White Hummingbird Visits Sweet Lake

White Hummingbird 8/26/20 (Credit: Thom Storm)

A white hummingbird was seen on Sweet Lake on August 26. While it moved too quickly to get a good look at it, it’s more likely it was a leucistic hummingbird than a true albino. True albinos have pink eyes, while leucistic hummingbirds have black eyes, bills and feet. Whichever it was, it provided the homeowners with a wonderful surprise as it lingered for hours, enjoying the impatiens blooming on their deck.

Playful River Otters in Upper Eau Claire Lake

A friend sent in this photo from a video he made of 4 river otters playing in Upper Eau Claire Lake one recent morning. He said he hadn’t seen river otters for a long time and it was fun to see them swimming past his pier.

In Wisconsin, river otters are generally found in the northern portion of the state. They can live 10-15 years and adults average 20 pounds in weight. They’re very playful – in the summer, they jump in and out of the water and chase each other, and in the winter, they like to push off with their feet and slide across the snow. River otters can dive to depths of 40 feet and are able to stay underwater for 4 minutes or more, so don’t worry if you see them disappear for a while!

River otters in Upper Eau Claire Lake, 8/3/2020. (Credit: Bill Pearce)

Materials from Our Annual Meeting via Zoom July 18

Download the meeting packet here.

Download the PowerPoint slides from Erosion and High Water: Landowner Options for Mitigating Shoreline Damagehere (PDF file – view with Adobe Acrobat).  If you have any questions, please contact the presenter (Andy Teal, AIS Project Coordinator/Surface Water Conservation Specialist, Bayfield County Land & Water Conservation Dept., (715) 373-3417, ATeal@bayfieldcounty.org)

Northwest Cleansweep – Protect Our Lakes and Groundwater

Septic tanks can’t treat everything, so don’t pour hazardous waste such as paints, solvents, pesticides, antifreeze, and hazardous cleaners down the drain or flush old medications down the toilet.  Wastewater eventually makes its way to your drainfield and joins groundwater traveling towards surface waters.  Protect our precious lakes and rivers by properly disposing of hazardous household waste at one of nine collection events starting on August 5 in Douglas County.

USDA Issues Warning Regarding Unsolicited Seeds Mailed from China

Jill Jacoby, Douglas County AIS Coordinator, reports there have been people in our area who have received unsolicited mailings from China containing seeds. Residents in all 50 states have received these mailings and USDA officials are advising people to not plant the seeds, which are unknown and could be invasive species or be harmful to people or livestock. The USDA Farm Service Agency issued a bulletin (click here) advising people what to do if they receive one of these mailings. People with questions can also call the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) 844-820-2234 (Monday-Friday – 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET).

Prevent the Spread of Oak Wilt

Recent brushing operations on the River Road right-of-way damaged oak trees, creating the possibility of an oak wilt outbreak. Paul Cigan, WDNR Forest Health Specialist in the Hayward office, shared a flyer about oak wilt in our area and how to prevent its spread (click here).  He also wrote the following:

Oak wilt disease was confirmed for the first time in Bayfield and Douglas counties and in 16 new northern townships in 2018. Oak wilt is caused by a deadly fungal disease that causes tree death within just a few weeks after infection. Oak wilt negatively impacts property values, forest producer and industry earnings, property aesthetics, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities across the county and northern region.

Bayfield County is home to some of the densest, most valuable oak woods in the entire state. In Bayfield County, the disease was found in the towns of Barnes, Cable, and Drummond. In Barnes and Drummond, all of the roughly half dozen diseased oaks were found along the right-of-way of County Highways N and A. The primary cause of infection was ROW brushing during the riskiest time of the year: April 15 to July 15, when fungal spores readily infect open wounds. These infected oaks were cut down and destroyed to prevent fungal spore production in this area. After tree death, healthy oaks growing up to 100 feet away may also become infected if the disease continues to spread belowground through root grafts, which is often the case. This makes the disease very costly and often impossible to control—so disease prevention is key.

