Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin has co-sponsored a bill that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work in logging operations under parental supervision.

The Future Logging Career Act, which Poliquin introduced in partnership with Republican U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, would allow family logging businesses to begin training their sons and daughters at an earlier age. The bill is limited to the 16 and 17-year-old sons and daughters of logging business owners working under parental supervision on mechanized operations who are looking to get involved in the family-owned business.

“Outdated regulations from Washington haven’t kept up, preventing young Mainers from pursuing careers in the trade in Maine, which largely consists of family-run businesses that have operated for generations in our state,” said Poliquin in a news release. “This important legislation will give young Mainers the opportunities to pursue a career path in logging, while also helping to maintain jobs in the industry in Maine for many more generations to come.”

Brian Souers, owner of Treeline Inc. in Lincoln, said Poliquin’s bill addresses a real problem for many family-owned operations. He said his own daughter, who is now 29 and involved in Treeline, started working in the woods with him at an early age. “Probably, we broke the law at some point when she was younger, and I’m sure there are some other logging families who have broken the same laws,” he said.

Souers said exposing people to modern logging equipment while they’re still in high school is crucial to sustaining the industry. He wishes Poliquin’s proposal went beyond just family members. Current law says workers need to be 18 before they can handle most logging equipment.

From Bangor Daily News: