Erik Carlson doesn’t get out of the woods very often. He works in the woods. He lives in the woods, and he “woodn’t” have it any other way.
In a rare moment of adventure, I ran into Erik just outside my Hannaford office. We met in my annex, just east of the canned vegetable aisle. I was trying to find an old favorite Vermont applesauce and he may have just added some baked beans to his shopping cart. We bonded as veteran shoppers just before the holiday weekend onslaught.
We caught up as shoppers often do. I hadn’t seen Erik since my visit to his pellet manufacturing operation up in the Boothbay Industrial Park. Heck of a facility which consumed him and all the wood he could manage. Sorry it met with so many insurmountable obstacles.
But, as Erik quickly pointed out, “Life goes on” and, by George, it has.
For many summers, Erik went west, working with highly trained forest fire fighting crews. At the same time he was still working as a certified forest management person here in Maine. He has all the credentials required to properly manage and care for wood lots, something that has become even more critical in recent times.
Erik mentioned a job on Westport Island which was his current work space. Hemlock Woolly adelgid is making unfavorable advances. He has been tasked by a private coastal landowner with removing infected trees that are dying. I had never seen the diseased trees and Erik gave me a full-blown tour of what happens when this critter strikes. It’s pretty unsettling stuff. The hemlocks are getting clobbered.
The Maine Forest Service is overwhelmed and trying to track the advances of Woolly adelgid, but they are understaffed and must rely of qualified trained individuals, like Erik, to help with communication and management. It’s only a matter of time, Erik says, before the disease will spread to other species. It is a cycle that is well underway, encouraged by warming temperatures, once more controlled by deeper, longer, colder winters.
I hope to see Erik again sometime when he comes out of the woods. Then perhaps, I will bump into him in aisle three at the Hannaford store!