Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

Town of Baileys Harbor

Community Achievements

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.  

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)

The waters of Lake Michigan and the rivers and streams that empty into it support approximately 150 species of fish. More than 90 species of birds have been recorded as potentially breeding within the town. Baileys Harbor is the most biologically diverse municipality 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. 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 insuring 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. A link to the Bird Conservation Alliance is provided on the Town's Bird City page.

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 and these counts have continued to the present day.

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 International Migratory Bird Day is 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 sent to the Peninsula Pulse newspaper as well as The Lodge 109.7 FM with resultant mentions. Mention has also been made in the Baileys Harbor weekly article in the Door County Advocate newspaper and on The Ridges Sanctuary and Baileys Harbor Community Association web sites.

International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)

A. This community's municipal body passed the required International 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 International 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 Town of Baileys Harbor will adopt an official IMBD resolution for 2016. The event will be held on May 28, 2017 and will once again be partnered with The Ridges Sanctuary and activities surrounding the annual Door County Festival of Nature.

For the past several years, the Town’s IMBD event was celebrated as part of The Ridges Sanctuary’s annual Door County Festival of Nature. This is a three-day event that includes birding trips, wildflower hikes, canoe outings, geology tours, family-friendly workshops and more. Press releases for these events were sent to local newspapers, radio stations, posted on The Ridges Sanctuary and Baileys Harbor Community Association web sites, and other appropriate state-wide publications.

Photo Gallery

Community Details

Joined Bird City: 2012

Population: 1,003

Incorporated: 1861

Area: 68.8 mi2

Community Website

Community Bird City Page

Community Map