May 17 2021

Conservation Corner

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.

Forest County is a partner and supporter of the Wild Rivers Invasive Species Coalition (WRISC). WRISC is a coalition which seeks and obtains grant funding from many sources to provide services to Forest, Florence, and Marinette Counties in Wisconsin and Dickinson and Menominee Counties in Michigan. Since 2009 WRISC has completed invasive species education, management and control in many areas across the 5-county region. The mission of WRISC is dedicated to the management of our lands and waters through cooperation, education, prevention and control.

WRISC provides services to private landowners, organizations, and municipal partners.  There is no cost to become a partner, it only takes agreement with a memorandum of understanding between your group and WRISC.  Larger numbers of partners will improve the chances for WRISC to obtain grants.

I would encourage every group with an interest to sign on to become a partner with WRISC.  Let’s work together to fight invasive species on our lands and in our waters.

A primary goal of WRISC in 2021 will be inventory and management of invasive species populations on road rights-of-way. There is a particular concern with wild parsnip which has greatly expanded its populations within rights-of-way and also provides health dangers to the public.  This summer, WRISC is planning several “pulls” in Forest County.  You can find information about these events on their website www.wrisc.org.

You may see WRISC’s Strike Team out and about in Forest County or neighboring counties this summer.  They are getting into their field season and will be busy locating and eradicating invasive species.

Again, more information about WRISC can be found at www.wrisc.org or give them a call at 906-447-1550 extension 102.

If you need assistance for invasive species or think you know of areas with invasive species, give us a call at the Land Conservation Department or give WRISC a call.

Apr 26 2021

Conservation Corner

Lake Property Owners, have you noticed erosion along your shoreline? This is a challenge that many shoreland property owners face, we would like to share some tips on how to keep your shoreland property in place!

The best way to identify and assess erosion problems is to check your shoreline regularly and monitor changing conditions. Warning signs of accelerated erosion problems include:

  • A large area of bare soil along the shore (especially on a steep/high shoreline bank).
  • Nearshore gullies caused by overland runoff from rooftops, driveways, and access roads.
  • A noticeable recession of the shoreline over time.
  • Large patches of unusually cloudy (turbid) water near a lakeshore, or unusually high stream turbidity (especially during periods of high water).

Choosing the best fit for your shoreland property depends on the quantity and speed of runoff from hard surfaces toward the water’s edge, and the amount of energy along the shore. Shoreline erosion on low energy sites can frequently be addressed by limiting the amount of foot traffic to, and along, the water’s edge. For example, you can create a purposeful path that meanders to the lake. You can also restore (or leave) native plants along the shore to create a no-mow zone. Further, you can allow aquatic plants to re-establish in the nearshore area.

Best Practices for a Healthy Lake

  • Fish sticks are strategically placed groups of whole, dead trees that are partially or fully submerged and anchored to the shore to create fish and wildlife habitat. These large woody structures also help prevent bank erosion by reducing the energy to your shoreline.
  • 350 ft2 native plantings stabilize banks with trees, shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers that improve wildlife habitat, slow runoff, and promote natural beauty.
  • Diversion practices prevent runoff from getting into your lake or stream by redirecting water to areas (like a rain garden or rock infiltration pit) where it can soak into the ground instead.
  • Rain gardens create wildlife habitat and natural beauty while capturing and cleaning runoff.

Get Started

Before starting your erosion control project, consult with your county conservation and zoning department for local shoreland rules. It is also important to connect with the WDNR Water Management Specialist in your area.

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.

Apr 19 2021

Conservation Corner

What Causes Buds to Open in Spring?

Spring has finally sprung! Not only are crocuses, day lilies and daffodils starting to show up in our gardens, but many trees are also budding. It is a wonderful sight, giving us hope for longer and warmer days to come. Did you ever stop and think what causes trees to bud in the spring? Many think it is the length of day or the warmer temperatures, but the most important environmental cue for spring bud break is actually cool temperatures!

Dormancy (not growing or not active) is important for all tree species. It allows them to avoid the harsher conditions of winter. There are two stages in dormancy: endo-dormancy and eco-dormancy. During endo-dormancy, plants will not grow, even during warm conditions, due to factors inside the plant that inhibit or stop growth. This stage starts when winter begins and prevents trees from budding during an unseasonably warm stretch during the winter. During endo-dormancy, trees start to track the time spent above freezing, called chilling units. Temperatures between 40 – 50 degrees Fahrenheit are most effective. The duration of exposure needed to break dormancy varies by species and location, ranging from 500 – 1,500+ hours.

