A spruce budworm website, designed to be a comprehensive communications outreach tool and resource for the coming outbreak in Maine, has been launched by a statewide task force.
The site (www.sprucebudwormmaine.org) and companion Facebook page (Spruce Budworm Maine) were designed and developed by Maine Spruce Budworm Task Force members from the Maine Forest Service, the Maine Forest Products Council, the Maine Tree Foundation, and the University of Maine’s Center for Research on Sustainable Forests and Cooperative Forestry Research Unit, with input from leading experts on the spruce budworm.
The website provides facts about the natural cycle of the budworm, current information regarding the approach and potential impacts of the next outbreak, an historical backdrop, and interactive maps on current outbreak status and citizen science. It also includes an interactive Q&A on the site, and the ability to request experts to speak at events and conferences. Additional pages are planned as the outbreak continues to cover where intervention efforts such as spraying or salvage logging are happening, links to the latest modeling of the effectiveness of response efforts, and lesson plans for teachers to use with their students.
The eastern spruce budworm is believed to be the most damaging forest insect in Maine and North America. Outbreaks of the insect that kills balsam fir and spruce trees occur every 30 to 60 years. During the last outbreak, which lasted from 1970–85, the insect decimated up to 25 million cords of spruce/fir wood, 21 percent of all fir trees in the state, according to the Maine Forest Products Council. The infestation cost the state’s forest-based economy hundreds of millions of dollars and had lasting effects on forest management. Although no defoliation in Maine has yet begun, significant infestations in New Brunswick and Quebec indicate that the next outbreak is at our doorstep.
The Maine Spruce Budworm Task Force formed in 2013 to determine the economic and ecological effects another outbreak might have on the state and a strategy to minimize those effects. During the last outbreak there was a lack of communication about what was being done to protect Maine’s forestlands from the budworm devastation and why. Thus, the goal of the new website is to provide comprehensive information on the coming budworm outbreak that is easily accessible to and usable by the public as well as forest industry members, educators, and government officials.
Alison Kanoti, Maine Forest Service
Roberta Scruggs, Maine Forest Products Council
Meg Fergusson, University of Maine Center for Research on Sustainable Forests
Pat Sirois, Sustainable Forestry Initiative