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.
The City of Sheboygan’s Comprehensive Plan was adopted on December 5, 2011, and includes points on meeting Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” law. The City has been in compliance with the plan since this date.
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 City of Sheboygan has about 40 parks with habitats that include: lakeshore, riparian, deciduous forest, coniferous forest, swamp, marsh, prairie, mowed lawn, and meadow. The Division of Parks and Forestry works closely with the Sheboygan County Audubon Society, and the Ellwood H. May Environmental Park – Maywood to provide quality bird habitat and monitor bird activity each year. This is evidenced by the activities at Maywood, a 135-acre City of Sheboygan Park. Each year Maywood and Audubon provide birding programs for the public to learn bird identification and help track the migratory and resident bird species through weekly walks in spring and fall. This information has been collected over the past two decades and recently put on eBird, the internet recording site run by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.
Maywood also has a bluebird trail consisting of 16 nest boxes. These boxes are monitored weekly during the nesting season and results are submitted to the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin. One of the nest boxes has a live camera feed so visitors to the Maywood website can watch the nesting as it occurs.
Through a joint effort between Maywood and Camp Y-Koda citizen-based monitoring will continue again this year to monitor birds at several public sites along the Sheboygan River. This effort is part of a larger effort to restore and monitor restoration efforts on the lower 14 miles of the Sheboygan River since it was dredged in 2012.
In 2011 and 2012, Maywood was the host site for a bird and bat migration monitoring research project, sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Minnesota. Maywood staff would exchange data collection cards and batteries in the acoustic monitoring device, and mail the data cards each week to the University of Minnesota to download the data into their survey.
In 2012, the City of Sheboygan was the site of a large scale habitat improvement project, which linked with the clean-up and dredging of the Sheboygan River. This multi-million dollar project included vegetation planting and installation of nest boxes that would encourage the return of a variety of bird species to sites along the Sheboygan River. The nest boxes were designed to attract bluebirds, tree swallows, house wrens, owls, and wood ducks. In addition a nesting platform for ospreys was also installed.
D. Document that current municipal planning seeks to provide additional bird habitat.
In 2016, a collaborative effort between the City of Sheboygan, National Fish & Wildlife Service, WI DNR, Stantec Environmental Consulting Firm, Miller Engineers and Scientists, and Maywood Environmental Park was initiated to begin work on a Pigeon River Estuary. The estuary would encompass several miles from the shore of Lake Michigan upstream to Maywood and possibly beyond. The project is to remove invasive species, improve habitat for birds and other forms of wildlife, and provide public access.
Sheboygan’s lakefront, particularly North Point Park, has been an outstanding location for birds with an affinity for water. Recognizing this fact, the City of Sheboygan has provided strategic locations for viewing. In 2012, with the help of the DNR and grant money, the first steps were taken to preserve this lakefront habitat by implementing an invasive species program to control phragmites. This three-year program will greatly improve this habitat, especially for shorebirds.
In 2012 numerous partnerships between private contractors, and public agencies undertook an immense project to restore the Sheboygan River habitat. Contaminant removal, shoreline restoration, natural landscaping, and nest box installation were just some of the aspects of this multi-million dollar project. Bird and other wildlife inventories were performed before the project, establishing a baseline to assess the success of the restoration. Nest boxes for owls, bluebirds, tree swallows, and osprey nesting platforms were installed along City-owned parcels of land and installations continued in 2013.
The National Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with the University of Minnesota, undertook a project to monitor bird and bat migration along the great lakes. The City of Sheboygan, through Maywood and the Water Utility Department, set up ultrasonic recording devices, which recorded the sounds of birds and bats migrating on a 24 hour schedule over a 2-month period in spring and again in fall of 2010 and 2011. City personnel were responsible for recharging batteries and changing and mailing data cards every two weeks.
To improve the habitat at Maywood for birds and other species of wildlife, volunteers have been recruited to assist in several habitat improvement projects, including planting 340 trees and shrubs, representing seven different species, removing invasive species, cutting back brush that interferes with nest box usage.
In 2015, the City of Sheboygan, Glacial Lakes Conservancy, Maywood, and numerous state and federal agencies have been working together to protect and preserve a 132.6 acre parcel of land within the City of Sheboygan. The site, now called the Willow Creek Preserve, was a farm owned by the Schuchardt family. Throughout 2015 & 2016, Schuchardt Valley, as it is referenced in E-Bird, was one of several sites in Sheboygan that was regularly monitored through a Citizen-Based Monitoring program as part of the Sheboygan River clean-up and restoration effort. Plans are underway to make habitat improvements to the site to increase natural diversity of both flora and fauna. At this time, a DNR grant is being sought to continue the Citizen-Based Monitoring program in 2017.
