Two companies affiliated with the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington have been fined a total of $95,000 by the state for clear-cutting trees from two plots of land and several other violations of environmental law.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation’ s Maine Forest Service announced Friday that the two agencies entered into an agreement with Worcester Holdings LLC of Columbia Falls and Worcester Peat Co. Inc. in Deblois for violations cited by both agencies.

The Maine DEP and Maine Forest Service say Worcester intended to plant balsam firs on the clear-cuts to support its wreath-making operation.

That would have been OK. But the companies never followed through on those plans and they were found to be in violation of rules governing the cutting of trees. The violations occurred on multiple sites in Washington County and included clear-cuts on parcels of 139 and 32 acres.

Jim Beyer, regional enforcement supervisor for the Division of Land Resources Regulation for the Maine Department of Protection, said Friday that it was a hefty fine. “That was pretty big,” he said.

Other state officials also said Friday that it appears that this is the first time in the past decade that the two companies have been fined for violations of Maine law.

Jim Reid of the Attorney General’ s Office did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Worcester Peat Co. Inc. is in the peat harvesting business. According to the Maine secretary of state, the shareholders for that company are Morrill Worcester, his wife, Karen, and Pamela Slaven, all of Columbia Falls.

Morrill Worcester is named as the manager of Worcester Holdings, LLC. It is described as a property land holdings company in the 2008 annual report of the Maine secretary of state.

Morrill Worcester did not immediately return a telephone call to his office from The Associated Press, nor could he be reached at home by the Bangor Daily News because he has an unlisted telephone number.

The state action resulted in the issuance of a nine-page Consent Agreement and Order to which Worcester company officials agreed.

Worcester Holdings began harvest operations around 2002 on a 350-acre parcel that resulted in 139 acres and 32 acres of timber being cleared as a change of land use for a wreath brush operation, a Maine Forest Service staff member said Friday night. The Maine Forest Service informed the company it had to complete the land use change within two years of completing the timber harvest. However, Worcester Holdings failed to complete the land use change within two years of completing the timber harvest as required by Maine’ s forest practices rules.

“These actions resulted in the creation of Category 2 and Category 3 clearcuts that lacked required harvest plans prepared prior to the harvest by a licensed forester, and that lacked required separation zones. Other harvesting activities resulted in the creation of additional clearcuts,” the release added.

In the consent order, Worcester Holdings LLC and Worcester Peat Co. Inc. accepted responsibility for the violations and agreed to pay a $95,000 civil penalty. The civil penalty is intended to remove the financial benefit associated with the violations, the consent decree said.

The consent order also resolves the following violations of laws administered by the DEP:

? Failing to obtain permits for construction of a warehouse and worker housing.

? Failing to properly construct and maintain ponds and other structures at the Denny Heath peat mining site.

? Discharging of peat and other sediment into McCoy Brook and the Narraguagus River.

? Disturbing a stream channel, discharging soil into a stream, improperly replacing culverts with rocks and placing fill material in a wetland.

? Failing to renew air emissions license before its expiration.

? Use of wood bottom ash in the construction of a road without a license.

Morrill Worcester has been in the news in the past, but not for violations of state law.

Earlier this month, artist J. Normand Martin presented Worcester with a painting at a ceremony at the State House in Augusta. Gov. John Baldacci was there to honor the man who began the Arlington Wreath Project in 1992.

The Arlington project uses volunteers to place donated wreaths on tombstones of veterans buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Last year, 10,000 wreaths were placed in the cemetery.

Worcester started his mail-order wreath venture in 1984 in the three-story, former Harrington Elementary School. As his business grew he expanded and now has several ventures.

The Office of the Attorney General, DEP staff, MFS foresters and MFS forest rangers carried out the investigation, enforcement action and settlement negotiations.

The Associated Press

contributed to this report.