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Historic first for state forestry

Heather Berklund embraces new role as DNR's chief state forester

Kathryn A. Kahler

HB_Buffalo2.jpgBRYCE BERKLUNDHeather Berklund is the DNR's new chief state forester, the first woman to hold the position.

Last fall, the Department of Natural Resources announced one of many “firsts” in its 100-plus-year history of forest management.

On Oct. 12, Secretary Preston D. Cole appointed Heather Berklund as the department’s new chief state rorester, the first woman to serve in that role. Berklund replaced Fred Souba, who had held the position for four years.

“I am proud to announce Heather taking on this leadership role,” Cole said in announcing the appointment. “She brings years of on-the-ground Wisconsin forest management and fire control experience to this position.

“As the first woman in Wisconsin’s history to hold this role, I know she will bring diverse perspectives to the table in her work.”

Berklund’s 20-year career with the department has included myriad field and supervisory duties, ranging across the Northwoods from Mercer to Woodruff. She has led public and private lands programs, the Good Neighbor Authority partnership for forest management, forest certification, tax law and fire protection programs.

Growing up in Wisconsin, Berklund enjoyed family vacations and leisure time that “included fishing and exploring the outdoors ‘up north,’ along the Mississippi River and in the Reedsburg area, where I attended high school,” she said.

She met her husband near the end of her time attending UW-Stevens Point, and both went to work in the DNR’s Division of Forestry soon after graduation.

“We continued our love for fishing and for the outdoors,” Berklund said. “We settled into the Northwoods and are raising our two kids (ages 12 and 14) in the Minocqua area.”

Berklund is stationed at the department’s Division of Forestry headquarters, located in Rhinelander.

 “We are blessed to be surrounded by thousands of acres of parks and national, state, county and industry forest lands to ‘play’ in,” she said. “We are a family that embraces all seasons.”

Because Wisconsin forestry is such an integral part of the state’s economy, culture and ecological landscape, Wisconsin Natural Resources editorial staff thought it important to introduce Berklund to our readers. We posed several questions, and her excerpted answers are featured here. It is a longer version of the Q&A that appeared in the Spring print edition of the magazine.

For a timeline of more "firsts" in Wisconsin forestry history, check here.

Kathryn A. Kahler is associate editor of  Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

As a young woman choosing a career, what attracted you to forest management?

Growing up in rural southwestern Wisconsin, forestry was not on my radar as a career option. My days were spent roaming the outdoors, playing in the creek bottoms, hiking the hills for morel mushrooms, berry picking and endless days cutting, hauling and stacking firewood — a family event!

Like many other girls growing up in the 1970s and ’80s, I pictured myself as a teacher or nurse, careers that were very familiar. However, I knew I did not want a job sitting in an office all day — ironically it has evolved to that — so I explored schools with a focus on natural resource management.

At first, I gravitated toward careers in environmental education, such as a national park interpreter. Public sector careers intrigued me as well, for I have always had a drive to serve and give back to the greater good.

Eventually, I landed at UW-Stevens Point. I appreciated the focus on technical field skills, diversity of courses and student organizations. The intimate campus felt more like a “community.”

After taking many of the natural resource introductory courses, forestry appealed to me. Trees truly are the connection and foundation for an entire healthy ecosystem and part of the essence of human health and survival throughout time.

Although I didn’t have a female role model, I never really thought about gender or ethnic diversity within the forestry profession when I chose this path. At that time, I was just excited to have a career in the public sector and took every opportunity to diversify my background and never stop learning along the way.

Diversity to me comes in many forms. The diverse benefits of forests; the diverse careers within the forestry profession; the diverse demographics, programs, landowners and partners you get to work with; the diverse knowledge and history — all intrigued me.

I hope just being the “face of Wisconsin state forestry” now will allow others to picture themselves in this career, and get people excited for the forestry profession.

You’ve had a robust and varied career in the DNR’s Division of Forestry. What are some of the highlights and accomplishments?

