Taking action

Prepare for the return of gypsy moths in spring

By Bill McNee, DNR forest health specialist, Oshkosh, bill.mcnee@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0942

Gypsy moth eggs are expected to start hatching as temperatures warm in the next few weeks. Now is a great time for homeowners to check their trees for egg masses and treat or remove any that are found. Removing the egg masses now will help protect trees from defoliation and reduce future caterpillar populations.

Gypsy moth larvae hatching from egg masses on an outdoor bowl.

Gypsy moth larvae hatching from egg masses on an outdoor bowl.

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Hope for the future: Barron’s storm story

By Brad Johnson, DNR regional urban forestry coordinator, Spooner, BradleyDJohnson@wisconsin.gov, 715-410-8299

Within a short period of time, from the Jamie Closs tragedy to the violent wind storm of July 2019, the people of Barron, Wisconsin have had to endure unprecedented hardship. They are looking forward to better days ahead. Hope for the future is just what Barron is experiencing as they clean up from the storm and rebuild their urban tree resource. The DNR Urban Forestry team has contributed to these efforts with their expertise and financial support; in the past year, Barron has received a total of $55,000 in DNR Urban Forestry grants.

Barron inventoried all of its public trees in May 2019 with financial help from the DNR, who paid for a consultant as part of a pilot program. Unfortunately, a violent straight-line windstorm damaged and blew down 25% of Barron’s public trees on July 19, 2019.  Barron again had to pick itself up in the face of adversity and with the help of additional DNR funding, reinventoried its trees and wrote a plan of attack on how to rebuild its decimated urban tree canopy.

The updated tree inventory is a crucial component of Barron’s recovery plan. According to Liz Jacobson, Barron City Manager, “Accomplishing a tree inventory is helping us know where we are at, and where we need to go.”

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Extreme cold event challenges tree trials

By Jay Weiss, Cambridge Tree Project, www.cambridgetreeproject.org

Red horse chestnut, Cambridge

It was a cold, still night January 31, 2019 when the air temperature dropped to -32 in Cambridge, Wisconsin. According to village elders, the last time it got that cold was the 1950s.

With this record setting event, we had a rigorous laboratory to assess hardiness among the wide variety of tree species under evaluation in our trials.

Immediately below is a written summary of some our findings. Detailed survival rates, along with annual growth rates of 98 species being evaluated locally, are recorded in an excel document that I am happy to share upon request (email me at info(at)cambridgetreeproject.org).

SURVIVORS:

  • Bald Cypress: all 26 of our street and park trees survived. No dieback was noted.
  • Dawn Redwood: 11 trees survived with no dieback. Two trees were killed outright.

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Nominations Open For “Invader Crusader” Awards

By Tara Bergeson, DNR invasive species team leader, 608-264-6043, Tara.Bergeson@wisconsin.gov

Nominations are being accepted through March 23, 2020 for “Invader Crusaders.” These awards go to individuals, groups and organizations who made outstanding contributions in 2019 to prevent, control or eradicate invasive species that harm Wisconsin’s native wildlife and wetlands, forests, prairies, lakes and rivers.

The Wisconsin Invasive Species Council is seeking nominations for exemplary efforts at addressing issues surrounding terrestrial and aquatic invasive plants and animals. The awards will be presented in both volunteer and professional categories.

To submit a nomination, download and fill out a nomination form available on the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council’s Invader Crusader webpage. Email the completed form to invasive.species@wisconsin.gov by March 23.

A panel of Wisconsin Invasive Species Council members will review the nomination materials and select the award winners. All nominators and winners will be notified by mid-May 2020.

Recipients of the awards will be recognized at an awards ceremony on June 11 at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison.

Invasive species are nonnative plants and animals that cause great ecological, environmental or economic harm, and some can even affect human health. Once an invasive species becomes established in an area, it can be difficult to control. The most important action Wisconsinites should take is to avoid moving invasive species or the materials that might harbor them to new places.

To learn more about what you can do to stop the spread of invasive species, visit the DNR invasive species webpage.

Where are you, blue ash?

