New Chief State Forester Named

Heather Berklund, Chief State Forester, Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin DNR Secretary Preston Cole announced that the department’s new Chief State Forester will be Heather Berklund, effective October 12. Her office will continue to be in Rhinelander and her contact information will remain the same (phone: 608-598-9068; email: Heather.Berklund@Wisconsin.gov).

Heather brings years of on-the-ground Wisconsin forest management and fire control experience to her new position.  She began her forestry career with the Wisconsin DNR in 2000, serving as a field forester in Merrill, Crandon and Mercer for more than a decade before becoming the Ashland-Iron team leader and then the Woodruff area leader in 2016.  In her role as the Deputy Division Administrator of Field Operations for the past three years, Heather led the public and private lands programs, Good Neighbor Authority partnership coordination, forest certification, tax law, and fire protection programs.

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Spotlight on Wisconsin Forests during Forest Products Week

What do wood products research, urban wood products and school forests have in common? They are among the many engaging Wisconsin stories shared in new episodes of the national TV program America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell

While he may be best known as the keyboardist and musical director for The Rolling Stones, Chuck Leavell is also an educated and enthusiastic forestry advocate, conservationist and woodland owner and he explores Wisconsin forests in these new episodes. The two-part Wisconsin series will be featured in a virtual premeire event during Forest Products Week on Wednesday, October 21 at 6:30 p.m. 

This free, online gathering, hosted by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW-Madison, will bring together thought leaders to engage in a rousing conversation on the critical importance and value of well-managed public and private forest lands in Wisconsin. And you are invited to participate!

Registration for the virtual premiere and screening of the episodes is available online at go.wisc.edu/talesfilmseries2020. Links to attend the virtual premiere event and to view the episodes in advance will be emailed to all who register.

At the October 21 virtual premiere event, Leavell will be joined by Heather Berklund (Forestry Division Administrator with the Wisconsin DNR), Tony Ferguson (Director of the Forest Products Laboratory for the USDA Forest Service), Buddy Huffaker (Executive Director of the Aldo Leopold Foundation),  Henry Schienebeck (Executive Director of Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association) and Adena Rissman (Associate Professor at UW-Madison, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology). The panel will be moderated by James Edward Mills of the Nelson Institute at UW-Madison.  Don’t miss this chance to hear from the panelists about the importance of Wisconsin forests to the ecological, social, cultural and economic well-being of our state and local communities.

Leavell serves as the on-camera guide for the TV show, interviewing people who are passionate about the gifts we get from our woods and exploring creative solutions to complex problems impacting this important natural resource. Other topics Leavell explores in the Wisconsin episodes include ruffed grouse, the sustainable forestry practices on the Menominee Tribal forests, and the biodiversity of the Baraboo Hills.

Celebrate Wisconsin’s Working Forests

Forest Products Week (celebrated on October 18-24, 2020) recognizes the people who work in and care for our forests, the businesses that create forest products and the many ways forest products contribute to our lives. In addition to celebrating the positive impact of Wisconsin’s forest products sector on the state’s economy, Forest Products Week recognizes the myriad forest products ingrained in our daily lives.

Facts to celebrate:

  • Forest products contribute $24.4 billion annually to the state’s economy.
  • Forests directly provide more than 60,000 jobs for Wisconsin residents with a payroll of $4.2 billion.
  • Forestry is the number one employer in 7 counties.
  • Every forestry job supports 1.7 additional jobs in the state.
  • More than 1,200 forest products companies in Wisconsin make products we use every day – from paper products such as food packaging, fine writing paper and tissue paper, to lumber used for homes and furniture.
  • Emerging forest products such as mass timber, nanocellulose and biochemicals are beginning to unlock innovative uses for wood that may help the state’s industry further diversify in the future.

The Wisconsin DNR-Division of Forestry is proud to help Wisconsin’s forest industry build and maintain strong markets while ensuring that forests remain a vital part of the state’s economy and culture for future generations. To learn more, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for “forest businesses.”

When Leaves Fall, Fire Danger Rises

When Leaves Fall, Fire Danger Rises
Fall is upon us.  The leaves are turning colors and falling from the trees. Pines, spruce, and other evergreens are in the midst of their seasonal needle drop. Plants and grasses are going dormant, leaving only crispy brown remnants of what was their green, flowering summer glory. As the leaves fall, the risk of wildfires rises.  Dry, windy conditions have resulted in nearly a dozen wildfires in the last week here in Wisconsin.

Wildfires can occur any time of the year when the ground is not snow covered. Wildfires are more likely to start when people burn leaves and brush, leave campfires unattended, dump wood ash outdoors, or operate vehicles or equipment near wildland vegetation. Wildfires are more likely to spread when there is an abundance of dead vegetation around to carry the flames.

In Wisconsin, the top causes of wildfires during the fall of the year are:
1. 27% Equipment (logging or farm machinery, vehicle exhaust or equipment sparks)
2. 25% Debris burning (burning brush, leaves, or trash in burn barrels or on the ground)
3. 9% Improper ash disposal (dumping wood ash from fireplaces, wood stoves, etc. outdoors)
4. 6% each – power lines and incendiary
5. 5% campfires

Sweeping leaves off the deck

Keeping leaves swept off the deck reduces the amount of burnable wildland “fuel” next to your home or cabin.

