February 12

Athens logging operation questioned by state

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is investigating claims from a neighbor that T.R. Dillon’s Logging, a Madison company, is violating state and federal forestry rules in Athens.

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling mhhetling@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

ATHENS — State investigators are examining allegations that a Madison-based logging company is mismanaging a parcel of land in Athens.

click image to enlarge

TOO CLOSE: Athens homeowner Fred Tape talks on Wednesday about the logging operation that is happening right up to his boundary line. Tape said he has asked the wood cutters to leave a buffer zone near the property line ,but without success.

Staff photo by David Leaming

The investigation was triggered when Fred Tape, whose 5-acre property abuts the land being logged, made a complaint to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, which enforces state and federal forestry management regulations.

Scott Dillon, owner of T.R. Dillon’s Logging, said the operation, located off Route 151 across from Bunker Hill Road, is in full compliance with the law.

“There is nothing illegal going on here,” he said Wednesday. “I can guarantee you that.”

Tape said he was concerned when Dillon’s on-site workers told him the company planned to clear-cut the entire parcel, without leaving forest buffers between his property and the clear-cut area.

Tape said the company is required to leave buffers and already has cut to one corner of his property without leaving the buffer. He also said the company plans to clear-cut a small natural wetland that runs along the back side of the parcel.

Dillon said the parcel is less than 100 acres, which gives him more leeway in how to harvest it.

“The person who owns that property owns less than 100 acres, and they’re allowed to make any size clear-cut they like,” he said. “I can cut right up to the line.”

He would not comment on whether he planned to cut the woods in the wetlands at the back of the property, but said, “I am going to harvest the property within the state law.”

John Bott, a spokesman for the forestry department, said the state opened an investigation last week, but he would not comment further on the case.

T.R. Dillon’s is a family-owned business that was established in 1981, years after the family began managing forests in the area. Scott Dillon said that over four decades, the company has harvested wood from many thousands of acres and that his employees and contractors know and observe the law.

Tape said the company hasn’t identified the property boundaries correctly and is overstepping their bounds.

“You’re encroaching on my property by at least five or 10 feet,” he said.

The Department’s forestry bureau investigates forest practices rules, water quality rules, liquidation harvesting rules, timber theft and trespassing, among other things.

T.R. Dillon’s faced similar accusations in 2012, when it was fined $35,000 for violating state laws regulating clear-cutting practices on 133 acres in Industry and 212 acres in Peru.

At the time, Maine Forestry Service officials said it was among the highest fines on record because of the scope and nature of the violations.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287 mhhetling@centralmaine.com Twitter: @hh_matt
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