Month: May 2022

A Legacy Of Tree Planting

Near Boscobel, the Wilson State Forest Nursery was a beehive of activity through the month of April. Walking row after row of small trees, behind a harvesting machine, crew members carefully lifted seedlings from soil so as to not damage roots. Overseeing the operation is Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Reforestation Team Leader Joe Vande Hey.

“We’re looking at about three-and-a-half million trees this year,” he says proudly. “We sold just about everything we have, and I’m anticipating sales to increase probably to the five-million range over the next couple of years.”

Wisconsin’s Reforestation Program grows high-quality, reasonably priced, native-tree seedlings and shrubs to plant on private and public lands for conservation. It has a rich history dating back to 1911 when the state’s first tree nursery was planted. Over the decades, 1.6 billion seedlings have been supplied to landowners.

Vande Hey says Wisconsin’s pledge to plant 75 million trees by 2030 is part of the reason he has a positive outlook for growth over the next couple of years. “It’s definitely putting an emphasis back on tree planting. It sparks interest and that’s going to mean an increase in sales.”

Providing future forest products, improving wildlife habitat, preventing soil erosion are all motivating the effort, but now more so than ever, there’s a focus on removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as outlined in Wisconsin’s Statewide Forest Action Plan.

As it turns out, carbon sequestration and carbon storage are two things our forests do very well. Protecting the planet by fighting climate change is a cause that continues to grow in popularity.

Vande Hey explained, “Trees tie up carbon, so the more forested land we have, the more carbon we can capture. Private landowners definitely see the benefit and want to be recognized for helping plant trees.”

He says 60 to 70% of stock grown in state nurseries is being shipped to private forest landowners, such as the FitzRandolph family featured in this video.

The nursery sells 30 to 40 different species, a mix of hardwoods, conifers, and shrubs: generally red, white and jack pines, white spruce, oaks and maples.

Emerald ash borer is causing “a pretty good shift” for orders to some areas, Vande Hey said, with alternative species like white oak, red maple, tamarack and cedar going to areas where ash trees once flourished. More species changes are on the horizon, not because of emerald ash borer, but due to global warming.

“We’re starting to play with species typically found only in southern Wisconsin, trees we historically didn’t grow a lot of that might be planted in other areas of the state, or even species that historically don’t come into Wisconsin,” Vande Hey said. “Trees native to Illinois, Iowa and Indiana, where it’s a bit warmer.”

Whatever the species, the seedlings will be planted to regenerate acreage where trees have been harvested or going into the ground where forests have been absent.

“Some forest landowners are planting through the Conservation Reserve Program – taking crop ground that is highly erodible and putting it into more permanent cover. There are a good number of seedlings being planted under hardwoods, particularly in southern Wisconsin where they’re not getting the natural oak regeneration that they desire.”

Wherever seedlings are headed, he says Wisconsin’s reforestation program has the capacity to meet increased demands, now motivated to a large extent by climate change.

Planting Trees To Help The Environment

Many Wisconsinites recently celebrated the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day by planting trees. On Madison’s near west side, Julie Ballweg and her children marked the holiday by adding a couple of sugar maples to their yard.

“We’ve got some older trees. Looking to the future, they won’t be around forever, so we’ll be planting something that will grow in the shade of them. And once they’re gone there will be something to take their place,” explained Ballweg.

With soaring gas and grocery prices, a devastating war and a lingering virus, many are looking for some good news, a reason for hope, and Ballweg says we have it right here in the Badger State, with at least some cautious optimism on one global front: climate change.

“There are a lot of collaborative projects going on right now, perhaps more than we’ve ever seen, and I feel pretty optimistic,” she said.

Being a good mother is not Ballweg’s only job. She is also the Forestry Climate Change Policy Advisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Ballweg is a member of an impressive team of scientists and subject-matter experts, all of whom are sharing expertise and developing strategies on two fronts: helping Wisconsin’s forests adapt to the changing conditions and using the forests to address climate change.

Their work is guided by the climate goals and strategies in Wisconsin’s Statewide Forest Action Plan and Governor Evers’s Task Force on Climate Change Report, along with the work of think tanks like the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, and the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) – formed in 2007 by the DNR and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies to generate and share information that can foster solutions to climate change in Wisconsin. WICCI’s 2021 assessment report, “Wisconsin’s Changing Climate,” provides a comprehensive assessment of past and future climate change and its impacts in Wisconsin.

“We have a history of managing some really beautiful forests here in Wisconsin, so I think it’s a bit of rethinking how we do it in the face of climate change, and I think the DNR’s role is pretty applied in all of that, taking the research and translating that, how we can use it to help landowners, and help foresters,” said Ballweg.