In my early field career and supervisory roles, I worked in very remote geographic areas of the state, where all our programs merged.

I enjoyed it all — from meeting with landowners to help manage their woodlands, trekking miles on snowshoes inventorying our public lands, long days swatting mosquitoes while marking trees for timber sales, responding to natural disasters, training with fire departments to prevent and suppress forest fires, to engaging with the logging community on administering timber sales and understanding the impacts of our management.

I also took advantage of learning from senior foresters, program specialists and other department staff. I was part of statewide specialist teams, incident management teams, cross-divisional wildlife surveys, interview panels, training and community and education outreach.

As I connected more with forest industry and other partners, I knew I wanted to help shape the future of forestry in Wisconsin and “took the shot” to move through the supervisory channels.

So much of what the division does is a team effort. I am proud of everyday accomplishments that make an impact on our future forest landscapes, along with protecting and supporting our citizens.

Working on incident management teams with local personnel on several historic events reinforced the importance of serving the public. The 2001 Siren tornado, the 2010 Turtle-Flambeau Flowage tornado, the 2013 Germann Road Fire and several local search and rescue incidents were all impactful and put the work we do in perspective to the power of Mother Nature.

I also enjoyed being part of statewide initiatives that helped support and benefit the greater forestry community and industry. I never take for granted all the people, places, teams and initiatives I have been involved with in the division, department, industry and communities.

Part of your education included studies in Germany and Mexico. What did you learn there that helped shape your career in Wisconsin?

UW-Stevens Point offered several short courses. The first one I took was exploring the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and Belize to learn about their agroforestry efforts and ecotourism business strategies.

Just witnessing life in a third-world country broadens perspective on how rich our country is in resources, goods and freedoms. It showed me that forestry can complement other land objectives to sustain and balance both societal wants and personal needs.

In Wisconsin, we have active working forests that support recreational activities and a forest industry that is a huge economic contributor to the local counties, towns and citizens.

In Germany, I participated in a short course in the Black Forest near Freiburg, where we learned about new practices in timber stand improvement and crop tree/single tree selection of their hardwoods.

It was inspiring just being in the heart of German forestry and witnessing the longevity of years of active management. Also, my family ancestry is almost purely German, so the historic cultural perspective was rewarding.

While I did not realize it at the time, I was the only woman participating in that course. The experience boosted my confidence, broadened my silviculture knowledge, my ability to be open-minded and support innovation and apply adaptive forest management to Wisconsin’s northern hardwood stands.

Parts of the world are very advanced in forest products, utilization and technology. Educating yourself beyond Wisconsin is important to help in moving innovation. Trees are the backbone for many cultures and economies worldwide.

Heather Berklund participates in a partner eventDNR FILESEvents such as this 2018 Wisconsin Forest History Association gathering allow Heather Berklund to interact with the many partners working with the DNR on forestry issues.

What personal qualities have helped you most in your career?

The ability to navigate relationships has been most helpful. So much of what we do in the public sector is working with people: public citizens, government officials, internal teammates, private business owners and other public agency staff.

Respecting others’ viewpoints, keeping an open mind, listening to the issue at hand and showing empathy have all been vital qualities in my career. In the public sector, our work is also driven by legislation, so the ability to adapt to change, find solutions, be creative and stay positive have benefited me.

Much of what natural resource professionals do is for future generations, so we often don’t receive that immediate gratification. Keeping things in perspective, seeing how my work connects to a larger system and continuously wanting to better myself all motivate me.

Being a mother has strengthened these qualities and made me a stronger supervisor and leader — knowing when to make a quick decision, respond and move forward, fight for a cause or just listen and “go with the flow.”  For me, it has been about finding that balance to work hard and play hard!

One of the big national news stories of 2020 was the prevalence of Western forest fires. How does Wisconsin fare on the national scope when it comes to fire protection?

