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Branching Out
Summer 2014


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In This Issue
10 Best Cities for Urban Forests
Featured Tree: White Oak
Spread in Leaf and Needle Diseases
Summer Storms and Your Trees
EAB: The Choice is Yours
Featured Customer: City of Stevens Point
International Society of Arboriculture Conference coming to Milwaukee!
Tour des Trees

First Choice in the Media


If you feel like you've been seeing a lot more of us lately, it's probably because First Choice owner Ken Ottman has been busy spreading the word about summer storm damage and the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer to people across the Milwaukee area.  


If you missed him the first time around, or are looking for prevention tips to help protect your trees, be sure to check out his interviews below!


Fox 6 | "Tiny pest, HUGE problem: taking action against Emerald Ash Borer"


Wisconsin Tonight | "Arbor Day: Preventing the Emerald Ash Borer"

Elm Grove Now | "Brookfield deals with unpredictable storm season"



Milwaukee named one of 10 Best Cities for Urban Forests


American Forests, a non-profit conservation organization, recently recognized 10 cities that stand out among the rest for making prolonged investments in the health of their urban forests and for taking an active role in improving the city's environmental resources.  Milwaukee was among the top named cities, highlighting the fact that its urban forest helps remove 496 tons of pollution each year. 



With more than 2 million trees, Milwaukee boasts plenty of green spaces and street trees that are not only aesthetically pleasing to residents and visitors but also help to provide energy savings of $864,000 annually.  The city also takes a proactive approach to protecting open spaces, renewing natural resources, implementing urban forest initiatives and providing training for green jobs. 


The top 10 cities were chosen based on urban forest maintenance, strategy, accessibility, health, documented knowledge and activities.  

Milwaukee is proud to be one of top cities in the country in terms of urban forestry and green initiatives and is looking forward to maintaining the high level of tree care and maintenance visitors and residents have come to expect.

Featured Tree: White Oak


There's no better way to celebrate America's birthday month than by featuring the country's national tree, the mighty oak (or in our case, the white oak.)  A symbol of America, the impressive white oak stands tall at 50 to 80 feet in height and will spread its leafy foliage just as wide at full maturity. 


Not only is the tree admired for its stature and stability, the white oak also produces strong and durable timber that is primarily used for barrels, lumber, flooring and woodwork. Serving as a food source to many, the tree produces acorns which are eaten by squirrels, deer and quail, among others, to help them survive the winter.


Another reason to love the white oak is its purple-red dense fall foliage that adds an appealing visual element to any landscape.  A majestic tree all year long, the oak offers superior shade throughout the hot summer months.

The white oak prefers coarse, deep, moist, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic quality, but is also highly adaptable and can be found in several soil types across the eastern half of the country.


Tree Quote


To exist as a nation, to prosper as a state, and to live as a people, we must have trees. 


- Theodore Roosevelt

Contact Us


If you have specific concerns about your trees, please contact your arborist: 


Stevens Point (Mark/Paul) 



Wausau (Mark) 



Southeast WI - Mequon Office (Nolan/Ken/Jeff) 



Marshfield (Mark) 



Junction City/ Plover/ Nekoosa/ Wisc. Rapids (Mark/Paul) 



Waupaca (Paul) 



Tree Resources
Season's Greetings!

Ken Ottman


While you are out enjoying the warm weather and summer sunshine, it is important not to forget about the health of your trees and landscape.  The changing season and warm weather patterns can often bring unpredictable weather conditions, many of which may be damaging to your trees. 


As Wisconsinites, we should know to expect the unexpected and always be prepared.  In this issue of Branching Out, you will find tips to help protect your trees from summer storm damage as well as how to prevent and prepare for needle and leaf diseases and the emerald ash borer. 


Be sure to check out the sections regarding the upcoming International Society of Arboriculture Conference being held in Milwaukee this August as well as the Tour des Trees reception in Stevens Point sponsored by First Choice Tree Care.  The five-day event is packed full of arbor-themed educational sessions and outdoor activities that are sure to be fun for the whole family!



