The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has begun a timber cutting operation aimed at stemming an outbreak of beech bark disease at Whitefish Dunes State Park. This has resulted in some temporary road and trail closures.
Beech bark disease is the result of an interaction between a type of insect called a scale and a fungus. Heavily infected beech trees look like they are covered in white wool. The disease first showed up in North America around 1890 and has continued to spread, and is now found as far south as Tennessee and North Carolina. It was discovered in Michigan in 2000 and in Door County in September 2009. Whitefish Dunes State Park has a high density of beech trees, and many have now become infected with the disease. The disease can cause cankers that girdle trees, killing them by cutting off the flow of nutrients. Other organisms such as decay fungi and wood-boring insects can also invade the diseased trees. Infected trees can have physically weakened wood that causes branches, limbs or even trunks to break during strong winds. Additionally, the Door County highway department is removing trees in proximity of County Highway WD, which goes through the park.
As a result, a segment of the highway will be closed to all traffic until April 17. This road closure affects County WD from Dunes Park Road to the Main Entrance of the nature center and parking lots. Access to the Nature Center will be open by using North Cave Point Drive. A detour has been established using Bechtel Road, State Highway 57 and North Cave Point Drive.