The division has a strong history and statutory obligation to dedicate resources to aid in wildland fire suppression, prevention and incident management.  We rely on internal and external partners to assist in these efforts.

Our Forestry Equipment Research and Development Center in Tomahawk engineers and develops specialized fire equipment that is nationally recognized and supports our firefighting needs in Wisconsin. We also rely heavily on our aeronautics and radio program specialists, not only for wildfire detection and suppression but also to also assist other DNR and Emergency Management operations.

Our Wildland Urban Interface program partners with local communities and fire departments to reduce wildland fire danger in areas where homes and infrastructure are particularly vulnerable. This program has grown over the last decades, intersecting with national efforts and aiding in fire prevention efforts to our state citizens.

Nationally we collaborate with the Great Lake Forest Fire Compact — which included Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota, plus Ontario and Manitoba in Canada — to share resources and training. Our staff gain valuable firefighting experience while assisting other states and provinces. We also invest in robust training here in Wisconsin to ensure the safety of our staff and public.

In 2020, nearly 60 Wisconsin DNR staff were mobilized out of state to assist with fires in California, Oregon and Colorado. Staff are paid through mutual aid agreements by the incident for which they are working; therefore, there is no taxpayer burden to the citizens of Wisconsin for the time and resources utilized.

Personnel share lessons learned from their out-of-state assignments and become mentors to those with less experience. These experiences build strong character and confidence among our fire personnel.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the summer of 2020 was the warmest on record in the Northern Hemisphere. Nearly 50,000 wildfires burned 8 million acres in 2020 nationally. This is compared to the 10-year average of 48,000 wildfires burning about 6 million acres. More acres of land were burned in the 2020 fires in California than in 2018, the most destructive year until 2020.

The Western fire situation is different than the type of wildfires we typically see here in Wisconsin. The West has different fuels, or “vegetation” types, weather patterns and topography.

The fire season in the West is primarily in the summer and early fall, while spring is the most critical fire season in Wisconsin. Early spring, shortly after the snow melts and before spring rains, can leave grasses, pine needles and leaf litter very dry, creating hazardous conditions.

In Wisconsin, warmer temperatures, low humidity and windy days coupled with landowners cleaning up their property by burning yard waste lead to most wildfires. More than a third of Wisconsin’s wildfires are caused by debris burning.

Another difference is that most of the Western fires are caused by lightning, propelled by strong winds and compounded with dry conditions and abundant fuels in areas where forests meet developed urban areas. In Wisconsin, 98% of the wildland fires are caused by humans — and are preventable.

While wildfire events are far fewer and the window of opportunity for them to occur is smaller, Wisconsin is not immune to catastrophic wildfires. Large wildfires can and do occur under the right conditions. Therefore, it’s important for Wisconsin’s fire management program to be prepared and ready to suppress and manage fires.

The Germann Road Fire, the largest in Wisconsin in more than 33 years, occurred on May 14, 2013. It consumed 7,499 acres and destroyed 104 structures, 23 of them residences, in Douglas and Bayfield counties.

An estimated 350 structures were saved due to fire control efforts. Thanks to the rapid response of firefighters, good communication and suppression efforts, no injuries or fatalities occurred.

A major lesson from this fire was that we cannot let our guard down, and staying prepared is a high priority for the Division of Forestry.

Brule River flowing through state forest landsRENA JOHNSON/NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE FORESTERSBrule River State Forest.

Our readers have a variety of outdoor interests, from birdwatching, hunting, fishing and recreating outdoors to environmental involvement. What would you most like this diverse audience to know about DNR’s forestry programs and policies going forward?

Sustainable forestry is our guiding concept and its three pillars — ecological, social/cultural and economic — encompass the full range of forest benefits and values. We consider the appropriate balance of all three in our management of public forest lands.

The three pillars are closely intertwined. For example, a timber sale that supports the local economy may be designed to benefit wildlife habitat or provide funding for recreational investments.

The same is true for forest management plans created for private woodland owners, although the goals of the landowner are the primary driver of the management.