Ken Ottman, Owner, First Choice Tree Care 

Wet Weather Causes Spread in Leaf and Needle Diseases


This year has been an uncharacteristically wet and cool one, which means it will likely be a bad year for leaf and needle diseases across the state.  While we are used to seeing occasional spots on our leaves, needles and even on some fruits, we have previously been able to treat for these conditions quickly and easily.  However, due to weather conditions including wind, rain and the lack of drying, the amount of days during which we can effectively spray to treat and prevent needle and leaf diseases has been drastically reduced so far this year.


With fewer days to spray, leaf diseases are more visible this year, even on treated trees.  As a result, property and tree owners can expect to see an increase in anthracnose diseases, apple scab, fire blight, cedar hawthorne rust and many other needle and leaf diseases this season. 


The good news is, with a proactive treatment approach, healthy trees should recover from minor leaf disease. Property owners should remove and burn any infected leaves to eliminate spores that could infect the tree again later in the year or next spring. Proper fertilization and watering will also promote healthy growth and allow the tree to recover.


In the meantime, the team of arborists at First Choice has been working diligently to maintain the best treatment cycle that the weather allows.  This sometimes has meant treating either very early or very late in the day and /or on Saturdays. We are doing our very best to keep your trees healthy and would like to thank each and every one of our customers for their patience as we battle Mother Nature and hope for dryer conditions throughout the rest of the season.

Summer Storms Take Their Toll on Wisconsin Trees


Now that we are well into Wisconsin's thunderstorm season, branches and trees are at high risk for storm damage, especially for trees that have been poorly pruned or previously weakened.  Whipping winds and pounding rain can send weak limbs and trees crashing to the ground in a matter of seconds. Not to mention, entire trees are often uprooted due to soft ground caused by excessive rainfall, restricted root areas and weakened or unsupportive root structures. 


While storm cleanup is the first thing on everyone's mind after the skies have cleared, it is important for property owners to be aware of the dangers of removing damaged or fallen trees.  If done incorrectly, a hazardous tree situation can result in injury or even death.


At First Choice, we recommend taking a proactive approach to tree health and maintenance to prepare trees for the changing season and avoid potentially harmful situations.


Our easy tips include:

  • Inspect trees and branches, including the roots, for damage or decay. Call us to offer an expert opinion on the safety of questionable trees and to remove trees with signs of severe damage or decay
  • Keep all trees properly trimmed. Prune dead or diseased branches. Space branches (thin the tree) to promote proper branch growth, increase the flow of air through the tree, and reduce wind resistance and the forces that often lead to severe damage
  • Protect the tree's root system with a wide ring of mulch around the base of the tree
  • Watch for cavities in the tree as these are signs of weak spots in the tree
  • Call us to install bolts and/or cables or newer generation support systems to strengthen weaker trees

In the unfortunate event that you find yourself with downed trees from a severe storm, it is important to evaluate the situation completely before beginning the cleanup process.


Below are our tips for a safe and effective cleanup:

  • Approach damaged trees with extreme caution
  • Stay clear of downed power lines and wires.  If the tree has hit a power line, call the electric company right away and report the incident.  A Certified Arborist from First Choice Tree Care will be able to help clear fallen debris once the electrical hazard is cleared. Do not attempt to clean up the damage on your own
  • If a large tree or branch is hanging or under tension, seek professional help
  • If the damage is not extensive, prune small broken branches, repair the torn bark and let the tree begin to recover
  • If the tree has already been weakened by disease, has a severely split trunk or has lost more than 50 percent of its crown, it should be removed.  Call us to help as damaged and weakened trees can be difficult and dangerous to remove 

 EAB: The Choice is Yours


EAB As discussed in previous newsletters, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is back again this year, increasing the threat to the state's nearly 770 million ash trees.  Ash trees make up nearly seven percent of Wisconsin's forests and 20 percent of urban trees, all of which this small, invasive, wood boring beetle has the potential to wipe out completely.


In the first few years of a known EAB infestation, damage to trees is relatively unnoticeable, lulling property owners into a false sense of security.  However, with each passing year, the insect population continues to multiply causing the mortality rate of trees to skyrocket, reaching nearly 100 percent within six to twelve years of infection.


With 27 counties already under quarantine, First Choice Tree Care is offering a treatment plan that is 100 percent guaranteed to prevent EAB infestations in the future and treat existing infestations.


