Phil McPhail

Snowmobile News from Maine DIF&W

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                             January 19, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine  - Snowmobilers will have the opportunity to enjoy the trails in neighboring states for free during a special weekend shared by Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. This annual three-day event will take place January 29 - 31, 2016 and allows all legally registered Maine snowmobiles to be operated in New Hampshire and Vermont without being registered in those states.

"This means that all snowmobiles legally registered in New Hampshire and Vermont can be operated in Maine without a current Maine registration," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "We welcome these snowmobilers to explore more than 14,000 miles of Maine's interconnected, groomed and marked trails. As always, we encourage them to enjoy Maine's beautiful outdoors, but also urge them to ride safely."

The Maine Warden Service reminds snowmobilers to ride with caution at all times.

"With the increased traffic anticipated during the reciprocal snowmobile weekend, we remind all riders to obey laws of prudent operation, do not drink and drive, and be mindful that this is a family sport, so please keep our trails safe," said Maine Warden Colonel Joel Wilkinson. "Pay extra close attention to ice conditions on all Maine waterways especially when travelling at night, and ride with caution. We hope that enthusiasts participate in this great opportunity to discover Maine's tremendous snowmobiling opportunity."

Snowmobilers should stay off roads, ride at a reasonable speed, use hand signals and ride to the right.

If you need to register your snowmobile in Maine, visit:  https://www10.informe.org/ifw/atv-snow/.

For information about snowmobile laws and rules in Maine, visit: http://www.eregulations.com/maine/atv/snowmobile-laws-and-rules/.

For trail condition updates and trail maps, visit the Maine Snowmobile Association at: http://www.mesnow.com/

On The Trail to Increasing Your Land Value

There is something special about a walk in the woods. Inspecting the tracks of forest animals, listening to the distant "wack-wack-wack" of the pileated woodpecker, watching a busy beaver putting the finishing touches on her dam, these and many other woodsy events are just a few reasons why we own land. To better care for and use our property we enjoy creating and improving multi-use trails. Building trails improves our outdoor experience, while at the same time increases the lands value.

Before starting the physical work of trail building take some time to mentally plan the construction. What are the intended uses of the trail? Is it for accessing a location such as a hunting stand or scenic place, hiking and cross country skiing? Do you intend to have vehicles on it like ATV's, snowmobiles,  tractors, mountain bikes or others? How much traffic will your trail support? Asking yourself these and other questions will help you design a trail that meets your goals and will save you time and money.

Google Earth and the Maine office of GIS provide free solutions which can be used to plan and map your trail system. If you are not familiar with these programs see our post on using Google Earth. for some basic information. The topographic overlay from the Maine office of GIS in conjunction with Google Earth is especially useful.

Once you decide for what purpose and where you want the trail now is the time to get out on your property and scout out the best route. Online mapping got you a good start but it won't show you all the variations in the land like micro elevation changes or the best place to cross a creek for examples. Priorities when choosing the best route should include minimizing soil disturbance, protecting riparian areas and require a minimal amount of future trail maintenance. When done well trails enhance the recreational and economic use of the land today and for years to come.

You will need a few tools to create your trail. The following will get you started and may be all or more than you need.

  • Flagging Tape
  • Lopping Shears
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Lightweight Chainsaw
  • Brush Saw
  • Lawnmower

If I am out alone clearing trails to be used primarily for hiking, a good pair of shears and safety glasses are what I will bring. When making larger or wider trails power equipment is a big time and back saver. If you plan to use power equipment be sure to get good safety gear to protect yourself from injury.

Building trails is hard but rewarding work. So get out there and enjoy your land.

How To Choose A Logger

Is it time to harvest your timberland in Maine? If so and you do not have the experience, equipment or desire to do it yourself, do you know how to find someone to do the harvesting for you?

Choosing a logger is a very important process in the management of your timber investment. Done properly, harvesting will pay a return on investment with competitive stumpage checks, improve the growth of the remaining trees, protect sensitive areas, provide habitat for game animals, open views and possibly make road improvements. An improper harvest may do just the opposite of the above. So how do you go about finding a logger you ask?

If you have a forest management plan you should start with your Maine professional forester who prepared your plan. He or she should know some reputable loggers who they could refer to you. Once you have a couple of names ask some questions.

  • Ask for references from other land owners that the logger has worked for. Call them and ask how the job turned out.
  • Ask for their certifications. The better loggers in Maine will have been through the Certified Logging Program (CLP) or the Master Logger Certification (MLC). Both of these credentials show that they have some working knowledge of proper forestry and safety techniques.
  • Ask them to show you that they are insured for workers compensation in case of an accident. You do not want an injury on your land to become your problem.
  • If you can, visit a couple of their past jobs sites to see how they left the land.
  • Once you have decided on a contractor get a signed contract for the job. This will give you and your logger have a clear understanding of how the job will be done and what and when you will be paid for your trees.

If you get an unsolicited offer in the mail or over the phone be cautious. That logger may or may not be good at what they do, to be sure use the above questions.

As always I would recommend that your independent forester be part of the process. Their assistance in the process will most likely pay dividends for the future of your forest.

For more information on timberland see http://investintimberland.com/

 

Buying Maine Land With A Self-Directed IRA

If you are like many of our customers concerned with having all of their retirement investments tied to the stock market you may want to look into a self-directed IRA. With a self-directed IRA you will be ready to act when you find that Maine land for sale that you know is a good investment.

What is a self-directed IRA?

The Individual Retirement Account or IRA has been around for many years as an incentive for individuals to save money tax deferred for their retirement. A self-directed IRA is simply an IRA that gives you complete control over what you invest in.

