Finch Paper recently opened its mill (and forests) in Glens Falls, NY, to several industry media and analysts, myself included. The tour featured an up-close view of the 145-year-old company’s integrated paper-making facility, which includes a woodyard, pulp mill and four paper machines. Overall, the mill produces about 700 tons of uncoated text and cover, opaque, digital and office papers a day.
With its hands-on, feet-in-the-forest approach, much of the wood that Finch uses for its papers comes from the forests that it manages for the Nature Conservancy (producing 75 percent of its own pulp). More than two-thirds of the company's energy needs are met by renewable resources—hydropower from the river outside of the mill and biomass from the bark and unused chips of raw material. Because of the environmentally responsible approach that Finch has practiced since its outset, the company has greatly reduced its carbon footprint. In 2009, Finch reduced its emissions by 14 percent and is on track for an additional 6 percent reduction in 2010.
For the second part of the Finch Paper tour, Finch forester Leonard Cronin took our group into the forest, which provided an example of a typical “shelterwood” system in action (a technique where the largest and healthiest trees in a forest stand are the last to be harvested, so that they can provide seeds and shelter for the next generation of forest). Cronin also explained the steps involved prior to the start of a timber harvest.
We also met up with Finch forester Danielle LaValley, who explained the process for marking the trees that will eventually be removed by loggers. During and after the harvest, the foresters revisit the woods to look for the marks at the bottoms of the trunks in order to see if the correct trees have been cut.
While in the forest, we also had the opportunity to meet with loggers and see the various equipment that is used for cutting trees.
Roger Dziengeleski, Finch Paper’s vice president and senior forester, also stressed the role of clear cutting in forests for ensuring long-term forest health. "Clear cuts have developed a bad name because they are not aesthetically appealing," Dziengeleski explained, "but when used on a limited basis in a patch arrangement, it can be both very effective and consistent with what Mother Nature does in the Adirondack mountains. It’s really about mimicking Mother Nature’s clear cuts, both in size and shape, in order to remove all of the mature, stagnant trees and allow the next generation of forest to take root."
To learn more about the forests that Finch Paper manages, visit Dziengeleski's “Finch in the Forest” blog