Month: April 2019

Annual work plans available for state forests

Annual Property Implementation Plans now offer the ability to see planned management actions on state forests and other state-owned properties. The plans, including a searchable tool, can be found on the DNR website (dnr.wi.gov – keyword “APIP”).

State forests are governed by property master plans, which are developed with significant input from the public, but these plans cover long periods of time (up to 15 years) and do not describe annual activities.

Annual plans, developed by the forester, wildlife biologist, property manager, ecologist and others, identify the major work during the next year to implement the master plan for that property. These activities encompass a variety of forest and habitat management work, including timber sales, tree plantings, prescribed burns and invasive species control. In addition, plans are shared for recreation and infrastructure improvements, including trails, campgrounds, buildings, boat landings, roads or expanded parking. APIPs do not include routine maintenance or minor actions including mowing, building maintenance, inventory or field surveys.

If you are interested in planned work on one of our northern state forests (Black River, Peshtigo River, Governor Knowles, Northern Highland-American Legion, Flambeau River or Brule River State Forest), visit the Annual Property Implementation Plan webpage. Direct questions or comments to the state forest property managers listed in the plan.

2019 Spring Awakening

Written by Jeremiah Auer, Forest Regeneration Specialist

Spring has arrived, and, in the small southwestern Wisconsin community of Boscobel, the Wilson State Nursery has sprung into action. As soon as the frost leaves, it is the task of these dedicated employees to shake off the cold, start up the tractors and prepare to harvest 2.4 million tree and shrub seedlings for their journey from these fields to pine forests in Brule, wind breaks in Montello, wildlife plots in Merrill, erodible hill sides in Pepin and everywhere in-between. Wisconsin nursery seedlings provide future forest products, wildlife food and habitat, erosion protection and erosion control throughout the state. Continue reading “2019 Spring Awakening”

Wildfire Report

A total of 26 wildfires burned in DNR Protection Areas over the past week, burning 73 acres. Half of the fires were caused by debris burning. Eleven buildings were threatened and one was destroyed. Widespread rain and snow then lowered fire danger across the state.

Burning brush when the ground is completely snow covered.

The safest time to burn leaves, brush and pine needles is when the ground is completely snow-covered.

Spring is wildfire season and it’s important to remember that storm systems bringing snow and rain give a short reprieve in fire danger. While burning debris should always be your last alternative, the safest time to burn leaves, brush and pine needles is when the ground is completely snow-covered and will remain so for the duration of the burn.

As we dry out, expect fire danger to increase. There is plenty of dead grass and fallen leaves on the land that makes it easy for a wildfire to start and spread. Stay apprised of fire weather conditions by checking the DNR fire danger webpage each day after 11 a.m.: dnr.wi.gov, keyword “‘fire”.

Firewise Tip: Remove leaves and other debris that has accumulated next to buildings, in lawns, and on and under decks. Take special care to clean out dead material from evergreen shrubs near buildings. Compost these materials or take to a leaf collection site.

Make trees mean more

Spring is upon us and that means the tree planting season is too. Trees are vital to our environments; they provide individuals and communities with clean air, clean water, reduced cooling costs, safer neighborhoods, and a place to play and gather. But trees provide much more than that, they can help show how much we care for others, a beautiful living reminder of the legacy of a person. Arbor Day is this month, and it is the perfect time to plant a tree and illustrate our feelings for others. Continue reading “Make trees mean more”

DNR awards second round of urban forestry grants

The DNR Urban Forestry Grant program awarded over $70,000 to 3 Wisconsin communities and 1 nonprofit organization for urban forestry projects during our 2019 second round of funding. In order to ensure a pool of catastrophic storm funds throughout the year we award grants in two rounds rather than awarding all funds in December. The communities who received grants in the spring include City of Franklin, City of Milton, City of Oshkosh, and Riveredge Nature Center. Continue reading “DNR awards second round of urban forestry grants”

