by: Jessica O'Hare

Map of MicrogranteesThe Maine Woods Tourism Training Initiative is a project of the Northern Forest Center and the Maine Woods Consortium, in partnership with seven economic development organizations. Its focus is strengthening tourism businesses across 12 million acres of forestland and forest communities in seven counties of the Maine Woods.  

The recent conclusion of a USDA Rural Development grant that supported the project prompted us to reflect on the Initiative’s impact and what we’ve learned over the past three years:

  • 49 trainings
  • 717 Employees Trained
  • 295 Tourism Businesses
  • 454 Total Businesses

The project took it one step further than training alone. To help businesses act on the ideas the trainings offered, we provided small grants to help them take on strategic projects with the help of an outside consultant. See a map of all grantees. Together, we delivered:

  • 38 small grants to businesses, totaling $44,280
  • $66,480 in private investment leveraged
  • Assistance to 51 business owners
  • Strengthening jobs for 113 full time employees and 133 part-time or seasonal employees

By: Julie Renaud Evans, Maura Adams and Jessica O'Hare

MainSt Lancaster Blog

Exploring Lancaster, NH is like finding a hidden jewel.  It’s a beautiful town nestled between the Northern White Mountains and the Connecticut River valley in northwest New Hampshire. The waters of the Israel River that run through town once powered manufacturing and mills; today it weaves quietly through the heart of the community. Fertile fields along these rivers support one of the largest family-run dairy farms in New Hampshire, and provide a pastoral setting to two covered bridges. Downtown Lancaster is home to successful businesses – a bakery, movie theater, fitness center and more on the way. The former Lancaster National Bank that dominates one end of Main Street is currently being renovated as a business center with a brew pub, an art gallery and maybe a business incubator.

Bethel Community Forest Planning Committee Initial Meeting Whole Room webBethel, Maine is a recreation hub for western Maine. It’s home to Sunday River ski resort. The town holds the world record for building the largest snowoman and snowoman as part of winterfestivas. It is a destination wedding location.  A world-class gem and mineral museum is very close to opening its doors. Bethel has a lot going for it.

Yet, we’ve heard from Bethel residents that they are concerned about demographic trends that face many other Northern Forest communities – an aging population, fewer school-aged children, and lagging wages.

Bethel is working to build on its existing recreation economy. They want to make Bethel a quality place for people to live, and for tourists to visit. Mahoosuc Pathways and many other partners want to build extensive recreational trails that are primarily for the community and second, but also provide diverse activities for tourists, as part of a community revitalization effort.

This week, the town began publicly exploring the acquisition of forestland to create a Community Forest.  The proposed property is near the ski resort, and adjacent to important conserved lands.  It would provide important access to other town property and could be a place for more trails. A newly established Planning Committee held its first public planning meeting. Dozens of people packed into the Gem Theatre to learn more, ask questions, and contribute to making important initial decisions.

 A Boston Globe reporter wrote an article that gets many things wrong about modern wood heat. Our Vice President, Joe Short, responds on twitter.Joe Twitter

1. This article is full of statements that are simply not true. Hard to twitter-speak on such a complicated topic, but here goes (THREAD):
@davabel Burning trees for fuel may soon qualify for state subsidies via @BostonGlobe

2. Key context: incentives under consideration are thermal credits under MA Alternative Portfolio Standard; wood heat, not wood electric.

3. Distinction matters because critics quoted in the article cite studies on wood electric and imply the conclusions apply to wood thermal as well. Not true.

4. In fact, they ignore positive findings for wood thermal in the very same study on wood electric they use to inaccurately attack wood thermal. They didn’t mention that the cited @ManometCenter study says: “switch to biomass yields [GHG]benefits within 1st decade when oil-fired thermal is replaced.”

5. Similar misdirection regarding air quality, implying that incentives would lead to “soot.” NO. $ only for high efficiency, low emissions tech.