The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has announced two awards that will expand outreach to all 16 Maine counties in an effort to address the growing threat from invasive forest pests.

The Maine Association of Conservation Districts Employees Committee and the Saco River Recreational Council received continued funding, $35,000 and $5,000, respectively, for their efforts to provide outreach and education to engage citizens in helping protect Maine forests.

DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb says early detection of invasive pests such as Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer, hemlock woolly adelgid, winter moth and others are crucial in protecting the forest products and forest recreation industries in a state that is 90% forested. “Once these insects have established a foothold in other states, they become difficult if not impossible to eradicate. By working in partnership with soil and water conservation districts in all 16 counties and community partners along the Saco River, we can better protect our forest resources and economies.”

Whitcomb says early detection of invasive forest pets can be accomplished through outreach and education efforts. These efforts have been show to reduce the costs and resources needed for a management response and increase the chances of eradication success.

Katahdin Irons State Park (Maine DACF/Facebook)

The DACF has been conducting outreach and education since 2009 with funding provided by the Farm Bill Section 10007. The Maine Association of Conservation Districts Employees Committee, in partnership with 12 county conservation districts in Southern and Central Maine, and the Saco River Recreational Council were both awarded funding under a competitive Request for Proposal issued by the DACF in 2015. This year’s awards continue the outreach provided by these organizations, expanding outreach to all 16 counties in Maine.

Karen Coluzzi, DACF State Pest Survey Coordinator says the awards increase support for management and mitigation efforts, and increase reporting of potential pest sightings to federal or state authorities.

For more information on invasive forest pest outreach and education in Maine, contact Karen Coluzzi at the DACF Division of Animal and Plant Health at Karen.L.Coluzzi@Maine.Gov or at (207) 287-7551.

To read more about the Department’s efforts to address forest invasive pests, access the annual accomplishment reports.  A synopsis is also available on the Department’s Forest Pest Outreach and Survey Project .