Students and Others Prepare for the Next Spruce Budworm Outbreak
by Joe Rankin
Forest for Maine’s Future Writer
It’s not every educator who sees a teaching opportunity in a forest-munching nondescript brownish-gray moth. But Susan Linscott does. And not just an opportunity to inform her students, but her community as well about the spruce budworm, a cyclical pest of spruce and fir trees that is now poised to reappear in the Maine woods after a decades-long absence, with potentially devastating effect.
Linscott’s service learning class of seniors at Lee Academy has been learning about the budworm and for their second semester final project the students are helping plan a May 25 community-wide informational meeting about the insect and its potential ecological and economic effects. For Linscott, it’s a topical and timely subject, especially for the Penobscot County town, whose 900-plus people have a more intimate connection with the forest than in many other places, including many other towns in Maine.
“The forest is very much of a part of the community. We live in the woods,” said Linscott. She adds that the community has already been battered by the closures of paper mills in Millinocket, Lincoln, and Old Town. “People are nervous,” Linscott said. She added that she wants to provide information about how the local forest economy is changing and what they can expect.
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