Town of Baileys Harbor

Town of Baileys Harbor

Habitat Creation, Protection, and Monitoring

A. Comply with Wisconsin's "Smart Growth" law for land use planning and resource management. This criterion is an option only for applications submitted before July 1, 2017.

1999 Wisconsin Act 9, commonly referred to as Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” legislation, stated that by January 1, 2010, any Wisconsin municipality that has programs or takes actions that affect land use must have a comprehensive plan in place. The comprehensive plan must serve as the basis for community decision-making, be consistent with the municipality’s ordinances and programs, and comply with the Wisconsin statutes as to the nine issues or elements outlined therein. In several circumstances, such as when the municipality is applying for various state funds, municipal plans will also be evaluated against general planning goals outlined in the legislation. The Smart Growth legislation has undergone various amendments since its initial enactment. Some were to clarify the legislation, others to more clearly state which municipalities were required to create comprehensive plans. The statutory requirements as to the necessary contents of a comprehensive plan have remained essentially unchanged throughout these revisions. Although the Town of Baileys Harbor was not  required to create a “Smart Growth” plan, local officials felt that it was a good idea to do so anyway, both since the existing town comprehensive plan needed to be updated and since the town might easily enact programs or ordinances that would require such a plan be in place. The Town of Baileys Harbor has therefore created and adopted this plan under the authority granted by Wisconsin Statutes Section 66.1001, replacing the town plan previously in place. Town officials hired GBH Consulting in the summer of 2002 to work with town residents on developing a new town plan that complied with the Smart Growth legislation. During the creation of the plan, eight widely publicized Public Information Meetings were held; eight newsletters were distributed to all property owners; open, posted meetings were held between GBH Consulting and the town plan commission each month; a Resource Inventory Report was completed; materials related to the plan’s development were available for review at the library and through a link on the GBH Consulting website; and volunteer citizen “work groups” drafted the initial vision statements and goals regarding each plan element. The Comprehensive Plan was adopted August 15, 2005, amended in 2012, and is currently being revised. 

B. Describe organized bird monitoring or data obtained from researchers or volunteers in the local park system. (Exclusions: Programs that receive credit under 4C: Christmas Bird Count, Great Backyard Bird Count, Swift Night Out)

The Ridges Sanctuary is installing a Motus tower in Spring of 2023.  The Motus Wildlife Tracking System (Motus) is an international collaborative research network that uses coordinated automated radio telemetry to facilitate research and education on the ecology and conservation of migratory animals. Motus is a program of Birds Canada in partnership with collaborating researchers and organizations. This is also a local collaborative effort, with two other conservation partners in Door County; Door County Land Trust and Crossroads at Big Creek. To learn more about the Motus program visit their website at

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)

Baileys Harbor is one of the most biologically diverse municipalities in the state and is home to many federal and state endangered and protected species. Large portions of the town are forested or considered environmentally sensitive, and much of these portions are in permanent conservation due to ownership by The Ridges Sanctuary, The Nature Conservancy, the Door County Land Trust, University of Wisconsin, and the State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Wooded areas of the Town are visible on the 2002 Aerial Photo with Wetland Overlay, which also shows areas zoned Wetland as of June 2005. The 2005 Land Use Inventory and Resources map includes two land use categories designating natural and recreational resources, and also depicts specific resources in the town such as The Ridges Sanctuary, Toft Point, the Mud Lake Wildlife Unit, and many others. Much of this coastal wetland area was internationally recognized in 2014 for its globally significant wetland communities that support over 150 species of birds that use the area for staging or nesting during spring and fall migrations.  Approximately 40-45% of the landmass in Baileys Harbor is protected in one way or another.

G. Document that there is a segment of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail or a designated Important Bird Area within or adjacent to your community.

Three Important Bird Area sites, The Ridges Sanctuary, Toft Point and Mud Lake, lie within the boundaries of the Town of Baileys Harbor.

Community Forest Management

F. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

The Town of Baileys Harbor is charged with managing, protecting, and maintaining six parks in the Town. An additional 10 acres of heavily wooded land was recently acquired for a Recreational Park making it a 40 acre park. The additional 10 acres will remain heavily wooded with intended use for nature and vita trail ensuring it will remain a wonderful bird habitat. Renovations to Anclam Park were finalized in late 2014. The park along Lake Michigan was improved for public access and landscaped with a variety of trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers which will be an attraction for birds and bird lovers alike.

