Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Altoona

City of Altoona

Habitat Creation, Protection, and Monitoring

C. Provide evidence (e.g., official designation of natural areas, easements, etc.) that existing bird habitat within community limits has legal protection. (Exclusions: Leash laws; prohibitions against disturbing nests and wildlife; areas consisting primarily of mowed grass)

All City parks and properties provide protections to bird habitats. The City of Altoona is home to a few natural areas that provide wonderful bird habitat. First is the Otter Creek Rec Area located at Centennial Park (44.806545, -91.461151) which is home to nearly 30 acres of property that is home to biking/hiking trails. Second is the River's Edge property (44.819777, -91.448374) along the Eau Claire River which is home to 10 acres of protected land. These spaces provide great nesting areas for many different bird species. In particular, the Eau Claire River corridor is home to various birds of prey such as the eagle and osprey. Various other bird species also call River Prairie home such as the Red-winged Blackbird and the Killdeer.

The City Council of Altoona adopted an ordinance (Chapter 19.15 Environmental and Natural Resources) which addresses various sensitive landscapes (shorelands, woodlands, prairies). Shorelands, woodlands, prairies are important bird habitats. These standards are intended to create a set of guidelines to minimize impact on the highest ecological value areas and provide standards for development in other woodland areas. 

I. Document a recent project that created or restored bird habitat in your community. (Exclusions: Bird feeders and small-scale artificial nesting structures)

The City of Altoona in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has planted a couple hundred shrubs/trees along the Eau Claire River which will add some great bird habitat to that area. The City is also working in cooperation with the Wisconsin DNR with consultation from the Audubon Society in regards to Purple Martin houses that are located in River Prairie. We've also erected an Osprey platform in River Prairie with consultation from the Audubon Society regarding placement.

U. Show that your community maximizes the value of right-of-way space (e.g., power lines, pipelines, etc.) by planting them with native grasses, shrubs, herbs, and other prairie/grassland plants.

An example of how the City of Altoona maximizes the value of right-of-way space by planting native grasses is exampled with our Lake Road Prairie remnant in which the City has maintained prairie grasses within the 0.8 acre parcel. A few years ago, the City held a controlled burn in this space and planted wild grasses and flowers. The Lake Road Prairie remnant is a true public right-of-way space, as it is at the intersection of Moonlight Drive and Lake Road. 

Community Forest Management

A. Demonstrate that your community has been awarded Tree City USA status by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

The City of Altoona was awarded the Tree City USA designation for the first time in 2020. We are renewing for 2021 currently. 

https://www.arborday.org/programs/treecityusa/treecities.cfm?chosenstate=Wisconsin

E. Show that your forester, a member of your tree board, or another person currently responsible for managing your community’s trees has completed the Wisconsin DNR’s Wisconsin Tree Management Institute.

Ann Lein, Administrative Assistant, completed the Wisconsin Community Tree Management Institute in the 2011 – 2012 cycle. Ann is the currently responsible for managing Altoona's trees

Limiting or Removing Threats to Birds

F. Demonstrate that your community enforces an ordinance that requires domestic cats to be kept indoors, on a leash, or in an enclosure to prevent them from preying on birds and other wildlife and spreading disease.

The City of Altoona recently passed a pets in parks policy which allows residents to walk their dogs and cats in City Parks (Chapter 12.28). This ordinance stipulates that animals must be on a leash (amongst other provisions). Other ordinances exist that disallow pets to roam free (Chapter 6.08). The City posts these ordinances on their website and has included information in its bi-annual newsletter. At this time, the Police Department has not had to enforce the ordinances but stands ready to do so if an issue arises. If an individual is found to be in violation of the leash policy, enforcement of the said policy would lead to ticketing/fine for the violator.

Public Education

B. Provide web links or a community newsletter demonstrating that your community educates property owners on methods to create and enhance backyard habitat for birds.

The City of Altoona has informational links placed in the FAQ section of its City website which aims to educate property owners on methods to create and enhance backyard habitat for birds. The City of Altoona is considering developing a new website in the near future. At that time, we will create a devoted Bird City page. 

C. Demonstrate that your community is represented in at least one citizen science bird monitoring program (e.g., the Christmas Bird Count, Great Backyard Bird Count, Swift Night Out).

The City of Altoona has hosted the Gaylord Nelson Audubon Society's annual Welcome Back Bird Day event. The event has held one of it's stops in River Prairie Park while other birders have visited Fairway Park. 

http://gaylordnelsonaudubon.org/wbbd/

Energy & Sustainability

B. Show that your community goes above and beyond in its support for, and implementation of, green transportation (e.g., bike trails, rideshare programs, bike trails/lanes, etc.). Be sure to utilize the narrative to illustrate why your community is exceptional because standard practice will not receive credit.