Once the chilling period is completed, usually in January in the Mid-West, eco-dormancy begins. This is when the conditions are not quite right, usually too cold, but the tree is ready to grow. When the temperature reaches the mid-40’s or warmer, growth begins and the buds start to break. These buds were formed the previous summer and spent the winter dormant and protected under bud scales. Now the young shoots break through and begin unfurling the leaves for this summer!

The new tissues coming out in the spring are very susceptible to disease, such as fungi, bacteria, phytoplasmas, and other pathogens. Spring bud break is the perfect time to treat your plants that have had problems with disease in the past. A pathogen from last year will probably be there again this year. The most threatening diseases in spring are:

  • Anthracnose on ash, maple, and oak
  • Apple scab
  • Fire blight on hawthorn, pear, crabapple
  • Needle casts on pine, Douglas fir, and spruce

Spring is also a good time to look for things that might have occurred over the winter. There are many kinds of winter injury that may have effected your trees. Temperature fluctuation, extreme low temperatures, wind, and animals can all cause damage. Here are some damages to look for:

  • Frost Cracks – deep longitudinal cracks from cold temperatures
  • Winterburn on Evergreens – browning or scorched leaf tip from wind
  • Spring Freezes – new leaves become flaccid and wither after a sudden hard frost
  • Salt Damage – browning of evergreens, leaf scorch, and branch die back
  • Girdling by Animals – mice and rabbits feed on young tree bark in the 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.

Apr 12 2021

Conservation Corner

As the last of the ice is finally gone, many people look forward to getting their boats back in the water.  This also means groups will once again head to boat launches in an effort to keep Aquatic Invasive Species [AIS] out of the lakes.  AIS can be determinantal to a lake’s health.

Eurasian Water Milfoil, Rusty Crayfish and Zebra Mussels have all been found in lakes in Forest County.  Once they’re in there it is very hard to get them out. Most of the time you’re just not going to, but luckily most of them can at least be managed.

The Clean Boats, Clean Waters program is a large part of that effort.  The county conservation office works with them and other agencies, lake associations, and volunteers to monitor boats coming in and out and public boat launches.

Last year, volunteers and paid staff spent their summers monitoring lakes in Forest County.  One of the more challenging parts of the effort to stop AIS spread is securing the funding.  Historically, counties were in that position where they have someone hired and then they put in for another competitive grant and then they don’t get it. Somebody ranks higher and they end up having staff leave because of the job goes away.

Fortunately, the DNR’s new Lake Monitoring and Protection Network will help.  It sets up AIS funding more like a contract and less like a grant. The DNR will distribute the funds based on a number of factors like AIS presence, the amount of surface water, and public access availability.

The state is also encouraging neighboring counties to work together to monitor lakes in the area.  The DNR just can’t afford to give full time aquatic invasive species coordinator program money to every county.  So, they’re counting on counties to either cover the gaps or to regionalize. 

Forest County recently agreed to work with Langlade and Oconto County to help fight AIS.  The new program will be managed by the Lumberjack Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D).  The agreement allows the three counties to combine their funding and hire a full-time tri-county AIS Coordinator.  A new coordinator was recently hired and will maintain an office in Langlade County, but expect to see him/her out and about throughout the county.

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.

Apr 05 2021

Conservation Corner

In Wisconsin, April 4-10 is ‘Keep Wildlife Wild’ Week.  Our year-round activities bring us outside to enjoy the natural environment and view our wildlife resources.  Wild animals are valued by many, and it’s important to observe them at a respectful distance to keep them wild and allow for their ‘wild life’ to continue.

During the warmer months of spring and summer, the frequency for wildlife encounters increases, especially with young wild animals.  While most of our ‘wild’ encounters are harmless, there are times when well-intentioned people interfere with wildlife situations because they incorrectly assume a young animal is orphaned.

Remember that the best chance for a young wild animal’s survival is with its mother.

Here are some tips for determining whether a young animal is truly orphaned.  For the protection of all young wildlife, do not revisit a nest site and don’t let your dogs and cats near the area.  To help you determine whether a young animal is an orphan or not, the DNR has a pull-down list of specific animal species on their website.

So why should we keep wildlife wild? 

