Month: December 2021

Seeing the Forest for More Than Just Trees

The following was adapted from a Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine article.

By Colleen Matula, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Forest Ecologist/Silviculturist and Patricia Alexandre, Former Forest Ecologist/Silviculturist

Wisconsin’s Forest Habitat Type Classification System (FHTCS) is an ecological classification tool developed in 1988 by John Kotar, a former scientist and instructor at UW-Madison. The FHTCS is based on repeatable patterns of forest understory plants present across similar sites.

Plant composition and growth are determined by site factors, including soils, topography, landform, hydrology and disturbance history. Together these factors represent the foundation of each unique habitat type.

Habitat typing helps foresters make decisions on the ground. This science-based tool can confidently predict how the forest will respond to different management treatments such as thinning, harvesting, and prescribed burning.

Each year in June, when understory plants are in bloom and easy to identify, new foresters from the Department of Natural Resources, county forests and other organizations receive two-day training on the habitat classification system. Continue reading “Seeing the Forest for More Than Just Trees”

Planting and Seeding Trials In The Wake Of Ash Decline

Swamp White Oak seedling planted in a black ash replacement trial. Credit: Wisconsin DNR

The emerald ash borer (EAB) is causing widespread mortality of both upland and lowland ash. Black ash (and to a lesser extent green ash) is a forest wetland species that helps prevent sites from swamping through evapotranspiration. With the loss of ash in these systems, forest practitioners are developing silvicultural strategies to minimize the impacts through planting and seeding trials.

Using Forests to Protect Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Some species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) in Wisconsin require a forested landscape diverse in structure, composition, function and complexity. Both young forests with particular habitat characteristics and old forests with more complex structures and species composition are necessary to meet the life cycle and habitat needs of SGCN species. This allows those species to grow and maintain their populations into the future.  Continue reading “Using Forests to Protect Species of Greatest Conservation Need”

Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin

Wisconsin forests are incredibly diverse in species composition and structure, mainly due to glaciation that occurred until 11,500 years ago across much of the state. Glaciation in Wisconsin reached its maximum extent nearly 21,000 years ago.

To help guide management decisions and considerations, Wisconsin is divided into 16 ecological landscapes defined by the vegetation, climate, geology and hydrology in each ecological unit. Information about each ecological landscape is available on the DNR website in the landscapes topic.

Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin. Credit: Wisconsin DNR

Wisconsin Silviculture Trials

The Wisconsin Silviculture Trials Directory was created in 2002 for foresters to document silviculture trials and share results and experiences with their peers. It is a way of documenting non-research trials in applied forestry. A trial site often visited during training sessions is the Nebish Lake oak burn. Here a forester established an oak shelterwood in 2008, followed by a prescribed burn in 2011. The results showed that fire could set back competition while creating a favorable seedbed for oak regeneration.

Nebish Oak Shelterwood burn with comparison of the left side that was burned and right side that was not burned. Credit: Wisconsin DNR

DNR Announces Recipients Of Urban Forestry Grants

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR)’s Urban Forestry program has selected the recipients for the 2022 grant year. The annual fund allotment of $524,600 was available. Twenty percent of this amount ($104,920) was used to fund our catastrophic storm grant program, and the remaining amount ($419,680) was allotted toward regular and startup grants. An amount of $100,000 in federal funding was available to provide additional grant opportunities.

A grand total of 47 projects were selected for 2022, including five catastrophic storm grants, 27 regular grants and 15 startup grants. Awards range from $1,750 to $25,000.

As with previous years, the DNR’s Urban Forestry Grant program funds projects consistent with state and national goals for increasing the urban forest canopy and the benefits it provides. The urban forest encompasses trees on both public and private property.

Continue reading “DNR Announces Recipients Of Urban Forestry Grants”

DNR Releases New Climate Change And Urban Trees Story Map

By Dan Buckler, DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist, Madison, or 608-445-4578

Successfully planting a tree in an urban space is hard. There are so many factors to consider to ensure that the tree survives and thrives in its new home. Climate change may not be at the top of that list, but it should be one of the factors taken into consideration.

To help think through the topic, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has released a new story map that explores urban trees and climate change in Wisconsin.

The new resource is organized into three main sections. The first provides a brief overview of projected changes in Wisconsin’s climate over the past century, specifically highlighting shifts in cold hardiness zones and heat zones. Precipitation patterns and intensities have and are projected to continue changing, though precipitation is not featured in the story map’s overview. For more information on that, scroll down to the precipitation section on the DNR climate science page.

Continue reading “DNR Releases New Climate Change And Urban Trees Story Map”

2021 Staff Highlights

As the year draws to a close, we asked DNR urban forestry staff to reflect on the last 12 months and choose their top highlight – whether it’s a project they’re especially proud of, a new partnership or a deeper relationship with coworkers. Here are their responses:

“My favorite work event that happened this year was the urban site indexing training hosted in the City of Beloit. Alan Siewert, from the Ohio DNR came to Wisconsin in May to give us hands-on demonstrations of the site indexing techniques they have been perfecting over the years. The urban site indexing helps their communities create well-thought-out master planting plans. Best of all, after not seeing each other for more than a year, we spent a few hours together applying the techniques in a couple of neighborhoods across Beloit. The experience culminated with a nice socially distant lunch and discussion while developing a planting plan.” -Brian Wahl, South Central Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator

Continue reading “2021 Staff Highlights”

The Winter Triumph of the Evergreen

By Dan Buckler, DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist, Madison, or 608-445-4578

Sunlight fades, then sunlight grows. With those celestial rhythms surrounding the winter solstice, millennia of ritual have been shaped. Winter is historically an extremely dangerous time, in a way unfathomable to those of us with furnaces and stocked pantries. But at the winter solstice, something important happens: ever so gradually, the days start to lengthen, and there is hope that a bright, warm world will return.

That’s where evergreens enter the picture, plants that have been incorporated into solstice rituals since time immemorial because they show that life can continue through hardship. The foundational value of every Christmas tree, mistletoe sprig and holly branch is thus a symbol for life and the promise of rebirth comes with the winter solstice.

Continue reading “The Winter Triumph of the Evergreen”

Save The Date: February WAA / DNR Annual Conference

Join the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Wisconsin Arborist Association for the 2022 Wisconsin Annual Urban Forestry Conference. The conference will be held on Feb. 20 – 22 at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay with select sessions available for attendance virtually.

The DNR and the Wisconsin Arborist Association developed three days of enriching educational programming on the latest in research, innovations and industry developments and issues in the arboriculture and urban forestry industry.

Continue reading “Save The Date: February WAA / DNR Annual Conference”