The City of Altoona is responding to progressively evolving community expectations regarding access to parks, recreation, and public spaces. This challenge relates to accessibility to public spaces and is also an extension of an increasing community expectations for quality of life amenities. Additionally, our citizens have expressed significant interest in the walkability and bikeability of Altoona streets, sidewalks, and multi-use trails. As a municipality, we have been as proactive as our budget allows in advancing access to mixed-use trails which foster alternative transportation in Altoona. The City of Altoona currently has approximately 9 miles of multi-purpose paved recreational trails within City limits with approximately 1.8 miles of additional paved trails that will be added in 2019. All of our trails are geared for transportation that does not produce CO2. We do not allow motorized vehicles on our trail system.   

Altoona's trail networks connect to regional biking routes such as the Chippewa River State Trail / Chippewa River Trail and provide alternate transportation routes for our residents to walk/bike to and from their places of employment or other regional businesses. Our trails also provide safe routes to school for children to walk to/from school. There are a number of Altoona residents whom utilize our trail network to commute via bicycle.  Altoona has a trail that extends from the River Prairie Development (Woodman's Grocery Store and numerous restaurants) to the residential areas which residents utilize to walk or bike to/from. Another trail extends from the residential area of Altoona which serves as a connector to Eau Claire. Another trail in progress will extend from the residential area to the new Elementary School. All of our trails are intended to provide residents an option to safely travel places without driving.

F. Demonstrate that your community participates in a community solar program or that a municipal building receives a significant percentage of its electricity from renewable energy.

On November 24, 2015, the Altoona City Council took action to authorize the purchase of 459 solar panels from the Eau Claire Energy Cooperative for $299,000. This purchase was made based on locking into a rate for 20 years, the City would recuperate within 15 years and that the savings would be realized the last 5 years, due to fixed rates. 

I. Document that your community is part of the Energy Independent Community program.

The City of Altoona is a member of the Energy Independent Community program and was a recipient of their grant program.

In February of 2010, the Chippewa Valley Partnership (made up of the City of Eau Claire, the City of Altoona and Eau Claire County) received an Energy Independent Pilot Community grant from OEI to create a plan towards 25 percent renewable energy.  Funding originally came from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program.  The partnership spent the year establishing their own energy baselines, working on individual and joint projects, and creating a plan to lay out how each local government will achieve 25 percent by implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy type measures.

In order to meet the Chippewa Valley Partnership’s 25x25 energy independence goals, it was necessary to measure the existing energy usage at City of Altoona facilities. The City was also required to measure fuel usage by City vehicles. One discovery, and surprise, for the City of Altoona was that its existing buildings were fairly energy-efficient. During renovation of the City Hall/Library building a number of measures such as occupancy sensors, T8 fluorescent lighting, daylight sensors, and higher efficiency HVAC equipment were incorporated into the renovation. Many of the same measures were incorporated into the Emergency Services Building as well, including an ultra-high-efficiency water heater.  he Parks & Recreation Maintenance Building was reviewed previously by Focus on Energy and found to be very efficient. The building is insulated well and has newer HVAC equipment. As a result, potential renewable energy projects that would be suitable for a low-efficiency, older building were less attractive due to the long payback period. The City, in the end, grouped fuel use by department rather than by vehicle. It was found that quantifying use by vehicle was unrealistic.  

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD)

A. This community's municipal body passed the required World Migratory Bird Day resolution.

B. Document and describe your event that incorporates the annual IMBD theme in some fashion. If the event has not yet occurred, please share your detailed plans. For information on the current year’s theme and event materials, please visit the World Migratory Bird Day website. To see what other Bird City communities have done in the past, please view some other profiles on our website.

On May 8, 2021, the City of Altoona is tentatively hosting River Prairie Festival. This event will promote the education and awareness of birds and nature amongst other City initiatives. We are planning to have an event though COVID-19 may impact that endeavor. This event is currently being planned and we hope to have details public in March 2021. We've chosen a bird as our festival art for the last three years (a Blackburian Warbler in 2018, Crow in 2019, Baltimore Oriole in 2020). We have even invested in murals showcasing the festival art with River Prairie Park. Our event will try to incorporate the IMBD theme. 

Altoona's River Prairie also hosted the 2019 Wisconsin Society of Ornithology Convention. We have worked with Steve Betchkal, President of the Gaylord Nelson Audubon Society, a few times before and he strongly shifted the discussion of hosting the 2019 Convention in River Prairie. This event took place May 24 - 27, 2019.