- Falk, Jonathan
University of Maine
Silviculture will play a major role in an integrated protection management program for reducing damage by the spruce budworm. Harvesting must be carried out in old and young spruce-fir stands to remove fir and insure the success of spruce-fir regeneration. At present, most logging in Maine does too much damage to residual stands and regeneration to be acceptable for "budworm silviculture". Where conventional harvesting would lead to a regeneration failure, it may be less expensive to harvest carefully, than to be forced into replanting the area.
The silvicultural approach will, for a few years, result in an increased fir harvest which may exceed the capacity of Maine pulp mills and sawmills. Scandinavian pulp mills can provide a likely outlet for some of this wood. Much of the volume of fir in Maine is in trees too small to be merchantable by current Maine standards. Markets for whole-tree chips will allow these small trees to be used. Maine has a huge potential market for fir fuelwood, in the form of roundwood, chips, or charcoal. A cord of fir, burned in a wood stove, will delivery energy equivalent to more than 100 gallons of home heating oil.
A great variety of harvesting systems may be adapted to the requirements for handling spruce-fir stands infested by the spruce budworm. These include tree-length skidding with chainsaw felling, mechanized harvesting, and a variety of shortwood systems. While each harvesting method has its own advantages and limitations, many methods are quite expensive when small trees are cut. Four-wheel drive farm tractors, equipped with winches, are well suited to "budworm silviculture". Prebunching methods, in which the wood is brought to skid trails and then hauled out to a truck landing in a two-stage operation, are rarely used in Maine. This approach has a number of advantages for "budworm silviculture". Regardless of the harvesting system used, careful job layout and through training of loggers and supervisors are needed for successful harvesting.
Some of these harvesting methods are more labor-intensive than those which are currently being used in Maine. Maine currently has some unemployed and many underemployed loggers. There are also many former loggers now working at other occupations. If there is a demand for additional loggers which cannot be met by these groups, new workers must be trained by vocational schools or by employers. Loggers' wages,working conditions and living conditions must be improved to bring back former workers and attract new workers. Experienced loggers, supervisors, and foresters must be thoroughly trained in new logging methods to introduce these methods to Maine.
An analysis of a proposed partial cutting in a spruce-fir stand in northern Piscataquis County compares four tree-length logging methods. In this case logging with winch-equipped four-wheel drive farm tractors, with or without prebunching, is less expensive than using cable skidders or are hampered more by deep snow. An analysis of a proposed partial cutting on a small private woodlot in southern Piscataquis County shows that shortwood methods, using the landowner's small farm tractor, are preferable in this case.