MFL Certified Group Pesticide Reporting Reminder

A worker rinses pesticide from a measuring cup

All owners of certified MFL Lands are required to report their pesticide usage each year. Photo Credit: / Wisconsin DNR

As a Certified Group, we aim for 100% pesticide reporting on certified MFL Lands.

Recent articles have described the pesticide reporting requirements for forest certification. As we approach the end of the year, this is a reminder to submit your report if any pesticides have been applied on your certified MFL property in the past year.

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Open Seasons And Open MFL Land

Map showing distribution of open tax law lands in Wisconsin

This Wisconsin overview map from Private Forest Lands Open For Public Recreation web map shows the distribution of open tax law lands (each point is a quarter-quarter section containing open land).

Fall has finally arrived in Wisconsin, although the temperatures to kick the season off certainly haven’t felt particularly autumnal. There are many blessings that fall brings, including Badger and Packer football, fall colors, apple and pumpkin pies, and of course fall hunting seasons. In the forest tax law program, we see a spike in interest for open MFL and FCL land this time of year, so it’s a timely opportunity to showcase open tax law lands.

By providing the public recreational access to their MFL or FCL lands, landowners support one of the primary purposes of Wisconsin’s Forest Tax Laws. Lands designated as open MFL provide public access for five recreational activities: hunting, fishing, hiking, sight-seeing and cross-county skiing. Lands designated as FCL allow for public hunting and fishing. Other recreational activities such as trapping and foraging are not permitted on these private open MFL and FCL lands without permission from the landowner.

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2023 MFL Audit A Success

Map showing Managed Forest Law management zones

This map shows the Managed Forest Law management zones. / Map Credit: Wisconsin DNR

Back in August, a team of third-party forest certification auditors made their annual trip to Wisconsin to evaluate the performance and administration of the MFL Certified Group to American Tree Farm System® and Forest Stewardship Council® standards.

Over the week of Aug. 12, auditors visited 85 sites in the counties served by the Northeast Tax Law Team. This audit was even more successful than last year, with only a single audit finding and no corrective actions needed. That marks the first annual audit in the history of the MFL Certified Group (dating back to 2005) which resulted in zero corrective action requests!

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Fall: Time To Treat Invasive Plants

By Erika Segerson-Mueller, DNR Invasive Plant Program Specialist, Oshkosh Service Center; or 715-492-0391

As we move into cooler temperatures, many plants and trees are changing in leaf color and even beginning to drop their leaves. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds the public that fall is not only a great time to enjoy the changing hues in the woods, but it also presents a good opportunity to spot the invasive plants persisting among them.

As you walk through your woods this month, look for leaves that stay green into late fall, even after all other trees have lost their leaves. These are likely signs of an invasive plant species.
Invasive plants can hold onto their leaves much longer than native plants, taking advantage of late fall sunshine and ensuring they continue to grow and gain ground in the forest after many other plants have already died out or gone dormant for the winter.

Late autumn and even early winter are great times to identify and treat invasive plants. They are easy to see in a sea of downed leaves and dead plants. The absence of living native plants means that treating invasives with chemical herbicides will cause much less collateral damage.

Fall treatment is ideal for woody invasives, as trees and shrubs are busy directing resources to their roots to store them for overwintering, so the natural flow carries the herbicide along to the roots. Spring treatments are often ineffective because the opposite is true: plants are continually pushing resources up and out toward new buds.

When a control method like cut-and-swipe (a common treatment for buckthorn that involves snipping off stems and using a dabber to apply herbicide directly to the cut) is used in spring, it is often ineffective as the herbicide is immediately pushed out of the plant. In fall and winter, the flow of resources changes, making treatment much more effective.

Common invasive plants that can be treated in fall include garlic mustard, non-native honeysuckles and common and glossy buckthorns. Here are some basic identification characteristics and methods of treatment:

Garlic Mustard

Photo of rosettes on a garlic mustard plant. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

Rosettes on a garlic mustard plant. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

Though not a woody plant, the basal rosettes (a cluster of leaves at ground level) remain green through the fall and winter and are easy to spot. Garlic mustard looks somewhat like wild ginger or violets due to its kidney-bean shaped leaves. To check, crush a leaf – the leaves of garlic mustard should have a garlic smell when crushed.

If only a few plants are present, they can be hand-pulled and should be destroyed by burning or sending them to a landfill in bags clearly labeled as “Invasive Plants – Approved by Wisconsin DNR for Landfill.” For larger infestations, plants may be cut or torched, or herbicide may be used as recommended in the Control Method section of the Garlic Mustard Fact Sheet.

Non-Native Honeysuckles

Photo of an invasive honeysuckle plant.

Photo of a honeysuckle plant. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

Non-native honeysuckles can hold their leaves well into winter. They often have a thick canopy of leaves that shades out native plants. While other plants are bare and the honeysuckle still has that thick canopy, it’s a great time to attack and treat it.

There are several types of invasive honeysuckles in Wisconsin. Learn more about each variety as well as control methods on the Management of Bush Honeysuckles fact sheet from the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

Common And Glossy Buckthorn

Photo of a glossy buckthorn shrub covered in berries

A glossy buckthorn shrub covered in berries. Control berry-producing plants first to prevent further spreading. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR.

A common sight in Wisconsin forests, common and glossy buckthorn is also best treated in late fall and early winter. Buckthorn is a multi-stemmed large shrub or small tree that can form an impenetrable understory layer, displacing native vegetation.

Small buckthorn seedlings can be removed by hand. Larger plants should be cut or girdled at the base. Buckthorn can easily re-sprout from cut stumps, so herbicide treatments are often best. Find more information on control methods on the Buckthorns Management Fact sheet.

