DNR Welcomes New Urban Forestry Council Liaison & Outreach Specialist

By Jeff Roe, DNR Urban Forestry Team Leader, Madison, jeffrey.roe@wisconsin.gov or 608-535-7582

We are excited to announce the newest addition to our team! Kirsten Biefeld has accepted the position of Urban Forestry Council Liaison and Outreach Specialist. Her first day was Monday, June 6, 2022. Kirsten is based in the Madison office. 

Kirsten is a recent graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where she received a Master’s of Environmental Science and a GIS certificate. She has an undergraduate degree in Biology and Spanish, with an Art minor, from Augustana University in Rock Island, Illinois.

Continue reading “DNR Welcomes New Urban Forestry Council Liaison & Outreach Specialist”

2023 DNR Urban Forestry Grant Application Opening Soon

Applications for an Urban Forestry Grant are opening soon!

Cities, villages, towns, counties, tribes and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in or conducting their project in Wisconsin can apply for a regular or startup 2023 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Urban Forestry Grant beginning July 1, 2022.

The grants range from $1,000 to $25,000, and grant recipients must match each grant dollar for dollar. A startup grant of up to $5,000 is available for communities that want to start or restart a community forestry program. Grants are awarded to projects that align with state and national goals for increasing the urban forest canopy and its benefits.  

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First Downs For Trees; Go Trees, Go!

Go trees, go! That could have been the chant coming from Lambeau Field last month as First Downs for Trees celebrated its 12th season by distributing more than 400 trees to Brown County communities.

First Downs for Trees is a cooperative effort between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin Public Service and corporate sponsors Essity and Green Bay Packaging, Inc. The program donates trees to participating communities based on the number of first downs in the previous season.

On Tuesday, April 19, 406 trees were trucked out of the Meacham Nursery bound for places like De Pere, Pulaski, Howard, Ashwaubenon, Green Bay, Wrightstown, Allouez, Hobart, Bellevue and the Oneida Nation. In total, 16 communities received trees from Meacham’s and Leaves Inspired nurseries.

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Municipal Forestry Institute 2022

The Municipal Forestry Institute is an intensive high-level professional growth program of the Society of Municipal Arborists. The week-long training provides personal and professional development opportunities for key urban forestry decision-makers who want to become influential leaders and managers.

Now in its 17th year, the cadre of dedicated urban forestry instructors has taught over 800 leaders since 2005. Grow your professional skills and community tree program by joining the Municipal Forestry Institute.

The Municipal Forestry Institute will be held on Sept. 25-30 in northern Ohio. To learn more, visit this webpage. Registration is not yet open but will be available soon.

Three Updated Emerald Ash Borer Factsheets From UW Extension

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension recently updated three emerald ash borer (EAB) management factsheets:

Additional EAB resources from the Extension are available here.

To learn more about best practices for managing EAB in your community, check out the DNR’s Emerald Ash Borer Community Toolbox and Forest Health Emerald Ash Borer webpage.

Local Study Demonstrates Association Between Nature And Stroke Risk

In April, a study based in Milwaukee County was released showing an association between proximity to green spaces and lower odds of stroke. Researchers with Advocate Aurora Health found that people who live near green spaces in Milwaukee County were 19% less likely to have a stroke than those with less green space nearby.

Learn more about the study in an article by Matt Martinez writing for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. The journal article is available here.

This new study is one of thousands that have shaped our understanding of the extraordinary health benefits of urban trees and green spaces. Urban nature has reduced cardiovascular disease, mental illness, ADHD, diabetes, respiratory illness and asthma; supports immune function and family dynamics; increases healthy birth weight and opportunities for physical activity; and much more.

To learn more about the health benefits of urban nature, visit the DNR’s “Good Health Grows on Trees” webpage.

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.

EAB Identified For The First Time In Forest And Ashland County

By Linda Williams, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Woodruff, Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0665 & Paul Cigan, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Hayward, Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov, 715-416-4920

Emerald ash borer (EAB) has been detected for the first time in Forest County in the Town of Armstrong Creek and Ashland County in the City of Ashland. The Forest County detection was most likely a natural expansion of other infestations in Florence and Marinette counties.

Bark has been removed from an ash tree to show EAB tunnels present near the base of the tree.

This Forest County tree was infested with EAB top to bottom. Photo: Wisconsin DNR

The Ashland County detections appear to be isolated infestations likely spread through the transportation of firewood or logs. Several large green ash stands in the City of Ashland show advanced infestation signs.

EAB was first found in Wisconsin in 2008. There are now just seven counties where EAB has not yet been identified. EAB was federally deregulated as of January 2021. In 2018, Wisconsin instituted a state-wide quarantine. This discovery in Forest and Ashland counties will result in no regulatory changes.

Please visit the interactive Wisconsin EAB detections map to see where EAB has been reported. Follow the map’s instructions if you know of an infested area not on the map. Continue reading “EAB Identified For The First Time In Forest And Ashland County”