Your interests are included in the large sustainable forestry umbrella, whether you’re a forest recreation enthusiast, value the forest for beauty and solitude or are concerned about threatened and endangered wildlife species.

I encourage you to participate in opportunities to help shape the management of our public forests during planning processes. A wide variety of interest groups took part over the past couple of years in the development of Wisconsin’s new Statewide Forest Action Plan.

Your involvement in caring for Wisconsin’s forests is especially important now as the resource faces a challenging set of issues, including climate change as well as invasive plants, insects and diseases.

You can make a difference by following best practices and simple guidelines such as getting firewood where you plan to use it, getting a free burning permit and checking weather conditions before you start a fire.

Many of our state forestry programs began in the early 1900s as we recovered from the cutover of the Northwoods but have evolved over the past century as new science becomes available, innovative equipment and practices are developed, and as public needs and demands change.

My goal is to build on this strong historical foundation as the Division of Forestry continues to adapt to changing conditions and ensure that our 17-million-acre forest resource continues to meet the needs of our citizens today and in the future.

With a difficult 2020 in the history books, what do you see as Wisconsin forestry’s biggest challenges in 2021?

We recognize the challenges and potential aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working closely with partners and agencies to understand its impacts, find ways to support the forests and industry needs, and ensure policies within our control align with the public needs.

We are closely monitoring wood markets, especially with the 2020 idling of large mills in Wisconsin Rapids and Duluth. We are also concerned about the secondary impacts this could pose to forest industry.

Maintaining a robust forest products industry is critical to the health of Wisconsin’s economy. Having a diverse market statewide is crucial for both private and public landowners to actively manage and maintain a healthy future forest.

Invasive species and forest health continue to pose challenges. We are excited to have a new invasive plant coordinator in Rhinelander as part of our Forest Health Team. They will collaborate with local Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas.

The Division of Forestry will address climate as part of the DNR and governor’s office initiatives in 2021. Much of the work we already do can complement climate mitigation efforts. Our challenge is to have a collaborative approach and invest in projects that best meet the needs of Wisconsin, while also benefiting the greater nation and world.

The Division of Forestry is collaborating with education institutions on environmental, forestry and fire training to broaden recruitment of students in non-traditional areas across the nation, such as urban areas.

forester doing scaling of a stack of logsRENA JOHNSON/NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE FORESTERSLog scaling, or determining volume for payment purposes, at the Flambeau River State Forest.

Secretary Cole identified five focus areas for the department for the coming biennium, including clean water, climate change, service excellence, outdoor recreation and public health and safety. How does the Division of Forestry’s strategic direction fit with this agenda?

All five areas are vital components of sustainable forestry in Wisconsin.


Both resources — water and forests — are crucial to the social, cultural, ecological and economic well-being of Wisconsin. Forests play an important role in the water cycle, contributing to the high quality of water found in Wisconsin’s lakes, streams and wetlands.

Protecting the quality of these water resources that Wisconsinites treasure for their scenic beauty, recreational opportunities and fisheries habitat has always been part of our forestry work.

Wisconsin’s first state forester, E.M. Griffith, said, “The main reason for establishing forest reserves in Wisconsin was to preserve the stream flow in the important rivers … where the greatest rivers of the state rise.”

These forest reserves became the northern state forests that today offer a wealth of water-based recreation opportunities.

The Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, one of the most popular state properties for recreational visitors, encompasses more than 900 lakes — the highest concentration of lakes in Wisconsin — while also protecting the headwaters of the Wisconsin, Flambeau and Manitowish rivers.

It is no coincidence that four of our other northern state forests have the word “river” in their name — Black River State Forest, Brule River State Forest, Flambeau River State Forest and Governor Earl Peshtigo Rive State Forest. Another, the Governor Knowles State Forest, was originally named the St. Croix River State Forest. Rivers are an important part of these working forests.

