2017 COFE Annual Meeting Report

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Hosted by:  NER.COFE and Univ. of Maine School of Forest Resources

 

July 30-August 2, 2017

Summary of Proceedings

The 40th Council on Forest Engineering Annual Meeting was held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bangor, Maine where 39 registered members, students, and guests gathered for some regional industry and resource presentations, research project update sessions, and an educational and entertaining field day.

On Sunday evening, the Executive Committee had a lengthy and productive discussion about locations for the upcoming COFE Annual Meetings.  2018 will be hosted by Virginia Tech and located in Williamsburg, VA.  2019 is being planned to coincide with FORMAC and held in Austria, while 2020 is proposed to host both COFE and FORMAC in Oregon.  The committee also discussed avenues to pursue that could increase our national membership and overall awareness of our organization.

After welcome addresses by our co-chairs, Ray Berthiaume and Anil Kizha, Dr. Steve Shaler gave us the Keynote Address.  Dr. Shaler talked about the programs at the University as well as an overview of the resource in Maine and the research being conducted.  The group then heard presentations about the Cooperative Forestry Research Unit at the University, from Dr. Brian Roth; the Status of the Maine Forest from Dave Struble of the Maine Forest Service; the Status and Health of the Forest Products Industry in Maine from Patrick Strauch of the Maine Forest Products Council; and the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine and the Master Logger Program from Ted Wright of the Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands.

After lunch, Michael Farrell from The Forest Farmers gave the participants a presentation about Maple Sugaring and the dilemma between managing for sugaring production or timber.  Dr. Han-Sup Han discussed a Forest Management Perspective regarding Biomass Energy.  

A group of presenters from Irving Woodlands shared the ‘sectors and settings’ initiative that has worked very well to drive efficiencies and partnerships between the forest managers, logging/trucking contractors, equipment manufacturers, and equipment dealers to unlock the potential of both humans and machines.  Wendy Farrand told us about her new program ‘Loggers for the Future,’ which is in its early stages but is showing promise to foster the interest of younger potential loggers and foresters.  The sessions wrapped up with a comparison of logging business characteristics across time and between regions, and a discussion about how ‘big data’ can cause ‘big problems’ within some of the sectors of the forest products industry.

The day concluded with dinner and awards banquet in Bangor, where three national awards were presented.  The Student Award winner for 2017 was John Lancaster from Auburn University.  The 2017 National Operator Award was presented to Brian Souers of Treeline, Inc.  The International Forest Engineering Achievement Award recipient for 2017 was Dr. Dale Greene from the University of Georgia.  John, who recently graduated and accepted a new employment opportunity could not be present, however, both Brian and Dale personally received their awards and had the opportunity to speak to the group.  Both recipients were very humbled by being chosen for their honors, and both will undoubtedly carry the COFE initiatives and fundamentals into their future endeavors.

Our field day started with a visit to an active logging operation that is also the site of a research project being conducted by the Cooperative Forestry Research Unit and the School of Forest Resources.  The opportunity for discussion with the land management forester, the logging contractor, and the feller-buncher operator was provided and everyone left with at least a little more knowledge about mechanized harvest operations in northern New England. 

Then, to follow along with the conference theme, Forest Engineering, From Where We’ve Been to Where We’re Going, the group had lunch and toured the logging museum and historic sawmill buildings at Leonard’s Mills and Logging Museum.  One of the highlights here was to see one of the first tracked log haulers ever used in the forest, the Lombard Log Hauler.  From Leonard’s Mills the tour moved to the Advanced Structures and Composites Lab at the University of Maine.  Here the presentations and tour were centered on some of the research projects being conducted and developed at this facility, and where some aspects of the forest products industry are headed.  The field day concluded with a lobster dinner along the shores of the Stillwater River.

The final day of the conference was full of research presentations by students and/or their professors.  Between breakfast and lunch, the attendees were involved in 23 different discussions and presentations with research being conducted across North America.  All of these presentations, as well as the day one presentations, are available for download on the COFE website.

Thank you to the NER.COFE Planning Committee and the national COFE Executive Committee for their time, advice, thoughts, and ideas in planning and implementing the conference.  Also, thank you to our partners:  The Advanced Structures and Composites Center, UMaine; the Cooperative Forestry Research Unit, UMaine; Maine Forest and Logging Museum; Maine Forest Products Council; Maine Forest Service; NER.COFE; Professional Logging Contractors of Maine; and the School of Forest Resources, UMaine; and to our sponsors:  John Deere, SAPPI North America, Chadwick Ba-Ross, Inc., Huber Resources Corp., and Seven Islands Land Company, for making this 2017 COFE Annual Meeting a success.