We’re glad you asked! The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council is an advisory committee to the Wisconsin DNR Division of Forestry, currently comprised of 29 members appointed by the Secretary of the WDNR. Members represent the diverse groups and interests that impact our state’s urban and community forests, including representatives from professional organizations, private business owners, educators, green industry employees, nonprofit/service organizations, governmental agencies, municipalities of various sizes, utilities, concerned and active citizens and trade organizations throughout the state. The Council addresses strategies to help the WDNR implement, monitor, and revise the state’s urban forestry initiatives and to lend support to activities that further the understanding, appreciation and practice of urban forestry in Wisconsin. Members strive to aid all entities involved in urban forestry matters and to help coordinate activities to avoid duplication, inefficiency and conflict. The Council addresses a diversity of local, state, and national issues that can affect Wisconsin’s urban forests.
The Council began in 1989 as the Urban Forestry Advisory Committee appointed by the Wisconsin State Forester. It was formed to help the DNR Forestry Division develop its early urban forestry assistance efforts. To upgrade the Council’s scope and conform to the US Forest Service’s requirements, bylaws were passed in April 1991 and the Committee’s name was changed to the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council.
The Council provides leadership and advice on issues related to the state’s urban and community forests. The group was an active participant in the Wisconsin Forest Assessment development process and provided comment and support for WDNR’s niche and role in implementing the Statewide Forest Strategy (Division of Forestry’s Strategic Direction). In addition to its advisory role, the Council has committed to its own actions towards helping the WDNR achieve the Statewide Forest Strategy for the next three to five years, with a special focus on the utilization of urban wood, advocacy on behalf of urban forestry issues, urban tree canopy impact on municipal stormwater issues, and species diversity of the urban forest.
In summer 2018, Council members met to discuss ways to be more effective in fulfilling their mission: to advise the WDNR on the best ways to maintain, expand and improve Wisconsin’s urban and community forests. The Council is working on creating a long-range strategic direction and implementation plans in six areas: Urban Wood Utilization, Advocacy, Stormwater Issues, Workforce Development, Public Health and Urban Forestry, and Species Diversity.
The Council takes an active role in the annual statewide urban forestry conference co-sponsored by the WDNR and the Wisconsin Arborist Association. For the second year, in coordination with WAA, the Council created an evening of entertainment and education through an ArborMaster Trivia contest held on the first evening of the statewide urban forestry conference.
The Council is a prime example of the WDNR’s approach to working more effectively through developing partnerships throughout the state and across disciplines to achieve the agency’s short and long-term goals of protecting and enhancing the natural resources of Wisconsin.