Organizations and volunteers help replant trees in Eagle River after 2021 storm damaged Trees for Tomorrow campus
The U.S. Forest Service planted more than 3,000 trees in Eagle River this weekend.
It’s part of an effort to help a patch of woods on the Trees for Tomorrow campus recover from a severe storm in 2021.
That storm took dozens of trees and damaged even more.
“The Forest Service and Trees for Tomorrow, we’ve been working together since 1944,” Chad Kirschbaum is the district ranger for the Eagle River Florence District.
Kirschbaurm and volunteers were working on the Forest Service side of the property on Friday.
For years, the two organizations had been taking inventory and planning how to make the forest safer for the school groups and people who come out there.
“We wrote what’s called a silvicultural prescription to decide how we’re going to harvest an area and what we’re going to replant after we harvest, what the goals and objectives are of doing that type of work in an area. We had that all ready to go and then Eagle River got hit by a wind storm in 2021,” said Kirschbaum.
That storm produced 80 mile per winds thatknocked down trees and powerlines that people and utility companies were picking up after for weeks.
The Forest Service eventually had a timber sale to clean up the area on the Tree for Tomorrow Campus.
Kirschbaum points out the different areas where the brush and trees were significantly thinner than the rest of the woods around us.
“Those were some damaged pockets where we cut damaged trees out of. Then on the west side of the property over there there’s a red pine plantation that sustained a lot of damage as well. We harvest back there to get that storm damage cleaned up. That kind of runs along the west end of the property,” he said.
Now that the hazardous trees are removed, it’s time to start regrowing the forest.
Thanks to the inventory done before the storm, the Forest Service and Trees for Tomorrow had a good idea of what should be going back in.
But Kirschbaum says good forest management is more than replacing what was lost.
It’s knowing the environment and how it’s likely to change in the future.
“You know, what species are going to be best adapted to survive here in Wisconsin say 50 to 100 years from now knowing some of the things that are likely to happen as the climate changes,” said Kirschbaum. “So the key here is to pick the right species, but then too we want a diversity of species cause we don’t know 100 percent which species are going to do the best.”
It’s not just climate change these trees are going to have to contend with if they’re going to survive.
The hardwoods they’re planting are particularly susceptible to Eagle River’s healthy deer population.
Tall, stiff, cylindrical net covers were placed over those saplings and secured with a stake to help give them a better chance.
Invasive species present another challenge.
That’s where Rosie Page with Wisconsin Headwaters Invasives Partnership comes in.
“I’m actually here to follow up on a thistle treatment,” said Page.
A few days ahead of the tree planting, she and people from the Blackwell Job Corp based out of Laona were doing herbicide treatments to try and get rid of the thistle that’s slowly been spreading on the property.
“Using herbicides is never the first thing that we do, but it is one of the tools for fighting invasive species and the reason we do that is that it’s the most efficient way to target one species particularly so that our baby trees can flourish,” said Page.
Carl Wussow was one of the many volunteers that helped plant trees over the weekend.
He’s excited to be able to volunteer with tree planting, not just because of his love of nature, but because Trees for Tomorrow was the place that inspired his love of it.
“When I was in 7th grade in 1957 I came to Trees for Tomorrow on a scholarship. I got so excited and interested in the natural environment and forestry that I actually went into biological sciences as a profession,” said Wussow.
It’s that sense of community that Kirschbaum says has been one of the best parts of working on this project.
“We’ve got Trees for Tomorrow as partners. We’ve got some other non-profit organizations that have been helping us out. We’ve got the boy scouts, the girl scouts, some private businesses that have been helping, so it’s just a nice community project to do some replanting here in Eagle River,” said Kirschbaum.
Trees for Tomorrow will be planting more trees next year on the other side of the campus.