Recognizing Wisconsin’s Tree City, Tree Campus, and Tree Line USA participants

We deeply appreciate the commitment to urban forestry demonstrated by our 2019 Tree City, Tree Campus, and Tree Line USA participants. Thank you for your hard work!

2019 Tree City USA Communities – City (years): Adams (25), Albany (16), Algoma (19), Allouez (24), Altoona, City of (1), Amery (4), Amherst (23), Antigo (27), Appleton (36), Ashwaubenon (27), Athens, Village of (1), Baldwin (13), Baraboo (28), Barron (2), Bayfield (20), Bayside (12), Beaver Dam (29), Belgium (8), Bellevue (17), Beloit (32), Beloit, Town of (3), Brillion (20), Bristol (8), Brodhead (7), Brookfield (22), Brooklyn, Village of (7), Brown Deer (23), Burlington (19), Cambridge (14), Cedarburg (30), Chenequa (35), Chilton (26), Chippewa Falls (34), Clinton (17), Clintonville (30), Columbus (14), Combined Locks (27), Cottage Grove (24), Cudahy (29), De Pere (24), Deforest (15), Delafield (23), 

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First comprehensive review of the health impacts of urban trees published

Thanks to the efforts of researchers over the past few decades, we have a solid understanding of the ecological benefits of urban forests, such as reduced greenhouse gases, decreased stormwater runoff, and lessening of the urban heat island effect. In contrast, knowledge of the human health benefits of urban forests is still developing. Existing reviews of health benefits have focused more broadly on nature, green space, and greenness rather than concentrating specifically on urban trees.

To address this gap, a team of scientists reviewed the existing quantitative research on the relationships between urban trees and human health. Their findings were published last month in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in the article Urban Trees and Human Health: A Scoping Review.  

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Trees bring good news for summer!

By Kim Ballard, Outreach Coordinator, Project Canopy, Maine Forest Service

Credit: Kim Ballard

2020 has been quite the year already – from extreme weather to the pandemic to civil unrest, we could all use a break from stress and anxiety. As the days are now at their longest, and lots of sun is in the forecast, it is the PERFECT time to step outside and get some much deserved fresh air and exercise. Parks are open and trees are masters at lowering your heart rate, your blood pressure and cortisol (a stress hormone) levels in your bloodstream. Tree-lined paths are cooler than the asphalt sidewalk, contain less air pollution than shared bike lanes and likely even have less crime than neighborhoods with no tree canopy. And if you are anything like me, a quarantine-enhanced waistline could benefit from some exercise provided by a brisk walk outdoors. Any way you look at it, trees are really good for us. And some good news would be really welcome right now.

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Feature species: hackberry

Credit: Steven Katovich,

Scientific name: Celtis occidentalis

Native to: east-central U.S. (includes Wisconsin)

Mature Height*: 30’-60’

Spread*: 30’-50’

Form: broadly and irregularly oval, approximately the vase shape of American elm

Growth Rate*: medium to fast; up to 24”-36” per year

Foliage: 2”-5”; lopsided oval with serrated edge

Fall color: yellow-green to yellow

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Seeking feedback on draft chapters of bat HCP

Cave-dwelling bat populations in Wisconsin are rapidly declining due to a fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome. Some species may soon be listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). In preparation for this listing, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is teaming up with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to develop a large-scale Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP).

The purpose of this HCP is to obtain a federal incidental take permit under ESA section 10 requesting authorization for the incidental take of bats during forest management activities. The goal of this project is the protection of federally endangered bat species and the continuation of forest management activities in the Lake States.

The Wisconsin DNR will use the HCP to guide forest management activities on DNR-administered land. County, municipal and private landowners may also choose to participate in the plan as a way to continue forest management activities while remaining in compliance with the ESA. Continue reading “Seeking feedback on draft chapters of bat HCP”

Reports of sudden balsam fir mortality

Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff,, 920-360-0665

In early June we started getting reports of balsam fir trees rapidly changing from green to rusty red and dying in just a matter of weeks. Reports and observations are still coming in at the time of this writing, so this article gives a brief synopsis of what we’ve seen so far this year. Symptoms have been observed in some northern and central counties.

The top half of a balsam fir died rapidly this spring due to reasons we are still exploring.

Some balsam fir crowns died rapidly this spring for reasons still being explored.

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Report surviving elm in the forest

You can help keep native elm trees in the forests of Wisconsin! The US Forest Service continues to work on a project to identify Dutch elm disease (DED)-tolerant American elms native to Wisconsin forests. The goal of the project is to identify and propagate survivor American elms, especially from the colder hardiness zones 3-4, and develop a series of clone banks. Selections would eventually be screened for tolerance to DED. Ultimately, the goal is to make DED-tolerant American elm available for reforestation in northern areas, particularly as a component on sites currently forested by black ash.

If you live in hardiness zones 3 and 4, please look for evidence of surviving elms and report them to the US Forest Service.

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Forest tent caterpillar populations high in small localized areas

Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff,, 920-360-0665

Forest tent caterpillar (FTC) is a native insect with periodic outbreaks. Reports of high populations have been coming in this spring from the towns of Nokomis, Three Lakes and Sugar Camp in Oneida County. There is some defoliation in these areas, but the geographic extent of damage is still limited. When looking for caterpillars in northeastern Wisconsin, it was not difficult to find at least one or two of them, which is an increase from past years when it was difficult to find any caterpillars at all.

Close-up photo of forest tent caterpillar shows the insect's unique "footprint" design that runs along the top of its back.

Forest tent caterpillars go through several instars, or growth stages. Colors vary between stages but all have the cream-colored “boot prints” down their backs.

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Reddish oak leaves not a cause for concern

Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff,, 920-360-0665 

Have you noticed any oaks looking kind of red this spring? Or maybe you’ve noticed that the leaves at the tips of the branches are looking red or maroon? 

Some oak leaves look red from a distance, likely due to a prolonged cool spring.

From a distance some oaks have a red hue, probably due to a prolonged and cool spring.

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Basswood leaves defoliated and trees looking thin

Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff,, 920-360-0665 

Basswood trees in Forest, Marinette and Oconto counties are looking very poor this year. The leaves are damaged, misshapen or completely missing. Several things seem to be happening, but the worst offenders seem to be a late frost/freeze and a suspected infestation by introduced basswood thrips.

Evidence of basswood thrips on a single leaf; some defoliation and dieback.

Evidence of suspected basswood thrips infestation in early spring.

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