Protecting Wetland Forests from Invasive Species

The Takeaway: One project is underway to identify a resilient tree to replace the ill-fated ash.

The emerald ash borer is an invasive insect that has killed millions of ash trees in the Great Lakes region over the past decade. Natural resource managers in Wisconsin are particularly concerned about the resulting domino effect on riverine wetland forests, as less trees can result in more flooding, which in turn leads to an increase in shoreline erosion and water quality issues caused by higher volumes of sediment flowing into the river.

The Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve supported a project that identified forest areas most likely to be impacted by the insects and designed a study to determine resilient tree species to replace the ash trees. Community volunteers assisted, planting more than 800 saplings underneath stands of ash trees, helping the forest sustain itself in the face of this invasive pest.

“It’s gratifying to partner on this effort that will prevent further loss of life from these swimming hazards. This project is a successful example of a collaborative effort to address a coastal community need,” said Todd Breiby of the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.

Partners: Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, Michigan Tech University, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, City of Superior, Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin-Superior