  1. Stress:  Wild animals view people and pets as predators and are highly stressed by the sights, sounds and smells of being in close proximity to humans or our pets.  The stress can cause serious health problems and even death for a wild animal.
  2. Diet:  Wild animals have specialized dietary needs that aren’t easily met in captivity.  Young wild animals require a specific, complete diet.  If they don’t receive proper nutrition, they can be deformed for life.  Do not feed wild animals human food because the non-natural food items will most likely cause more harm and will not provide nutritional benefits.
  3. Disease:  Wild animals carry many different diseases and parasites, some of which are transmissible to domestic animals or humans.
  4. Habituation:  Wild animals need to learn normal social behaviors from their own species.  Wild animals that learn non-normal behaviors from humans or pets will likely not survive if they’re released because they haven’t learned the correct survival skills, they have lost their natural fear of humans and predators and they may be unnaturally habituated to human activity.  As young animals grow, they can still demonstrate dangerous wild animal behaviors that can threaten human and domestic animal safety.
  5. It’s illegal:  Most wild animals are protected under state and federal laws and can’t be taken from the wild or possessed by unauthorized people.  Raising a wild animal as a pet is not only against laws, but isn’t doing the right thing for the animal.  Wisconsin’s captive wildlife regulations allow a citizen to possess a wild animal for up to 24 hours for the purpose of transferring that animal to an appropriately licensed facility or person, such as a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian.  Wildlife rehabilitators are licensed, trained and equipped to provide temporary care and treatment to injured, sick and orphaned wild animals for the purpose of release back into the wild.  Never attempt to rehabilitate wildlife on your own.  Wild animals can carry disease that can be transferred to you or your pets.  They are also capable of inflicting injury to themselves or others as they fight to defend themselves against a perceived threat. 

Contact a wildlife rehabilitator immediately, if any of the following apply:

  • The animal’s parent is dead or no longer in the area
  • The animal has been attacked by a predator
  • The animal is bleeding and appears injured
  • The animal is emaciated, very weak, cold or soaking wet
  • The animal has diarrhea
  • There are flies, fly eggs, maggots, ticks, lice or fleas on the animal
  • The animal is in a dangerous location (busy street, parking lot, etc.)

Mar 30 2021

Conservation Corner : Climate Change

Last week, we marked the spring equinox on March 20, the first day of spring.  I’m sure many of us are thinking about the change of seasons and the hope of warmer days to come.  The warmer temperatures can also bring up the idea of climate change.  There are many theories as to what our climate will look like in the future, the fact is that atmospheric carbon dioxide is at its highest level Earth has ever seen and this is increasing the average temperature.

The main cause of climate change is the increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) production by humans in the form of burning fossil fuels like gasoline and coal. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, meaning it helps keep Earth insulated from outer space and holds in the heat of the sun. This is important for life on Earth, but when too much carbon dioxide is produced, too much heat is retained in the atmosphere, creating an increase in the planet’s average temperature.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has only been recorded since 1958 at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, but data from thousands of years ago can be reconstructed from air bubbles trapped in the ice of glaciers.

Forests constantly adapt to changing conditions. Climate change has many factors that can affect the health of your woodland or property, including new weather patterns, rising temperatures, and changes to seasonal precipitation. These factors can create even more problems for your property, such as increased frequency and intensity of pests, invasive species, wildfires, and storms. Here are some tips I’ve found to consider to protect your property, especially your woods:

  • Keep Forests as Forests: Larger and more connected forests are more resilient and less impacted by stressors. Prevent fragmentation of your woods with a management plan and a legacy plan.
  • Reduce Stressors: Diverse forests with healthy trees tolerate pests and diseases better.
  • Address Vulnerabilities: Keep a variety of native tree species on your property as well as a variety of ages of trees.

The impact of climate change can be projected using forest impact computer models. The Climate Change Response Framework has a lot of useful information for landowners. They even have projections on which species of trees will likely decrease or increase due to the changing conditions. Take a look at their full documents to compare all species of Northern, Southwestern, and North Central Driftless Wisconsin.

Species likely to decrease:  
Balsam fir
Black ash
Black spruce
Northern white-cedar
Paper birch
Quaking aspen White spruce
Yellow birch
Species that may increase:  
American basswood
American elm
Black cherry
Bur oak
Ironwood
Northern pine oak
White ash
White oak

Bolded species are found in the lists for all areas of Wisconsin. The non-bolded species are for northern Wisconsin only.

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

Older posts «

» Newer posts