Feb 26 2021

Cost Share Program

The recent warmer weather has reminded our office that it’s time to start thinking about Shoreland Restoration.  Property Owners, are you aware of the Forest County Cost-Share Program?  This is a program administered by the Forest County Land and Water Conservation Department.  The Grant money is provided by the Wisconsin Dept. of Agriculture, Trade, & Consumer Protection (DATCP) to fund the program.

Under the program, the landowner pays for all project costs and is reimbursed for up to 50%.  The reimbursement is based on available funds allocated from DATCP.   If a landowner decides to apply for the program, standards of DATCP (Chapter ATCP 50) & the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) must be followed.

            The Program allows for:

  • Restoration of the buffer zone with native plants, shrubs, and trees.
  • Erosion control methods such as rip rap, biologs, & other bio engineering methods (as permitted by the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR).)

            The Program covers:

  • Native vegetation for buffer
  • Erosion control materials
  • Excavation costs
  • Labor for installation – costs for a contractor can be reimbursed or landowner labor can be reimbursed at a rate of $10.00 per hour.
  • Geotextile fabric

            The Program does not cover:

  • Removal or installation of docks/piers.
  •  Removal or installation of steps, walkways, lifts, etc.
  • Materials such as wood, brick, plaster, blacktop, or demolition material for rip rap use.

            If you’re interested in the Program, you can access an application from the Forest County Website (www.co.forest.wi.gov) under the Land Conservation Department, by contacting the Land Conservation Dept. at (715) 478-1387, or by email:  lcc@co.forest.wi.us.

            Once the application is received a site visit will be done by county staff and a DATCP engineer to determine eligibility and consult with the landowner(s).

            If property is determined eligible, we will conduct a survey of your property/project and a plan will be designed.  Once you approve of the plan, you will have to obtain permits from the appropriate agencies (DNR, Corp of Eng., Local Zoning).  You will also have to obtain two (2) bids for your project to be submitted for approval from the Land and Water committee.  A contract and maintenance plan will be signed by you and the Project may begin!

Again, if you’re interested or have questions, contact Forest County Land & Water @ (715)478-1387 or email:  lcc@co.forest.wi.us.

Feb 19 2021

Your Lake in Winter

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at lcc@co.forest.wi.us.

The lake you live on or near is a very different place when iced over for the winter, but it’s still a living system with many mysteries to explore.  Here are a few things you may not know about the life of a frozen lake

It all starts with steam.
f you look out on your lake on a very cold October morning, you’ll probably see wisps of steam rising from the water.  The steam forms as warmer, moist air, just above the water, rises to meet the cold, drier air above. The moisture condenses into tiny droplets to form what’s known as steam fog or water smoke. This is usually the first sign that the water is cooling as time for ice formation approaches.

Ice doesn’t like waves.
Have you wondered why your lake won’t freeze when the days and nights are windy? It’s because wave action constantly fractures tiny ice crystals as they form, keeping solid ice from taking hold. This is the same principal that explains why fast-moving rivers or streams don’t freeze.  In these conditions, the water can actually supercool, remaining as liquid below the freezing point of 32 degrees F.  When the wind dies down and temperatures drop, a thin sheet of ice covers your lake.

In Winter, your lake has layers.
Underneath the ice, lake water has an interesting temperature or layering profile. The warmest, densest water, at about 40 degrees F, lies at the bottom. The coldest, least dense water, at 32 degrees F, lies right under the ice. The ice itself is the least dense of all, which is why it floats.  Ice expands by about 10 percent from the liquid state of water.  This explains why your bottles break if left outside overnight in winter.

Oxygen levels in winter.
Fish and other water creatures need a supply of oxygen to make it through the winter. Fortunately, beneath the new ice, the lake holds more oxygen than at any other time of year. That’s because cold water can hold much more oxygen than when it’s warm. At 32 degrees F, water holds almost twice as much oxygen as it would at 80 degrees F.

Fish need less oxygen in winter.
Fish, frogs, mollusks, crayfish, and other critters are cold-blooded. In cold water, their metabolism slows down, and they move about slowly, if at all. Less movement means, less oxygen needs or use.  They go into winter with the most abundant oxygen at a time when they need that oxygen the least.

What’s up with lakes “booming”?

Lake ice makes wondrous, almost musical, sometimes eerie sounds as it expands and contracts with changes in temperature.  If you’re on the lake when the ice is booming, or even if you hear a crack sizzle right past you and off into the distance, there’s no need to fear. Booming and cracking do not mean the ice is weakening.  Most of the time, the booming is a result of the lake making more ice.

Ice is tough and fragile?
There are different ways to measure the strength of ice. One is fracture toughness – how easily a crack spreads through a material. If you use fracture, ice is about one-tenth as tough as window glass. Then there’s tensile strength- how much force a substance can take when stretched from both ends. The tensile strength of ice is about half that of bricks. Its flexural strength, which measures resistance to bending under a load, is roughly the same strength as a pine board across the grain.

