Jun 01 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.

Thorn Hired as FLOW AIS Coordinator

Lumberjack Resource Conservation & Development Council announced the hiring of Derek Thorn as the FLOW(Forest, Langlade, Oconto Waterways) AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) Coordinator.  Derek was born and raised in the Rhinelander area and attended Three Lakes High School, where he was first introduced to aquatic invasive species as a Clean Boats, Clean Waters Inspector for the Three Lakes Waterfront Association.  Derek attended the University of Wisconsin-Steven Point and received degrees in Water Resource Management, Wildlife Ecology and Management, and Biology.

Derek comes to the position with a wealth of experience, having worked for Oneida & Vilas Counties’ AIS teams and the WDNR. He has taught AIS prevention education and outreach programs, participated in purple loosestrife biocontrol, led Clean Boats, Clean Waters interviews and workshops, conducted aquatic plant surveys, mapping, and identification of native and invasive species and conducted creel surveys, population estimation surveys, and electro-fishing surveys.

Being a part of FLOW, as the AIS Coordinator, is important to Derek. Working to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species is something he values and finds essential. Thorn explained, “Learning about invasive species and protecting our native waterways was my main focus in college. I am incredibly happy I have the opportunity to continue making a difference in the world of aquatic invasive species. ”In his free time, Derek likes to spend time outdoors, fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, and kayaking.

The FLOW position is made possible through the WDNR Surface Water Program and a Community Project Grant from Lumberjack RC&D Council. Each county in Wisconsin receives a WDNR allocation to put toward AIS programming & prevention. Lumberjack RC&D Council, acting as the agent for Forest, Langlade & Oconto Counties, will administer WDNR AIS programming.

Tracy Beckman, Executive Director for Lumberjack stated, “We believe combining resources to be able to hire a full-time coordinator will bring sustainability to surface water programming throughout the tri-county area. Derek is exactly what the program needs and his enthusiasm and passion for the work shows in everything he does.”

Thorn will be responsible to implement WDNR programs such as the Citizen’s Lake Monitoring Network (CLMN), Clean Boats, Clean Waters (CBCW), AIS Snapshot Day, Landing Blitz, Drain Campaign and other DNR initiatives. He will also work closely with lake associations and Forest, Langlade & Oconto counties Land & Water Conservation Departments. To reach Derek, call715.490.3325 or email FlowAIS@LumberjackRCD.Org.

May 18 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.

What’s in Mosquito Sprays?

Most residential mosquito control companies use insecticides known as pyrethrins, which are chemicals derived from chrysanthemum flowers that are toxic to insects; or more frequently, pyrethroids, which are synthetic chemicals that mimic pyrethrins. Whether natural or synthetic, these are broad-spectrum insecticides that are highly toxic to a wide variety of insects, not just mosquitoes.

Companies use pyrethrins and pyrethroids in their standard treatment options. Marketing efforts and corporate talking points correctly state that these pesticides are regulated and approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but that doesn’t mean they are without any negative environmental consequences. 

Pyrethroids are relatively safe but should not be viewed as harmless. If you spill enough on your skin you might experience itchiness, numbness, nausea, and respiratory problems, among a rather long list of adverse events.  At very high doses pyrethroids can kill you, a fact known because some people have injected it (suicide) and in one case because somebody ate food that was cooked in pyrethroid concentrate (it resembles cooking oil).  There are also scattered reports that some pyrethroids are carcinogenic and estrogenic but I don’t think such effects are shockingly large, and to date they seem to be restricted to mouse studies. Each pyrethroid listed above has a slightly different toxicity, so to get more information, Google the name or read the linked material by clicking on their name.

There is no way for companies to spray these broad-spectrum insecticides in your yard without also killing other insects they come in contact with, including bees, butterflies, caterpillars, ladybugs, dragonflies and other beneficial insects, along with the mosquitoes.

How Sprays Hurt Bees and Other Wildlife

The focus of much of the toxicity testing by regulatory agencies has been on domesticated honey bees because their pollination services are critically important for our agriculture system and food production. Researchers have documented widespread contamination of honey bee hives with toxic pyrethroids, finding residues of these chemicals in the pollen that bees bring back to the hive, in beeswax, and on bees themselves, at levels that can be lethal to bees or cause harmful effects.

Much less is known about the impacts of these sprays on wild insects and other native wildlife, but mosquito-control insecticides have been linked with declines of native pollinators. It’s clear that wild native bees and other pollinators are also at risk from mosquito pesticides.

Wild bee susceptibility to insecticides directly correlates with the surface area to volume ratio of the bee, meaning smaller bees like alfalfa-pollinating alkali bees native to the west and southwestern U.S. are at even greater risk from mosquito sprays than honey bees. 

Recently, thousands of monarch butterflies were found dead in the Fargo-Moorhead area of North Dakota and Minnesota after aerial spraying of a 100-square mile area with permethrin to control mosquitoes. Monarch populations have plummeted at an alarming rate in recent decades.

Mosquitoes themselves play an ecological role, serving as pollinators and as a food source for other wildlife.

Other Impacts of Mosquito Sprays

Mosquito sprays aren’t just toxic to insects, either. Runoff can wash these chemicals from our yards into surface waters, where they can poison aquatic organisms such as fish and crustaceans, which are highly sensitive to pyrethroids. Pets exposed to pyrethroids can experience vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and other symptoms.

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.

As the weather warms and people are returning to the Northwoods, we’ve been busy scheduling our Shoreland Restoration projects.  I’ve been reviewing/designing a few plans and a lot of them have fire pits incorporated in them.  Several of the plans had firepits on the shorelines of their respective lakes and per my suggestion I’ve been able to convince the landowners to move them away from the shoreline. 

Firepits close to a lake can contribute to phosphorous runoff into the lake.  I’ve developed some guidelines for locating firepits. 

  • Locate fire pits away from shore and dispose of the ash.  Leftover ash is very high in phosphorous.  If the firepit is close to the lake, rain can wash the ashes into the lake and contribute to excessive weed growth and algae blooms.
  • I recommend locating firepits at least 50 feet away from the lake

Nitrogen, potash and phosphorous are the nutrients necessary for plant growth.  Once again, phosphorous is the key nutrient needed for algae and aquatic plant grown.  When phosphorous reaches the lake, it can fuel overgrowth of aquatic plants and algae.  Algae and algae blooms give the water the greenish tinge and can cause the toxic blue-green algae scum on the shorelines.  Excessive plant growth can decrease water clarity, interfere with recreational use of the lake and diminish oxygen for fish.

Rainfall does contain some phosphorous, which can increase when it hits a surface and picks up additional phosphorous.  Of course, there are other ways phosphorous can enter our water:

  • Decomposition of leaves
  • Excessive fertilizer application
  • Erosion of soil
  • Improper pet or human waste management

Grass clippings, leaves and aquatic plant material that wash up on shore all contain phosphorous, which is released as the material decomposes.  Things you can do to prevent excessive phosphorous include:

  • Using a mulching lawn mower and leave the clippings on the lawn as a natural fertilizer
  • Collect and compost leaves and clippings, or haul them away from the lake
  • Leave a strip of taller grass or shrubs along the lake to catch windblown and surface debris
  • Don’t burn leaves near the lake as it can destroy the organic matter, but release the phosphorous which can then be washed into the lake

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.

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