Taking action

Staff Highlights of 2020

As the year draws to a close, we asked DNR urban forestry staff to reflect on the last twelve months and choose their top highlight – whether it’s a project they’re especially proud of, a new partnership or a deeper relationship with coworkers. Here are their responses:

“The highlight of my year has been watching the partners we support achieve lasting impacts via their Urban Forestry projects. Two immediately come to mind. Restoration Of Our Trees Sheboygan (ROOTS) kicked off their EAB Mitigation Grant Program by funding five separate projects in Sheboygan County communities for a total project value of $165,500. The other is Cedarburg Green who instituted a public awareness campaign to encourage community leaders to refund the city’s tree planting budget. Their campaign consisted of a common council presentation, an educational workshop and tree sale for residents, Arbor Day plantings, student art and writing contests, tree benefit tags, multiple news articles and a “Trees of Distinction” booklet, video and walking tour.”  -Olivia Witthun, East Central Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator

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Snapshot Wisconsin: People-Powered Research

By Christine Anhalt-Depies, DNR Snapshot Wisconsin Project Coordinator, christine.anhaltdepies@wisconsin.gov or 608-669-3808

Fisher, fox, bobcat and bear are just a few of the species captured among the 50 million trail camera photos produced by Snapshot Wisconsin. The Wisconsin DNR program is a wildlife monitoring effort that gets the public involved in science, and the data generated help the DNR make wildlife management decisions. Volunteers host a network of trail cameras across the state that take “snapshots” of animals as they pass by. The program began as a pilot in two counties and launched statewide in 2018.  Today the program boasts 1,800 volunteers hosting over 2,100 trail cameras. Information about what is in the photos, combined with where and when they were taken, is already being used to better understand important Wisconsin wildlife species, like white-tailed deer.

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Deadlines Approaching for Tree City, Bird City, and Bee City Applications

Act fast to keep your Tree City, Bird City, and Bee City status! Due dates are as follows:

  • Tree City USA (TCUSA) applications are due Dec. 31
  • Bird City Wisconsin renewal applications are due Jan. 31 (new applications can be submitted anytime)
  • Bee City USA renewal applications are due Feb. 28 (new applications can be submitted anytime)

These three programs are each managed by a different nonprofit, but they have a lot in common. In fact, a single project could be used to help meet all three programs’ requirements!

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Urban Heat Island Mapping Campaign

By Dan Buckler, DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist based in Madison, daniel.buckler@wisconsin.gov or 608-445-4578

A sample map produced from the urban heat island mapping project in Boston MA

It’s too darn hot.

It’s a phrase that will be heard more and more as the Earth warms. But for those who live in cities, where the concentration of concrete and asphalt absorbs and radiates heat, it’s a familiar refrain.

Because of the dire effects of heat stress and other heat-related conditions, the importance of understanding temperature distributions in communities is extremely important. To help in that undertaking, a national public-private partnership has been working with community groups to map and analyze heat data.

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Survey Of Funding Sources For Municipal Forestry Programs

By Curt Witynski, Deputy Executive Director, League of Wisconsin Municipalities

The League of Wisconsin Municipalities and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Urban Forestry Team surveyed municipalities in September and October of 2020 to learn more about how cities and villages pay for their forestry programs and activities.

Many municipalities are struggling to continue to provide the same number and quality of services as they have in the past while operating under the strictest levy limits in the nation and experiencing reductions in shared revenue and other state aids. We wanted to learn about any alternative sources of revenue municipalities might be using to help pay for the annual cost of providing forestry services.

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Four Communities Kick-Start Urban Forestry Programs With DNR Assistance

By Don Kissinger, DNR Urban Forestry Coordinator based in Wausau, Don.Kissinger@wisconsin.gov or 715-348-5746 

In 2018, I had been covering the Northwest part of the state for three years due to a vacancy and saw first-hand a lack of proactive community forestry management in some areas, but also a lot of potential.

To help kick-start new urban forestry programs in the region, I proposed that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) use some of our US Forest Service funding to contract an urban forestry consultant to work one-on-one with selected communities. The consultant would meet with community staff, collect tree inventory data and develop individual operations plans.

The selected communities would then agree to apply for our 50-50 matching Startup Grants to implement the developed plan. A similar strategy (minus the startup grant commitment) had worked well in southern Wisconsin in 2012: out of five selected communities (Adams, Elroy, Hillsboro, Mauston and Necedah), four have become Tree City USA communities, three have had staff complete the Community Tree Management Institute (CTMI) and one has hired a full-time forester responsible for their community’s street, park, and cemetery trees.

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Arbor Day Foundation now accepting Tree City USA applications

We hope you join us this year in continuing our strong commitment to growing and maintaining a healthy tree canopy across Wisconsin! The application portal for Tree City USA is now open and available at this link: https://applications.arborday.org/community/city/. Applications are due December 31st.

This is the second year with the new application portal, so if you applied last year, some of your information will be pre-populated on your application. Also, please note that the standard/requirement for having an Arbor Day celebration and proclamation has been waived this year.

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Nominate your community tree champion for an Urban Forestry Council award!

By Sara Minkoff, DNR Urban Forestry Council liaison, Madison, sara.minkoff@wisconsin.gov, 608-669-5447

The Council presents annual awards to outstanding individuals, organizations, communities and tribes that further urban forestry in Wisconsin. The awards are announced each year at the annual Wisconsin Urban Forestry Conference and presented to winners in their community. We are currently seeking nominations for the 2021 awards.

The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council, comprised of municipal employees, elected officials, nursery operators, arborists and others, advises the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry on the best ways to manage urban and community forest resources. Every year, the Council bestows several awards to recognize and thank individuals and organizations across Wisconsin for their work and commitment to the trees and habitat in our community forests and the economic benefits they provide.

The five categories of awards, including our newly renamed Leadership award, are described below:

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Gypsy moth populations rebound in 2020 – look for egg masses this fall

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

The summer of 2020 saw a major rebound of the gypsy moth population after several years of weather conditions that were unfavorable for the non-native, defoliating pest. A mild winter and average summer temperatures/precipitation during the caterpillar stage were all favorable for a population increase.

Gypsy moth egg masses are tan-colored lumps about the size of a nickel or quarter.

Female moth laying eggs on tree trunk.

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August is Tree Check Month!

Donald Duerr, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The USDA is encouraging everyone to spend 10 minutes checking their trees for the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). August is an ideal time to spot this devastating pest as it emerges from trees.

Although ALB has not been discovered in Wisconsin, it is crucial that we keep an eye out for it. The quicker any infestations are discovered and reported, the easier it will be to eradicate. Three states currently have regulations in place for ALB: Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio.

ALB attacks a wide variety of trees including maple, elm, ash, birch, poplar, and willow. Signs of infestation include dime-sized exit holes, shallow scars in bark, sawdust-like material on the ground or tree branches, dead branches, and the beetle itself. Note that the Asian longhorned beetle is sometimes confused with the white-spotted pine sawyer, a native longhorned beetle.

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