The Baileys Harbor Community Association has partnered with a local landscape company over the past 11 years in a tree planting program in the downtown area that has resulted in the planting of some 30 trees over the years.

The Town of Baileys Harbor, whenever possible, supports local land trusts protecting native flora and fauna. The combination of The Toft Point State Natural Area, The Ridges Sanctuary, and Mud Lake State Wildlife Area feature unique dune-swale topography and a variety of high-quality habitats including boreal forest, mixed conifer-hardwood forest, alder thicket, and coastal wetlands and bays. Osprey, Bald Eagle, American Bittern, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, and 17 species of warbles breed at this site. Caspian and Common Terns forage along the shoreline, and waterfowl and land birds use the site during migration.

Limiting or Removing Threats to Birds

A. Describe your community’s educational program to control free-roaming cats and/or the manner in which you actively publicize the Cats Indoors! initiative.

In 2012, the Town of Baileys Harbor purchased 1000 copies of the Cats Birds and You brochure with intended distribution and/or posting at Town Hall, McCardle Library, the Post Office, 57 Depot, Nelson’s, the Info Center, and those businesses in town that will support the distribution or posting. Brochures are still available for the public at the aforementioned locations. The brochures remain available to the public at the above mentioned locations. 

Public Education

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 Ridges Sanctuary of Baileys Harbor has coordinated the Midwest Crane Count in Door County since at least 1998 and the Christmas Bird Count since 1969. The Ridges is also adding the Bald Eagle Nest Watch to it's citizen science profile and will be facilitiating bald eagle nest monitoring throughout the county for the first time this year.

D. Describe your community-sponsored annual bird festival. This must be a multi-day event or a truly exceptional one-day event.

Thanks to collaboration and a partnership with The Ridges Sanctuary, the town’s World Migratory Bird Day is usually celebrated in conjunction with The Ridges Sanctuary’s annual Door County Festival of Nature in a three-day event that includes birding trips, wildflower hikes, canoe outings, geology tours, family friendly workshops and more. Locally, press releases for these events are usually sent to the Peninsula Pulse newspaper as well as The Lodge 109.7 FM with resultant mentions. 

L. Show that your community works with traditionally underserved communities to increase their access to natural areas, environmental education, birding resources, and local environmental experts.

The Ridges Sanctuary takes pride in being an accessible place for people of all ages and abilities to experience nature. Baileys Harbor as an incredible diversity of resident and migratory birds for visitors to enjoy. The Ridges has taken two major actions in the past year to increase access to natural spaces. 1. Last year The Ridges replaced and upgraded it's 800ft Range Light Boardwalk to be ADA compliant by widening the boardwalk from 4 to 6 feet, and installing toe rails for additoinal safety. This corridor is one of our most visited areas and we are proud to be a place that provides better access to a natural area in the community  2. The Ridges recently received an all-terrain Action Trackchair from a local community group that was looking to donate to the DNR but had fallen through. This Trackchair allows people with extreme disabilities to actually go on a trail.  Additionally, The Ridges hosted an "Access for All" day where people in the community were able to try the track chair at our Family Discovery Trail. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and we hope that the community can take advantage of the track chair. For more infromation on Action Trackchairs, visit their website at

Energy & Sustainability

H. Describe your community’s efforts to educate residents about climate change.

The Ridges Sanctuary is reviving a adult education, lecture-based series called Lake Lessons. Climate change is an overarching theme of the talks. The Ridges is collaborating with the Climate Change Coalition of Door County for our September talk, titled "Climate Resiliency and Climate Smart Living" by Jeff Lutzey. Jeff is the executive director of the Climate Change Coalition of Door County, who faciliates talks and initiatives on climate change in Baileys Harbor and other areas of the county. Some of the activities that Baileys Harbor organizations have been a part of include the Big Plant ,where thousands of tree saplings are distributed and planted in conjunction with Earth Day festivities, as well as the Door Community Composting Initiative which includes a community dropoff site in Baileys Harbor to encourage composting of food scraps and yard waste. 

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.

The Ridges Sanctuary's annual Door County Festival of Nature, which is usually part of the Town’s WMBD event is a three-day Festival that usually includes birding trips, wildflower hikes, canoe outings, geology tours, family-friendly workshops and more led by experts in that topic. Press releases for these events are sent to local newspapers, radio stations, posted on The Ridges Sanctuary and Baileys Harbor Community Association web sites, and other appropriate state-wide publications. 

Joined Bird City: 2012

Population: 1,003

Incorporated: 1861

Area: 68.8 mi2

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