What can you invest in?

Unlike most IRA's offered by banks or custodians the self-directed IRA can be used for nontraditional IRA investments like real estate, notes, precious metals and many others. Maine timberland, farmland, land with development potential, waterfront and more could be a great diversification to you investment portfolio.

Pros

The best benefit of the SDIRA is the ability to have control over what you invest in. No one cares more about your retirement than you do. You can invest in what you know instead of letting others have control of your future. You can partner with friends and others on new investment opportunities. Your investments will grow tax deferred.

Cons

All investments have risk and a self-directed IRA will require you to do your own due diligence to mitigate risk.

Because this type of tax deferred account could have a lot of potential tax advantages for you the IRS has a lot of rules that need to be followed.

Is it right for you?

You will need to decide if the ability to control your own destiny is something you are comfortable doing. If you do not have time for researching your own investments you may want to stick with a traditional IRA. If you are one of a growing number of individuals concerned with the course of traditional banking and investing, the self-directed IRA is worth a look.

 

Update on Waters of the United States

The senate recently passed an amendment to limit the EPA and Army Corp of Engineers play to bring additional waters into their jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. This was hotly contested last year by concerned parties from home owners to industry as overreaching the intention of the Clean Water Act.

The provision was introduced by Senator John Barrasso of  Wyoming and co-sponsored by Roy Blunt of Mo.

For more information about the amendment see Senator Blunt's site linked HERE

 

New App for Woodland Owners

At the annual meeting of SWOAM a discussion came up about a new app for smartphones called About My Woods.  I down loaded it immediately and have used it for the past few weeks. It has some great features.

The mapping menu is cool. You will find terrain, satellite, soil, water shed and land cover mapping all showing your location on the earth.

The app has a decent description of plants, trees, wildlife and invasive plants and insects. I like the quality photos and description making identification much easier.

A "who can help" menu has contact information for district foresters, local mills and more.

The app is from the North East State Foresters Association (NEFA) and the best part is it is free.

To get the app go to http://www.aboutmywoods.org/

Maine Land Market Trending Up

If you have been thinking about selling all or part of your Maine land, now might be the right time. In the past 2 weeks we have noticed a marked increase in the volume of inquiries and offers for our land listings. A quick check of the MLS land listings in the State of Maine show an increase of nearly 12% in the number of pending listings from 1/1/15 - 1/22/15 versus the same time period in 2014. A very positive indicator this January is the average days on market of the new year pending listings. This time period has decreased by over 140 days! A statistical change of note is average lot size. So far this year the number has decreased to approximately 14 acres, nearly half the acreage from the 2014 pending sales of land. With only 7 of the 2015 pending listings successfully closed, it is too early to compare the sale price to list price ratio, but the average list price increased by about 8% to over $103,000 in 2015. Sales are definitely looking up across the state. The number of transactions in early 2015 are up nearly 35% from the same time period in 2013. If a sale is in your future you need to know that every market is different with prices varying greatly from county to county, even from town to town. Buyer preferences for lot sizes, locations, offers of owner financing, permitted uses, access and other factors will determine the potential value for your property. Call us to get an estimate of your land value today.

SWOAM Turns 40

On Wednesday Peter and I attended the annual meeting of the Small Woodlands Owners Association of Maine. This year marks the 40th year for the non-profit group. SWOAM was formed in 1975 by a group of non-industrial forestland owners interested in sharing knowledge about how to better manage their private woodlands to improve tree quality, wildlife habitat and other topics important to Maine land owners.

This year's annual meeting featured an energetic Col. Rick LaFlamme of the Maine Warden Service explaining the New Landowner Relations Program being implemented by his department. The Warden Service, under Rick's leadership, promises to proactively assist Maine's landowners to deal with litter, property damage and the lack of respect shown by the few who don't appreciate the open access offered by many of our state's private land owners.

Maine author and outdoor expert George Smith spoke about his new book "A Life Lived Outdoors" and his good humor and obvious passion for Maine entertained those attending.

Hemant Pendse, University of Maine professor and Director of the Forest Bioproducts Research Institute gave a fascinating talk on new uses for wood including cross laminated wood, uses for nano cellulose, making liquid fuels such as jet fuel from wood and the potential for markets for wood derived sugars. The work of Dr. Pendse and others from the University of Maine, in collaboration with other colleges around the country and private businesses promises to keep Maine and the US the leaders in innovation for new forest products.

The after lunch session included Maine humorist Gary Crocker who kept the group laughing preventing that after meal downer. Following Gary, a panel of four discussed the future of Maine lumber and wood using mills in the state. The panel included members from the sawmill industry, paper industry, timberland appraisal and private consultants. Jason Brochu, of Pleasant River Lumber Company discussed the need for Maine forestland owners to produce quality saw logs and Donna Cassese, Managing Director of Wood Resource Strategy at Sappi Fine Paper told us how her mills have stayed profitable with niche products such as dissolving pulp.

The day was wrapped up with an interesting presentation by forest pathologist Bill Ostrofsky of the Maine Forest Service. Bill talked about well-known pests such as the spruce budworm and emerald ash borer. Bill also told us about a new strain of white pine blister rust fungus and hemlock shoot blight and how to identify these diseases.

Peter and I have been members of SWOAM for a short time. I can say as a Maine woodland owner you certainly get a good value from membership. The monthly newsletter, annual meeting/learning event, more than 50 workshops per year, legislative updates concerning land ownership and many other benefits more than offset the cost of membership.

To learn more about SWOAM, check out the website at http://www.swoam.org