Fond du Lac Black Ash Research Project
Researchers: Shannon Kesner, Wetlands Specialist & Christian Nelson, Forester
In November of 2015, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa broke ground on a black ash management research project. The project is a cooperative effort between the Wetland and Forestry departments, and funded by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ecologically, black ash wetlands are unique and fragile. Black ash seems to be the only native tree species that can tolerate the unique biotic and abiotic conditions found in these wetland types. American elm used to share these communities but Dutch elm disease, brought to the state in the 1970’s, has largely eliminated elm from the region’s landscape. If black ash is eliminated from these sites they may cease to be forested wetlands both because they will not have any trees and because once the trees stop transpiring water during the growing season the water table will likely rise high enough that the sites become too wet for any tree species to grow including black ash itself (some foresters call this “swamping out the site”). This may have long term, irreversible hydrological impacts.