Hungry Squirrels Find Trees Tasty

By Linda Williams, Forest Health Specialist, Woodruff, or 920-360-0665

Maple branches with light colored areas where squirrels removed bark.

Squirrels remove the bark of maples, leaving bright bare spots. Photo: Wisconsin DNR

It’s the time of year when we start to see scattered maple trees stripped of their bark. Squirrels cause this damage — which can be limited to a few small areas the size of a tennis ball or can extend to cover many feet of branches or the main stem.

The squirrels are going after the cambium layer, just under the bark, that tastes slightly sweet from the sap. Smooth bark is easier for squirrels to chew, so young trees or branches with thin bark are likelier to be stripped than those with older, furrowed bark.

At this time of year, the pale wood of the branches that have had the bark stripped off is nearly white; later in the season, this wood will darken or even turn black with sooty mold. This type of feeding can remove enough bark to girdle the branches or the main stem, causing the tree to die from that point to the end of the branch.

Branches that are not completely girdled will continue to grow, and callus tissue will begin to grow over the wounds. If branches are nearly girdled, they may leaf out this spring and then suddenly wilt and die as hot weather hits because the tree can’t deliver enough water to keep those leaves alive. Continue reading “Hungry Squirrels Find Trees Tasty”

Lab Assistant Departs

By Art Kabelowsky, DNR Forest Health Outreach Specialist, or 608-335-0167

Another photo will be hung on the unofficial “Wall of Fame” bulletin board inside the Department of Natural Resources Forest Health Lab in Fitchburg.

Ethan Wachendorf, who joined DNR as a laboratory assistant on May 23, 2022, departed on Thursday, March 23, to pursue a Master of Science in plant pathology at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Outgoing Forest Health lab assistant Ethan Wachendorf at a microscope

Ethan Wachendorf

Wachendorf started as a summer lab assistant, but at the start of 2023 became a dual LTE, working as the lab assistant. The Colorado native joined the DNR after earning a bachelor’s degree in government (with a minor in biology) from Lawrence University in Appleton.

Wachendorf said he was drawn to Michigan State for post-graduate studies after working with Dr. Monique Sakalidis, who runs the university’s forest pathology lab.

“I’ll be working on oak wilt testing and management techniques, such as herbicide, fungicide, rapid response and the way the trees change physiologically,” Wachendorf said.

He will work full-time at the Michigan State lab until the fall semester, when he will split his time between lab duties and classwork.
His Wisconsin impressions include how “Midwest nice” the people are, how good the beer is, and how cold it gets — and stays — in the Badger state.

Seedlings Still Available For Spring 2023 Planting

Winter hasn’t quite let loose its snowy grip from the Wilson State Nursery fields in Boscobel, but spring will soon be here, and the reforestation program staff are readying themselves to harvest seedlings from the cool, moist soil. It won’t take long for the frost to leave the ground.

For those who have spent parts of the winter planning to improve their properties, the Wisconsin DNR’s reforestation program has plenty of seedlings available to create and enhance wildlife habitat, stabilize the soil, block winter wind and snow and provide a future shady spot to sit. Continue reading “Seedlings Still Available For Spring 2023 Planting”

Eight Applicants Receive DNR Urban Forestry Grants In Second Round Of Funding

The DNR Urban Forestry Grant program awarded $108,220 to eight Wisconsin communities for urban forestry projects during the second round of our 2023 funding. Most of the funding ($104,920) was originally reserved for the Catastrophic Storm Grant program but was not needed through the winter months. The rest of the funding ($3,300) came from underspent grants.

The following communities will receive the funds:

  • Village of Allouez, $17,783.00
  • Town of Beloit, $11,804.80
  • Forest County Forestry & Recreation, $3,007.38
  • Heckrodt Wetland Reserve, $5,581.97
  • City of Kaukauna, $25,000.00
  • Mequon Nature Preserve, $7,250.23
  • City of Oshkosh, $25,000.00
  • Urban Tree Alliance, $12,792.62

Continue reading “Eight Applicants Receive DNR Urban Forestry Grants In Second Round Of Funding”

2023 Urban Forestry Council Award Winners

By: Kirsten Biefeld, Urban Forestry Outreach Specialist

The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council recently announced their annual awards honoring those dedicated to protecting, preserving and increasing the number of trees that line city streets, fill community parks and beautify neighborhoods throughout the state.

The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council advises the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on managing urban and community forest resources.

“Wisconsin plays a critical role in conservation, especially when it comes to trees! These awards honor individuals, organizations and communities for their hard work and dedication to trees and the benefits they provide,” said Linda Cadotte, Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council Award Committee Chair. “It’s an honor to learn more about the incredible work happening around our state that helps support healthy community forests.”

