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Free Seedlings For Wisconsin Fourth-Graders

sugar maple seedlings

One-year-old sugar maple seedlings growing in Wisconsin nursery bed.

Every year since 1984, Wisconsin 4th-grade students have been eligible to receive a free tree seedling from DNR state nurseries to complement their Arbor Day observations. The application period for the “2022-23 Arbor Day Free Tree Seedlings for Wisconsin 4th Graders” is now open. School principals, 4th-grade teachers and 4th-grade homeschool parents are encouraged to visit the DNR’s tree planting webpage to order seedlings for Wisconsin 4th-grade students.

The seedlings will be shipped next spring in time for Arbor Day celebrations.  They come with a plastic bag for protection and instructions on how to plant and care for them. Planting a seedling and watching it grow can be a great learning tool for students. Find ideas for planning an Arbor Day celebration on this DNR webpage.

If you have any questions about the free seedling program for Wisconsin 4th-graders, please contact Carey Skerven at the Griffith State Nursery (Carey.Skerven@wisconsin.gov).

Wisconsin Forests – Rooted In Our Lives, Rooted In Our Economy

By Kelly Martinson, Program and Policy Coordinator, DNR Forest Products Team

Governor Tony Evers proclaimed the third week in October as Forest Products Week in Wisconsin to recognize forests’ essential role in the state’s environment and economy. This week celebrates Wisconsinites who work in the forest products industry while considering the many ways forest products can improve our lives. Forest Products Week also highlights Wisconsinites working in and caring for our state’s forest land. Continue reading “Wisconsin Forests – Rooted In Our Lives, Rooted In Our Economy”

DNR Accepting Seedling Orders For Spring 2023 Starting Oct. 3

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will accept seedling orders from Wisconsin landowners for planting trees and shrubs in spring 2023 starting Oct. 3, 2022. The high-quality seedlings are native species appropriate for planting throughout Wisconsin and grown at the F.G. Wilson State Nursery in Boscobel.

Seedlings grown by the state nurseries are used for reforestation and conservation plantings on private, public and tribal lands. These seedlings can provide future forest products and revenues, wildlife habitat, soil erosion control, living snow fences, carbon sequestration, aesthetics and shade to landowners and managers in every county. Continue reading “DNR Accepting Seedling Orders For Spring 2023 Starting Oct. 3”

Local-Use Lumber Grading Course Changing Administration

UW-Stevens Point’s Wisconsin Forestry Center is taking over the administrative component of the Wisconsin Local Use Dimension Lumber grading course from the Wisconsin DNR’s Forest Products Services team. The DNR will continue to teach the course and handle specific inquiries regarding the content of the course, but registration for upcoming courses and re-certifications for previous attendees will be handled by the Wisconsin Forestry Center.

Information regarding upcoming lumber grading courses will be available on the Wisconsin Forestry Center’s website. The DNR’s Forest Products Services “Training and Events Calendar” webpage will also continue to post links to the registration for upcoming courses. The transition of administrative duties from the DNR to Wisconsin Forestry Center is expected to be completed this summer.

Forest Products Calendar of Events

Kiln Drying Short Course: Drying Quality Lumber – Aug. 17-19, 2022

Great Lakes Kiln Drying Association will be offering a Kiln Drying Short Course in Antigo, Wisconsin, Aug. 17-19, 2022. This workshop is packed with valuable and important information for kiln operators and managers. The variety and quality of the information make this a must attend event. The workshop will focus on drying systems, controlling lumber quality, species specific drying, wood structure and drying science. Over twenty breakout topics will be covered to help you maintain a successful kiln operation.
For more information and to register, visit: http://www.glkda.org/courses.html

Forest Products Sales Workshop – Aug. 25, 2022

LSLA Education will be offering a one-day Forest Products Sales Workshop on Aug. 25, 2022, in Woodruff, Wisconsin. Those attending this training session will learn about the forest products industry, how personal selling fits into the overall marketing function, the basics of personal selling, and methods of identifying new customers. The course is designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of sales personnel. It is intended for new sales and marketing personnel or those wishing to improve their sales skills.
For more information and to register, visit: https://lsla.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Forest-Products-Sales-Workshop.pdf

GLTPA Logging Congress – Sept. 8-10, 2022

The Great Lakes Logging & Heavy Equipment Expo is a 3-day expo happening Sept. 8-10 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. More than 300 indoor and outdoor exhibitors attend each year to showcase the best of the best when it comes to Log Splitters, Portable Sawmills, Compact Tractors & Logging Equipment, Chainsaw Carving, Wood/Pellet Stove Dealers and more.
For more information, visit: https://www.gltpa.org/gltpa/Expo.asp

Preliminary Seedling Availability From The Wisconsin DNR Reforestation Program For Spring 2023 Planting

Proper tree planting requires a lot of decision-making, and one of those decisions is which species and age are the most appropriate and cost-effective to plant. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Reforestation Program is taking some of the unknowns out of that process by giving landowners and property managers an early peek at the seedlings we anticipate having available in fall 2022 for planting in spring 2023.

This list is preliminary, as some species may be added or removed depending on health, growth and other factors as the growing season progresses.

These tree and shrub seedlings will be available to purchase starting Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. Even with the expected high demand, we anticipate having a variety of species and ages available to all customers. Continue reading “Preliminary Seedling Availability From The Wisconsin DNR Reforestation Program For Spring 2023 Planting”

Launch of New Strategic Plan

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has begun implementation of a new forestry strategic plan for fiscal years 2023-2027.

The Division of Forestry’s Strategic Direction is a five-year plan that builds off of the Wisconsin forestry community’s 10-year Statewide Forest Action Plan. Tying into that plan allowed the division to define tangible strategies and actions that support the broader vision for the sustainable management of Wisconsin’s forest resources.

Find the new plan and learn more about the process used to develop it by visiting FY2023-2027 Strategic Direction.

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.