“Spring” into action with invasives in focus

By Paul Cigan, plant pest and disease specialist, Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov, 715-416-4920

One of the most amazing aspects of living in Wisconsin, with its four seasons of ever-changing natural beauty, is the re-awakening of plant life every spring. Whether you’re a gardener, sportsperson or casual observer on a walk, it’s hard to overlook the floral sea of white trilliums, the bee-frenzied blooms of a crabapple, or even the mere greening up of turf grass. These spring advances usher in a sense of re-awakening of a sleepy plant world and assure us that summer will once again come.

While recently out on a spring hike in northern Wisconsin, my eyes were drawn to the bright green glow of emerging understory plants. Making my way closer, my initial excitement was offset by the disappointment of seeing what I quickly realized was in fact garlic mustard—an increasingly common and problematic exotic, invasive understory plant. Although garlic mustard is perhaps the “poster” plant for invasive plant awareness, the unfortunate reality is that it is just one of hundreds of invasive species that continue to spread into our forests.

The spring green-up of garlic mustard may look pretty but this invasive species is not good news for Wisconsin forests or the people who manage them. Credit: Duluth CISMA.

Continue reading ““Spring” into action with invasives in focus”

Preliminary findings are promising first step in control of jumping worms

By Bernie Williams, plant pest and disease specialist, Bernadette.Williams@wisconsin.gov, 608-444-6948

Invasive earthworms in the genus Amynthas, more commonly known as “jumping worms,” were first identified in Dane County in 2013 and have since been reported in 45 of the state’s 72 counties. Verified species in Wisconsin are Amynthas tokioensis, A. agrestis, and the closely related Metaphire hilgandorfi, first identified in September 2017. A. tokioensis is the most common of the three species. A. agrestis typically appears in combination with A. tokioensis but rarely on its own.

Adult jumping worms are identified by their dark brown color and smooth, milky-white band near head.

Continue reading “Preliminary findings are promising first step in control of jumping worms”

Tree-killing fungus investigated at Kettle Moraine State Forest

By Kyoko Scanlon, forest pathologist, Kyoko.Scanlon@wisconsin.gov, 608-235-7532 and Mike Hillstrom, forest health specialist, Fitchburg, Michael.Hillstrom@wisconsin.gov, 608-513-7690

Less than a one-hour drive from Milwaukee, Kettle Moraine State Forest – Southern Unit (KMSU) offers more than 22,000 acres of glacial hills, kettles, lakes, prairie restoration sites, pine woods and hardwood forests. KMSU is one of Wisconsin’s most visited state properties with over 100 miles of mountain biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling and hiking trails. In addition to its ecological and recreational value, KMSU remains a productive and sustainable forest that supports the forest products industry in southern Wisconsin.

Aerial view of KMSU including Ottawa Lake on left.

Continue reading “Tree-killing fungus investigated at Kettle Moraine State Forest”

Apply now for the 5th Wisconsin Community Tree Management Institute

Sponsored by the WI Department of Natural Resources in cooperation with partners

Wisconsin Community Tree Management Institute (CTMI) is a unique training experience designed for municipal staff with tree management responsibilities but without a strong background in urban forestry. The program is ideal for staff who spend just part of their time dealing with trees. Conversely, those with a background in urban forestry but new to management, will also find it useful. CTMI consists of approximately 38 instruction hours and requires students to complete an out-of-classroom project.

If you’re interested in applying, don’t wait – the 2020/21 class is filling quickly! The application deadline is June 12, 2020. See “How to Apply for CTMI” near the end of this article for instructions.

Continue reading “Apply now for the 5th Wisconsin Community Tree Management Institute”

History of the WDNR Urban Forestry program

By Patricia Lindquist, DNR urban forestry communications specialist, Madison, Patricia.Lindquist@wisconsin.gov, 608-843-6248

The history of the Wisconsin DNR Urban Forestry program is closely tied to the history of urban forestry in the United States. Although the term ‘urban forestry’ did not come into use until 1965, the concept of an integrated approach to the management of the urban forest ecosystem began to take shape as early as the 1930s. The devastation caused by diseases such Dutch elm disease, phloem necrosis, and oak wilt was a driving force in the development of the field of urban forestry. The term ‘urban forestry’ was first used in 1965 at the University of Toronto to describe a graduate student’s research on the successes and failures of municipal tree planting projects in Toronto. The term was quickly adopted in the United States, where urban forestry had already begun to grow into a national movement. (Source: Mark Johnston, “A Brief History of Urban Forestry in the United States,” Arboricultural Journal 1996, Vol. 20, pp. 257-278.)

