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.
Wisconsin water supplies deal with two contaminants during 2013
WISCONSIN - Wisconsin keeps high standards for clean drinking water. On a yearly basis, they do a good job at meeting that standard, but during 2013, more water supplies were found with one of two contaminants.
One contaminant, nitrate was found in more than double the amount of water supplies during the year compared to 2012. The 56 public water supplies found with high nitrate levels is a small number out of the thousands of water supplies in the state, but it can still be a big problem.
RHINELANDER - Some students in the School District of Rhinelander will get Chromebooks starting this school year.
Freshman and sophomores at Rhinelander High School will get the computers to use at school and at home.
Some elementary and middle school students will also get to use them in the classroom.
Leaders think this will benefit students.
"They're not just learning about how to use the tool," says Instructional Technology Coordinator Heidi Catlin. "Digital literacy, digital citizenship, how to use it appropriately, when is it appropriate to use it, and the different resources that are out there."
MANITOWISH WATERS - Cranberry growers in Wisconsin work hard every year to produce the fruit. But they may not be able to harvest as many berries this season.
Cranberry growers don't expect an overly large crop this year. This comes after several years of great harvests in the state.
The numbers might not be as high, but farmers say they won't be disappointed with this year's cranberry results.
"Overall I think it will be a decent crop," says Bob Winter, owner and manager of Vilas Cranberry Company. "There's been some hail in the southern part of the state and even in western Wisconsin, so that takes its toll, but cumulatively how much that really is remains to be seen. You never know until you get it all in the barn at the end of October."
STEVENS POINT - The Spudmobile is Wisconsin's newest addition in potato education.
The Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association unveiled the Spudmobile at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days in Stevens Point last week.
"It was a big project, 4 years of planning and development. It cost a lot of money and we don't want it to sit parked. We want to get it out there and get people touring through it and seeing it on the road," said Tamas Houlihan.
TOMAHAWK - Treehaven in Tomahawk kicked off its first ever School Garden Symposium Tuesday.
Educators from schools all around the state were invited to attend. It's an opportunity for them to come and learn how to incorporate healthier habits into their schools.
"Some of them are new to gardening completely," said Jasmyn Schmidt, a presenter at the symposium. "So they're learning how to start a garden, what you have to do for a garden, and what supplies are needed to start a garden. Some of them are a year or two into their gardens and are looking to learn maintenance or funding strategies to keep those gardens going."
RHINELANDER - The highway department may need to relocate.
Kwik Trip has made a formal offer to purchase the current highway department for a new highway Kwik Trip location.
If the purchase is approved, the highway department will move facilities. The details of the proposal have yet to be released. But, the county board has discussed the proposal in numerous closed sessions.
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