To successfully prepare for and respond to the coming SBW outbreak a number of governmental policies, rules, and regulations must be addressed, especially those related to insecticide applications and harvesting practices. Determining how responsibilities for monitoring and protection programs will be divided among state government, federal agencies, and private landowners also present a special challenge.
The following key policy, regulatory, and funding issues were identified the Maine Spruce Budworm Task Force.
Maine Spruce Budworm Management Act
A review the Spruce Budworm Management Act to determine whether any changes are needed given likely changes in roles and responsibilities between the state government and private landowners in managing the next SBW outbreak. If changes are required, modifications to the Act should be presented to the State Legislature for review and passage. It will also be necessary to maintain an open dialogue on the SBW among private landowners, state government, and environmental nongovernmental organizations. The Maine Spruce Budworm Management Act is a subchapter of the Maine Forest Health & Monitoring statute.
Resource Needs for Monitoring SBW Populations and Damage
The Maine Forest Service (MFS) has a legislated mandate through its Division of Forest Health & Monitoring “to protect the forest, shade and ornamental tree resources of the state from significant insect and disease damage and to provide pest management and damage prevention for homeowners, municipalities, and forest land owners and managers, thereby preserving the overall health of Maine’s forest resources.” Therefore, the MFS will have responsibility for coordinating all SBW monitoring efforts during the outbreak. However, state budgets are severely constrained and thus limit the financial and labor resources available from state government to meet increased monitoring needs. As a result, private forest landowners will need to supplement required monitoring activities by providing training and field support within their organizations under the supervision and verification of MFS. Efforts have already begun to build and expand on MFS training programs and protocols for developing a joint state and private landowner collaborative monitoring program, and the state must work closely with the Quebec and New Brunswick governments and forest industry to learn from and collaborate with their SBW monitoring programs.
Resource and Regulatory Needs for Aerial Insecticide Program
The SBW insecticide program developed for the coming outbreak will be substantially different than the program used during the 1970s–80s outbreak. Significant changes have been made–the Maine Spruce Budworm Management Act shifted shared responsibility for aerial insecticide applications among private landowners, state government, and federal authorities, and defined new responsibilities for the operational and financial aspects of participating in a statewide insecticide program; and the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (MBPC) was established in 1987 as the lead state agency for pesticide oversight. The MBPC will play a key regulatory role in forest landowners being able to protect their high-value stands from the SBW. It will also be important that the public notification requirements of the MBPC facilitate spray operations so that they can be applied when and where required. It is unclear at this stage whether the certification and licensing requirements for spray monitors and spotters is up to date given the likely use of site-specific prescriptions using biological materials for targeted insecticide applications. The MFS and MFPC should work with MBPC to address obsolete requirements of 22MRSA §1471-S (Requirement for spotters and monitors for aerial forest treatment projects). This requirement is outdated with the availability GPS-based navigation systems for aircraft. Furthermore, large landowners anticipating the need for insecticide applications should consider exploring options for developing a cooperative organization for coordinating and delivering aerial insecticide applications, while the MFS should work with insecticide manufacturers and the MBPC to ensure that products currently registered in Maine are available in sufficient quantities, and that all state and federal regulatory compliance requirements have been met.
Streamlined Approval Process for Adaptive Harvesting and Salvage Cutting
Successfully mitigating damage from the SBW will require that landowners adapt harvest plans in the coming years to reduce the area of high-risk stands where possible. Due to regulations imposed by the 1989 Forest Practices Act since the last SBW outbreak, however, harvesting activity is severely limited on many thousands of acres in regulated separation zones. Many of these separation zones are currently in high-risk SBW conditions, but forest landowners wishing to adapt their harvest plans to reduce the area in high-risk conditions cannot operate in these stands without violating the FPA. It will be of vital interest to landowners and the public to determine the best regulatory mechanism to establish a standards-based approval process that is scientifically sound and field-efficient, and to prepare legislation defining the regulatory process for determining an expedited process for areas categorized as high SBW risk. Financial and labor resources required for MFS to provide forest inventory data of sufficient accuracy to report statewide inventory changes resulting from adaptive harvesting to reduce high-risk SBW stands and salvage harvesting of dead and dying trees also need to be determined.