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.
The Maywood Environmental Park Ecology Center is a great resource for information about invasive species through its public programs and its volunteer work days when volunteers get hands-on training. The Department of Public Works has also taken an active role in the removal and education of invasive species. In the recent Sheboygan River Habitat Improvement Project hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on the removal of phragmites, buckthorn, honeysuckle, garlic mustard, and reed canary grass. A separate grant was just received to implement phragmites removal along the Lake Michigan shoreline at North Point Park.
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 locations in Sheboygan are cited in the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail guide. They are Evergreen Park, Ellwood H. May Environmental Park, and North Point Park. Numerous City of Sheboygan birding sites are mentioned in “Wisconsin’s Favorite Bird Haunts” as well.
V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.
The Ellwood H. May Environmental Park (Maywood) is owned and operated by the City of Sheboygan Division of Parks and Forestry. The Maywood Ecology Center is home to monthly meetings and programs of the local chapter of the Audubon Society. Their meetings and programs are open to the public, are promoted through the Maywood newsletter, Audubon newsletter, and the local newspapers. Maywood also sends out notices and reminders to its 500+ members.
Maywood hosts weekly bird hikes in May, bird banding demonstrations, fall bird hikes, and winter birding for beginners sessions all through a well-established partnership with the Sheboygan County Audubon Society.
Maywood has established a bluebird trail through the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW). 16 nest boxes are monitored throughout the nesting season with results mailed to BRAW. One of the nest boxes has a video camera mounted inside, so visitors to the Maywood website may enjoy live streaming video of the nesting process. Ten additional bluebird nest boxes were constructed through an Eagle Scout project to expand the bluebird trail in another area of Maywood.
Maywood has also installed numerous kestrel nest boxes. Habitat improvements such as prairie restoration, wetland restoration, pond construction, tree planting, and much more have resulted in a steady increase in the number of bird species utilizing the 135 acres of Maywood since its development in 1984.
Community Forest Management
A. Demonstrate that your community has been awarded Tree City USA status by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
The City of Sheboygan continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1979 (also 1976-1977). Through the City of Sheboygan Parks Department, Maywood will be conducting an Arbor Day program on April 28, 2017, utilizing volunteers to plant over 180 native species of trees and shrubs, and remove invasive species throughout its 135 acres.
Limiting or Removing Threats to Birds
B. Demonstrate that your community provides property owners with information on how to protect birds from window strikes (e.g., online links, brochures).
Through the City of Sheboygan’s Ellwood H. May Environmental Park - Maywood, educational resources are available through a variety of programs. As an example, each winter Maywood hosts “Birding for Beginners” which teaches the basics of bird identification, attracting birds to feeders, and providing a quality habitat, which includes how to minimize the hazards. Seasonal events such as Flapjack Day (March), Earth Day (April), and the summer camp programs at Maywood have regularly featured craft events where participants make various devices to prevent window strikes. The Ecology Center has experimented with various window strike deterrent devices including bird of prey silhouettes, CD reflectors, translucent window clings.
Each year Maywood and the Sheboygan County Audubon Chapter have participated in the Christmas Bird Count and the spring Crane Count. In addition, Maywood hosts Saturday morning bird walks each week throughout May. Each birder is provided with a Wisconsin Birds Field Checklist from the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology. The results from the checklists are retained at Maywood and entered into eBird as a public record of the species seen at Maywood.
In 2016, the City of Sheboygan, Sheboygan Audubon Society, and Maywood Environmental Park celebrated IMBD by hosting five spring Saturday morning bird walks, one warbler walk, one woodcock walk, five Hawk Watches, and one Crane Count training session. The IMBD was held on Saturday, May 14 and featured bird banding demonstrations, discussion on migration and identification of migrating birds, and a luncheon sponsored by Sheboygan Audubon Society. However, birding activities continued into the fall with four fall bird walks, seven Hawk Watches. 2016 concluded with Gull Expert, Amar Ayyash conducting a gull workshop at Maywood with practical application at Sheboygan’s lakefront.
The 2017 event will be celebrated at Maywood with a free program open to the general public. Retired DNR bird expert will Bill Volkert discuss the need for bird conservation and monitoring through banding efforts while he demonstrates an actual banding station. In addition, he will show a slide presentation, “Nicaragua: Birding and Bird Conservation” where he will discuss his many trips to educate locals while improving birding on an international level.