There’s a lot on the team’s plate.

Increasing carbon dioxide emissions are fueling greenhouse gases that are warming our state. Scientists project our temperature will rise four to nine degrees Fahrenheit by mid-century, with northern Wisconsin’s forest temperatures going up the most. Their research has already shown the thermometer up two degrees since 1950, with precipitation increasing by 4.5 inches.

However, numbers are not uniform. For instance, southern and central areas of the state have seen snow and rain go up 20% over annual averages, while the Northwoods has not. Experts are studying snowpack, frozen ground, length of growing seasons, the frequency and intensity of storms, flooding, wildfires and the potential for increased numbers of invasive species or pests like mosquitos and ticks. The bottom line: you can’t have just one climate-change roadmap when planning for Wisconsin’s future. A mitigation strategy for one part of Wisconsin might look completely different in another.

It can sound overwhelming, but we’re not reinventing the wheel. The DNR and its partners have been sustainably managing trees for a long time, and with 17 million acres of forests, we have a lot of climate-change fighting assets. Forests take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to make energy through photosynthesis. The energy helps them grow, and as they do, they capture carbon in their wood, roots, leaves and in the soil below. All of this forms the basis for Ballweg’s optimism.

The State of Wisconsin pledge to plant 75 million new trees by 2030 as part of the global trillion trees initiative and the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change makes her outlook on our forest future even more positive.

If you plan on joining the tree-planting movement, Ballweg suggests taking a look at i-Tree. “It’s a free tool, and there’s a calculator on i-Tree that can tell you how much carbon the trees you have on your lawn are capturing. There’s also an economic calculator so you can determine not just carbon, but the amount of shade each tree offers, and how much that shade can reduce your cooling bill in the summer,” she explained.

As for Ballweg and her children, they have several good reasons for choosing sugar maples. They provide nice canopies, of course. Lovely fall colors, you bet. But someday tapping sap for maple syrup to pour over Saturday morning pancakes made the sugar maples just the right pick for their family.

EAB Identified For The First Time In Forest And Ashland County

By Linda Williams, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Woodruff, Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0665 & Paul Cigan, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Hayward, Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov, 715-416-4920

Emerald ash borer (EAB) has been detected for the first time in Forest County in the Town of Armstrong Creek and Ashland County in the City of Ashland. The Forest County detection was most likely a natural expansion of other infestations in Florence and Marinette counties.

Bark has been removed from an ash tree to show EAB tunnels present near the base of the tree.

This Forest County tree was infested with EAB top to bottom. Photo: Wisconsin DNR

The Ashland County detections appear to be isolated infestations likely spread through the transportation of firewood or logs. Several large green ash stands in the City of Ashland show advanced infestation signs.

EAB was first found in Wisconsin in 2008. There are now just seven counties where EAB has not yet been identified. EAB was federally deregulated as of January 2021. In 2018, Wisconsin instituted a state-wide quarantine. This discovery in Forest and Ashland counties will result in no regulatory changes.

Please visit the interactive Wisconsin EAB detections map to see where EAB has been reported. Follow the map’s instructions if you know of an infested area not on the map. Continue reading “EAB Identified For The First Time In Forest And Ashland County”

Spring Cleaning: Storm Damage Cleanup Brings Oak Wilt Risk

By Linda Williams, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Woodruff, Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0665 & Paul Cigan, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Hayward, Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov, 715-416-4920.

Spring cleanup is always a busy time in the Northwoods as those with second homes and cabins make the trek northward to prepare for a summer of fun. For many, this will mean cleaning up trees and branches damaged by winter storms.

A forested scene with broken branches at the base of a white pine tree.

Large white pines (pictured here) and young birch growing on forest edges were most heavily impacted by winter’s storms. Photo: Wisconsin DNR

Continue reading “Spring Cleaning: Storm Damage Cleanup Brings Oak Wilt Risk”

April Showers Bring May Garlic Mustard

By Brenna DeNamur, DNR Forest Health Outreach Specialist, Madison, Brenna.DeNamur@wisconsin.gov; Jaqi Christopher, DNR Forest Invasive Plant Specialist, Rhinelander, Jacquelyn.Christopher@wisconsin.gov; & Mary Bartkowiak, DNR Forest Invasive Plant Coordinator, Rhinelander, Mary.Bartkowiak@wisconsin.gov

Spring is here! Invasive plants, like garlic mustard, are often among the first green life to emerge in the new season.