And here’s a bit of trivia for your next dinner party: Five U.S. Presidents — Ulysses Grant, Grover Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Dwight Eisenhower — have enjoyed fishing on the Brule River!

One of the ways we protect water quality is through a set of guidelines known as Wisconsin’s Forestry Best Management Practices for Water Quality. These BMPs were designed by a collaborative group of forestry partners in the 1990s to provide simple and cost-effective methods for protecting water quality in lakes, streams and wetlands — including important ecological and waterbody characteristics — before, during and after forest management activities.

We’ve achieved this goal of protecting water quality while responsibly managing forests. Division of Forestry monitoring has shown that, when the BMPs are correctly applied, water quality is protected more than 99% of the time.


Forests are nature's own built-in climate technology. Our forests are a key tool in mitigating the impacts of climate change, as they capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store the carbon in the stem, branches, bark and roots of trees, as well as in forest litter and in the forest soil.

When wood from harvested trees is converted to long-lived products, the carbon within that wood is stored for as long as the wood lasts. The carbon sequestration services provided by forests are substantial.

Now, however, our forests are threatened by climate change and need our help in adapting to changing conditions. Climate change will alter the frequency and intensity of threats such as pest outbreaks, invasive species and storms.

Wisconsin’s forests will continue to experience myriad direct and indirect impacts from the changing climate. The expected consequences of the changing climate on Wisconsin’s natural resources are staggering, and we are focused on how we can best support the resilience of our forests.

Scientific research is ongoing to fully understand the forest carbon relationship with climate change, but the following are some of the ways we’re already using Wisconsin forests to address climate change impacts.

Managing forests sustainably to mitigate climate change

We value our forests for clean water, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration and wood products, but they can only provide these goods and services if they remain as working forests and if they are healthy.

A changing climate, combined with existing threats, can further jeopardize the health of our forests. Maintaining healthy, vigorous forests is one of the best protections against risks. And sustainably managing our forests for a variety of ecosystem services will generate the largest climate change mitigation benefits.

Conservation partnership efforts that retain working forests and limit development contribute to mitigating the effects of climate change. DNR holds conservation easements on approximately 300,000 acres of privately owned forest land, ensuring these lands will remain as forests and provide the highest conservation value.

Forest certification programs also contribute to retaining forests and sequestering carbon. Wisconsin leads the nation in implementing third-party forest certification standards, with nearly 7.5 million acres of forest land in Wisconsin certified. This independent, third-party certification provides assurance to the public that the forests are being managed sustainably.

Assisting forest landowners to mitigate climate change

Since individuals and families own nearly 60% of Wisconsin’s forests, the assistance provided by DNR foresters and professional consulting foresters throughout the state is key to ensuring this forestland is well managed and providing vital public benefits, including climate change mitigation.

Landowners who are unable to get financial returns from their forestland have an economic incentive to convert it to another use, so another way to maintain or increase forest carbon stocks on these acres is to ensure the existence of strong markets for forest products. In addition to traditional timber markets, landowners may be able to get income in the future from emerging carbon trading markets and the biomass energy economy.

Using forest products to mitigate climate change

Using wood products reduces carbon dioxide in these ways:

•    Trees capture CO2 from our atmosphere and store it as carbon.

•    Wood has the lowest energy consumption and the lowest CO2 emission of any commonly used building material. The use of wood in place of more energy-intensive or fossil carbon-intensive materials in buildings yields carbon benefits.

•    Wood products store carbon during their useful lives, limiting the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Substituting wood for more CO2-intensive materials means carbon is stored for at least the lifetime of the product, often longer when we use recovered wood for “second life” products. In addition, wood is renewable, whereas the materials for which it is commonly substituted are not — a reality that has major implications for both the carbon balance and long-term sustainability.

Substituting forest biomass for fossil fuel use is another way forest products can help mitigate climate change. Just as there is a beneficial substitution effect when wood is used in place of steel or concrete in construction, there are also substitution benefits when wood fuels displace the use of fossil fuels.

