Month: February 2021

Oak Wilt Vectors Emergence User Interface Now Available

By Kyoko Scanlon, Forest Pathologist, or 608-235-7532 and Elly Voigt, Forest Health Communications Specialist and Lab Technician,

Oak wilt is a serious disease of oaks that spreads to new areas when insects carrying oak wilt fungal spores land on a fresh wound of a healthy oak tree. To prevent oak wilt infections, it is important to avoid pruning, wounding and harvesting of oaks when these insects are abundant.

Predicting when these insects emerge in spring can be difficult as their emergence is highly weather-dependent and spring weather varies significantly year to year. The good news is that a new online interface is now available to provide users with localized information about the emergence status of the two most important insects that transmit oak wilt in Wisconsin. Because the interface uses a degree-day model constructed from insect trapping data and actual weather data, it is useful to refine the beginning of the periods when pruning, wounding and harvesting of oaks should be avoided.

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Porcupine Damage Easily Seen In Winter

By Todd Lanigan, Forest Health Specialist, Eau Claire. or 715-210-0150

Porcupines can damage both conifer and hardwood trees by eating their bark. On sunny days, the bright, white wood where the bark has been stripped readily stands out in the forest, especially on hardwoods. Porcupines can remove large areas of bark, at times enough to completely girdle the trunk or branches. This causes the tree to die from the girdle point upwards on the trunk or outwards on the branch.

Trees and branches that are not entirely girdled will continue to grow and callus tissue will begin to grow over the wounds. On hardwoods, the trunk or branches that are nearly girdled may leaf out in the spring, only to have those leaves suddenly wilt and die as hot weather hits because the tree cannot move enough water to keep the leaves alive. On conifers, the needles may wilt and turn reddish-brown in hot weather. There are no treatment recommendations for porcupine damage.

fresh porcupine damage on a red pine

Porcupine feeding damage on red pine. Photo by Linda Williams, Wisconsin DNR

Snow Fleas Come To The Surface

By Todd Lanigan, Forest Health Specialist, Eau Claire. or 715-210-0150

Snow fleas are a species of springtails that are active during the winter and are generally found in groups where their dark-colored bodies stand out against the white snow. While often observed in late winter or early spring, they also come to the surface on warm winter days. Cold weather drives snow fleas back below the surface to wait for better weather. 

Many snow fleas on snow.

Easily mistaken for specks of dirt or debris, snow fleas are tiny soil-dwelling animals that gather on the surface of the snow on warm winter and spring days.

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Join Virtual Q&A Sessions With DNR Experts

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Urban Forestry program will have a virtual booth at the 2021 WAA/DNR Urban Forestry Annual Conference, Feb. 21-23, 2021. Our virtual booth will feature a new video on our grant program and live group Q&A sessions with our grant and forest health specialists.

A virtual booth could be described as a hybrid between a Zoom call and a website, with some additional features. If you’re attending the annual conference, you’ll have the opportunity to stop by our virtual booth, just as you would at an in-person meeting. Staff will be available to answer questions at set times, and there will be resources available to view and download.

A new video on our DNR Urban Forestry Grant program will be available to view in the booth throughout the conference. Created by DNR Finance Specialist Nicolle Spafford and DNR Grant Manager Chase O’Brien, the video will show you the program’s basics and inspire you to start projects of your own while seeing some successful programs across the state.

Join One Of These Live Q&A Sessions At Our Virtual Booth

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Campaigning For Trees Pays Off

In recent years, Cedarburg’s urban forest was declining. From 2017-2019, less than one-third of removed trees were replaced. “Development, storms, insects (especially emerald ash borer), and disease have reduced the City’s tree canopy by as much as 300 trees… trees which, at present, are not being replaced,” said Kevin Westphal, Cedarburg parks and forestry superintendent, in January 2020.

With the help of a 2020 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Urban Forestry grant, the non-profit Cedarburg Green stepped in to help reverse the decline. Over the past year, Cedarburg Green held a remarkable public awareness campaign that included a tree sale, tree plantings, lectures, an art and writing contest, tree tags promoting the benefits of street trees, a guided tree walk, a display at the local library, an appearance on a radio talk show and more. “The goal of this program is to have more tree-educated decision-makers, residents and future homeowners (our children),” said Jeanne Mueller, Cedarburg Green volunteer and grant-writer.

The fruits of their labor proliferated. This past November, a newspaper article headline listed forestry as one of Cedarburg’s 2021 budget priorities, which includes $30,000 for tree planting and $50,000 for stump grinding.

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Gays Mills, Wisconsin Recognized As Smallest Growth Award Community In The U.S.

Congratulations, Gays Mills! The village with a population of 502 was recognized in a recent Tree City USA (TCUSA) bulletin for being our nation’s smallest current TCUSA Growth Award community.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, “the Tree City USA Growth Award program is an innovative way to encourage communities of all sizes to — as the name implies — grow their tree care programs beyond basic expectations.” Points are awarded to communities who take part in a variety of activities in five categories: A) building the team, B) measuring trees and forests, C) planning the work, D) performing the work and E) the community framework.

In 2019, 341 communities earned a Growth Award in the U.S., including 17 in Wisconsin: Gays Mills, Grand Chute, Greenfield, Janesville, La Crosse, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Oconomowoc, Racine, River Falls, Shawano, Sheboygan, Shorewood, Slinger, Watertown, Waukesha and West Allis.

For an example of this point system, Gays Mills documented the following projects in categories B and D in its application for a 2020 Growth Award:

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Leafing Out: A Webinar Series To Inspire Care For Trees

Follow 1000 Friends of Wisconsin’s monthly webinars to learn fun and useful facts about the trees in your yard and community! Urban forestry experts will discuss what to plant, which birds and wildlife your trees are attracting, how to advocate for your community’s trees and more. There will be time for questions at the end of each webinar. Anyone is welcome to register and tune in to the webinars.


Webinar 2: Basic Tree Pruning With Lisa Johnson

12-1:00 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021

This webinar has been produced in collaboration with the Dane County Tree Board.

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Minnesota Shade Tree Short Course

March 23-24, 2021

Cost: $150 (before Feb. 26) / $170 (on and after Feb. 26)

This conference will be held online using Zoom for presentations and Slack for networking. The registration fee includes access to all general and concurrent sessions, virtual exhibitors, virtual networking, conference materials and continuing education credits.

Topics include street tree longevity, soils, stormwater mitigation, tree diseases, chestnut and bur oak issues, nursery production and more.

To learn more and to register, click here.

Grants Available For Bird City Wisconsin Communities

For the second year, Bird City Wisconsin is awarding small grants to current Bird City communities. Grants totaling $500 will be awarded in each of three categories: creating and protecting bird habitat, educating residents about interactions between birds and people, and protecting birds by reducing threats.

The application deadline is Tuesday, March 31, 2021.

For more information and to apply, click here. 

Trees Go Dormant In The Winter But Your Healthy Lifestyle Shouldn’t

By Gabriele Edwards, Urban Forestry Program Specialist, Iowa DNR

As the temperature drops and sunlight decreases, deciduous trees shed their leaves and focus on internal storage and conserving resources. Our behavior often mirrors that of a dormant tree. It is easy to shed our active, outdoor lifestyle in favor of lounging under blankets and remaining sedentary most of the day.

This typically results in added “resources” (aka those pesky extra winter pounds) due to lack of activity and extra stress associated with the holidays and year-end deadlines. Unlike those powered-down trees, we need to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle throughout the colder months to keep ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally powered-up. 

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