Will A Fire Truck Fit Down Your Driveway?

In the event of a wildfire in your area, firefighters may need to reach your home. If firefighters cannot safely access your home, they will find an alternative way to get to you that may take longer – and when fighting fire, every second counts.

Help Firefighters Reach You

You are the first line of defense when it comes to helping your home survive a wildfire. To enable firefighters and other emergency vehicles to locate and reach your residence quickly it’s important to establish a safe route with adequate driveway access.

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Fighting Invasive Plants

Invasive plants are a major threat to Wisconsin’s forests, highlighted in the forest health chapter of Wisconsin’s Forest Action Plan. Invasive plants limit tree regeneration, reduce plant diversity and increase management costs. Recent Forest Inventory and Analysis data from the USDA Forest Service found that more than half of forest sites surveyed in Wisconsin had two or more invasive plant species. Forest landowners should learn to recognize common invasive plants like buckthorns, honeysuckles and garlic mustard. Mobile applications are a handy tool for landowners to learn to identify the plant species in their woods (e.g., PlantNet, iNaturalist) and report invasives (e.g., EDDMapS). For information about the regulated invasive plants in Wisconsin visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Terrestrial Invasive Species page.

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Climate Impacts On Forest Insects

Climate change may impact forest insects in a variety of ways that will likely put stress on the forest. Warmer temperatures, altered precipitation patterns, more frequent extreme weather events and longer growing seasons are a few consequences of climate change that may shape the effects of insects in future forests. A changing climate may impact insects as:

  • Warmer temperatures accelerate larval development and increase insect populations.
  • Extended growing seasons allow for more generations of insects each year.
  • Altered leaf chemistry modifies insect host plant preferences.
  • Extreme weather events damage and stress forests, resulting in attacks by native and non-native insects.
  • Warmer temperatures allow insects to expand their range and occupy new areas.

Many examples of insects responding to climate change have already been documented. Two examples are:

1) Mountain pine beetle expanding its geographic range in the western U.S. and infesting a new host tree species during the most recent outbreak; and

2) Eastern larch beetle having an additional generation each year that has resulted in an unprecedented 20-year outbreak in Minnesota. Continue reading “Climate Impacts On Forest Insects”

Statewide Forest Action Plan Strategies

Forest health experts from federal and state government, tribes and universities worked together to create the two goals and numerous strategies featured in the forest health chapter of Wisconsin’s 2020-2030 Statewide Forest Action Plan. Many goals and strategies in other chapters are also relevant to forest health efforts.

These goals are high-level statements about the desired future conditions of Wisconsin forests. The forest health chapter goals are:

  1. Forested land and ecosystem functions are maximized, while losses due to forest health threats are minimized
  2. Forest health threats are identified and managed in a fashion that is adaptive and responsive to multiple values

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Forest Health In The Statewide Forest Action Plan

The forest health chapter of Wisconsin’s 2020-2030 Statewide Forest Action Plan, completed in June 2020, highlights the impacts of insects, diseases, invasive plants and worms in Wisconsin’s forests.

Forest health experts from government agencies, universities and tribes worked together to evaluate these current impacts. They then developed goals and strategies to help the forestry community refine how it will invest state, federal and partner resources to address major forest health management and landscape priorities over the next ten years.

Forest health is a critical component of the plan because native and non-native pests increase tree mortality to a level that negatively affects forest stocking levels, clean water, wildlife habitat and raw material for wood products. This causes economic losses and undesirable management outcomes. Continue reading “Forest Health In The Statewide Forest Action Plan”

Single Tree Selection

An example of single tree selection at work in a forest. Credit: Wisconsin DNR

Single tree selection is a natural regeneration system that was pioneered here in the Lake States. Used primarily in northern hardwood forests, single tree selection is a cutting method designed to regenerate and maintain uneven-aged stands. Single tree selection stands are maintained at each stand entry by establishing or releasing seedlings and saplings, tending trees to enable quality tree development and harvesting mature trees to create growing space for new age classes. To learn more about this regeneration method, check out the Generally Accepted Silvicultural Principles publication.

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