Door County

Door County

HIGH FLYER

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.

Door County provides strong and ample zoning ordinances designating legal protection of birds and their ancillary habitat.  Zoning Chapter 2 “Zoning Districts; Use Regulations 2.01” specifically lists those protections under Wetlands, Natural Areas, Chambers Island, and Conservation Areas.  Other zones such as Countryside, Heartland, Estate, and Rural Residential all promote large, rural expanses of vegetative land and diminished building densities.  Zoning Chapter 5 “Natural Features Protection Requirements” further emphasizes that all zoning districts “preserve the natural beauty of Door County, and protect wild flora and fauna.”  Zoning Chapter 6 “Conservation Subdivision” states that “The conservation subdivision option is intended to preserve natural resources.”  Chapter 12 of Parks and Recreation prohibits the destruction of park natural resources (12.01) and the protection of wildlife (12.03)

County parks, such as Robert LaSalle and Forestville Dam have established and demarcated “prairie” plantings promoting bird habitat.

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)

Door County has a thriving community of birders. These birders are the driving force behind Door County’s wonderfully invested citizen scientists. Door County birders are active e-birders participating in the vast growing knowledge of Cornell’s citizen science projects. These birders also participate and help host Christmas bird counts throughout Door County. Christmas bird counts were hosted on Washington Island, Ephraim, Sturgeon Bay, and Southern Door. Additionally, Door tied for 17th  for species and 10th in checklists submitted in the Great Backyard Bird Count in 2022 for the state of Wisconsin. Door County has an active citizen science projects through BRAW monitoring Blue Bird boxes. Door County Parks paid a consultant in spring of 2022 to do a 2022 Breeding Survey in 8 of the Door County Parks.

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)

Door County has developed an extensive comprehensive plan that is in compliance with Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” law for land use planning and natural resource management. The plan was adopted in 2015 and envisions that “in the year 2035, residents and visitors alike share a deep respect and appreciation of the county’s unique biological, geological, and topographical diversity. They view themselves as part of the natural community within which they live, work, and play, and participate in individual and organizational efforts to protect the county’s significant ecosystems, water resources, shoreline areas, Niagara Escarpment, and other important natural features. Residents and visitors understand how their activities affect the county’s water resources – particularly Lake Michigan and Green Bay – and vice-versa, recognize those resources as important to themselves, the county, and the state for environmental, economic, and health reasons.”  It incorporates strong zoning ordinances for wetlands, woodlands and natural areas with the goal that public access to and recreational opportunities utilizing green space and the water are diverse and widespread with regards to conservation and preservation.

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

Door County has numerous ecological organizations with the mission to preserve and enhance the ecological communities within Door County. Part of these government, and non-profit efforts aim to provide additional bird habitat by active land acquisition and through installation of conservation easement. An example is the Door County Land Trust actively seeks to purchase property to preserve in perpetuity to preserve the ecological integrity of the site. One of the consideration factors when the Door County Land Trust seeks to protect land is migratory and residential bird use. Additionally, US Fish and Wildlife’s Partner program aims to install conservation land practices “to benefit federal trust species including migratory birds, endangered, threatened and at-risk species” (more info please visit https://www.fws.gov/program/partners-fish-and-wildlife).

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 Door County Invasive Species Team (DCIST) is a federally and state recognized cooperative weed management area (CWMA) consisting of natural resource professionals and interested members of the public concerned with preserving Door County's ecology for current and future generations. DCIST seeks to halt the invasion of exotic non-native organisms by empowering citizens with the education, the tools and the skills necessary to control invasive species. Their website gives in-depth information from a newsletter to invasive species laws. The site also gives detailed information on removing invasive species and planting native species. DCIST provides landowners with one-on-one opportunities to explore their properties and learn more about what they can do to help support native wildlife, including birds, and still support their land use interests. Efforts for DCIST not only include education through media, one-on-one landowner, engagements, but also through public talks, hands on training, and publications. DCIST also helps provide prevention tools to recreationists including birders that help individuals prevent the spread of invasive species. DCIST also provides individuals with land management tools, and seeks funding to help control priority invasive species.  

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 Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail guide details eight birding areas within Door County.  These top birding areas cover a wide array of habitat from woodlands, grasslands, prairies, dunes, to vast shorelands.  Many of these areas overlap those mentioned in National Audubon Society’s Important Bird Area listings.

Door County contains four regions listed as Important Bird Areas. These IBAs include Whitefish Dunes-Shivering Sands, Toft Point-Ridges Sanctuary-Mud Lake, Mink River Estuary-Newport State Park, and Door-Kewaunee Lakeshore Migration Corridor. Additionally, the Door-Kewaunee area has been identified by the WDNR as a Migration Stopover Initiative site.

H. Show that the local Chamber of Commerce or a similar group (e.g., an Audubon chapter, Wild Ones, etc.) takes an active role in the planning process for protecting and enlarging favorable bird habitat.

