The Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in Maine is working with women to ensure they have the skills necessary to manage the state’s forestland.
In the past three years of developing and modifying the Chainsaw Safety for Women workshop, the conservation district has offered four sessions, three solely for women, and another in which at least half of the attendees were female.
“Many people in this county don’t have a house with a lawn,” said Kacey Weber, Piscataquis SWCD educational coordinator. “They have a house with wooded acreage, and our county has an aging population, so we were thinking, ‘How do we aid in getting people to work on their forested lands in constructive ways?’ We chose to serve women with this program, because we saw the need in this county.”
Piscataquis County is the second-largest county in the state, but it is among the least populated. Of its 17,500 people, 45 percent are over the age of 45; more than 17 percent are over age 65, and just under 10 percent are women living alone.
“Primarily, what we’re seeing are women who have lost their significant others, where they are left with acreage to care for,” said Weber. “And how can they do that when they’re struggling to find arborists and people to come out and help?”