Wisconsin DNR timber sale in Whitefish Dunes State Park aims to stem outbreak of beech bark disease; cutting on 7% of park's acreage will remove infected trees and non-beech hazard trees, leave beech trees with diameters of less than 5 in.

STURGEON BAY, Wisconsin , April 4, 2014 (press release) – A timber operation aimed at stemming an outbreak of beech bark disease at Whitefish Dunes State Park has begun, which has resulted in some temporary road and trail closures.

Beech bark disease is the result of an interaction between a type of insect called a scale and a fungus. Heavily infected beech trees look like they are covered in white wool. The disease first showed up in North America around 1890 and has continued to spread, and is now found as far south as Tennessee and North Carolina. It was discovered in Michigan in 2000 and in Door County in September 2009.

Whitefish Dunes State Park has a high density of beech trees, and many have now become infected with the disease. The disease can cause cankers that girdle trees, killing them by cutting off the flow of nutrients. Other organisms such as decay fungi and wood-boring insects can also invade the diseased trees. Infected trees can have physically weakened wood that causes branches, limbs or even trunks to break during strong winds.

The Department of Natural Resources has approved a timber sale within the park to remove dead and dying trees that could present a hazard if left standing. Crews will be cutting infected beech trees. Beech trees less than 5 inches in diameter will be left with the hope they survive the disease. Additional non-beech hazard trees will also be removed.

Additionally, the Door County highway department is removing trees in proximity of County Highway WD, which goes through the park. As a result, a segment of the highway will be closed to all traffic beginning from April 3 until April 17.

This road closure affects County WD from Dunes Park Road to the Main Entrance of the nature center and parking lots. Access to the Nature Center will be open by using North Cave Point Drive. A detour has been established using Bechtel Road, State Highway 57 and North Cave Point Drive.

The total timber harvest represents about 7 percent of the park acreage. The timber harvest is being carried out in two phases so that the park can remain open for visitation. The first phase of the cutting, which is currently going on, along Highway WD also includes most of the park's Green Trail. The second phase of cutting includes parts of the Brachiopod and Black trails. Trails have been marked closed during each phase and please stay out for safety. Maps are available at the park office.

For more information search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for "Whitefish Dunes," and "beech bark disease."

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