Urban Forestry Council Award Winners

The 2023 Urban Forestry Award winners. From left to right: John Wayne Farber, Leadership Award; John Gall, Lifetime Achievement Award; Cory Gritzmacher, receiving the Innovation Award on behalf of the Mequon Nature Preserve. Photo credit: Wisconsin DNR

Continue reading “2023 Urban Forestry Council Award Winners”

More Than 1,000 Wisconsin Municipalities Now Known To Have Emerald Ash Borer

By Bill McNee, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Oshkosh,, 920-360-0942

In 2022, the number of municipal emerald ash borer (EAB) detections in Wisconsin crossed the 1,000 milestone. The 1,000th municipality (town, village or city) to have an EAB detection was the Town of Lincoln in Adams County on May 19. At the end of the year, EAB was known to be in 1,109 municipalities, up 23% from a year earlier.

Graph showing cumulative number of Wisconsin municipal emerald ash borer detections by year.

Cumulative number of Wisconsin municipal EAB detections by year. Graph: Bill McNee, Wisconsin DNR.

Continue reading “More Than 1,000 Wisconsin Municipalities Now Known To Have Emerald Ash Borer”

First Anniversary Of Spongy Moth’s Name Change

Spongy moth caterpillar

Spongy moth caterpillar. Photo credit: Jon Yuschock,

March 2, 2023, marks one year since a new common name for Lymantria dispar, spongy moth, replaced the prior name of this insect, “gypsy moth.” This change was necessary because the word “gypsy” is an ethnic slur for the Romani people and the former common name equated people with insects. This is the first name change undertaken by ESA (Entomological Society of America)’s Better Common Names Project.

The current name—derived from the common name used in France and French-speaking Canada, “spongieuse“—refers to the moth’s sponge-like egg masses. Lymantria dispar is a damaging pest. This current name is a critical move in public awareness that focuses on an important feature of the moth’s biology while moving away from an outdated term. We encourage you to review any materials you may have on your website, ordinances and other material related to forest pests to ensure they are in accordance with this name change.

Continue reading “First Anniversary Of Spongy Moth’s Name Change”

A Goodbye… For Now!

UF team photo

Most of the UF Team (missing Jeff Roe). From left to right in the back row: Patricia Lindquist, Kim Sebastian, Brian Wahl, Dan Buckler, Nicolle Spafford, Laura Buntrock. Left to right in the front row: Tracy Salisbury, Kirsten Biefeld, Olivia Witthun, Abby Krause.

Kirsten Biefeld’s last day as an Urban Forestry Outreach Specialist and Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council Liaison was Friday, Feb. 24. You may recognize her through the Urban Forestry newsletter posts and similarly related social media posts and at conferences since June 2022.

Starting Monday, Feb. 27, she will be a Plant Pest Public Information Specialist with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Here, she will help with the Spongy Moth survey and spray program, as well as helping with furthering outreach and education endeavors about Wisconsin’s forest pest populations.

Continue reading “A Goodbye… For Now!”

Back On Track In Titletown! 2023 WDNR/WAA Annual Conference

Heather Berklund, DNR Chief State Forester, provided a welcome address

Heather Berklund, DNR Chief State Forester, provided a welcome address at the 2023 WAA/DNR Annual Conference

The 2023 Wisconsin DNR Urban Forestry/Wisconsin Arborist Association (WAA) Annual Conference, “Back on Track in Titletown!” was held in Green Bay on Feb. 19-21, 2023. Conference attendees gathered to network, learn and discuss important concepts in urban forest management and practices in arboriculture.

The conference hosted approximately 890 community foresters and administrators, professional arborists, green industry professionals, nonprofit staff and students. We didn’t quite beat our record of 922 attendees, but we came very close!

DNR staff and the WAA developed a program designed to enrich arboriculture and urban forestry knowledge in the industry statewide. This year, presentations included but were not limited to: 

  • Wisconsin Trees and the Law
  • Advance Your Urban Forest by Improving Work Specifications and Contracts
  • Physical Traits of Urban Trees and Stormwater Mitigation: Let’s Explore the Linkages
  • National Models to Grow an Inclusive Workforce
  • Transplanting Large Trees Bareroot
  • Tree Water Use and Sap Flow
  • Climate Change and Drought: Approaches to Tree Selection

Continue reading “Back On Track In Titletown! 2023 WDNR/WAA Annual Conference”

Funding Opportunities Available Through The DNR

Local units of government (LUGs) are eligible to apply for four Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program grants and two related federal programs administered by the DNR. The application deadline is May 1, 2023 for the grant programs listed below.

Knowles-Nelson Stewardship local assistance grant programs:

  • Aids for the Acquisition and Development of Local Parks (ADLP)
  • Urban Green Space (UGS) grants
  • Urban Rivers (UR) grants
  • Acquisition of Development Rights (ADR)

Federal recreation grant programs:

  • Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
  • Recreational Trails Program (RTP)

Applicants are advised that grant awards will be subject to the availability of funds and any procedural changes that may result from the forthcoming state budget and federal appropriations.