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 Village of De Soto adopted a comprehensive plan on Dec. 28, 2009. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2010, any community that makes land‐use decisions is required to base those decisions on its adopted comprehensive plan.
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 Village of De Soto is part of Pool 9 of the Upper Mississippi Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The refuge lies within the Mississippi Flyway, a migration pathway for birds. The refuge was established in 1924 as a refuge for fish, wildlife, and plants and a breeding place for migratory birds. The refuge is designated as a Wetland of International Importance and a Globally Important Bird Area.
The Mississippi Valley Conservancy has land within the Village of De Soto. They have a help save falcon and eagle habitat program. They focus their conservation efforts on permanently protecting the scenic bluff land of the Upper Mississippi River Valley habitat for the Peregrine Falcon and the Bald Eagle. The conservancy has saved more than 14,000 acres of critical raptor habitat in North America’s major migratory flyway from destruction.
E. Describe your community’s ordinance demonstrating that your community does not restrict natural/native landscaping that emphasizes native plants and non-turf lawns.
The Village of De Soto has Ordinance #34 Lawn and Yard Maintenance, Section 2(F): Maintenance of Natural Landscaping which states: A landowner may choose to develop natural landscaping subject to the following regulations.
Noxious weeds shall be controlled in accordance with Section 2(C) above.
Naturally landscaped properties shall be managed in a healthy and vigorous condition, as opposed to one of impairment and decline. Properties shall not be unmanaged and overgrown in ways that adversely affect human health and safety.
A landowner who does not comply with this section shall be in violation. The Weed Commissioner shall issue a notice to comply. If the conditions of the notice are not met within the stated time frame, the Weed Commissioner may order the property to be cleaned, leveled and mowed to comply with this ordinance.
Where there is a disagreement with the Village and the landowner in regard to the appropriateness of locating a plant species in natural landscaping, the landowner shall show proof of the appropriateness of the plant species.
Plantings shall be maintained so as not to present hazards to adjoining properties or to persons or vehicles traveling on public ways or to interfere with the vision triangle area.
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.
The Village of De Soto straddles both Vernon and Crawford Counties. Two GWBNT areas are located nearby: Genoa National Fish Hatchery lies to the North and Rush Creek State Natural Area to the South. These two areas feature shoreland birds such as the Solitary Sandpiper and songbirds such as the Kentucky Warbler.
O. Document a program to support the establishment of natural lawns and native landscaping, possibly including public presentations of Audubon’s Plants for Birds Initiative (contact them for a presentation kit).
The Village of De Soto has Ordinance #34 Lawn and Yard Maintenance, Section 2(f) Maintenance of Natural Landscaping which states:
A landowner may choose to develop natural landscaping subject to the following regulations.
Noxious weeds shall be controlled in accordance with Section 2(C) above. Naturally landscaped properties shall be managed in a healthy and vigorous condition, as opposed to one of impairment and decline. Properties shall not be unmanaged and overgrown in ways that adversely affect human health and safety. A landowner who does not comply with this section shall be in violation. The Weed Commissioner shall issue a notice to comply. If the conditions of the notice are not met within the stated time frame, the Weed Commissioner may order the property to be cleaned, leveled and mowed to comply with this ordinance. Where there is a disagreement with the Village and the landowner in regard to the appropriateness of locating a plant species in natural landscaping, the landowner shall show proof of the appropriateness of the plant species. Plantings shall be maintained so as not to present hazards to adjoining properties or to persons or vehicles traveling on public ways or to interfere with the vision triangle area.
Community Forest Management
F. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.
The Mississippi Valley Conservancy has 14 acres within the Village of De Soto. The conservancy is a regional, non‐profit land trust based in La Crosse that has permanently conserved more than 15,000 acres of bluff lands, prairies, wetlands, and streams in southwestern Wisconsin since its founding in 1997.
MVC works with private landowners and local communities on voluntary conservation projects in nine counties along or near the Mississippi River: Buffalo, Trempealeau, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon, Crawford, Richland and Grant Counties. The Conservancy uses voluntary tools such as conservation easements, land acquisitions, and a landowner registry program to protect lands for their ecology, scenic beauty, outdoor recreation potential, and prime agricultural soils.
MVC works hard to restore native natural communities by removing invasive species and conducting prescribed burns. Additionally, the Conservancy provides hand‐on learning experiences in the outdoors for thousands of young people and works to foster a conservation ethic.
MVC works cooperatively with individuals, businesses, conservation groups, local units of government and state and federal agencies to protect the most precious places on our landscape. More than a million visitors to the area each year enjoy the scenic beauty of MVC nature preserves.
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.
The Village distributed ABC’s Cats Indoors! brochure at its 2018 International Migratory Bird Day event. This brochure is also available year round in the village office. A program called Homeless Animal Fund also educates the public on this subject. Information is also found on De Soto's Bird City web page.