Wood fuels are typically sourced locally and are renewable. While combustion of wood fuels also releases carbon dioxide, the carbon released is biogenic carbon that was captured from the atmosphere in the relatively recent past.

The forest sector has long used mill residues to produce heat and power. There is also a long history of wood use for home heating. More recently, interest has grown in wood as a fuel for large-scale production of electricity, heat and liquid fuels.

Woody biomass used for energy can be in the form of forest products mill residues such as sawdust, bark and trim; logging residuals; or small-diameter trees obtained from forest thinning.

Forestry stakeholders developed Wisconsin’s Forestland Woody Biomass Harvesting Guidelines in 2008 and then updated the guidelines in 2013 based on new research and operational information.

Researchers are continuing to develop new ways to use wood fiber, and we’re confident that wood products, along with growing trees, will continue to play an important role in climate change mitigation.

Collaborating to find climate solutions

Our climate is changing at a pace faster than at any time known in history. While forests are adaptable, the pace of change may overwhelm the forest’s ability to adjust. We are working together with forestry partners to prepare and respond appropriately.

The Forestry Working Group of the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts has been tackling these issues for some years. WICCI is a unique partnership led by the DNR and the University of Wisconsin to enlist stakeholders and the state’s great research capacity to deepen our understanding of climate change impacts on Wisconsin's natural resources, guiding informed science-based natural resource policy decisions.

More recently, forests are one of the foundational sectors in the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change Report, issued in December, as well as in the DNR’s climate change blueprint. Wisconsin also is participating in the international Trillion Trees Initiative.

We don’t yet know all of the ways our forest management will need to adapt in the face of climate change, but we’re committed using the best science available, being flexible in our responses and continuing to work with colleagues throughout the DNR and our broad base of partners — forest landowners, conservation groups, forest industry and other agencies — to find solutions.


Forests support many local rural areas in Wisconsin, thanks to both forest products and forest recreation.

Forests are vital to tourism and recreation in Wisconsin and draw visitors throughout the year for a wide variety of activities including hunting, motorized sports, hiking, skiing, bird watching many others.

Forest-based recreation is estimated to contribute $5.5 billion to the Wisconsin economy through travel-related and equipment expenditures. Hunting alone adds more than $230 million to the state’s economy each year, with hunters coming to Wisconsin from every state. And our fall foliage is a major draw for tourism.

The public has recreational access to nearly 3 million acres of public and private forest land in Wisconsin, including 1.5 million acres of DNR lands, 295,000 acres in conservation easements and 1,035,319 open acres in the Managed Forest Law program.

Forest products also are a rural economic pillar; between the primary and secondary forest products businesses, this industry touches every corner of the state. Forestry is the No. 1 employer in seven counties — Forest, Iron, Lincoln, Price, Rusk, Taylor and Trempealeau. Statewide, forests directly provide more than 63,000 jobs for Wisconsin residents, with a payroll of $4.2 billion.

But forestry’s contribution to rural prosperity extends beyond direct industry jobs and products. Every forestry job supports 1.5 additional jobs in the state.

For example, employees of a paper mill or wood manufacturing firm shop at grocery stores and use health care facilities; doing so creates and retains jobs in these other sectors of the economy.

Additionally, every $1 million of output from forestry creates a $1.6 million output in other sectors. The forest products industry and its workers support other sectors such as the trucking industry for transporting goods, wholesalers of products, retailers and more.

Forest products specialists in the Division of Forestry help site new forest production facilities and support the current 1,200 forest products companies to ensure that forestry continues to support economic prosperity throughout Wisconsin.


Not only does the Division of Forestry’s fire program protect human life, property and natural resources from wildfire, our trained professionals also provide support following other types of emergencies such as floods and storms. Our aeronautics team is called on to provide “eyes in the sky” support for a variety of public health and safety scenarios.