It is up to you whether or not you want to treat your tree. But please be advised, choosing to do nothing is making a choice to lose your tree.  If left untreated, the emerald ash borer WILL kill your tree.  With EAB, it's not a matter of "if", but "when."  Our message to you is clear: treat your tree for EAB or expect to lose it within a matter of a few years.

Featured Customer: City of Stevens Point


Centrally located in the state of Wisconsin, Stevens Point is a recreational 

playground filled with parks, rivers, lakes and green areas galore.  As a 33-year participant in the Tree City USA program, the city of Stevens Point is one of more than 3,400 communities that have dedicated themselves to improving forestry management across the country.  In fact, the city has even won 13 Tree City USA Growth Awards, an honor given to communities that strive for a higher level of tree care and environmental improvements through innovative programs and opportunities to share new ideas in the field of urban forestry.


As such a city, Stevens Point is currently in the process of diversifying the community's street tree inventory and implementing new tree care initiatives, including structural pruning, young tree care and improved signage for seasonal watering and other tree related issues.  This overall plan will help the city reduce maintenance costs and improve benefits of the trees as they age.

One area where visitors and residents can see the city's plans truly coming to life is in the Emerson Park and Ellis Street area where many street trees have been planted ranging in species from Ohio buckeyes to burr oak and elm trees. This area will only continue to improve as the trees continue to grow.


As a client, the city of Stevens Point has developed a solid relationship with First Choice Tree Care over the last 10 years. First Choice has assisted the city in treating trees for emerald ash borer and Dutch elm disease. First Choice has also been called upon in the past to create trenches to sever root systems in an effort to control oak wilt.  Through years of partnership, the city also frequently refers residents to First Choice for private property evaluations.


"First Choice has always been very professional yet very personable," said Todd Ernster, Stevens Point Forestry Department.  "The arborists are well trained and knowledgeable in their field.  We value their opinion greatly, as they often see things from a different perspective and are able to offer unique solutions to our needs."


As a small department with only three full-time employees, the Stevens Point forestry team takes great pride in its work and in helping to make Stevens Point an enjoyable place to live, work and play for all.  First Choice Tree Care is excited to continue assisting with the city's tree care management plans and greening initiatives.

For more information about the city of Stevens Point, please visit: http://stevenspoint.com/.


ISA International Conference to be held in Milwaukee August 2-6


One last reminder, the ISA Annual International Conference and Trade Show will be held in Milwaukee beginning on August 2 and ending on August 6.  The conference presents a unique opportunity for members of the arboriculture industry to network and share their knowledge with one another and the surrounding community.  The five-day-long event will feature the International Tree Climbing Championship, educational sessions, the Tour des Trees bike race and an Arbor Fair filled with games and activities that are fun for the whole family.


The public is invited to attend the Arbor Fair and International Tree Climbing Championship to be held Saturday, August 2 at Mount Mary College in Milwaukee.  There is no charge for this event, and we encourage you all to attend. 


Be sure to check out the entire ISA conference schedule at http://www.isa-arbor.com/events/conference/schedule.aspx.

Ride along the Tour des Tree with First Choice


The annual weeklong cycling event, the Tour des Trees, will traverse Wisconsin this year from July 27 to August 7 with stops in Madison, Door County, Green Bay and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.  To show its support for the tour, First Choice Tree Care hosted a dinner/reception for the riders and their families on the university's Old Main Lawn on Tuesday, July 29, complete with refreshments, food and event speaker Richard Hauer, Ph.D., Urban Forestry.


Traveling more than 500 miles across the state, cyclists help raise funds to benefit the Tree Research & Education Endowment Fund (TREE Fund), a project aimed at supporting sustainable communities and environmental stewardship by funding research, scholarships and educational programs to discover and spread new information across the arboriculture and urban forestry industry. 


Each tour features tree plantings, educational programs and community engagement activities that bolster better methods for research, planting and care of urban trees as well as encourage young people to connect with the environment and explore career opportunities in the green industry.  Since 1992, the tour has raised more than $6.6 million for tree research and education programs. First Choice Tree Care is honored to take part in this year's event. 


For more information about the Tour des Trees, please visit http://stihltourdestrees.org/.