinking in size to survive. High-cost paper machines are being shut down, as production is being cut by one quarter. At least 1,300 of its 3,900 employees, with an average base salary of $25,000 a year, will lose their jobs by 1989, according to current company projections. The economic shock threatens to unravel the stability of the mill-dependent towns of Millinocket, East Millinocket, and Medway (total population 11,800). Papermaking in a climate of exceptional job security has defined these communities’ entire existence. Like Jung’s archetypal father-provider, Great Northern was expected

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A true clearcut.

Maine’s Faustian Dilemma

Yale University’s David M. Smith, the country’s preeminent silviculturist, once believed it was impossible to clearcut the Maine forest so totally that it wouldn’t immediately renew itself naturally. “I was wrong,” he now says with dismay. “I underestimated the impact that heavy-handed clearcutting with ponderous logging machinery could have.” On logged-off sites in the northern spruce and fir region which Smith has observed, there is no regeneration of those two commercially valuable species; instead, junk vegetation has appeared. Smith said either the large harvesting equipment destroyed the juvenile spruce-fir that would have grown up to be the future forest, or the standing timber was so young when it was cut that an understory hadn’t taken hold. “In any event, there are places where people who own the land seem to have forgotten how dependent the Maine forest is on [the new] growth,” said Dr. Smith, a professor at Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for 38 years, author of the leading silviculture textbook for foresters, and a consultant to the Baskahegan Company, which owns

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The Maine Woods

The Uncommon Forest

Maine’ vast wildlands contain the most uncommon forest in America. Known in the Eastern U.S. as the legendary Maine Woods, the tall stands of spruce, fir, pine, and hardwoods sweep across almost all of the 10-million acre region, making Maine the most heavily wooded state in the country. Ninety percent of the region is privately owned, half of that by multinational pulp and paper corporations. It is an ownership pattern unrepeated on that scale anywhere. To the casual eye, the forest seems virtually boundless. With a phenomenal capacity for natural regeneration, it fuels the state’s largest manufacturing industry, papermaking, while perpetuating simultaneously the myth that most of Maine is still the “dark and intricate wilderness” of Henry David Thoreau’s time. The Maine Woods The forest has permeated the state’s character from the beginnings of settlement 350 years ago, when colonists encountered solid masses of giant thickets. The white pine on the state seal and flag symbolizes that the forest is, in essence, the heart of Maine. Flying above the forest canopy today from Moosehead Lake

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