A dense population of garlic mustard carpets a forest floor.

Garlic mustard is an invasive plant that appears early in spring. Photo: Wisconsin DNR

Continue reading “April Showers Bring May Garlic Mustard”

Thousand Cankers Disease Update

By Michael Hillstrom, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Fitchburg, michael.hillstrom@wisconsin.gov

Upward view of a large, leafless black walnut tree.

Black walnut is one of Wisconsin’s healthiest, least threatened tree species. Photo: Wisconsin DNR

Once in a while, the Wisconsin DNR Forest Health Team gets to deliver good news about an emerging insect or disease issue!

Recent research suggests that thousand cankers disease of walnut is not the threat we initially feared when cases appeared for the first time in the eastern U.S. in 2010. Thousand cankers disease is caused by walnut twig beetles carrying a fungal pathogen. The disease has yet to be detected in Wisconsin.

Following its arrival in the eastern United States, the insect’s populations declined. Many stressed urban trees recovered after drought conditions subsided in the impacted areas, and forest trees have fared even better than their urban counterparts. Additionally, walnut twig beetles don’t enjoy Wisconsin winters, as mortality begins in the low single digits Fahrenheit. Perhaps this is why we have not yet found the walnut twig beetle in Wisconsin.

Continue reading “Thousand Cankers Disease Update”

How Does The DNR Fight Wildfires?

By Catherine Koele, Wisconsin DNR wildfire prevention specialist

Wildfire activity in Wisconsin has been picking up – we’re currently reaching the peak of the fire season in northern Wisconsin. The DNR responded to nearly 70 wildfires over the weekend, and more are expected this week as elevated fire danger continues. Strong gusty winds, warmer temperatures, low humidity and very dry vegetation present challenging firefighting conditions.

So, what happens when a wildfire occurs? The DNR has various suppression tools to fight these unwanted human-caused wildfires. Continue reading “How Does The DNR Fight Wildfires?”

Upcoming Forest Products Events

Live Edge Slab Business Workshop – Grafton, Wisconsin
This one-day educational and networking workshop focuses on the business and operational skills needed to successfully operate a small sawmill business producing live edge slabs for high-quality furniture.
The educational topics covered include selecting and sourcing logs, sawing logs for making slabs, sawmilling, drying methods, processing slabs and marketing slabs. Attendees will also learn about various sawmill and woodworking equipment and drying technologies available to manufacture and add value to live edge slabs properly. In addition, there will be on-site slab sawing demonstrations and a dehumidification kiln tour.
Sponsors of this workshop include the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Urban Wood Network -Wisconsin, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, University of Wisconsin Madison Extension, U.S. Forest Service Wood Education and Resource Center and North Carolina State University Wood Products Extension.

Who Can Benefit From Attending This Workshop?

  • Small sawmill owners and operators
  • Woodworkers
  • Retail woodworking stores
  • Lumber distributors
  • Foresters and arborists

Date And time
Thursday, June 9, 2022, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. CDT

Location
Hoppe Tree Service
Arrowhead Rd
1009 Arrowhead Road
Grafton, WI 53024

Cost
$45 Per Attendee

To learn more about this workshop and register, please visit the registration page for the event.

 

National Firewood Workshop Coming To Wisconsin
Firewood plays a vital role in our state, especially in regions that do not have access to markets for small-diameter logs. This year the National Firewood Workshop will be held in Wisconsin.

The two-day educational and networking event supports the split-firewood industry by hosting business discussions with leading firewood industry professionals and offering outdoor demonstrations of firewood equipment by the leading vendors of the US and Canada.
The topics covered include business management, marketing, splitting and processor equipment, dry kiln equipment, kiln certification, transportation issues, automation, bundle packing and other topics important to a successful firewood operation.
North Carolina State University Wood Products Extension organized the workshop. Sponsors of the workshop include the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S Forest Service, University of Wisconsin Madison Extension, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the Wood Education and Resource Center of Princeton, West Virginia and the Firewood Scout.

Date and time
Wednesday, June 15, 2022, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. CDT
Thursday, June 16, 2022, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. CDT
Doors open at 8 a.m. each day.

Location
Arlington Ag Research Station
N695 Hopkins Road
Arlington, WI 53911
View map

Cost
$50 Per Attendee

To learn more about this workshop and register, please visit the registration page for the event.

 

Wisconsin Local Use Dimension Lumber Grading Classes  – Woodruff, Wisconsin
May 31, June 1 – 2, 2022
Due to a larger classroom becoming available, we are able to add a few spots for each day. To register for one of these courses, please visit this webpage.