Taking precautions anytime you use fire outdoors is your key to preventing wildfires and paying a hefty suppression bill should you start one. If you use a woodstove or fireplace for heating your home, either empty the ashes into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid or dump the ashes onto bare soil then drown the ash with water and stir until you’re sure no hot embers remain. The same goes for campfires, burn barrels and burned leaf and brush piles – before you leave the area, drown the ashes, stir, and keep adding water until all smoke is gone.

There are simple things property owners can do to protect their home or cabin from wildfire this fall and next spring when wildfire potential is at its greatest. Your “home ignition zone” is your home and its surroundings out to at least 100 feet (up to 200 feet if your home is surrounded by pine trees). Research has shown that the characteristics of buildings and their immediate surroundings determine the risk of them igniting during a wildfire.

Picking up brush in the fall

Fall is a great time of year to gather fallen branches. Take the brush to a community collection site or create small piles for wildlife habitat.

What can you do?
 Rake up or mow leaves and pine needles
 Remove dead plant material from gardens
 Remove fallen leaves and needles from rain gutters, off the roof, under decks, in window wells and any other place around the home where this debris collects
 Prune evergreen tree branches up and away from the ground
 Compost leaves and garden clippings instead of burning
Keep aware of the fire danger year-round by bookmarking the DNR’s fire Web page: dnr.wi.gov, search “fire”.

Arbor Day Foundation now accepting Tree City USA applications

We hope you join us this year in continuing our strong commitment to growing and maintaining a healthy tree canopy across Wisconsin! The application portal for Tree City USA is now open and available at this link: https://applications.arborday.org/community/city/. Applications are due December 31st.

This is the second year with the new application portal, so if you applied last year, some of your information will be pre-populated on your application. Also, please note that the standard/requirement for having an Arbor Day celebration and proclamation has been waived this year.

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Nominate your community tree champion for an Urban Forestry Council award!

By Sara Minkoff, DNR Urban Forestry Council liaison, Madison, sara.minkoff@wisconsin.gov, 608-669-5447

The Council presents annual awards to outstanding individuals, organizations, communities and tribes that further urban forestry in Wisconsin. The awards are announced each year at the annual Wisconsin Urban Forestry Conference and presented to winners in their community. We are currently seeking nominations for the 2021 awards.

The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council, comprised of municipal employees, elected officials, nursery operators, arborists and others, advises the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry on the best ways to manage urban and community forest resources. Every year, the Council bestows several awards to recognize and thank individuals and organizations across Wisconsin for their work and commitment to the trees and habitat in our community forests and the economic benefits they provide.

The five categories of awards, including our newly renamed Leadership award, are described below:

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What does a DNR Urban Forestry Coordinator do?

By Olivia Witthun, DNR urban forestry coordinator, Plymouth, olivia.witthun@wisconsin.gov, 414-750-8744 

Wisconsin’s urban forests provide a wide range of ecological, economic and social benefits. Urban areas contain nearly 27 million trees with an estimated total replacement value of almost $11 billion. Many don’t realize all the services urban forests provide. They reduce air pollution, mitigate storm water runoff, conserve energy, provide wildlife habitat, increase property values, and attract businesses, tourists and residents. They even improve public health and well-being. The Wisconsin DNR’s Urban Forestry Team seeks to maximize these benefits derived from our state’s community tree canopies. 

Thirteen people are part of the DNR Urban Forestry Team, and six of those are Urban Forestry Coordinators (UFCs).  Each UFC serves a different region, and within that region, we mainly serve city foresters, local government tree managers and other partners.  (UW Extension serves homeowners.)  Your UFC is your go-to contact for all things urban forestry. 

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Urban wildlife damage abatement/control grants

The Wisconsin DNR is currently accepting applications for Urban Wildlife Damage Abatement and Control (UWDAC) grants. UWDAC grants are available to any town, city, village, county or tribal government located within an urban area (click here for a list of eligible urban areas). Applications must be received on or before December 1st.

UWDAC grants help urban areas develop wildlife plans, implement specific damage abatement and/or control measures for white-tailed deer and/or Canada geese. Eligible projects include:

  • Developing an urban wildlife population control plan.
  • Monitoring wildlife populations and establishing population estimates.

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Partners in Community Forestry Virtual Conference

Sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, the Partners in Community Forestry Conference is the largest international gathering of urban forestry practitioners, advocates, researchers, and government leaders. The virtual format this year provides an excellent opportunity to attend this leading conference so easily and inexpensively.

The conference will be held on Wednesday, November 18th. The $45 registration fee also covers events and meetings the entire week of November 17th-20th, including Alliance for Community Trees Day, Urban Woods Network Meeting, and Natural Areas Conservancy Meeting. CEUs will be available.

To learn more and to register, click here.

Fall Webinar Series: Urban Forestry Today and EAB University

Check out these two fall webinar series. Attend live to earn free CEUs!

Urban Forestry Today

Thursday noon hour (11 am Central Time) October 15, November 5, December 3, January 14

Click here to register.

Visit www.urbanforestrytoday.org for more details and to view archived webcasts.

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