Sunday, January 24, 2021

Finch Paper uses 45% hemlock; not worried yet

Hemlock “remains very important” to Finch Paper, Mike McLarty, Vice-President of Forestry, told The Chronicle Monday.

“It is approximately 45 percent of our intake of wood fiber.”

Asked about the growing presence of the invasive insect Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, he said, “We have been watching it spread for the past seven, eight years. It’s been kind of moving from the Southern Tier this way.

“It’s something that concerns us,” he said, but that the Glens Falls papermaker is not now imperiled by it. “We span about a 150-mile radius [for obtaining logs]. We feel we’re very well diversified. We’ll still be able to source the fiber we need.”

He said that when the hemlock woolly adelgid was found at Prospect Mountain in 2017, Finch checked hemlocks on nearby private lands it forests and found no evidence of the bug there.

“Our foresters are trained to identify it,” Mr. McLarty said.

He suggests that “it’s actually good we have a consumer like Finch in the area” foresting on private lands, while no cutting takes place on state land.

Besides the fact that foresters have an eye on the trees, he said it gives land owners a chance “to try and harvest trees that might be infected” and “slow it down and minimize the damage” and “start a new young stand” subsequently.

With hemlock amounting to 45 percent of Finch’s fiber, what makes up the other 55 percent?

“Mixed hardwood,” Mr. McLarty replied. “Maple, birches, oak, beech. We use ash as well.” He referenced the recent discovery of the likewise devastating emerald ash borer in Schroon.

“New York State has a very health population of hardwoods,” Mr. McLarty said, but that the emerald ash borer is “equally important to keep an eye on.”

— Mark Frost

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