Month: May 2018

Phomopsis galls

By Linda Williams, forest health specialist (Woodruff).; 715-356-5211, x232

Large swellings on the branches of this oak are caused by the fungus Phomopsis.

Large swellings on the branches of this oak are caused by the fungus Phomopsis.

Winter and early spring are great times to look for galls on trees. Some galls, including phomopsis galls, can get very large and, because there are often many galls on a single tree, they are easily spotted from a distance. Phomopsis galls are woody swellings caused by a fungus which range in size from very small to larger than a person’s head. They occur on hickory, northern red oak, maple, and a few other tree species. Infections are usually localized to a single tree with neighboring trees being completely unaffected, or a small group of trees may be infected. Occasionally, larger infection centers can be found.

It is suspected that genetic variability plays a role in the susceptibility of individual trees, but a lot is still unknown about this fungus. There is no known treatment for Phompsis galls other than to prune them out and dispose of them; many people choose to simply live with them. If left on a tree, galls may eventually cause dieback or girdling of infested branches, but some trees live for many decades with galls on their main stems. The presence of galls does not necessarily mean the rapid death of a tree, which is especially true for oak trees: they seem to survive for decades with very large galls present on the branches.

Historical Forest Health News – 1993 and 1968

News from 25 years ago (1993)

Jack pine budworm Choristoneura pinus (Rohwer)

Area of defoliation by jack pine budworm in 1993 shaded in black.

Area of defoliation by jack pine budworm in 1993 shaded in black.

“This defoliator erupted in northern and central Wisconsin to cause moderate to heavy defoliation on 400,000 acres of jack pine. This was the second year of defoliation in Clark, Eau Claire and Jackson counties, and first year defoliation in Monroe County. The largest areas of defoliation were in the northwest where periodic outbreaks are expected. Heavy defoliation occurred in Adams, Juneau, Wood, Clark, Eau Claire, Jackson and Monroe counties. Light feeding was apparent in the Conover area of Vilas county. In Oconto county a 90-acre planting of sapling white pine suffered heavy terminal and upper lateral defoliation. Spotty light to moderate defoliation occurred in Oconto and Marinette counties in the northeast. Defoliation in Marinette county was heaviest in over-mature natural stands of jack pine stands in Silver Cliff Township (Sections 22, 23, 27, 26, 34, 35, T34N, RISE).

In Juneau and Wood counties, tree mortality is expected to be high because many trees lost 90 to 100 percent of their foliage. Salvage harvests were scheduled in the defoliated stands that were predicted to suffer heavy mortality. Some of the harvests in the central and westcentral counties were in potential conflict with the protection of the Karner blue butterfly, a newly listed endangered species. Guidelines were developed to survey for the Karner Blue and for its food plant, blue lupine. The guidelines also contain procedures to prevent damage to known Karner Blue habitat during harvest operations. Many defoliated stands that were scheduled for salvage harvests were surveyed. Late season egg mass surveys revealed a 33% decline from 1992 levels in the northwestern counties portending a decrease in populations and defoliation in 1994. In western and central Wisconsin, the egg mass surveys indicate the budworm populations should remain high in 1994. Egg mass surveys in Wood County averaged 5.8 egg masses per plot. Egg mass surveys in Marinette county indicate defoliation will likely be spotty and variable in intensity again in 1994.”

Continue reading “Historical Forest Health News – 1993 and 1968”

Forest health zones restructured

by Jodie Ellis, communications specialist, Forest Health team (Madison); 608-266-2172

The number of Forest Health (FH) specialist positions in the state was recently reduced by one, going from seven fulltime positions to six. To reflect this change, the forest health zonal map was restructured to spread coverage between five forest health specialists (the FH specialist position for the Central zone, while not eliminated, remains vacant). The new assignments went into effect on April 3, 2018.

To contact a forest health specialist, please refer to the revised map below:

  • Northwest zone: Paul Cigan (Hayward), 715-416-4920,
  • Northeast zone: Linda Williams (Woodruff), 715-356-5211 x232, Also covering Lincoln, Shawano, Menominee, Waupaca and Oconto counties in the Central zone
  • West Central zone: Todd Lanigan (Eau Claire), 715-839-1632, Also covering Taylor County in the Central zone.
  • Southeast zone: Bill McNee (Oshkosh), 920-360-0942,
  • South Central zone: Michael Hillstrom (Fitchburg, WI), 608-513-7690, Also covering Marathon, Wood, Portage, Adams, Waushara, Marquette and Green Lake counties in the Central zone.
  • Central zone: vacant
Restructured Forest Health zones

Restructured Forest Health zones

A fulltime FH specialist position, which had been vacant, was eliminated as part of the reduction of six positions from the Division of Forestry in the recent state budget. Because of the increased work load on the five remaining FH specialists, the FH program has permanently reduced or eliminated some of its services to customers to keep the staff’s work load at manageable levels.

Program services that have been reduced or eliminated include:

  • The DNR’s gypsy moth suppression program, which addressed population surges in areas of the state where gypsy moth is already established. This program was already in the process of being deactivated when the FH specialist position was cut. (NOTE: The Slow The Spread program, which is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), remains active. It targets gypsy moth populations in the western part of the state where gypsy moth has not yet established.)
  • Site visits to confirm EAB at the township level (digital images will be used for identification instead)
  • Site visits and digital diagnostics of small acreage (less than 10 acres) for private landowners

Forest Health team members must also reduce the number of outreach presentations provided to the public.

Please contact Rebecca Gray, Forest Health team leader, with any questions at or by phone at 608-275-3273.

Follow Smokey’s lead, check the fire danger

Smokey Bear FishingBefore you fry up that big catch over a campfire this weekend, follow Smokey’s Lead and check the fire danger.  The fishing opener is upon us and another round of dry weather is in the forecast.  Fire officials are gearing up for a busy weekend, especially in northern WI.  Before you hit the lakes, secure trailer chains, check tire pressure and maintain brakes to avoid sparks.  If you are planning to do some clean up around the yard or simply have a campfire with friends, follow the daily restrictions and make sure any permitted fires are completely out.  In the last week, the DNR responded to over 160 wildfires, mostly caused by debris burning.

Spring wildfire season continues in Wisconsin

Arial picture of the Van Beek Fire

Van Beek Fire in the Town of Stephenson burned 20 acres on April 28, 2018.

In the past week, 161 wildfires burned 520 acres in DNR protection areas (approximately half the state); 88 homes and other buildings were threatened but saved with firefighter assistance and 15 buildings were destroyed.  Debris burning was the most common cause (67 fires); other causes included equipment, power line, railroad, campfires, ash disposal, and smoking. The largest fire of the week burned 124 acres and threatened 13 buildings in Eau Claire County, the cause was debris burning. Fire danger ranged from Low to Extreme across the state, with Red Flag Warnings in several counties. As the vegetation dries out on the days we don’t receive rain, expect fire danger to increase, particularly in areas where standing dead grass and other dry vegetation remains. Continue reading “Spring wildfire season continues in Wisconsin”