B. Demonstrate that your community provides property owners with information on how to protect birds from window strikes (e.g., online links, brochures).
Several brochures are available year round and also at our Migratory Bird Day and Bird Fowl Walk (Invasive Plants of the Future, River and Wetland Invasive Plants, Managing Invasive Plants and Regulated Terrestrial Invasive Plants In WI)
Information is also found on De Soto's Bird City web page.
E. Document a program that effectively reduces feral cat populations (Note: See 3F for enforced ordinances). (Exclusions: Trap, neuter, release/return programs)
We have a program to control free-roaming cats with a neuter/spade initiative called Homeless Animal Fund. Funds were raised with rummage and book sales every year. In 2018, 8 cats were safely caught and sent to Alter-Ations Inc out of Viroqua WI. This program has been in operation for four years. The program finds homes for the cats so they aren't roaming the neighborhood anymore.
L. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.
The Village of De Soto has several members in The Friends of Pool 9. The Friends of Pool 9 is a community based, grassroots, non‐profit organization comprised of individual, family, and business members who share a common mission to conserve the natural and cultural resources within Pool 9 of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, and to foster wise use and enjoyment of the Refuge and the Upper Mississippi River. Their goals are to:
Inform the public about the benefits of Pool 9 and the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.
Provide opportunities for volunteers to help conserve the natural habitats found within Pool 9, and the wildlife and fish populations that depend upon those habitats.
Support the "Wildlife Comes First" management philosophy of the National Wildlife Refuge System and to help promote the following wildlife dependent recreational opportunities: hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife interpretation, environmental education and wildlife photography.
Secure funding for projects and activities within Pool 9 of the Upper Miss Refuge. Inform elected officials, the public, and our members about Refuge issues.
The Board of Directors of the Friends of Pool 9 encourages all of their members to adopt the Leave No Trace philosophy whenever visiting the River. The guiding principles of Leave No Trace should not be confused with local, state or federal regulations. Leave No Trace is a philosophy that in the absence of any regulations helps you to make ethical decisions based on what is good for the environment. It is always important to know the rules and regulations that pertain to the area you are visiting.
Working with the agencies that manage the River, they have put together a Leave No Trace Leaflet that helps to explain these principles. These leaflets are available at most of the boat ramps and major access points within Pool 9.
The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service also provides a substantial amount of information related to Hazards to Birds.
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 Village of De Soto has links on its website to provide the community with information on methods to create and enhance backyard habitat for birds and about habitat programs. Some examples are:
D. Describe your community-sponsored annual bird festival. This must be a multi-day event or a truly exceptional one-day event.
On October 20, 2018, the Village held its Bird Festival. We had a presentation and Information on Raptors with Merv and Susan Broten of Coulee Wildlife Rehabilitation, Chaseburg WI. They brought a Screech Owl, a Barred Owl and a Red-tailed Hawk.
The Broten's mission is rehabilitation and release of orphaned or injured wild animals and birds. Educating the public with lectures, displays, discussions about animals and birds, their natural habitat and rehabilitation and release. Suzanne & Merv Broten have been caring for injured and orphaned wildlife at their rural Chaseburg home since 1992. Suzanne holds both a federal and state wildlife rehabilitation permit. Suzanne also holds a federal education permit. She and Merv have worked with raptors since 1986. Coulee Wildlife is a nonprofit 501(c)3 and raises all funding through grants and donations. There were also displays of wildlife bird photos by Patricia Sampson and brochures on noxious weed control, Cats, Birds and you, and samples of window decals for prevention of birds hitting windows.. The children had paper to make into origami birds. Refreshments were also served.
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.
De Soto is part of the Vernon, Crawford and La Crosse County rideshare program. It is called S.M.R.T (Scenic Mississippi Regional Transit). It runs Monday- Friday and stops in De Soto 6 times a day. There is also an initiative to build a bike trail along Highway 35 from the northern border of Vernon County the the southern border of Crawford County. The Vernon-Crawford Trails Task Force has gotton resolutions from almost all the municipalities along this Highway 35 corridor in support of this trail. This is a work in progress.
International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)
A. This community's municipal body passed the required International Migratory Bird Day resolution.
On October 5, 2018, the Village of De Soto had their 2018 Bird City Celebration. Merv & Susan Broten from the Wildlife Rehab Center in Chaseburg WI were very entertaining with their presentation.
Their mission is rehabilitation and release of orphaned or injured wild animals and birds. Educating the public with lectures, displays, discussions about animals and birds, their natural habitat and rehabilitation and release.
They brought a Red-tailed Hawk,Screech Owl and Barred Owl. This was the last show for the Red-tailed Hawk, as he was retiring. There was also a table for the children to fold origami birds and a raffle. Photographs taken by Patricia Sampson were also on display.
Warm apple pie and brownies with ice cream was served.