A number of state, county, and municipal organizations have policies and practices in place to prevent the spread and damaging impact of oak wilt. The main theme of all of them is to avoid harvesting, pruning, brushing, and any injury to oak trees between the months of April through July. Another strategy by one county is to conduct brushing activities only on non-oak areas such as: non-forests, aspen stands, lowland forests, or pine stands. Here are some examples of oak wilt prevention measures in place by various entities.
1. Bayfield County Forestry Department lands & other Wisconsin County Forest Association lands
• “Do not harvest or conduct activities that may wound oaks April 15 – July 15.” Certain exceptions and modifications may apply subject to proper documentation and forester approval.
2. WI DOT – Section 201 Clearing and Grubbing 2017 201.3 (4)
• “From April 15 through July 1 of each year, pruning paint must be applied to all final cuts on oak trees immediately after cutting.”
3. Public Service Commission – PSC 113.0511 Oak tree cutting and pruning
• “In urban/residential areas: From April 15 through July 1 of each year, no pruning or cutting of live oak trees is permitted except in emergencies.”
• “In rural areas: From April 15 through July 1 of each year, pruning paint must be applied to all final cuts on live oak trees immediately after cutting.”
4. WI DNR lands
• “Do not harvest or conduct activities that may wound oaks April 15 – July 15.” Certain exceptions and modifications may apply subject to proper documentation and forester approval.
5. USDS National Forest Service Lands
• “No harvesting (or other activities that may damage oak trees) will be allowed in stands with greater than 20 square feet of oak basal area per acre between April 1 and July 15 except under the following conditions”
6. Town of Woodboro roadside brushing ordinance:
• “The Town of Woodboro will not mow or brush the town roads before July 15.”

For more information, contact Paul Cigan at Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov; 715-416-4920.  Also visit “Northern Oak Wilt Detections” on the WDNR website.

What Time Is It? It’s Time to Harvest CLP!

The Town of Barnes BAISS boat crew harvested curly-leaf pondweed (CLP) on June 23 as part of its ongoing efforts to reduce the spread of this aquatic invasive. Two divers joined the boat operator for six hours on Upper Eau Claire Lake. In addition to “bagging” a lot of CLP, the crew noted the presence of another aquatic invasive, the Chinese Mystery Snail.  They capped off their day with a sighting of a loon parent with a new chick riding on its back. For a glimpse of a day on the water with the BAISS boat crew, click here.

July 17, 2020 – Free Webinar on Wisconsin Frogs

Wisconsin Wetlands Association is hosting “Wetland Coffee Breaks” this summer. These brief webinars can be watched live and are recorded and posted for later viewing as well. On July 17, Rori Paloski (DNR) will discuss the mid-summer habits and habitats of Wisconsin frogs, as well as how to identify them if you see or hear one. Register here for “Wisconsin frogs: Where are they and what are they doing mid-summer?”. Earlier this year, Emily Stone from the Cable Natural History Museum presented “Treasures of the Secret Fen.” Emily’s recorded presentation is available here.

Douglas County Hires AIS Coordinator

Douglas County has hired Jill Jacoby as its Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator, and citizens are invited to contact Jill with AIS-related questions. Jill can be reached at Jill.Jacoby@douglascountywi.org or 715-395-1571. Jill will serve in this position through August, and at that time another individual will take over the position.  FOECLA is proud to provide financial support for the grant which funds Jill’s work. Our area served extends into Douglas County.

Jill provided the following information about herself:

I am excited to join Douglas County and the AIS efforts.  I have a varied background that weaves threads of education, water resources, and environmental leadership together.  I have been an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickenson University (NJ) teaching about climate change, environmental issues, and nature oriented courses in an online platform.  I founded a nonprofit organization to educate the public about wetlands and the role they play in storm water management.

I have a strong interest in horticulture and know many of the aquatic species in the Douglas County region.  I grow shiitake mushrooms and I created a two pond water garden, planted with natives, at my home. I have a small flock of chickens and an energetic black lab mix dog who keeps me laughing.

I have degrees in Agriculture Education, Water Resources, Environmental Law and Policy, and Environmental Leadership.  I enjoy learning as well as teaching and I am looking forward to educating and working with community on aquatic invasive species.