Destination Door County’s website (https://www.doorcounty.com/experience/birding) has a Birding Maps section that conveniently shows 33 different mapped areas each denoting specific look out spots to view birds along with a direct link to Bird City Wisconsin website.

L. Show that your community has restored at least two acres of woodlands, wetlands, or prairie.

Door County Parks was awarded a County Conservation Aids grant (2018-2019) to restore 3 acres of grass into pollinator & bird-friendly prairie plantings.  Its first growing season was in 2020 and it is currently established with a thriving habitat for birds.  The project is creating connectivity through Southern Door County and along vital migratory bird migration routes along Lake Michigan.  More prairie plantings totaling 3 acres at various county parks are being planned for 2023.

N. Show that your community works on public lands to control invasive species that have significant negative impacts on bird habitat.

Door County Parks partners with Door County Invasive Species Team (DCIST) to control and manage invasive species which threatens migratory birds.  In 2020, two waterless cleaning stations were installed at our two most used boat launch sites to prevent further spread of aquatic and wetland invasive species which are detrimental to migratory birds.  In 2021, four boot brush stations with informative signs for the preventive spread of invasive species weeds were installed along entry points to the Ahnapee State trail which is leased and maintained by Door County from the State of Wisconsin.  Seven more of these boot brush stations have been strategically placed at other county parks in 2022.

T. Document that your community maintains a birding trail or hot spot location with educational signage and/or literature. (Note: A birding hotspot alone is not sufficient - your community must actively promote birding and public education at the site itself.)

10 professionally fabricated educational panel signs are located along a 1.2-mile trail in the Northern Mesic Forested land of Ellison Bluff County Park.  These signs contain information about birds, flora, and mosses on the Niagara Escarpment.

Additionally, Crossroads at Big Creek is a 200-acre educational nature preserve with over 4 miles of various mapped habitat trails used for the creation, protection, and monitoring of birds and their habitat.

V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

In order to promote conservancy, Door County published a well-developed and extensive 205 page guide entitled “A Guide to Significant Wildlife Habitat and Natural Areas of Door County, Wisconsin.” “This publication represents the collective efforts of a group of individuals whose intent is to help preserve Door County’s communities of plants, animals, and their habitats.”

Community Forest Management

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

Sturgeon Bay continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1994.  In 2015 the City also earned the Tree Growth Award for the first time.  Ephraim recently joined in 2021.

C. Document an ongoing community program to incorporate a significant number of native trees, native shrubs, native herbaceous plants, and/or cultivars of native species in public or large-scale private landscaping.

The Climate Change Coalition of Door County organized the Door County Big Plant and planted 19,143 native trees in 30 days in 2021.  In 2022, they planted 12,500 trees throughout the county with the help of 60 different organizations and numerous people.  Started in 2012, this volunteer organization is committed to planting numerous trees and it plans to continue its Door County Big Plant event into the future. (https://www.climatechangedoorcounty.com/door-county-big-plant)

F. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Under Chapter 5, section 5.07 of the Door County Zoning Ordinance Door County outlines the requirements and regulations for forest management on a county-wide scale. As stated in the plan, “Woodlands of Door County significantly contribute to the county’s scenic attractiveness and provide to people recreational opportunities. They provide habitat for numerous species of plant and animal life.”  That statement provides the underlying cause for developing and implementing sustainable forestry management in order to preserve the county’s woodlands.

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 City of Sturgeon Bay in Door County has been officially recognized as a Bird City and on their website they have a direct link to the American Bird Conservancy’s Cats Indoors.  Door County works closely on with the City of Sturgeon Bay in order to compliment bird conservancy habitats.

C. Show that your municipality practices Integrated Pest Management, using natural pest control and the best available science to minimize pesticide and herbicide use.

In 2021, going through 2022, Door County has partnered with the Village of Egg Harbor to hire "Beyond Pesticides" to further increase our IPM compliance, minizing the use of pesticide and herbicide. 

Door County when working with municipalities and/or organizations always encourages best management practices including IPMs backed by scientific research and accepted by oversite partners such as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, US Fish and Wildlife, and the Department of Agriculture Consumer Trade and Protection. Door County as a member of the Door County Invasive Species Team (DCIST) helped author a county wide invasive species strategy which includes practices and discusses the use of integrated pest management practices providing guidance to land managers. This plan was adopted on a county level, and has state and federal approvals.

L. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

The Door County Comprehensive Plan 2035 contains strong zoning ordinances that set specific goals for preservation and enhancement of key areas. These goals give legal protection to wildlife, such as birds, through habitat management and natural resource guidelines. Indirectly, this protection significantly removes and limits hazards to birds; this is especially true of those caused by development and human intervention.

Public Education

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 City of Sturgeon Bay’s Facebook page has information on creating and enhancing backyard habitats for birds.

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).

