Month: September 2019

Tax Law Strategic Plan Released

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources – Division of Forestry’s Tax Law Section has released their strategic plan developed to further meet the Division of Forestry’s Strategic Direction 2017-2022 intent to “… continue to improve administration of the Tax Law programs, focusing on a new service model which will consolidate tax law work into fewer positions and develop expertise in staff.”

The new strategic plan focuses on five goals with associated objectives designed to guide section efforts to increase completion of sound forest management through landowner engagement, cooperator commitment and staff expertise.

This plan does not include the specific tactics that will be utilized to achieve the objectives and strategies. The Tax Law Section will be soliciting feedback from the Wisconsin Private Forestry Advisory Committee (WPFAC) and other key stakeholders to develop and finalize an implementation plan to be released later this fall. That plan will detail tactics and tools to achieve specific objectives affiliated with the five goals.

We are excited and ready to work collaboratively with our customers and partners to move the tax law program forward and better serve the people of Wisconsin and their resource.  Please direct questions to R.J. Wickham, Tax Law Section Chief at or 920-369-6248

Salvaging Storm-Damaged Forest Products

By Alex Anderson, forest products specialist, Rhinelander

The devastation left behind in forested areas after a severe weather event can seem overwhelming. In order to further understanding of how storm-damaged forest and woodlot salvage harvests differ from traditional timber sales, we have compiled information that will, hopefully, help landowners affected by the recent rash of severe weather events in Wisconsin deal with their damaged woodlands more confidently.

Wood Degradation
Many of the downed trees from July’s severe weather are red pines (Pinus resinosa). Pines, particularly white pine (Pinus strobus) and red pine in the Lake States region, are susceptible to staining when they are harvested or killed during a weather event but are not processed quickly enough. The discoloration is a result of microscopic fungi that manifest as a pale, blueish stain in the wood often called “blue-stain” or “sap-stain.” Though there is a small, decorative market for blue-stained pine—sometimes referred to as “denim pine”—it is generally undesirable. Hardwood species are also susceptible to blue stain fungi. End coating logs with a wax barrier may reduce the risk of staining and end checking.

These logs show blue staining. Continue reading “Salvaging Storm-Damaged Forest Products”

Webinar: Biochar Basics and Benefits in Vegetable Growing

By Sabina Dhungana, forest products specialist, Madison

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service hosted a webinar highlighting the principles of biochar. 

Biochar is an emerging forest product that is derived from woody biomass and other organic feedstocks. The use of biochar has gained considerable interest in the agricultural field, and it presents opportunities for utilizing available biomass sources. Topics covered in the webinar included: Biochar markets and uses, biochar production systems, applications in vegetable growing.

The webinar has been archived and can be viewed here.

Forest Products Industry Curriculum Series

By Logan Wells, forest products specialist, Hayward

Workforce development efforts are a key pillar in the Forest Products Services (FPS) program’s strategic direction. These efforts range from teaching and organizing technical workshops on topics that range from rail tie manufacturing to lumber grading. Traditionally, many efforts have focused on training the existing industry workforce. In addition, several current initiatives to raise career awareness in the forest products industry among students include the UW-Stevens Point LEAF Forest Products Kit and the Skills USA woodworking competition.

To build on these efforts of raising awareness about the importance of forest products and potential careers, an industry perspective curriculum is being developed by FPS in cooperation with agriculture teachers, industry partners and LEAF staff. The first installment of the curriculum will focus on the hardwood lumber sector and will be a full weeks’ worth of material. The first class is devoted to establishing basic information about the industry and process of turning logs into lumber. A general overview of the terms, products, jobs and sawmill equipment will be the focus of the first day. The second and third days will allow students to learn and practice the hands-on skill of lumber grading. Lumber grading is one of the most important skillsets in the hardwood industry. Teaching an abbreviated form of lumber grading will provide students a chance to practice applied math and critical thinking in a real-world application. The fourth day will be devoted to learning about the different types of defects in lumber and their causes along with a review exercise for the week. The final day will include resources for classes to connect with a guest speaker, participate in a mill tour or learn about other opportunities to continue to explore the hardwood lumber industry.

These materials will target freshman through junior level students and be taught in Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes like industrial technology, woodworking, agriculture or forestry/natural resources. The lumber grading program will be piloted with several schools this fall and be available in late Spring 2020. Eventually this model of industry perspective curriculum will be expanded to highlight information and skills of other sectors of the forest products industry, including logging and trucking. If you have thoughts or questions, or if would like to learn more about the program, please contact Logan Wells at

Continued decline & mortality on lowland sites

By Bill McNee, forest health specialist, Oshkosh,, 920-360-0942

Site visits and aerial surveys conducted in parts of Wisconsin during July and August have found that tree decline and mortality were common in numerous lowland forest stands. 

Heavy tree mortality in a lowland site where standing water was present on July 31. Surviving trees can be found on adjacent higher grounds. Credit: Bill McNee.

Heavy tree mortality in a Manitowoc County lowland site where standing water was present on July 31. Note the surviving trees on higher ground and in adjacent stand. Credit: Bill McNee.

Continue reading “Continued decline & mortality on lowland sites”

Native vine thrives with wet Wisconsin summer

Have you noticed a fast-growing vine with fragrant flowers on your trees and shrubs this summer? The plant began to flower a few weeks ago, drawing attention and concern from residents around the state.

Wild cucumber blooms with yellowish-white fragrant flowers. Credit: Susan Mahr.

Wild cucumber blooms in mid- to late summer with yellowish-white fragrant flowers. Credit: Susan Mahr.

Continue reading “Native vine thrives with wet Wisconsin summer”

Spruce needle rust in the north

By Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff,, 920-360-0665

Spruce needle rust is showing up in some northern counties. This rust fungus infects current year needles of most spruce species, including white and black spruce, with blue spruce being most severely impacted.

Spore-producing structures of the fungus emerging from the spruce needles.

Spore-producing structures of the fungus emerging from infected spruce needles.

Continue reading “Spruce needle rust in the north”

Red branches on white pine?

By Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff,, 920-360-0665

Large white pines with red wilting branch tips may be caused by a very tiny insect called white pine bast scale (Matsucoccus macrocicatrices). The branch mortality that follows may be caused by an insect/disease complex that is still relatively new to Wisconsin.

Branch tips throughout the white pine tree are wilting and turning brown due to white pine bast scale feeding.

Feeding by the white pine bast scale is causing branch tips throughout the tree to wilt and turn red this summer.

Continue reading “Red branches on white pine?”

Reports of redheaded pine sawfly colonies

By Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff,, 920-360-0665

Colonies of the redheaded pine sawfly have been reported in northeastern Wisconsin. They can cause significant defoliation in some situations and may warrant control if larval populations are large.

This native insect feeds in groups with many sawfly larvae together on a single needle or branch.

This native insect feeds in groups with many sawfly larvae together on a single needle or branch.

Continue reading “Reports of redheaded pine sawfly colonies”