Author (Your Name)

Steven A. Tatko, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. History Dept.


Paul R. Josephson


For three hundred years the forest products industry has sustained the economy of Maine. Private industrial ownership maintained timber yields and preserved public access for much of the twentieth century. A Spruce Budworm outbreak in the 1970s and 1980s undermined the stability of the industry and the socioeconomic system of the state. The budworm, a conifer-eating insect provoked heavy-handed forest management practices which have had lasting effects on forest health. The pulp and paper economy experienced rapid changes which decreased the price of wood and heightened tension between corporate owners and loggers due to the industrial response to a natural event. In the midst of the epidemic the environmental movement found support among a population that became increasingly concerned with the health of the forests and rivers. Pressure from new sources of foreign competition and industry wide movements to modernize drove paper companies to take drastic measures to ensure the continued profitability of their industrial systems. The industrial response to the budworm changed the sectors of forestry, labor and technology, economics, and environmental politics within the forest products industry in Maine. At the end of the first decade of the new millennium Maine stands at a crossroad that will have lasting effects on the future of the forest. The massive transition in ownership from industrial to private investment firms threatens to forever change Maine's ecological and economic stability. Only by understanding the events of the budworm era it is possible to comprehend the gravity of the situation facing the north woods today.


Full-text download restricted to Colby College campus only.


forest produts, Maine, Economy, Spruce Budworm