How much ice is safe for travel? The Wisconsin DNR’s guidelines for new clear ice are as follows:

• Ice fishing (person on foot) = 4 inches

• Snowmobile = 5 inches

• Car or small pick-up = 8-12 inches

• Medium sized truck = 12-15inches

• Optimus Prime = 100+ inches

How does Lake Ice melt?
As the weather warms, the snow on the ice surface melts first. Then the sun’s rays penetrate the ice and warm up the water below, while also warming areas of open water near shore. Warm air circulating above the ice contributes to the thaw, but it’s the warming water below that really does the trick.

Dec 02 2020

Wisconsin Wetlands

Did you know that there are six different kinds of wetlands in Wisconsin?  Wetlands can be classified as:

Marshes Marshes have water depths between six inches and six feet.  Some have standing water year-round, others for only part of the year.

Sedge meadows Sedge meadows are dominated by grass-like plants called sedges. Annually, they will be wettest after snowmelt and spring rains. By the end of the summer, little or no standing water remains, earning these wetlands the nickname “dry marsh.”

Forested wetlands Forested wetlands, often referred to as swamps, are dominated by trees. Coniferous swamps, lowland hardwood swamps, and floodplain forests are all common types of forested wetlands.

Shrub thickets Shrub thickets are wetlands dominated by shrubs and small trees less than twenty feet tall. In Wisconsin, we have two types: alder thickets and shrub-carr. Periodic disturbances like flooding, logging, or wildfire keep shrub thickets from becoming forests. Typically, the soil in shrub thickets is saturated with water.

Bogs and fens Bogs and fens are uncommon wetland communities with water chemistry (pH) at the extremes: bogs are acidic and fens are basic or alkaline. Because of their water and soil conditions, bogs and fens are home to rare and specialized plants. Bogs receive their water from rainfall and snowmelt.  Fens, however, occur in places where springs or seeps bring alkaline and sometimes calcium-rich groundwater to the surface.

Rare wetlands Wisconsin has two very rare wetland types found along our Great Lakes coasts: ridge-and-swale wetlands and interdunal wetlands.  Ridge-and-swale wetlands have dry sandy ridges alternating with wet areas (swales).  Interdunal wetlands are low spots carved by high winds in sand dunes bordering the Great Lakes.

Do I have a wetland?  Some land owners don’t know that they have a wetland.  Look for these signs during different seasons and weather on your property. Presence of water-loving plants, such as rushes, jewelweed, and marsh marigold. Not all wetlands have cattails. Soil saturated with water most of the year. Wetlands are not always wet. Water at, above, or just below the surface of the ground for at least a portion of the year. Wetlands may be “unusable” areas of a property, but have many important ecological functions for your land, including wildlife habitat, water quality, and flood storage. 

Benefits of Wetlands: 
1. Reduce Flooding Damage: The absorbent nature of wetlands regulate water flow during heavy rains which can reduce damage due to flooding.
2. Improve Water Quality: The soils in wetlands are extremely absorbent and can retain excess nutrients, sediment, and heavy metals like a sponge.
3. Provide Wildlife Habitat: Breeding and nesting animals as well as endangered species have specific habitat requirements that wetlands can provide. Woodchucks, muskrats, and beavers also need the mix of wetland and woodland habitat.
4. Carbon Sink: The unique soils of a wetland can store carbon for 100’s of years which can help fight the effects of climate change.

Caring for your wetland: Spend time in your wetland: Take note of wildlife, plants, spring birds, storms, and water levels between seasons and year to year. Learn about your wetland’s health. Know where your wetland is within your local watershed, what soils you have, what plants you have, and how the wetland has changed over time. Make a plan.  Decide what your want to manage and create goals.

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County 

Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at lcc@co.forest.wi.us.

Nov 06 2020

Top 10 hunting violations during firearm deer season

As we gear up for the 2020 firearm deer season, DNR officials are expecting that this year’s higher hunting license sales will mean more new and experienced hunters in the woods. Here’s a list of the 10 most common hunting violations that conservation officers encounter every firearm season.

#1 – Using the wrong tag or improperly filling out a tag

Conservation officers often see the wrong kill tag on game – such as fish or turkey licenses on a deer. Often, this is a simple mistake made in the dark and can easily be corrected by re-tagging the deer as soon as you notice the error. 

Solution: Before field-dressing or moving the deer, kill tags should be filled out (including the month and date the deer was taken and the deer’s gender and number of antler points) and properly placed on the deer.

#2 – Not wearing orange

Some hunters remove their orange clothing once they get into deer stands or blinds. In the excitement of getting a deer, hunters may forget to put their orange clothing back on.

Solution: Commit to wearing hunter orange to keep yourself and others safe. Hunters are required by law to wear hunter orange as the outermost layer of clothing at all times.

#3 – Being unfamiliar with a firearm and how it functions 

Semi-automatic, lever, bolt and pump-action firearms are common choices among hunters, but each firearm functions very differently.

Solution: Take the time to familiarize yourself with your firearm and make sure it is properly sighted and functioning before you go hunting. Being able to safely handle your firearm is an important part of being a responsible hunter.

#4 – Committing safety zone violations

Each year conservation officers investigate property damage caused by firearms.