By Dan Buckler, DNR urban forestry assessment outreach specialist, Madison, Daniel.Buckler@wisconsin.gov, 608-445-4578

It is no secret that the emerald ash borer (EAB) has a voracious appetite. This pest has eradicated unprotected green and white ash in many communities in southern Wisconsin and can be expected to eventually impact all communities in the state. EAB is also damaging wetland and riverine forests by eliminating green and black ash from these woodlands, which had already become less diverse and resilient from the loss of American elm from Dutch elm disease.

While EAB can feed on all American ash species so far tested, some are less favored than others and thus take less damage from the pest.  Reduced feeding pressure may allow such species to persist in the presence of EAB.  Blue ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata) is one of these less preferred hosts of EAB.  This tree, a native of the Midwest and South, enjoys calcareous soils and has been found growing naturally in southeast Wisconsin. Even before EAB, it was considered a Threatened plant in the state, though it is common in states to the south of us.  It’s an unusual tree but some communities and individuals have planted blue ash across the state.

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Calling all tree inventories!

By Dan Buckler, DNR urban forestry assessment outreach specialist, Madison, Daniel.Buckler@wisconsin.gov, 608-445-4578

Do you have a tree inventory from the last five years that you’d want to appear on the Wisconsin Community Tree Map, a compilation of tree inventories from around the state? Or perhaps you already have an inventory there, but want to submit an update? Well, there’s no time like the present to get those submitted to the DNR to appear on the map. The tool is a useful way to showcase your community trees, query different groups (e.g. all large ash trees) and contribute to a better understanding of urban forests in Wisconsin. 

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Fighting invasives together through responsible firewood practices

By Marguerite Rapp, forest health communications specialist, marguerite.rapp@wisconsin.gov, Andrea Diss Torrance, invasive insects program coordinator, andrea.disstorrance@wisconsin.gov, and Tim Allen, DATCP forest pest program coordinator and nursery inspector, timothy.allen@wisconsin.gov, 715-891-8158

This time of year, many Wisconsinites warm up with firewood, whether that’s in a wood stove for the home or a bonfire with family and friends. While firewood is one of the most sustainable heat sources available, the forests that produce it are threatened when firewood infested by invasive species is moved long distances. Fortunately, we can reduce this threat together through responsible use, movement and sale of firewood and wood products.

Man loads firewood into arms from back of truck. Continue reading “Fighting invasives together through responsible firewood practices”

Check your trees for EAB and plan for spring

By Bill McNee, forest health specialist, Oshkosh, bill.mcnee@wisconsin.gov, 920-360-0942

The cold winter months are a great time to think about emerald ash borer and whether ash trees in your yard are suitable for treatment. The pest is currently the most damaging threat to trees in Wisconsin, killing more than 99 percent of the ash trees it infests.

Two side-by-side images depicting different stages of flecking on ash trees - on left side is light flecking in the upper canopy of a tree, on the right side is more severe flecking that extends down the trunk of the tree

Woodpecker flecking is an early sign of EAB infestation when it appears in the tops of trees (left). As the infestation progresses, flecking continues down the trunk and into lower parts of the crown (right).

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Arbor Day Foundation launches three new recognition programs

Now more than ever, trees and forests are a vital component of healthy, livable, and sustainable communities, in the U.S. and around the globe. Along with its partners such as the Wisconsin DNR, the Arbor Day Foundation is seeking ways to link together those that plant and tend urban trees and forests for the benefit of humankind.

In 2019, the Foundation launched three new recognition programs to appeal to three different audiences, three different owners and managers of urban greenspace:

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For best selection, place your nursery orders soon!

As we settle into winter, the spring planting season may seem a long way off, but it’s best to get a head start. December is an ideal time to contact your nursery supplier and place your order for spring. By ordering your trees now, you’ll have more trees to choose from and a greater chance of finding the species you want.

Not sure which species to plant? Check out the DNR’s Tree learning center webpage and the replanting tab of the Emerald ash borer community toolbox. These resources and tree selector tools can help you discover trees that may perform well in your community.

Once you’ve identified the best species for your area, draw up a planting plan that includes as many different species as possible. If you have a tree inventory, make sure to consult it. Your goal is to create an urban forest that is as diverse as possible. By planting with species diversity in mind, you are helping to protect your forest from future pests and pathogens.

To learn more about how to design a diverse urban forest, take a look at our Diversity rules and considerations pdf.