Division of Forestry News

Celebrating a forestry centennial

By Kirsten Held, Division of Forestry Outreach Specialist

For more than a century, partnerships have been at the heart of our work to conserve and protect Wisconsin forests.  One of those valued partnerships is with the National Association of State Foresters (NASF).  Established in 1920, NASF is a non-profit organization composed of the directors of forestry agencies in the states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.  To celebrate the centennial of this national partner, the Wisconsin DNR-Division of Forestry will be posting 100 articles on this site throughout 2020 noted with #NASF100.

While Wisconsin may be best known for leading the nation in the production of specialty cheeses, the Wisconsin DNR-Division of Forestry is most proud of the many ways that forests make our state such a great place to live and visit as well as Wisconsin’s leadership in sustainable forestry.

Processor Cutting Red Oak

For example, Wisconsin leads the nation in the value of forest product shipments, and for more than six decades, has led the nation in paper production. Wisconsin leads the nation in implementing third-party certification standards and nearly 7.5 million acres of forest land in Wisconsin are third-party certified today, providing independent assurance that the forests are being managed sustainably.  We’re also among the top states with communities earning Tree City USA status in recognition for investments in their urban forests.

Throughout the year, these 100 posts will explore various Wisconsin forestry programs, projects and partnerships working together to keep Wisconsin forests working.  Each month we’ll showcase a forestry career, property and one of Wisconsin’s common trees.  We’re starting this year-long Wisconsin forestry journey with water-related posts as Wisconsin wraps up the Year of Clean Drinking Water and begins the 25th year of our Forestry Best Management Practices for Water Quality.  After we explore the relationship between forests and water in January, in February we’ll look at the current status of Wisconsin forests (spoiler alert: our forests are growing in volume every year).

We hope you enjoy journeying with us as we explore Wisconsin’s rich forest resources – from the expansive Northwoods to the tree-lined avenues of Milwaukee – and the wealth of benefits they provide.

Forests and water go together in rural and urban Wisconsin

By Robert Godfrey

Think about all the forests you ever enjoyed in your life. Their natural beauty, the wildlife that inhabit them, the

Sky and trees reflected in tranquil lake water within Flambeau River State Forest.

calming break they give us all from our hectic lives. Forests are important for a lot of reasons and serve a great many purposes. But have you ever stopped to think about all the things forests do to help our environment?

For example, forests are like lungs. They are critical in absorbing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) from our atmosphere and helping us to fight climate change.

But have you ever thought of our forests as a water sponge?

It’s true. What they do is truly amazing. They collect and filter rainwater. Then they release it slowly into our streams and rivers. At the same time, these “forest sponges” – trees are made up of more than 50 percent water – are doing some purifying magic, taking out all kinds of pollutants from water before it reaches a stream or river. Continue reading “Forests and water go together in rural and urban Wisconsin”

Two natural resources – One goal

By Robert Godfrey

Wisconsin has an incredible variety of lakes, wetlands, rivers and streams, from the shores of Lakes Michigan and Superior to the Mississippi River. It also has a lot of forest lands. Over the past 100 years, Wisconsin’s public and private land managers have restored our forests and managed them with an eye on future generations.  In fact, 46 percent of our state is now covered with trees and more than half our woodlands are family owned.

Photo by Rena Johnson, courtesy of NASF

Earlier in our state’s history, the forests were heavily harvested with little regard for the environmental damage to our streams, rivers and lakes. Since the hiring of Wisconsin’s first state forester in 1904, Wisconsin’s state forestry program has been dedicated to restoring, maintaining and improving the health and quality of Wisconsin’s forests for today – and for future generations.

These two natural resources – forests and water – are both important to Wisconsin today. They provide income from forest products. They are also home for Wisconsin’s fish and wildlife. Each of them defines the character of the state. Both are vital for recreation and tourism. How do we ensure these two natural resources can co-exist and benefit each other? Continue reading “Two natural resources – One goal”

Meet a Forest Hydrologist

By Robert Godfrey

Forest lands provide a clean and dependable supply of water and a handful of professionals – known as forest hydrologists – monitor our state’s water quality before, during and after forests are harvested. One is Nolan Kriegel. Through his work in safeguarding one of our major sources of clean water, he serves us all in this important job.