Solution: Rifle rounds travel long distances – hunters are responsible for where their bullets end up.  No one may hunt with a firearm within 450 feet of an occupied structure (including buildings, dwellings, homes, residences, cabins, barns or structures used for farm operations) unless they have permission from the landowner.

#5 – Trespassing

If a deer runs onto private property, the hunter cannot retrieve it without the landowner’s permission.  

Solution: Respect landowner rights and posted trespassing signs. If you’ll be hunting near someone else’s property, contact the landowner ahead of time; don’t wait until you’re tracking game.

#6 – Staking claims to public land hunting blinds

Confrontations over hunting spots, or the illegal posting (trespassing or hunting signs) of state-managed public land, happen every year.

Solution: Hunters should research and scout the land they plan to hunt – before hunting day. Brush, constructed blinds and tree stands on public land are just that – public. Regardless of who constructed, purchased or tends to these blinds, when they’re on state-managed public land, they are available on a first come, first served basis.

#7 – Littering

Leaving propane bottles, hand warmer wrappers, food wrappers, bottles and other trash causes problems for animals and people. 

Solution: Practice the “leave no trace” ethic. Whatever is brought into the woods should be taken back out. It is the responsibility of all hunters to be environmental stewards and clean up after themselves.

#8 – Baiting/attracting deer

Conservation officers stay busy responding to calls about illegal baiting.

Solution: Know the law. Baiting wild animals for hunting purposes is prohibited.

9 – Hunting out of hours or off-season

One of the most common complaints to the DNR’s Report All Poaching Hotline is about shots fired after dark. Often, these complaints are reported days later.

Solution: A hunter may legally shoot game 30 minutes before sunrise or until 30 minutes after sunset. Anyone who witnesses or suspects hunting outside of legal hours should immediately call or text the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 800-847-9367.

#10 – Harassing hunters

Conservation officers investigate acts of hunter harassment – which is when a person or organization intentionally sabotages another hunter’s quality opportunity to take game. Examples include spraying repellent around a hunter’s blind, creating loud noises and/or barriers that prevent or deter a hunter or game from accessing an area, or destroying other hunters’ equipment such as trail cameras and blinds.

Solution: Respect the law. Wisconsin law prohibits anyone obstructing or interfering with the lawful taking of animals. Hunter harassment is a misdemeanor offense.

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at lcc@co.forest.wi.us.

Nov 04 2020

Pruning Techniques

Did you know the best time of year to trim and prune trees and is late fall into winter? This is because you can easily see the structure of the tree and the wounds will close better the next growing season. Also, sap and resin flow will be minimal in the dormant season, so there will be a reduced chance of insects transmitting disease, such as oak wilt, to your trees.

Crown Thinning:
This technique is usually for hardwood trees to increase light penetration and air movement. A rule of thumb is that no more than 1/4 of the living tree crown should be removed at a time.


V-shaped unions should also be removed since the branches grow at an acute angle to each other and form included bark. This prevent strong union of branches and can form a crack. U-shaped unions have a strong connection and should not be removed.

Crown Raising:
This technique is to remove the branches from the bottom of the crown for clearance. It is also used to develop a clear stem for timber production.
This rule of thumb is that after pruning, the living crown to total tree height ratio should be 2:3. In other words, 33% of the low hanging branches can be removed and 67% of the crown should be retained.

Cutting Tips:

  • Use a sharp saw to produce clean cuts and to reduce damage to other parts of the tree
  • Use a pole pruner rather than standing on a ladder to reach higher branches
  • Remove branch tissue but don’t damage stem tissue so the wound can seal.
  • Look for the branch collar or branch bark ridge and cut above this
  • If a larger branch, follow the numbered red cuts to prevent tears to the remaining bark
  • Angle the cut down and away from stem of tree
  • Work safety and make sure to consult a professional if too large of a task to complete on your own

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at lcc@co.forest.wi.us.

Oct 30 2020

2021 Forest County Land Conservation Plant Sale

The first annual “Forest County Land Conservation Department Plant Sale” is here! Although winter is just around the corner, it is time to start thinking about what colorful additions you can add to your landscaping next spring. This year, our Land and Water Conservation Department has decided to host a plant sale, selling only plants that are native to Wisconsin. Not only are the native plants eye catching, they help the environment.

Wisconsin-native plants help conserve water, reduce your mowing costs, provide habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife, and protect the soil. The June pick up dates were decided based on our average temperatures here in Forest County that time of year. By June the soils should be warm enough to take on these native plants. This time of year has several weeks of warm soil temperatures for the plant roots to establish before the soil temperatures drop.

On our order forms we will have ferns, grasses and wildflowers. You can find the forms on our website, forestcountylandandwater.org under 2021 Plant Sales or pick them up at the Forest County Land Conservation office. This year we are working with a local nursery, and to make sure we have all orders filled, we are doing pre-order only this year.

ORDER DEADLINE: March 1, 2021

Plant Pick up: June 4, 2021—8:00AM-Noon OR June 5, 2021—8:00AM-Noon

Any Questions, please call the Land Conservation Office @ 715-478-1387.

Conservation Corner,  

 Cassidy Neilitz, Land Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Technician at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at lcctech@co.forest.wi.us. 

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