Door County

Door County


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 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.

In addition, The Door County Greenprint website offers an in-depth analysis of lands for natural resource protection and land use planning. Interactive maps and customizable reports are provided to assist local officials, conservation organizations, property owners, and businesses in assessing their priorities regarding resource protection and land planning. "Greenprinting" blends scientific data with conservation goals to help local policy-makers make strategic decisions.

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 Door County Zoning Ordinance contains strong zoning ordinances protecting bird habitat. Chapter 2 is dedicated to wetland zoning and natural areas while Chapter 5 is dedicated to woodlands. These chapters outline specific goals while highlighting the importance of preservation and enhancement of these areas. Chapter 12 is dedicated to Park ordinances and includes a leash law. These goals directly give legal protection to wildlife, such as birds, through habitat management and natural resource guidelines.

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 group of natural resource professionals and interested members of the public concerned with preserving Door County's natural environment. DCIST seeks to halt the invasion of exotic non-native plants 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 that are specified for a wide variety of recreational activities, including birding. Typically, the DCIST conducts a series of hikes and invasive species removal workshops to help educate the public and disseminate information during the summer. The DCIST team will also set up informational booths with natural resources professionals at the Gibraltar School Earth Day Fair and Sustainable Living Fair; both are normally held annually but were not in 2021 due to COVID-19.

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.

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.

The Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail Guide details eight areas within Door County; many of these areas overlap those mentioned in the IBA listings. These top birding areas cover a wide array of habitat from woodlands, grasslands, prairie, dunes, to vast shorelands.

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.

The Door County Visitors Bureau has published an excellent tri-fold brochure entitled “A Guide to Birding in Door County” that is notable for its list and map of key birding locations, a photo checklist of key species, an ethical guide to birding and a salute to the county’s four current Bird City communities: Egg Harbor, Ephraim, Town of Gibraltar and Sister Bay. The Map comes in color with major roads listed and a total of 43 birding locations pinpointed across the county. In addition, the pamphlet provides contact information and a short description for local education and tours. 

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. The project has been fully funded, and prep, seeding and establishment are underway - the prairie had it's first growing season in 2020 and saw an abundance of new avian visitors. The project is creating connectivity through Southern Door County and along vital migratory bird migration routes along Lake Michigan.  Door County has secured over 76 acres adjacent to the DoorBluff Headlands County Park. This area is reserved as a natural area and included in the migratory bird stopover along the Bay of Green Bay.  The property acquisition was through grant funding provided by the Knowles Nelson Stewardship Fund, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife GLRI grant, and Coastal Management Grant. In January of 2021, 43.25 acres of prime migratory bird habitat along the Ahnapee River was donated to the Door County Facilities and Parks Department as a nature preserve. In addition, in 2021, 4-acres of undeveloped land was added to Meridian County Park - a designated State Natural Area and included in the Meridian-Bjorklunden Migratory Bird Stopover. In conjunction with Door County Soil and Water, 2022 will also see a 3 acre grass field at Forestville Dam County Parka be restored with pollinating and bird-friendly plantings. 

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 DCIST (Door County Invasive Species Team) to control and manage invasive species threats to migratory birds. In 2020 two waterless cleaning stations were install at our 2 heaviest used boat launch sites to prevent further spread of aquatic and wetland invasive species that can be detrimental to migratory birds. In 2021, four boot brush stations with informative signs were installed along entry points to the Ahnapee State trail which is leased and maintained by Door County from the State of Wisconsin.

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.)

Ellison Bluff County Park contains a 1.2 mile long looped trail that cuts through heavy forest. Located along the forested trail are 10 informational signs, containing information to broaden park patrons knowledge of the Niagara Escarpment, mosses, birds, and flora of the park. 

V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Door County published a well-developed and extensive guide entitled “A Guide to Significant Wildlife Habitat and Natural Areas of Door County, Wisconsin.” This collaborative community project is available from the Wisconsin DNR and is a more than 200-page “review of the county’s natural areas and the plants and animals they support.”

Community Forest Management

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

Sturgeon Bay (the only city within the county) 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.

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

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. 

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

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

Door County annually is the site of one of the state’s three premier nature and birding festivals; the Door County Festival of Nature. As the Ridges Sanctuary website notes: “For nature enthusiasts, there’s no time of year quite as exciting as spring. And in spring, there’s no place like Door County. Since 2002, Door County conservation organizations along with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources have joined together to bring you the Festival of Nature, a celebration of the unique biodiversity and natural beauty we strive to protect.” 

Coordinated by The Ridges Sanctuary, the Festival offers a full slate of field trips classes (in-person and virtual) and activities throughout Door County.

In 2019, the festival took place in May and celebrated its 17th year. The festival included dozens of wildlife and birding field trips all across the county. Partners in the festival included the DNR, The Ridges Sanctuary, the Nature Conservancy, the Door County Land Trust, and Crossroads at Big Creek. The event was, unfortunately cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 but came back with both vitrual and in-person options in 2021. 

The 2022 Festival is scheduled for May with dates yet be established (as of Janaury 2022). 

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 it's buildings in 2015 and has since converted all lighting (including parking lots) in the Government Center, Flagship Library, ADRC, Justice Center, two major boat launches, North and South Highway Shops, and is currently working on changing over 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.

For the first time in August of 2017, the Door County Board officially adopted a resolution recognizing the second Saturday in May as International Migratory Bird Day. All citizens are urged to celebrate the observance in support of efforts to protect and conserve migratory birds and their habitats. Plans for a 2022 event will again be a celebration that will be included during the annual Door County Festival of Nature, which will take place in May 2022, with exact dates to be determined. 

Joined Bird City: 2014

Population: 27,785

Incorporated: 1851

Area: 2370 mi2

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