He has three major responsibilities. One of the most critical ones is monitoring what is known as Wisconsin’s Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Water Quality where his focus is on timber harvesting and its effects on water quality. Continue reading “Meet a Forest Hydrologist”

Two division leaders announced

Two leadership roles have been filled within the Division of Forestry. Eric Zenz was named as the Southwest District Forestry Leader and Jim Warren will serve as the Field Operations Bureau Director.

Eric Zenz

Zenz has been with the division since 2002 and has been the Black River Falls Team Leader for the past six years. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in forest administration and utilization with a minor in business administration from UW-Stevens Point in 2001.

The division’s Southwest District includes the southern and western parts of Wisconsin, from Milwaukee up through Eau Claire.  Zenz will be responsible for the division’s forestry field operations in the 33 Wisconsin counties included in this district. He enjoys working in coulee country and will continue to live in Black River Falls with his wife and two children.

Photo of Jim Warren

Jim Warren

Warren has been serving as the Public and Private Forestry Section Chief since joining the Division of Forestry in 2003. He had previously been with the West Virginia Division of Forestry for 11 years after earning a Bachelor of Science in forestry from UW-Madison.

Warren enjoys hunting, fishing and boating along the Mississippi River in Grant County. He will continue to live in the Madison area with his wife and two sons and will be stationed at the Madison office with frequent trips to the Rhineland headquarters.

Included in the Forestry Field Operations Bureau are wildland fire prevention, protection, and suppression; forest fire law enforcement; prescribed fire; wildland urban interface; state and county forests; the Good Neighbor Authority; forest certification; conservation easements; private forestry; and the forestry tax law program.  Learn more about these programs on the DNR website.

Zenz and Warren start their new positions on November 24, 2019. Both will report to Forestry Operations Deputy Division Administrator Heather Berklund who is stationed at the division’s Rhinelander headquarters. They will also both serve on the division’s Strategic Leadership Team that sets policy direction and ensures that the Division of Forestry continues to work in partnership to protect and sustainably manage Wisconsin’s forests to supply a wide range of ecological, economic, and social benefits for present and future generations.

Storm recovery update

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and the Wisconsin DNR-Division of Forestry jointly produced a progress report on recovery efforts following the July 19-20, 2019 storms that damaged more than 285,000 acres in Barron, Polk, Langlade, Oconto and portions of Oneida, Wood and Portage Counties.

You are invited to read “After the Storm News” here. 

For additional information, visit this DNR webpage about recovering from storm damage to forests.

If you have questions, contact:
Hilary Markin, Public Affairs Officer
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
715-362-1354
hilary.r.markin@usda.gov
or
Kirsten Held, Forestry Outreach Specialist
Wisconsin DNR – Division of Forestry
608-219-9605
kirsten.held@wisconsin.gov

Applications for Forest Legacy Program due June 14

Landowners interested in participating in the Forest Legacy Program are invited to submit a completed application by June 14, 2019.

The Forest Legacy Program is a federal program that provides grants funds to states for the protection of environmentally important forest land from conversion to non-forest uses. Wisconsin’s implementation strategy focuses on keeping forests as forests by protecting large (> 1,000 acres) unfragmented blocks of forest land that provide the highest conservation value and public benefit through the purchase of conservation easements. Conservation easements convey a ‘purchased’ set of negotiated property rights, while allowing landowners to continue to own and manage their land, including the right to sell.

To request an application and more information about the Forest Legacy Program, contact Ron Gropp at ron.gropp@wisconsin.gov or 715-281-6253.  Only lands within one of Wisconsin’s Forest Legacy Areas are eligible.

2020 Forest Action Plan development begins

Development of Wisconsin’s 2020 Forest Action Plan is beginning now. Over the next year and a half, the Division of Forestry, along with Wisconsin’s greater forestry community, will be working collaboratively to review trends in the current state of forestry and identify future strategies that can help the forestry community refine how we collectively invest resources to address major management and landscape priorities. Engaging with all members of the forestry community is important to the success of the Forest Action Plan.

Here is more information on the Forest Action Plan, the timeline, and how the forestry community will be engaged.

To get updates on the process and progress of the 2020 Forest Action Plan, please sign up for the Forest Action Plan GovDelivery list.

Find up-to-date information on the 2020 Forest Action Plan online here.

If you have questions about your involvement or the Forest Action Plan in general, please contact Amanda Koch at AmandaA.Koch@wisconsin.gov  or at (608) 576-8146.