The Maine Development Foundation presented Robbins Lumber Inc. of Searsmont, Maine with its ‘champion of economic development’ award this week at its annual meeting in Bangor, honoring the company for its history of sustainable forest management in the state. Founded in 1881 as a small stave mill on the St. George River, the company now owns and manages 30,000 acres of its own forests, and also purchases logs from over 150 independent loggers.
“This family-owned, fifth generation forestry, lumber and woods products business knows a thing or two about Maine’s forest economy,” says Jonathon Labonte, MDF board member and executive director of the Governor’s Office of Policy and Management. “The Robbins family has managed Maine’s forest resources sustainably so they can be here as a resource for future generations. They understand the history of Maine’s forest economy, even as they look to the future by building a biomass plant that will not only help their business but also provide a boost to the local economy.”
“The challenges to Maine’s forest products industry are significant but not insurmountable,” says Labonte. “Robbins Lumber is a shining example of a Maine business committed to investment and stewardship.”
Robbins Lumber, which employs more than 115 people, produces Eastern White Pine lumber and byproducts in its mill. According to its mission statement, the company began working with the state of Maine in 1997 to conserve an entire township that they had recently acquired to manage for forest products. The centerpiece of the property is 5,100-acre Nicatous Lake, one of Maine’s most beautiful bodies of water, with pristine sand beaches.
“When we first bought the Nicatous land we believed we’d be forced to sell the shoreline for development,” says Jim Robbins. “But one day we got out on the lake in a boat. Just ahead of us three bald eagles were sitting in a tree and we could hear loons calling. I said to my brother, ‘We have to find another way.”
Through a combination of a working forest easement and the state acquisition of key shoreline areas, Robbins was able to help preserve the ecological, recreational and economic values of over 20,000 acres surrounding Nicatous Lake in perpetuity. You can learn more about the company’s dedication to sustainability on its website.
Main photo via Robbins Lumber; second photo courtesy of the Maine Development Foundation via Mainebiz