Northwoods white birch face disease, insect problemsSubmitted: 04/08/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer

NORTHWOODS - White birch trees help define our Northwoods forests.

But these trees can be threatened by many different pests.

White birch is a pioneer species, meaning it grows well in landscapes that have been hit by fire or otherwise cleared.

Right now, as a whole, the Northwoods white birch population is getting older quickly.

"As those trees age, their systems are not as durable as when they're nice, healthy, younger, vigorous trees," says DNR Forester John Gillen.

Diseases in white birch are often due to more than one factor.

Many trees have become dehydrated or defoliated, especially in the drought of the last decade.

"Then, a big influx of insects may attack the trees because they're under stress. That, often times, is what ends up killing individual trees or a stand of white birch," Gillen says.

Insects like the bronze birch borer, birch leafminer, and forest tent caterpillar can be common in the Northwoods.

That goes for white birch both in the forest and in your yard.

"A good thing to keep an eye out for in all tree species is pay attention to what's happening with the crown of the tree - if there's any defoliation happening, or if the coloration of the leaves is changing," says Gillen.

The best way to keep your white birch healthy is to make sure it's always well watered.

That makes it strong enough to fight off insects and diseases.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/26/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We talked to a Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce board member about what the future holds as they search for a new executive director almost a month after Bill Clow was let go from the position.

We'll tell you when snowmobile trails are set to open in Vilas County and what's being done to prepare for the season.

And as the World Series is taking place between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, we'll introduce you to the grandson of legendary baseball player and former Three Lakes resident Cy Williams. Hear what William's grandson has to say about his grandfather's role in World Series history.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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MERRILL - People know Helene's Hilltop Orchard in Merrill as the place to go to get your fall season fix.

The pie makers and apple peelers come in early to crank out caramel apple pies fresh throughout the day.

When people come to Helene's, they are usually greeted by the smell of the pies before they even see them.

"I love being out in the parking lot when people step out of their cars and smell the air. It doesn't smell like a lot of other farms. It's distinctly the cinnamon sugar you smell," said Helene' Hilltop Orchard baker Olivia Telschow.

Helene's is only open for six weeks from mid-September to late October; however, Telschow works alongside her mother Helene throughout the entire year.

Even in the winter, the apple orchard is checked on.

"February is pruning season. Think of me when it's minus ten and it's snowing and windy and snow drifts because I will be out there," said Telschow.

The orchard is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through October 30th.

Helene's will close Sunday for the season, but pies will be available to order for Thanksgiving.

Call (715) 536-1207 for more information.

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MADISON - The state Natural Resources' board will soon vote on selling another 3,500 acres of public land.

A measure included in the state budget ordered the DNR to sell 10,000 acres by the middle of next year.

Money raised will help pay down debt in the agency's land stewardship program.

The Natural Resources board approved putting about 1,400 acres up for sale in 2014.

Another 5,700 acres went up for sale this past February.

The board should vote Wednesday in Madison on whether to put a final 93 parcels totaling just over 3,500 acres up for sale.

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MADISON - Even with higher fees, plenty of people want to camp in state parks.

Wisconsin state park use this year is on track to be higher than average, despite fee increases that were imposed to offset the withdrawal of tax support.

The number of camping registrations and nights camped in 2016 through Friday was greater than in any year since 2008 except for last year's record.

This year, there have been nearly 160,000 camping registrations and more than 386,000 nights camped for state parks, recreation areas and southern forests.

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MADISON - A University of Wisconsin student charged with sexually assaulting and choking a woman is expected to face additional charges after investigators say they were contacted by dozens of other women.

Police say officers searching Alec Cook's Madison apartment found a black book with names of women he had met and what he wanted to do with them, including his sexual desires.

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PARK FALLS - A Chamber of Commerce likes to welcome people in to town, not scare them away.

In Park Falls, the chamber does it a little differently. 

Their haunted house is guaranteed to frighten anyone.

But the scares keep drawing people in while supporting the community.

"They should be prepared right off the bat," said volunteer Skyler Dural-Eder.

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WAUSAU - It can take a big name and a well-known face to get people excited about signing up for a group.  As part of its revitalization drive, Wausau's American Legion Post 10 got a visit from a name you might not recognize, but one that veterans groups know is an honor to host.

American Legion National Commander Charles E. Schmidt stopped by the Wausau post Tuesday morning. It was the first visit by a national commander ever at Wausau's Post 10.

Schmidt says the same issues veterans faced when the Legion formed in 1919 -- healthcare, jobs, and education -- still exist in 2016.

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