Continue reading “History of the WDNR Urban Forestry program”

What does the DNR do to advance urban and community forestry in Wisconsin?

The Urban Forestry Team provides guidance, training, information, funding and professional connection opportunities to municipal foresters and other professionals to achieve sustainable urban forestry management. In a (hickory) nutshell, our work falls into the following five categories:

  • We bring people together. Our role in the urban and community forestry program is that of a convener, bringing together interests and building partnerships to advance urban forestry as practiced by local communities, private sector specialists, and community organizations.
  • We provide funding to Wisconsin communities. Our role is to provide funding to cities, villages, towns, counties, tribes and non-profit organizations in Wisconsin through a competitive grant program. Grants support new and innovative projects that will develop sustainable urban and community forestry programs.

Continue reading “What does the DNR do to advance urban and community forestry in Wisconsin?”

Reflections from my travels in India: the health benefits of trees

By Patricia Lindquist, DNR urban forestry communications specialist, Madison, Patricia.Lindquist@wisconsin.gov, 608-843-6248

“What is it about this place?” I wondered. “Why does this city feel so harsh, so disheartening?”

Two hours earlier I had stepped off a train in Patna, India, and I’d been stuck in a massive traffic jam ever since. Honking cars, motorcycles, buses, bicycles, rickshaws, and livestock hemmed me in, but after nearly two months in India, this was nothing new.

Rup, my husband at the time (we are now divorced) is from Calcutta, and I’d grown to love his hometown. Despite the massive cultural differences and sheer size of the city (population: 14 million), I’d warmed up to the place immediately. Calcutta felt welcoming from the moment I arrived; Patna did not. After only two hours in Patna, my nerves were frazzled, I had a headache, and I just wanted to escape.

Continue reading “Reflections from my travels in India: the health benefits of trees”

What is the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council?

Forest Action Plan meeting, September 2019

We’re glad you asked! The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council is an advisory committee to the Wisconsin DNR Division of Forestry, currently comprised of 29 members appointed by the Secretary of the WDNR. Members represent the diverse groups and interests that impact our state’s urban and community forests, including representatives from professional organizations, private business owners, educators, green industry employees, nonprofit/service organizations, governmental agencies, municipalities of various sizes, utilities, concerned and active citizens and trade organizations throughout the state. The Council addresses strategies to help the WDNR implement, monitor, and revise the state’s urban forestry initiatives and to lend support to activities that further the understanding, appreciation and practice of urban forestry in Wisconsin. Members strive to aid all entities involved in urban forestry matters and to help coordinate activities to avoid duplication, inefficiency and conflict. The Council addresses a diversity of local, state, and national issues that can affect Wisconsin’s urban forests.

Continue reading “What is the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council?”

Tree City USA: Greening Wisconsin communities for over 40 years

Since 1976, Tree City USA has been a catalyst for community tree care and a powerful force for promoting urban forestry. This program, sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation (ADF) and administered in Wisconsin by the DNR, provides communities with a tangible goal and national recognition for their community forestry efforts. Today, over 3,400 communities fly Tree City USA flags over areas that house more than 143 million Americans. Wisconsin has over 190 Tree City USAs, ranking it second in the nation!

At the heart of the Tree City USA program are four basic requirements. The community must have: a tree board or department, an annual community forestry program backed by an expenditure of at least $2 per capita for trees and tree care, an annual Arbor Day proclamation and observance, and a tree care ordinance. In addition, communities that have achieved Tree City USA certification can strive for a growth award that recognizes effort over and above the four standards. Typically around 25 Wisconsin communities achieve this commendation each year.

Continue reading “Tree City USA: Greening Wisconsin communities for over 40 years”

Feature species: Kentucky coffeetree

Credit: Jason Sharman, Vitalitree, Bugwood.org

Scientific name: Gymnocladus dioicus

Native to: Hardwood region west of the Appalachians (includes Wisconsin)

Mature Height*: 50’-70’

Spread*: 30’-50’

Form: large upright oval to rounded tree, has irregular course outline in winter

Growth Rate*: slow to medium

Foliage: very large bipinnately compound leaves 17”-36”, individual leaflets are 1”-2” long and pointed

Fall color: yellow

Continue reading “Feature species: Kentucky coffeetree”