Wildfire Report

WILDFIRE REPORT FOR APRIL 4, 2019

Fire season is upon us. Each year an estimated 1,100 wildfires burn in DNR protection areas (about half the state, generally the more forested areas) and another estimated 2,500 wildfires burn in parts of the state where fire departments are the primary responders. Two-thirds of these fires occur in spring. There is a great deal of dry vegetation and fallen leaves and other debris present this time of year, which is quick to dry out. Accompanied by warmer weather, drops in humidity and gusty winds, wildfires can quickly ignite and spread. So far this year,75 fires have occurred, burning 569 acres. Main fire causes have been debris burning and equipment; 25 structures have been threatened by these fires and 2 buildings have been destroyed.

With the nicer weather, homeowners are cleaning up around their properties, sometimes choosing to burn leaves and branch debris. Debris burning is the leading cause of wildfires, especially this time of year. Burning is not your only option. Try alternatives such as composting or leaving brush in the woods for wildlife cover. The best practice is to not burn at all or to wait until surrounding vegetation greens-up in the summer. If you wish to burn, get a burning permit and follow the rules of the day. You can stay aware of fire danger and burning permit requirements by checking our website dnr.wi.gov, keyword “fire” or calling 1-888-WIS-BURN. Information is updated each day at 11 a.m.

Firewood stacked at least 30 feet from the home

Move firewood at least 30 feet away from your home.

Firewise Tip:  If you burn wood for home heating, it’s time to move any remaining firewood stacked near your home to a spot that’s at least 30 feet away. If you dump wood ash outdoors, spread the ash in an area free of vegetation and debris and drown with water to make sure any hidden embers are fully extinguished. Or leave the ash in a metal bucket with a tight- fitting lid until it is completely cool.

Protect oaks from oak wilt by waiting to prune

By Don Kissinger, urban forester, 715-348-5746, don.kissinger@wisconsin.gov and Paul Cigan, forest health specialist, 715-416-4920, paul.cigan@wisconsin.gov

To protect oak trees from the often-fatal oak wilt disease, don’t prune, cut or injure oak trees from April through July. 

Pruning and cutting oaks in spring and early summer leaves them vulnerable to oak wilt, which rapidly kills trees in the red oak group and weakens those in the white oak group. Any damage during this time, including broken branches caused by storms, exposes living tree tissue beneath the bark and provides an opportunity for the oak wilt fungus to infect the tree.

Sap-feeding beetles introduce the disease by carrying oak wilt spores from infected trees or firewood to fresh wounds. Healthy oaks can become infected in as little as 15 minutes after the creation of a wound. 

Sap-feeding beetle on diseased oak tree in Sawyer County.

Sap-feeding beetle on diseased oak tree in Sawyer County.

The trees most likely to die from oak wilt infection are in the red oak group, including northern pin oak, northern red oak, red oak and black oak. The white oak group is more likely to survive infection and includes bur oak, swamp white oak, white oak and English oak.

Tree paint or wound dressing is not normally recommended on pruned or wounded surfaces, but for damaged oaks an immediate light application of these products may be the only defense against oak wilt infection from April through July.

Pruning in spring can be damaging to any deciduous tree because their energy reserves are low as they produce new buds and leaves following the winter months. In general, the best time to prune is in winter when trees are dormant. 

As of January 31, oak wilt has been found in all Wisconsin counties except Ashland, Iron, Forest, Taylor, Door, Kewaunee, Calumet and Manitowoc counties. Several of these counties contain the highest abundance of healthy and productive oak forests in the state. Taking recommended precautions will help keep them that way for years to come.

Oak wilt and other diseases move easily on or in firewood logs year-round, so keeping firewood local, or purchasing Wisconsin-certified firewood, is another important component of protecting trees and keeping forests healthy. Visit the DNR firewood page for more information and a directory of certified firewood vendors.

More information, including a recently released oak wilt video, is available at the DNR oak wilt page. Additional information about proper pruning techniques is available from community foresters or through DNR resources such as this tree pruning poster