Door County birders are active e-birders participating in the vast growing knowledge of Cornell’s citizen science projects. These birders also participate and help host Christmas bird counts throughout Door County. Christmas bird counts were hosted on Washington Island, Ephriam, Sturgeon Bay, and Southern Door. Additionally, Door tied for 17th  for species and 10th in checklists submitted in the Great Backyard Bird Count in 2022 for the state of Wisconsin. Door County has an active citizen science projects through BRAW monitoring Blue Bird boxes. Sturgeon Bay is nearing its 50th Christmas Bird Count and had its annual count on Saturday December 17th, 2022.  Brussels count was on December 18, 2022.

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

May 12-15, 2022 was the annual Washington Island Birding festival hosted by Washington Island Art and Nature center. “Enjoy birding in small groups with experienced guides on these beautiful Islands. Washington, Plum and Rock Islands are on a flyway where thousands of birds come through every year on this particular weekend.”

Additionally, the Ridges Sanctuary sponsors the Festival of Nature, which includes dozens of wildlife and birding field trips all across the county over several days. Partners in the festival included the DNR, The Ridges Sanctuary, the Nature Conservancy, the Door County Land Trust, and Crossroads at Big Creek.

F. Demonstrate that your community understands the critical ecological role of pollinators by documenting your Bee City USA status or by describing another substantial effort to promote pollinator health (for ideas visit the Xerxes Society and the Pollinator Partnership).

Door County Parks was awarded a County Conservation Aids grant (2018-2019) to restore 3 acres of grass into pollinator & bird-friendly prairie plantings.  Its first growing season was in 2020 and it is currently established with a thriving habitat for birds.  The project is creating connectivity through Southern Door County and along vital migratory bird migration routes along Lake Michigan.  More prairie plantings totaling 3 acres at various county parks are being planned for 2023.

In 2022 Door County Soil & Water Conservation Department secured a pollinator planting through funding from US Fish and Wildlife and the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. This pollinator planter is available to all members of the public to help install prairie plantings. Additionally, Door County Soil & Water became a seed partner with Pheasants Forever to help elevate costs with acquiring pollinator seeds. These efforts allowed Door County to install approximately 30 acres of pollinator habitat on private land through this effort.

The Farm, “A Living Museum of Rural America,” is dedicated to the preservation of natural America.  Open to the public for display, The Farm established a tall grass mesic prairie in order to promote education to the public on pollinators.

Crossroads Learning Center periodically hosts lectures open to the public periodically on prairie plants for pollinator gardens.  “Prairie Plants for Urban and Suburban Gardens,” “Prairie and Savanna Plants for Pollinator Gardens,” and “Pollenpalooza” are just a few of their recent lectures held at their facility.  In addition to their learning facility, they also have miles of prescribed and signed habitat trails that are “designed to support pollinators.”   

J. Document that a municipal building has significant bird-friendly landscaping that features native plants AND signage that explains the importance of native plants and providing diverse habitat for birds (e.g., brush piles, water features).

The Door County Library has a signed, native/wildflower planting at the edge of its building to encourage a diverse habitat for birds and pollinators.

K. Demonstrate that your community actively raises awareness of its bird assets. Examples include placing a remote web camera on a nest platform, offering bird watching field trips, or creating a significant educational resource on your community's bird life.

Crossroads Learning Center periodically hosts lectures open to the public periodically on prairie plants for pollinator gardens.  “Prairie Plants for Urban and Suburban Gardens,” “Prairie and Savanna Plants for Pollinator Gardens,” and “Pollenpalooza” are just a few of their recent lectures held at their facility.  In addition to their learning facility, they also have miles of prescribed and signed habitat trails that are “designed to support pollinators.”   

Energy & Sustainability

A. Document an energy audit for a municipal building and show that your community is working to implement its recommendations.

The Door County Government had an energy audit performed on all of its buildings in 2015 and has since converted its lighting (including parking lots) in the Government Center, Flagship Library, ADRC, Justice Center, two major boat launches, North and South Highway Shops, and the Central Highway Shop's lighting, resulting in an estimated reduction of 300,000kWh/yr or the equivalent of 212 metric tons of carbon dioxide. The County has also replaced all oil burning boilers in all buildings and replaced with high efficiency modulating boilers that provide hot water and heat to the approximately 442,500 square feet of building space the county owns. 

D. Document that your community has been recognized as a Green Tier Legacy Community.

On September 3, 2020, Door County was accepted as one of only five counties in the state of Wisconsin as a Green Tier Legacy Community. Along side the entire county being a Green Tier Legacy Community, Door County also has the distinction of being home to the greatest concentration of community members within its boundaries, including Egg Harbor, Ephraim, The Township of Gibraltar and Sister Bay.

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 Door County Board officially adopted a resolution recognizing the second Saturday in May as International Migratory Bird Day in August of 2017.  All citizens are urged to celebrate the observance in support of efforts to protect and conserve migratory birds and their habitats.  Plans for a 2023 event will occur during the annual Door County Festival of Nature, which will take place in multiple events during the Spring and Summer of 2023.

Joined Bird City: 2014

Population: 27,785

Incorporated: 1851

Area: 2370 mi2

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