With 17 years of experience in logging, safety, administration and governmental affairs, Mike St. Peter is the driving force behind St. Peter Safety Services, a state-wide logging safety consulting business located in Jackman. Since going into business for himself in 1986, St. Peter has worked with individual logging contractors and sawmills, holding safety meetings, training sessions, and on-site instruction. St. Peter has also been one of the driving forces behind Certified Logging Professionals (CLP), a program that teaches loggers safety awareness in week-long sessions.
St. Peter is solid North Maine Woods. He was born on the banks of the Thoroughfare, a stretch of water between St. Cross Lake and Long Lake. He grew up in an unorganized township, and his parents both worked in the forest industry. He started as an exploratory mining technician and soon moved on to performing logging-and-sawmill safety inspections.
St. Peter cited awareness of safety issues by contractors and loggers as the biggest change he’s seen in the logging business. He also mentioned changes in new equipment designs and the rise of mechanical harvesting. “We’ve had to look at different equipment operations and adjust our programs to fit the new needs,” he said.
St. Peter has numerous interests outside the woods as well. He is an emergency medical technician, serves as a board member for SAD 12 in Jackman, and also serves as a public representative to the National Council of Compensation Insurance (NCCI) insurance appeals board. In the past, he has been chairman of the Jackman Budget Committee and was a member of the Governor’s Advisory Task Force to Maine Employer’s Mutual Insurance Company.
St. Peter takes a great amount of satisfaction from knowing the work that he does is “somewhat altruistic in nature. You really feel you’re making a difference in helping to prevent injuries. Each time you walk away from an employer or employee, you can’t help but think you’ve made their work-place safer.”
He said that he enjoys working with loggers, because he finds them to be hard-working, down-to-earth, no-nonsense people whom he can work with in an up-front manner. In fact, if he could change one thing in the logging business, St. Peter said, “I’d like to see loggers get more recognition from the general public. People tend to lose sight of the fact they’re performing one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. There are relatively few of them, and yet they support a huge and important industry that is important to our state.
“A lot of people don’t realize they face long days and hard work in all kinds of weather and varying conditions, and that’s why I think they deserve more recognition,” he said.
As for the future of logging in Maine, St. Peter thinks it will remain an important industry. With St. Peter’s efforts, the woods should continue to become safer, and loggers might just receive the long overdue and hard-earned recognition they deserve.
Scott D. Peterson is an instructor in the continuing education division at Husson College.