After treating any invasive plants in the fall, make sure to follow up in spring to check for new growth and seedlings. Controlling invasive plant species almost always requires multiple treatments and monitoring over several seasons.

Tree City USA Application Portal Now Open

The application portal for Tree City USA is now open and available. Applications are due Dec. 31.

You will notice some changes to the recognition portal this year. These instructions will help you log in for the first time.

We hope you join us again this year in continuing our strong commitment to growing and maintaining a healthy tree canopy across Wisconsin. If you’re new to Tree City USA, you can learn more about the program on the Arbor Day Foundation’s website and from your DNR Urban Forestry Coordinator.

If you’ve been a Tree City USA for at least one year, you may want to see whether you’re eligible for a Growth Award. The Growth Award is presented by the Arbor Day Foundation to participating Tree City USA communities that demonstrate higher levels of tree care and community engagement during the calendar year. Communities need to earn at least ten points in any of the following five categories: Building the Team, Measuring Trees & Forests, Planning the Work, Performing the Work and The Community Framework. Review the point system to see if you’re eligible this year and talk to your Urban Forestry Coordinator if you have any questions.

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The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: The Current State Of Public Trees In Southeastern Wisconsin

By Elton Rogers, Milwaukee Area Technical College and Dan Buckler, DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist, Milwaukee, or 608-445-4578

An urban forest is not an island. Trees and maintenance practices in one community inevitably affect the environment in another, while pests, pathogens and other damage agents don’t respect political boundaries. Because of these shared experiences, researchers have partnered with the Wisconsin DNR to assess the current state of publicly managed trees across the Milwaukee Metropolitan Area. Inventories from 40 organizations (mostly municipalities) totaling almost 440,000 trees point to worrying diversity issues and vulnerability to climate change, but also positive planting trends.

An article in the September issue of Arboriculture & Urban Forestry, the research publication of the International Society of Arboriculture, reviews the Milwaukee area’s species diversity, resilience to climate projections, availability of planting sites and more. A high-level summary of those results is below.

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From Decaying Park To A Vision For Tomorrow: The Story Of Mauston’s Living Food Pantry

By Randy Reeg, former City Administrator, Mauston

The city of Mauston (Juneau County, Wisconsin) is a small rural city of just under 4,500 people, situated along the I-90/94 corridor in central Wisconsin. Despite having a highly successful local manufacturing economy, a regional medical center and being situated in heavily trafficked regional tourist destination area, Mauston and Juneau County both have lower than average incomes and high levels of poverty. The region is one of Wisconsin’s rural food deserts, and the local food pantry, the Community Sharing Pantry, plays a crucial role in fighting local hunger.

The city of Mauston has seven public parks, and like in most other communities, the amenities, popularity and usage of each park differs greatly. Marachowsky’s Park is an approximately 2-acre mini park located on the city’s west side. It had historically contained a youth baseball field, a picnic shelter, playground equipment and public restrooms. Following the summer of 2019, Mauston’s Summer Recreation Director at the time advocated for the relocation of the youth baseball field to a different park for logistical purposes, including the muddy and mosquito-ridden conditions. The Parks & Recreation Board and City Council both agreed, and by summer of 2020, youth baseball was no longer an activity at Marachowsky’s Park.

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Free Data Collection Applications For Tree Inventories

By Dan Buckler, DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist, Milwaukee, or 608-445-4578

Tree inventories seem like such simple enterprises. Their purpose, essentially, is to determine what trees are growing where, in what shape they’re in and how big they are.

But to do them well requires expertise in arboriculture, proficiency with data collection and familiarity with GIS. And, of course, time. This is why many organizations turn to consulting arborists and foresters to conduct inventories and write management plans – they have that expertise and experience to see those projects through.

However, for some smaller or specialty projects, an organization may decide to collect tree data itself. For these efforts, a list of free digital data collection applications is available on the DNR website.

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Urban Wildlife Damage Abatement And Control Grants

Photo credit: USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station,

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is now accepting applications for Urban Wildlife Damage Abatement and Control (UWDAC) grants. UWDAC grants help urban areas develop wildlife plans, implement specific damage abatement and/or control measures for white-tailed deer and/or Canada geese. 

UWDAC grants provide a 50% cost share with a maximum award of $5,000. The grant is available to any town, city, village, county or tribal government located within an urban area. Check out the complete list of eligible urban areas.

Grant eligible expenses include:

  • Developing an urban wildlife population control plan
  • Monitoring wildlife populations and establishing population estimates
  • Removing deer using sharpshooters as part of a DNR approved project
  • Trapping deer and geese
  • Implementing managed hunts
  • Removing resident Canada geese by approved DNR methods
  • Performing required health and tissue sampling
  • Processing, distributing or disposing of geese or deer to a charitable organization
  • Modifying habitat
  • Implementing any other wildlife control or damage abatement practices approved by the DNR

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Avoid Invasives During Fall Recreation

Photo of firewood self-service stand at a Wisconsin state park

Don’t move firewood! Many State Parks and Forests stock firewood right at the campground entrances. Use these stands or other local sources that are no more than 10 miles from your destination to avoid spreading invasive species. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

Erika Segerson-Mueller, DNR Invasive Plant Program Specialist, Oshkosh Service Center; or 715-492-0391

Whether you prefer to enjoy Wisconsin’s beautiful fall weather on a hike, bike, ATV/UTV or on the water, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) urges those enjoying the outdoors to take a few precautions to avoid bringing invasive plant species along for the ride.

The Wisconsin Council on Forestry has created a set of guidelines titled “Invasive Species Best Management Practices for Outdoor Recreation.” These voluntary guidelines include steps recommended for individuals to minimize the inadvertent spread of invasive species.

Here are a few universal Best Management Practices (BMPs) for outdoor recreation, along with a few examples of these practices in action.

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