Tim Wilder

Tim Wilder, chief of the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch, discusses invasive species June 13 during the 2019 Monroe County Invasive Species Working Group Field Day at Fort McCoy.

For the second consecutive year, the Monroe County Invasive Species Working Group held its annual field day on June 13 at Pine View Campground at Fort McCoy.

More than 50 people participated in the event that included an equipment display, numerous briefings about invasive species and how to control them, and updates from landowners currently fighting invasive species on their lands.

Event coordinators included personnel with the Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch; Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; and others. The group is a cooperative effort led by Monroe County Land Conservation, WDNR Forestry, Fort McCoy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other agencies.

NRB chief Tim Wilder, forester James Kerkman, and forestry technicians Charles Mentzel and Leigh Neitzel, also with the NRB, all participated in the event. Kerkman, Mentzel, and Neitzel discussed forestry and invasive species.

Kerkman said having this group of multiple agencies and people working together helps combat a serious problem that occurs with many types of invasive plant species.

“It is important to reach past the installation borders to help our neighbors control invasive species to reduce the chance of a new species coming onto the installation or increasing the areas infested,” Kerkman said. “We won’t get very far in controlling invasive species if the lands around Fort McCoy are infested with those plants. Also, by having our participation in this group, it demonstrates to the public the commitment the Army makes toward taking care of the land here.”

Invasive species can be terrestrial, aquatic, or wetland invasives, according to the DNR.

“One of the reasons that invasive species are able to succeed is that they often leave their predators and competitors behind in their native ecosystems,” says the DNR webpage on invasive species. “Without these natural checks and balances, they are able to reproduce rapidly and out-compete native species. Invasive species can alter ecological relationships among native species and can affect ecosystem function, economic value of ecosystems, and human health.”

Some common types of invasive species in Wisconsin include common barberry and black locust trees, garden yellow and purple loosestrife, and leafy spurge plants and more.

Wilder showed event attendees how to make walking sticks from invasive tree species, such as buckthorn. He said he was glad to see a great turnout for the event because it helps inform people on what to look for with invasive species.

“Fort McCoy is an active participant in the Monroe County Invasive Species Working Group for the exact reasons (Kerkman) mentioned,” Wilder said. “The more folks we can get involved in managing and controlling invasive species in the county, the better chance we have for success here on Fort McCoy. Government agencies—whether they are local, state, or federal—cannot do this alone. Getting private landowners involved is critical to success.”

In addition to the field day, the working group also meets regularly.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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