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. 

Oct 09 2020

Emerald Ash Borer Detected in Dunn, Florence, Oconto, Pepin, Price, and Shawano Counties

The Emerald Ash Borer isn’t in Forest County yet, but they’re getting closer.  As you head out to cut your winter firewood please pay attention to these invasive beetles.

In partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has detected emerald ash borer (EAB) for the first time in the following counties:

Florence County (Town of Fence),

Oconto (Town of Little Suamico),

Dunn (Town of Rock Creek),

Pepin (Towns of Lima and Waterville),

Price County (City of Park Falls), and Shawano (City of Shawano).

These are the newest county detections of 2020 for Wisconsin. There have also been 48 new municipal detections in counties where the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was previously detected.

To date, Wisconsin has found EAB in 58 of the state’s 72 counties. The entire state is part of the EAB federal quarantine area, so there will be no regulatory changes as a result of these detections.

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 03 2020

Top 10 Ways to Help Lakes from Home

Plant native & diverse vegetation 

Deep-rooted native plants and trees help absorb water and hold topsoil in place during rain events. As an added bonus, they will add beauty to your property and provide habitat for songbirds and butterflies. 

Create a rain garden 

Not only will rain gardens capture stormwater runoff and beautify your property, they also provide biodiversity that helps butterflies and bees survive. 

Redirect downspouts 

This simple action allows you to redirect rainwater to your lawn or garden, while also reducing the amount of stormwater that goes to streets and directly into the lakes via storm sewers. 

Pick up pet waste & litter 

This simple act helps reduce the potential of E. coli pollution from washing into our lakes and closing our beaches after rain events. If you don’t have a pet, simply pick up trash you may see on your walk to reduce pollution and make our community more beautiful for everyone! 

Reduce salt use 

Winter salt runoff into our lakes can be toxic to aquatic plants and animals. Reducing salt use does not need to compromise public safety. By shoveling snow, using sand, and limiting salt use, you can be lake friendly and safe at the same time. 

Start home composting 

Turn your food trash and yard waste into valuable, nutrient-rich compost that reduces fertilizer use and provides you with a cost-saving solution for use in your garden, planters, or rain garden. 

Install a rain barrel 

By capturing rainwater from your roof, rain barrels reduce the amount of stormwater runoff that reaches the lakes. Rain barrels also provide you with stored water that can be used on gardens and lawns. 

Plant home food gardens 

Planting a garden will provide food for you and your community. It also reduces transportation costs, provides a place for mulch and compost use, and helps infiltrate stormwater. 

Inspire a friend or neighbor 

Leading by example creates a large ripple effect! Can you inspire friends, family, and neighbors to adopt these actions at their own homes? Share what you’re doing or bring someone to a Clean Lakes Alliance event so they can learn more about helping our lakes. 

Rake for leaf-free streets 

Leaves contain phosphorus. When left in the street, stormwater passes through leaves like a teabag and brings the phosphorus with it. Raking leaves from the street edge (three feet from the curb) and onto lawns will help fertilize the grass and reduce cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms in our lakes. 

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. 

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