Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources: Bird Creek Timber Sale (White River Fishery Area)


A Wisconsin DNR forester participated in a NIACS workshop in December 2015 and evaluated the Bird Creek Timber Sale using the Adaptation Workbook. These plans have been incorporated into the timber sale, which was established in 2016. 

Wisconsin DNR foresters are planning the Bird Creek Timber Sale to promote oak and aspen forests within the White River Fishery Area, and they have evaluated the timber sale plans using the Adaptation Workbook.

Project Area

The White River is located in central Wisconsin in Waushara County, which is the heart of the “sand counties” landscape Aldo Leopold wrote about in the Sand County Almanac. Streams and rivers in this area are renowned for cold, clear water and excellent trout fishing. The White River Fishery Area is owned and managed by the Wisconsin DNR, consisting of many parcels of land totaling 3400 acres. These lands are fragmented by agricultural and residential development, but the protected lands along the White River still sustain a remarkable riparian system. The Bird Creek timber sale covers approximately 70 acres, split among several parcels.

Management Goals

Fly fishing in central Wisconsin. Photo credit: Brian Tesch

Prior to European settlement, primary cover types on the White River Fishery Area included Oak Woodlands, Oak Openings on the upland sites. The lowlands were likely forested and composed mainly of Swamp Conifers and Lowland Hardwoods. Since the DNR took ownership of these parcels in the 1950s and 60s, the primary management actions have been designed to improve opportunities for public fishing. The Interim Forest Management Plan for this area (available below), is now starting to address forest management needs on the properties, with the overall goal of maintaining healthy forests.  Some specific objectives in the management plan include: 

  • Promote native tree species, such as black oak, northern pin oak, bur oak, white oak, aspen, jack pine, and white pine.
  • Maintain oak as a dominant cover type across the management area with evenly distributed age classes from young forest to “old growth”. Maintain oak in a variety of ages classes with 15% in 0-20 years, 40% in 21- 80 years, 25% in 81-100 years and 20% in 101 years plus.
  • Maintain the extent and quality of swamp hardwood and bottomland hardwood stands
  • Protect water quality, air quality, and undeveloped lake and river frontage 

Climate Change Impacts

For this project, the most important anticipated climate change impacts include:
Warmer, shorter winters with more variable snowpack may cause operational difficulties in this area
Decreases in summer precipitation could affect aspen forests on droughty soils and wetland areas
A longer growing season may benefit invasive species already on site, such as buckthorn

Adaptation Actions

A Wisconsin DNR forester used the Adaptation Workbook to develop several adaptation actions for this project, many of which were included into the final timber sale establishment. Some of these ideas included:

Lowland hardwoods
2.2. Prevent the introduction and establishment of invasive plant species and remove existing invasive species.
Clear buckthorn and honeysuckle understory and treat with herbicide
9.2. Establish or encourage new mixes of native species.
Convert black ash and elm areas to other lowland hardwoods. Perform a 2-cut shelterwood to retain 40-50% canopy cover.
Follow-up planting with swamp white oak and silver maple
Aspen stands
5.1. Promote diverse age classes.
Regenerate aspen stands that are older and most vulnerable to stress
Oak stands
1.5. Restore or maintain fire in fire-adapted ecosystems.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Focus on scrub oak or savanna restoration in other areas, where appropriate
Maintain savanna and control invasive species with prescribed fire
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Retain white oak in first shelterwood harvests.
10.2. Allow for areas of natural regeneration to test for future-adapted species.
Use natural regeneration that is thriving after shelterwood harvests.


Sveral monitoring items could help inform future management within the Bird Creek timber sale and across the White River Fishery Area, including:
Regeneration surveys to ensure that minimum stocking guidelines are met
Invasive species treatment success to ensure at least a 95% stem kill rate
Track operability windows each year to see if sufficient frozen ground or dry soil windows occur

Project Documents

Next Steps

Initial invasive species treatment occurred in Stand 3 in 2015 and 2016. This timber sale was established in 2016, and the DNR expects it will be sold in spring or summer of 2017. Implementation will follow at that time.

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Stephen or learn more at: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/fisheriesareas/2855whiteriver.html


Lowland/ bottomland hardwoods, Oak, Upland hardwoods, Water resources

Last Updated

Tuesday, November 15, 2016