For over 40 years, The Lyme Timber Company LP (“Lyme”) has invested in US timberland. It partners with rural communities to sustainably manage working forestland, often resulting in a range of positive environmental and economic outcomes such as the sale of working forest conservation easements and the creation of new, living wage jobs. Headquartered in New Hampshire, Lyme has worked in woodlands in the Northeast, Appalachian region, California, and the US South.
The Lyme Mountaineer investment adds 118,300 acres of timberlands located in Wyoming, McDowell, Mingo and Logan Counties of West Virginia to Lyme’s portfolio of land. Through Mountaineer, Lyme aims to improve worker safety and create new employment opportunities for individuals living in the highly distressed area of West Virginia, which suffer from poverty rates as high as 37.9% and unemployment as high as 14.8%.
Due to its steep and mountainous terrain, West Virginia woodlands are particularly difficult to safely harvest, with loggers using chainsaws on steep slopes, making them susceptible to injury when trees fall or are moved.
To address these safety issues, Lyme will focus on bringing “winch-assist” harvesting technology to the region. The technology allows logging crews to operate harvesting machines on slopes that were previously logged by hand. Harvesting machines are tethered by cables to an anchor machine at the top of the slope that supports the harvesting machine to remain upright on the hill. Use of harvesting machines protects workers by moving them inside a safety cab, increases productivity, and can create higher paying jobs with better benefits.
Though used in Canada, New Zealand, and the Pacific Northwest, tethered harvesting systems has yet to be used in the Eastern US. The flexible financing from CEI Capital Management (CCML), via the NMTC program, helps make the cost of testing its implementation possible. With the new ownership and the skills needed to operate this new technology, this project will preserve two dozen current contracting jobs and aims to create five new direct jobs and 18.5 new contractor jobs. All direct Lyme employees received pay substantially above the living wage for the area and include health, life and disability insurance, and an employer-matched 401(k) retirement plan.
CCML allocated $20 Million in NMTC capacity to finance the project. Capital One, N. A. provided the NMTC equity, while a Lyme affiliate provided the debt financing for the transaction, which closed June 29, 2018.