Another productive year for Wisconsin urban forestry!

Written by Jeff Roe, Urban Forestry Team Leader

As I reflect on this year, what stands out to me is cohesion and enthusiasm. Within the DNR, Division of Forestry, Urban Forestry Team and with our partners, I feel that communication, enthusiasm and follow-through have been hallmarks of this year.


I really want to thank and acknowledge our partners in urban forestry – members of our UF Council, professional organizations (League of Wisconsin Municipalities, WI Arborist Association, UW-Extension, the green industry, etc.), non-profits and our municipal partners! The amazing efforts and contribution of our partners is a large part of the progress of Wisconsin urban and community forestry. The dedication, collaboration and enthusiasm of all of you make this an exciting productive and innovative industry.

This has been a solid year for our staff, with several successful projects wrapping up and new ones starting. We have also had some staff changes this year: Alex Elias has moved on to graduate school, Abner Jacobsen left to seek opportunities out west, and Sarah Zimmerman joined our team to work on our grant program.

Here is a list of some of the major accomplishments and activities our team has been involved with during 2018:

Urban Forestry Team accomplishments in 2018

  1. We continued using the Department’s social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) to communicate with the public with regular ‘Map Mondays’ and Urban Tree Health posts.
  2. We continued working with local Rotary International clubs on their tree planting challenge. Highlights: Rotary District 6270 (southeastern WI) planted a total of 6,653 trees! 3,087 service hours were tallied and $144,460 was invested in trees! Rotary District 6220 (northern WI) planted 1754 trees and District 6250 (southwestern/western WI) planted 532 trees.
  3. Awarded 38 grants totaling roughly $533,000.
  4. Planted 444 trees in our 8th year of partnering with the Green Bay Packers in First Downs for Trees. These trees will provide $2,132,200 in benefits over their lifetime.
  5. Planted 120 trees and 14 shrubs on the Hank Aaron State Trail, Veteran’s Administration Hospital grounds, Milwaukee County Parks and the Village of West Milwaukee through our partnership with the Milwaukee Brewers in Root, Root, Root for the Brewers for the 8th year.
  6. Twenty-five students graduated the fourth Community Tree Management Institute.
  7. Fall Tree Planting Workshops – UW-Extension and DNR cohosted tree planting workshops in Madison, Oshkosh, Stevens Point and Waukesha. A total of 140 attendees participated in the workshops.
  8. Dr. Rich Hauer, UW-Stevens Point, worked with staff to revise and implement the ‘2017 Trees in Your Community’ questionnaire. The survey was sent to nearly 700 communities in the state and a final report is available.
  9. Staff have completed many outreach efforts over the year with students including Arbor Day and Tree City USA celebrations. Numbers for this year were: 190 Tree City USA communities; 10 Tree Line utilities; and 7 Tree Campus awardees.
  10. Created customized urban tree canopy factsheets for every incorporated city and village in Wisconsin – nearly 600 communities! Additionally, 86 inventory summary sheets were also created for those communities which had submitted their inventories.
  11. Staff gave presentations on Wisconsin’s Urban Forestry program at several conferences including: American Planning Association Wisconsin Chapter Annual Conference, Wisconsin Parks and Recreation Annual Conference and Trade Show, Growing Sustainable Communities Conference, and the Southeast Wisconsin Conservation Summit.
  12. Informed by results from the urban landowner survey, the WDNR partnered with the Wisconsin Arborist Association Board of Directors and UW Extension to develop and implement a paid Facebook ad campaign to connect Wisconsin homeowners with ISA Certified Arborists.
  13. Wisconsin successfully competed for a 2018 Landscape Scale Restoration grant to study the economic impact of the urban forest industry and resource in the Midwest and Northeastern region of the country. This three-year grant involves over 25 partners.
  14. Urban Forestry staff are working with a planning committee (consisting of partners from a variety of professions) and the Urban Forestry Council public health issue group to coordinate and implement the first ever “Good Health Grows on Trees: The Influence of Nearby Nature on Public Health” conference set to occur on May 30th, 2019.
  15. DNR Urban Forestry and Forest Products Services program are contracting with Wisconsin Urban Wood (WUW) to increase awareness and demand for urban wood among architects and designers. To achieve this, WUW will be developing American Institute of Architects (AIA) accredited curriculum and delivering this content through webinars and presentations.
  16. Along with many industry partners and employers the WDNR has been working with Madison College to support curriculum and instruction for the arboriculture industry. Madison College anticipates a Fall 2019 start date for its arboriculture programs. The College will begin by offering a 1-year diploma and a 2-year degree program.
  17. Wisconsin’s Registered Arborists Apprenticeship program has undergone some programmatic changes to address the needs of employers and to better align with the federal program. The advisory committee and the Technical College have increased efforts for outreach and recruitment of employers (sponsors). The number of registered apprentices has increased to 34. Madison area employers have been more actively recruiting apprentices, with hopes that the new arboriculture program at Madison College will be a source for the apprenticeship’s required paid related instruction.
  18. DNR contracted with a local drone photographer to capture stunning images of the urban forests in our largest cities, Milwaukee and Madison. These photos are available for public use and have already been used in multiple reports and presentations.
  19. Staff revamped the WDNR Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Community Toolbox website to reflect updates and changes in quarantines, messaging, tools and information.
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