The spruce budworm outbreak of the 1970s and 1980s has had a profound influence on how the Maine forest industry has evolved over the past 30 years. The outbreak influenced markets, necessitated the increase of manufacturing to accommodate broad scale salvage, and required a buildup in harvesting capacity that would eventually result in overcapacity and decline of logging jobs. Public opinion was influenced in a manner that resulted in three statewide forest practices referenda that cost the industry in excess of $14 million. In addition, wildlife habitats were influenced–some negative with reduction of deer wintering areas, and some positive with increase habitat for moose, snowshoe hare and their primary predator the Canadian Lynx.
The Spruce Budworm Task Force, of which the Maine Forest Products Council is a founding partner, is attempting to benefit from lessons learned during the last outbreak and be proactive to mitigate potential negative impacts from the future infestation. The Task Force’s efforts aim to enhance research efforts and project/model future conditions so that appropriate investments in forest management, manufacturing, and harvesting capacity are in place to utilize the wood generated by this future outbreak while attempting to mitigate negative impacts on wildlife habitats, recreation and other forest resources.
Regardless of your role in Maine’s forest industry, whether directly if you are operating in or sourcing wood from the affected areas or indirectly by the associated market reactions to a significant influx of spruce and fir into the supply chain, the next SBW outbreak will likely affect you. We hope that the material found in this website facilitate communications between forest industry professionals and among interested parties in the public and government. While the severity of any future outbreak is difficult to quantify, proactive measures by the industry and partners are intended to lessen the overall impact on the state’s forests, its wildlife resources, the forest industry, and the state’s overall economy.