Taking action

Species Diversity In The Urban Forest: A Short Guide For Homeowners

By Patricia Lindquist, DNR Urban Forestry Communications Specialist, patricia.lindquist@wisconsin.gov, 608-843-6248

“What kind of tree should I plant?” We are often asked that question as urban foresters. For me, the first thing that comes to mind is, “not a maple!”

Approximately 36% of trees in the Wisconsin Community Tree Map are maples.* Why is this a bad thing? All it takes is a pest like the emerald ash borer (EAB) or a disease like Dutch elm disease that targets maples, and suddenly, one-third of the urban canopy is destroyed.

By planting smaller quantities of many different species, we create a more resilient urban forest less affected by any single threat.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommends planting no more than 10% of a genus (for example, maples or oaks) and 5% of a species (such as sugar maples or bur oaks). Most Wisconsin communities are far from meeting those targets.

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Protect Oak Trees From Oak Wilt By Pruning After July, Not Before

By Don Kissinger, DNR Urban Forester, 715-348-5746 or Don.Kissinger@wisconsin.gov; Paul Cigan, DNR Forest Health Specialist, 715-416-4920 or Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) urban and forest health specialists recommend not pruning or cutting oaks from April through July to protect oak trees from the often fatal oak wilt disease.

The spring season often draws property owners outdoors to soak up rays of long-awaited sunlight, breathe in some fresh air and begin seasonal yard maintenance and cleanup projects. While spring is a time to dust off yard tools like rakes, shovels and weed clippers, when it comes to the health of oak trees, keeping those chainsaws and trimming tools a safe distance away will go a long way to ensure that your trees stay healthy for many more spring seasons to come.

Sap-feeding beetle on a diseased oak tree in Sawyer County.

Sap-feeding beetle on a diseased oak tree in Sawyer County.

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Look For Gypsy Moth Egg Masses And Prepare For Hatch; DATCP Slow-The-Spread Treatments Announced

By Bill McNee, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Oshkosh, Bill.Mcnee@wisconsin.gov or 920-360-0942

Typically, gypsy moth egg masses hatch in April as temperatures warm. Now is a great time to do an egg mass inspection to look for unknown infestations and treat or remove any masses within reach. Each mass can result in 500 to 1,000 leaf-eating caterpillars.

Egg masses are tan-colored lumps and vary from about the size of a nickel to a quarter. They can be found on many outdoor surfaces such as tree trunks, the undersides of branches, buildings, rocks, fences, retaining walls, firewood piles and picnic tables.

Gypsy moth egg masses on the underside of a maple branch

Gypsy moth egg masses on the underside of a maple branch. 

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2021 Arbor Day Foundation Recognition Program Standards

Tree City, Tree Campus and Tree Line USA program participants: please review the Arbor Day Foundation’s following expectations regarding the 2021 program recognition standards.

Tree City USA Standard 4 – Proclamation and Arbor Day Observance: We will require a signed Arbor Day proclamation on all 2021 applications. Arbor Day observances and celebrations will not be required, but cities will be highly encouraged to publicize their community’s recognition as a Tree City or celebration of Arbor Day.

Examples of things communities could do to observe while socially distancing: Facebook live tree planting, social media post encouraging citizens to celebrate Arbor Day, newspaper article, radio ad, etc.

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Look For Gypsy Moth Egg Masses And Prepare For Hatch; Slow-The-Spread Treatments Announced

By Bill McNee, DNR Forest Health Specialist, Oshkosh, bill.mcnee@wisconsin.gov or 920-360-0942

Gypsy moth egg masses on the underside of a maple branch.

Gypsy moth egg masses are expected to start hatching in April as temperatures warm. Now is a great time to do an egg mass inspection to look for unknown infestations and treat or remove any masses within reach. Each mass that never hatches can result in 500 to 1,000 fewer leaf-eating caterpillars.

Egg masses are tan-colored lumps about the size of a nickel or quarter. They can be found on many outdoor surfaces, including tree trunks, undersides of branches, buildings, rocks, fences, retaining walls, firewood piles and other outdoor objects.

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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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