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Taking back Wisconsin’s woodlands

Brock Woods will explain how to protect woodlands from purple loosestrife at 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 30, at the Waupaca Area Public Library.

Hosted by Winchester Academy, the program is free and open to the public.

In the 1800s, European settlers brought the purple loosestrife plant to North America as a garden ornamental. The soil used for ship ballast also contained seeds.

For years, purple loosestrife has crowded out native plants and animals, and manual and chemical control methods have not kept pace with its spread.

When the plant gets a foothold, it chokes out the habitat where fish and wildlife feed, seek shelter and reproduce.

An estimated 40,000 acres of wetlands, pastures and wet meadows in Wisconsin are affected, with an economic impact of millions of dollars.

A research ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Woods will discuss how tested, safe and effective methods can save wetlands through a bio-control program.

He is Wisconsin’s purple loosestrife control coordinator, overseeing volunteer efforts, research and education.

He has a master’s degree in botany, specializing in co-evolution of plants and animals. Woods worked for the University of Wisconsin from 1981 to 1993, has been with the DNR since 1995 and with the UW-Extension Office for the last several years.

He became active in the management of purple loosestrife in 1997 through bio control, recruiting state citizen co-operators for local beetle rearing and release.

This Winchester Academy program is sponsored by Gloria and Al Gruer, of Waupaca.

The next Winchester Academy program, scheduled for Aug. 6, features New York City operatic soprano Krista Wozniak in a return performance. She will present “The Hardest Arias Ever Written” at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Community in Waupaca.

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