How to look for white pine bast scale and Caliciopsis canker

By Elly Voigt, DNR Forest Health Communications Specialist and Linda Williams, DNR Forest Health Specialist, linda.williams@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0665

The association between a tiny insect and an inconspicuous fungus is causing branch and sapling mortality. White pine bast scale (WPBS; Matsucoccus macrocicatrices) and Caliciopsis canker (caused by Caliciopsis spp.) are agents in an insect/disease complex impacting white pines (Figure 1).

A white pine tree showing branch dieback in the mid and lower crown.

Figure 1. Branch mortality caused by WPBS and Caliciopsis canker.

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Phomopsis galls

By Elly Voigt, DNR Forest Health Lab Technician and Communications Specialist, eleanor.voigt@wisconsin.gov

Galls are woody swellings on the branches or trunk of a tree and can be caused by insects or fungi. Winter and early spring are the best times to notice galls thanks to bare branches. One type of gall, caused by Phomopsis fungi, occurs on northern red oak, hickory, maple and several other tree species.

Numerous woody galls on the branches of an oak tree.

Phomopsis galls on the branches of an oak.

There will frequently be many phomopsis galls on one tree while nearby trees are completely unaffected, probably due to individual resistance differences. While small phomopsis galls have minimal effects on trees, larger galls can girdle branches, causing branch dieback. Galls grow very slowly, and many heavily affected trees survive for decades, even with a large gall on their trunk.

There are currently no treatment recommendations for Phomopsis galls, but you can prune and dispose of affected branches. Many landowners choose to let them be.

Recipients Announced for Urban Forestry Regular and Startup Grants

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Urban Forestry program has selected the 2021 grant year recipients, funding 48 applications in a dollar-for-dollar match.

In addition to annual state funding totaling $524,600, the program received an additional $175,000 in federal funding to mitigate damage associated with the Emerald Ash Borer.

Awards for the 48 applications range from $2,400 to $25,000. In total, the projects cost an estimated $1.8 million. Six additional applicants may also receive second-round funding in spring 2021 if funds reserved for the Catastrophic Storm Grant program are not needed through the winter months.

Of the selected applications, 28 are regular grants, and 20 are startup grants. The six chosen for possible second-round funding are all regular grants.

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Staff Highlights of 2020

As the year draws to a close, we asked DNR urban forestry staff to reflect on the last twelve 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:

“The highlight of my year has been watching the partners we support achieve lasting impacts via their Urban Forestry projects. Two immediately come to mind. Restoration Of Our Trees Sheboygan (ROOTS) kicked off their EAB Mitigation Grant Program by funding five separate projects in Sheboygan County communities for a total project value of $165,500. The other is Cedarburg Green who instituted a public awareness campaign to encourage community leaders to refund the city’s tree planting budget. Their campaign consisted of a common council presentation, an educational workshop and tree sale for residents, Arbor Day plantings, student art and writing contests, tree benefit tags, multiple news articles and a “Trees of Distinction” booklet, video and walking tour.”  -Olivia Witthun, East Central Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator

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Save the Date for the WAA/DNR Annual Urban Forestry Conference

The Wisconsin Annual Urban Forestry Conference will be held as a virtual event in 2021, with sessions on Feb. 21, 22 and 23.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff and the Wisconsin Arborist Association have developed a program to enrich arboriculture and urban forestry knowledge in the industry. The conference includes a utility track, a climbers’ corner, a virtual exhibit hall and opportunities for networking and socializing.

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Apprenticeship and the Future Workforce

By August Hoppe, President of Hoppe Tree Service and Chair of the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council

Workforce shortages and the training of new employees is not a new problem for the arboricultural industry. Meeting minutes from a National Arborist Association meeting from 70 years ago frame the issue in the same fashion as we do today. It is hard to find skilled workers for positions and retaining workers can be an even bigger challenge for many organizations, even during a pandemic.

Formal apprenticeship is a tool that other skilled trades have been using successfully for many years to recruit, train and retain their valuable employees. We are entering an exciting time within our industry as more and more employers turn to the Arborist Apprenticeship program to fulfill the needs of their workforce. 

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Arborist Apprenticeship Webinar Aimed at Wisconsin Municipalities

The Wisconsin Arborist Apprenticeship Program is a growing way for municipalities and tree care companies to train their workforce. Learn about the program and its flexibility to fit your organization.

This presentation will be hosted by City of Milwaukee Forestry Services Manager Randy Krouse along with a panel of apprenticeship instructors, public employees and Wisconsin Bureau of Apprenticeship Representatives.  

The webinar will be held on Zoom on Thursday, Dec. 17 at 3 pm.

Register in advance for the webinar using this link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_7ASg4RyeRv6jhmXK2aIcHA

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Trees Support Mental Health During COVID-19

By Patricia Lindquist, DNR Urban Forestry Communications Specialist based in Madison, patricia.lindquist@wisconsin.gov or 608-843-6248 

The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a serious toll on our mental health. Many of us are feeling lonely and isolated due to social distancing. Some of us have lost our jobs, some have lost access to schooling and some have lost beloved friends and family members.

Stress, anxiety and depression are on the rise. The numbers are truly staggering. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, from January to June 2019, 11% of adults reported these symptoms. In recent months, these figures have more than tripled. The weekly average for May 2020 was 34.5%; the weekly average for June was 36.5%; and the weekly average for July was 40.1%. In addition, a recent study reported that 13.3% of adults have begun or increased their use of substances to cope with the stress of COVID-19, and 10.7% of adults have thought of suicide in the last 30 days.

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Snapshot Wisconsin: People-Powered Research

By Christine Anhalt-Depies, DNR Snapshot Wisconsin Project Coordinator, christine.anhaltdepies@wisconsin.gov or 608-669-3808

Fisher, fox, bobcat and bear are just a few of the species captured among the 50 million trail camera photos produced by Snapshot Wisconsin. The Wisconsin DNR program is a wildlife monitoring effort that gets the public involved in science, and the data generated help the DNR make wildlife management decisions. Volunteers host a network of trail cameras across the state that take “snapshots” of animals as they pass by. The program began as a pilot in two counties and launched statewide in 2018.  Today the program boasts 1,800 volunteers hosting over 2,100 trail cameras. Information about what is in the photos, combined with where and when they were taken, is already being used to better understand important Wisconsin wildlife species, like white-tailed deer.

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Deadlines Approaching for Tree City, Bird City, and Bee City Applications

Act fast to keep your Tree City, Bird City, and Bee City status! Due dates are as follows:

  • Tree City USA (TCUSA) applications are due Dec. 31
  • Bird City Wisconsin renewal applications are due Jan. 31 (new applications can be submitted anytime)
  • Bee City USA renewal applications are due Feb. 28 (new applications can be submitted anytime)

These three programs are each managed by a different nonprofit, but they have a lot in common. In fact, a single project could be used to help meet all three programs’ requirements!

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