Urban wood

Wisconsin tree champions lauded for outstanding community service

Chuck Nass received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the WI Urban Forestry Council

By Sara Minkoff, DNR urban forestry specialist, Madison, Sara.Minkoff@wisconsin.gov, 608-669-5447

The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council recently announced award recipients 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 Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry on the management of 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 Kristin Gies, chair of the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council’s award committee. “Each year we review the nominations and learn about the incredible work happening around Wisconsin that supports healthy community forests.”

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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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Common tree myths – and why you shouldn’t believe

By Kim Sebastian, DNR urban forestry coordinator, Milwaukee, Kim.Sebastian@wisconsin.gov, 414-294-8675 

Click on “continue reading” or scroll down for the truth about these common myths:

Myth #1: A tree’s root system is a mirror image of what is above ground.

Myth #2: Tree roots are responsible for damaging and blocking sewer lines.

Myth #3: When removing a branch, cut as close (flush) to the trunk as possible.

Myth #4: The branches on a tree move up as the tree grows taller.

Myth #5: Topping is a necessary evil – otherwise the tree will get too big.

Myth #6: If a little fertilizer is good, a lot is better.

Myth #7: After a pruning cut, wound dressing (pruning paint) is necessary.

Myth #8: All newly planted trees must be staked.

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Wisconsin Waters 2020 – Focusing on Resilient Lakes and Rivers

April 1 – 3, 2020 – Now an Online Learning Event only due to impacts from the coronavirus and associated public health protocols.  Attend from the comfort of your favorite chair! 

Find the connections between Urban Forestry and our Wisconsin Waters.  How can they benefit each other?  Take advantage of the synergies!

There are multiple concurrent sessions covering the themes below:

  • Basics of Lakes and Rivers
  • Building on 2019: Year of Clean Drinking Water and Water Quality
  • People and Policy: Action and Updates 
  • Ecology: Life In and Around Our Waters 
  • Lake and River Science
  • Addressing Climate Change Impacts on Lakes and Rivers
  • Monitoring to Actions: Stories from the Field

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Upcoming webinars: EAB University, Urban Wood Network and more

As winter melts into spring, two new webinar series are getting underway.

The schedule for the spring semester of EAB University can be found here. Topics include beech leaf disease, the future of North American ash, hemlock wooly adelgid management, and more. CEU credits will be offered, and all webinars are recorded and posted online after the talks.

The Urban Wood Network kicks off its 2020 webinar series this month. This “Future Visioning” series is held on the second Wednesday of each month at noon and includes topics such as urban lumber standards, urban lumber business, and what to do with the rest of the tree.

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WDNR/WAA Conference attracts record number of attendees

By Sara Minkoff, DNR urban forestry specialist, Madison, Sara.Minkoff@wisconsin.gov, 608-669-5447; and Kim Sebastian, DNR urban forestry coordinator, Milwaukee, Kim.Sebastian@wisconsin.gov, 414-294-8675

The 2020 Annual Statewide WDNR/Wisconsin Arborist Association (WAA) Urban Forestry Conference, “Sustaining Urban Forests to Ensure a Healthy Future,” set another attendance record this past February 16-18 in Green Bay.

The 885 attendees included community foresters and administrators, professional arborists, green industry professionals, nonprofit staff, and students, who gathered to network, learn and discuss important concepts in urban forest management and practices in arboriculture.

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Forest Health Factsheet: Environmental Causes of Tree Damage

The DNR Forest Health team recently updated its factsheet on common forms of abiotic (non-living, chemical and environmental) damage to trees in Wisconsin.

The factsheet provides a brief overview of the following topics:

  • Storm damage (wind, lightning, hail)
  • Winter damage (ice and heavy snow, frost, sunscald, salt spray, winter desiccation)
  • Drought
  • Flooding
  • Fire
  • Soil (compaction, improper pH and nutrient deficiencies)
  • Pesticides (improper use, drift)

Find this factsheet, as well as the complete collection of DNR Forest Health publications, on this webpage.

Catastrophic aid request approved for communities

Last October, the Department of Natural Resources’ Urban Forestry program awarded fifteen communities and tribes with grant funding in response to the State of Emergency declared on July 18th, 2019. This declaration triggered the availability of up to 20% of the program’s funds, an amount of $104,920, to affected Wisconsin communities to help lessen the burden of storm-related damages to their urban forest canopy. Each applicant was able to request a maximum of $50,000; however, due to the unprecedented number of applications received, grants were limited to awards ranging from $4,000 to $8,428.19.

The Department submitted a request in December to the Joint Committee on Finance to transfer funds from the forestry emergency reserve. This reserve was created in 2017 as a result of Wisconsin Act 59 for emergency responses to significant fire, disease, infestation, or other natural disasters that could not otherwise be reimbursed by federal funds.

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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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