Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Baraboo

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.

On July 12, 2005, the City of Baraboo adopted it Smart Growth Plan. October 23, 2007, the City went further with Resolution No. 07-121:

Now, therefore, be it resolved, by the Common Council of the City of Baraboo, Sauk County, Wisconsin:

First, that The Natural Step model be adopted by the City of Baraboo as a guide to policies, practices, programs, services, and development in the City of Baraboo.   

Second, that in a comprehensive approach toward becoming a sustainable community we adopt these goals using The Natural Step framework, the City will:

  1. Work to increase awareness of sustainability among its staff and management. This will provide us with a common language and keep all of us thinking about the impact we have during the course of our daily tasks.
  2. Take an inventory of current efforts that make progress toward sustainability and be frank about areas that need improvement. We will enhance our current efforts and identify additional improvements.
  3. Formulate a vision of what sustainability means for the City and identify long-term goals necessary to achieve that vision.
  4. Incorporate the awareness and terminology of sustainability into our municipal code, budget decisions, program administration, and project development.

Third, that we recognize that it will take the good will and determined work of individuals within our community to achieve this goal. We wish to be a part of this network and declare sustainability to be a goal of this City.

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 Maxwell-Potter Conservancy has just been established within city limits. We are currently establishing nature trails and an arboretum at this parcel close to the Baraboo River to be used for bird and tree identification. It’s a lovely wetland complex with a creek and natural springs flowing into the Baraboo River. Many Bald Eagles roost in the large cottonwood trees each winter.

D. Document that current municipal planning seeks to provide additional bird habitat.

The Maxwell-Potter Conservancy has just been established within city limits. We are currently establishing nature trails and an arboretum at this parcel close to the Baraboo River to be used for bird and tree identification. It’s a lovely wetland complex with a creek and natural springs flowing into the Baraboo River. Many Bald Eagles roost in the large cottonwood trees each winter.

F. Show that your community offers the public information on how they can control and remove invasive species in order to improve or maintain bird habitat.

We have a UW Extension office in Baraboo that offers publications on invasive species identification and control. Baraboo Range Preservation Association also works with K-12 students along with UW-Baraboo classes removing invasive species from an oak woodland project taking place in the campus forest within city limits. The forest also has a component of the Ice Age Trail running through it, so they are additional partners in restoring bird habitat at this location.

Community Forest Management

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

Baraboo continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1992.

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.

Sauk County Humane Society, located in Baraboo, offers pamphlets on the “Cats Indoors” program as well as demonstrations and additional information at our annual local Earth Day Celebration up at UW-Baraboo.

Public Education

A. Demonstrate that schools in your community participate in a nationally-recognized environmental education program (e.g., Flying WILD, Audubon Adventures) or that your community organizes its own substantial education and outreach program for young people. 

Melissa McDonald, a Baraboo Middle School Teacher is trained in the Flying Wild program. She takes about 30-40 Baraboo science club students to WSO’s Honey Creek Bird Sanctuary here in the hills where many folks from WSO. Todd Persche also volunteers to take kids on birding walks during the Bandathon/Birdathon weekend.

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 Baraboo Range Preservation Association hosted its inaugural Bird City Yard Tour. This event showcases Baraboo’s bird-friendly yards to educate residents about the types of plants, landscaping, and structures that will bring birds and wildlife to urban yards while showing people just how beautiful bird-friendly yards can be.

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).

We have an Annual Christmas Bird Count in Baraboo, the 2016 event was on Tuesday December 27th. The Baraboo Range Preservation Association also has begun doing a big day event for the Great Wisconsin Birdathon in both the City and surrounding natural in the Baraboo Bluffs.

E. Illustrate a program that involves schools, garden clubs, or other organizations in bird conservation activities.

The Baraboo Range Preservation Association takes about 8 to 12 birding walks with High School Environmental Sciences and Biology classes, plus bird hikes are scheduled for 2017 at the Maxwell Potter Conservancy in 2017.

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.

In 2016 during the 3rdnd week of May Baraboo Range Preservation Association hosted an event at the UW-Baraboo campus ongoing oak woodland restoration project. University classes joined with High School classes for a day celebrating the benefits of our local birds.

We started at the High School’s taxidermy display that featured numerous local birds collected more than a century ago to illustrate how long the story of migration has been taking place. The day included an explanation of the Baraboo Range Preservation Association’s habitat restoration project, guided bird walks, and encouragement for them to participate in Baraboo’s Bird City effort with their families.       


The event featured informational materials on improving bird conservation in our city plus signup sheets for various opportunities to learn more through the course of each year. We were able to parlay this day into a more regular opportunity work with UW and Baraboo High School biology classes in the same forest paid for by a Sauk County UW Extension Humanities grant. BRPA worked on a weekly basis in the fall of 2016 to continue teaching and restoring the oak woodland. We are also gaining local volunteers who wish to bring bird habitat restoration to their yards from learning experiences at this site.

The Baraboo Range Preservation Association plans to incorporate Bird City into our many public outreach activities. We feel that starting in the schools is the best way to introduce kids to the topic of environmental conservation. Baraboo, like so many communities these days, used to have a strong tradition of outdoor recreation and understanding. Our aims are to revitalize that spirit of connectivity to the natural world that was evident at Baraboo’s initial Bird City award ceremony.

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Community Details

Joined Bird City: 2016

Population: 12,048

Incorporated: 1882

Area: 7.47 mi2

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