Providing excellent customer service is a high priority for the Division of Forestry. Our forestry staff work collaboratively with a wide variety of customers, including forest landowners, conservation groups, the forest industry, local fire departments, local communities and counties, to name just a few.

Staff understand the importance of these strong working relationships to accomplish common goals. Feedback from these partners highlights our employees’ commitment to actively listening, being consistently flexible and finding win-wins with customers.

Black River flowing through state forest landsRENA JOHNSON/NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE FORESTERSBlack River State Forest.

Can you offer your perspective of how important partnerships are to Wisconsin forestry?

The Division of Forestry’s core foundation and culture is rooted in partnerships, as stated in our purpose statement. I look at the Division of Forestry as an important conduit to help navigate and align the various entities, programs, funding and resources to achieve sustainable forestry.

The list of our critical partners is extensive. It ranges from volunteer fire departments, emergency management agencies, police and wardens, to public land managers including the Wisconsin County Forest Association, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, tribal governments and local municipalities.

Urban partners include community and municipal forest and recreation managers, arborists and city planners — many of whom are represented on the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council that advises the DNR’s chief state forester. We partner with universities and private landowner organizations on education and outreach initiatives.

Forest industry partners include loggers and truckers and industry organizations such as the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association, the Wisconsin Paper Council and the Lake States Lumber Association.

Federal agencies such as the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency aid in private forest management. Nonprofits partner with us in prescribed burning, land preservation and climate initiatives.

Lastly, the division works closely with the Wisconsin Council on Forestry, an advisory group appointed by the governor with broad representation across the forestry community.
No single organization or agency has the ability to manage Wisconsin’s forests alone. Effective, collaborative partnerships are critical to ensure our forests continue to provide the full range of ecological, economic and social benefits for future generations.

Is there any other message you would like to send to our readers?

Wisconsin’s rural and urban forests support not only a healthy Wisconsin, but the world.  With sustainable management, this renewable and dynamic resource can meet today’s needs as well as those of future generations.

We need a “balance” of both preservation and active management.  It’s easy for us to focus on that one tree or property that we love and lose sight of the broader perspective and greater good across the landscape.

It wasn’t too long ago at the turn of the last century that much of the state was cut over to help build cities and infrastructure. The foresight at that time to reforest, set aside public land, develop programs for private landowners and businesses, hire professionals to protect and manage for the future has shaped the forest landscape we have today.

Wisconsin has guidance and systems in place to support good stewardship of our forest resources. We need to continue to invest in programs and funding that support our industry and management of our forests. We also need to focus on innovations regarding the use of forest products and technologies to compete globally and sustain the economic as well as social and environmental benefits.

Educate yourself on the myriad products and benefits we get from trees and pass on this knowledge to your neighbors and family. And then plant a tree, maintain its health and vigor — and your children’s children will thank you!


Visit for program information, resource materials and staff contacts.

Action plan guides Wisconsin forestry for next decade

A new plan builds on a long and successful history of collaboratively planning for and implementing sustainable forest management in the state.

Wisconsin’s Statewide Forest Action Plan, a 10‐year strategic plan for the forestry community, assesses the current state of Wisconsin’s forests and outlines opportunities for growth and challenges from 2020-30.

Recognizing the importance of sound forest planning, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires each state to submit a Forest Action Plan. Wisconsin’s plan shares comprehensive goals and strategies to help the forestry community refine how it will invest state, federal and partner resources to address management priorities.

Wisconsin Chief State Forester Heather Berklund said the new plan was developed with partners statewide and prepares the state to take on the challenges facing Wisconsin forests — from the threats posed by invasive insects, plants and diseases to maintaining the state’s working forests.

“This plan charts our path forward and helps guide us on the continuing journey of sustainable forestry,” Berklund said. “We invite everyone who is passionate about Wisconsin’s forests to consider this plan their own, build new collaborative partnerships and take an ownership role in the future of our forests.”

Read more about the Statewide Forest Action Plan at