Forest Improvement Program

Tree Planting
When natural tree regeneration fails, or when environmental conditions dictate, artificial means of forest regeneration and timber stand improvement practices are utilized to maintain desirable species in some forested stands.

The Douglas County Forestry Department typically plants 200-300 acres each spring. Red pine and jack pine are the main species planted. However, white spruce and hardwoods are also planted to meet biodiversity objectives. Before planting, most conifer plantations require site preparation to aid their survival.

For information on obtaining seeds or seedlings, contact the Wisconsin DNR Nursery Program.

For other information on shrub or tree selection for planting, contact the Douglas County Land Conservation Department.

Direct and Broadcast Seeding
Dissemination of tree seed by hand, from an ATV seeder, or from an airplane is used to supplement natural seed or to reforest a large areas. While predation of seed from rodents or losses from fungal rotting may occur, this tactic remains a cost effective option to supplement seed sources.

Bud Capping
To improve the success of planted conifer species, bud caps are placed over the terminal bud of the trees to discourage the browsing by white-tailed deer. A 3x5 inch index card is stapled over the buds of the terminal branch, effectively concealing the buds from being browsed. 

Hand Release of Conifer Plantations
In some plantations, competing vegetation will often overtake the desired species. Releasing these stems gives the planted stock more access to sunlight, nutrients, and water, as well as sets back or eliminates competing vegetation. Crews use brush axes or mechanized saws to sever the undesirable vegetation.

Mechanical Site Preparation
Site preparation is the use of soil-disturbing equipment to prepare a seed bed for reforestation or to reduce competing vegetation. Soil disturbance is essential to the germination of certain species planted on the Douglas County Forest. If the site does not have the adequate amount of seed bed prepared, mechanical site preparation is used to prepare for planting or seeding.
  • Anchor Chaining – Large, heavy, boat anchor chains with irregular edges and teeth welded to them are dragged over the site to expose soil and prepare the seed bed. Anchor chaining is typically done on sites where natural or artificially broadcast seed will fall.
  • Roller Chopping – Bulldozers drag large cylinders with cutting knives over the planting site to inhibit the growth of undesired species. Roller chopping is typically used in conjunction with other site preparation methods. Roller chopping is often done before disk trenching or tractor furrowing.
  • Disk Trenching – Large machines pull implements that carve out planting sites at regular intervals. This method is mainly used for bare-root or containerized stock plantations.
  • Tractor Furrowing – Bulldozers equipped with fire plows create narrow furrows for planting bare-root or containerized stock.
  • Blade Scarification – Bulldozers are used to expose mineral soil in a timber stand before a harvest, in order to improve the seed bed. Blade scarification is often used to promote the regeneration of Jack pine stands. During harvesting of the trees, seeds are knocked loose from the cones. These, along with logging slash, tops of trees, and any naturally dispersed seeds fall into these exposed areas where their germination success is enhanced.