Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Eau Claire

City of Eau Claire

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.

The City of Eau Claire adopted and approved a Comprehensive Plan on Sept. 27, 2005 that is in effect until 2025. The Comprehensive Plan is in compliance with the Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” law for land use planning and resource management. A central focus of the plan is the enhancement of waterways since Eau Claire is at the confluence of two rivers and has multiple creeks and streams. The goal is to protect or improve steep slopes, wetlands, and streams to promote sustainable development, ecological responsibility, quality of life, and economic development. Also outlined in the plan are objectives to restore or improve water resources, wildlife habitat, and soil resources. Furthermore, the plan highlights the planting of native species of vegetation by the Department of Parks and Recreation, retain greenways, and also to continue to replace urban trees, while also mapping and inventorying them, and require developers to plant trees.

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 University of Wisconsin Eau Claire is a strong advocate of citizen science. Of the various projects they conduct, bird monitoring is done at Beaver Creek Reserve and the Lower Chippewa River. The Citizen Science Center believes that together if people are more invested, they are more likely to look at the way they do things and think in broader terms about our environment.  

Eau Claire is also doing its part in supporting the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas. One of the surveyed priority blocks – which includes both Carson and Phoenix parks – produced confirmation of a breeding Northern Mockingbird and Merlin in 2015.  In 2019, year 5 of the breeding bird atlas continued in Eau Claire.  Scientists are currently tabulating the final data. 

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

As part of our Capital Improvement Projects, in 2019 we planted hundreds of trees under the Boulevard Tree Program. 

E. Describe your community’s ordinance demonstrating that your community does not restrict natural/native landscaping that emphasizes native plants and non-turf lawns.

Beyond the Comprehensive Plan, the City of Eau Claire has ordinances in place that do not restrict “wild” or natural lawns and also aids the community with invasive species removal information. (City Ordinance, Chapter 8.28)

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.

On the city’s webpage residents can find volunteer opportunities to keep the city parks and trails clean and keep invasive species from spreading. In addition, we have very active neighborhood associations that volunteer to remove 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 City of Eau Claire contains three areas along the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail: Mississippi/Chippewa Rivers Region. The areas included are the Chippewa River State Trail, Beaver Creek Reserve, and the Carson Park, Half Moon Lake, Riverview Park, and Putnam Park area.

I. Document a recent project that created or restored bird habitat in your community. (Exclusions: Bird feeders and small-scale artificial nesting structures)

The Bluebird Trail continues to be monitored at Forest Hill Cemetery.  In addition, a shelter cut timber harvest was done at Blue Valley Landfill.  This reinvigorates bird habitat in the area.   

K. Implement a tree risk policy (see pg. 153) designed to leave dead trees standing as nesting and foraging resources for birds when it is safe to do so.

Two forestry division staff carry TRAQ Certification.  Certification qualifies arborists to evaluate tree health and its relation to healthy habitat.

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

The City of Eau Claire planted two acres of native trees and shrubs at Jeffers Road Community Park. This planting helped with windbreak for the area and also established nesting habitat for birds.

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

Buckthorn, Honeysuckle, and Black Locust removal in 2019 exceeded 15 acres.  Work was done in collaboration with citizens and Xcel Energy at Boyd Park.  In addition, volunteers removed these invasive species at our Northwest Community Park.  Our City Arborists continued to remove invasive species along the Chippewa River Corridor.   

Q. Document the establishment of a program to promote the conservation of Purple Martins through research, state of the art management techniques, or public education.

MartinMart, initiated by Gaylord Nelson Audubon, is the first program of its kind in the nation. Its goal is to catalog every Purple Martin colony in the 13 county Gaylord Nelson Audubon chapter, which includes Eau Claire. While no colonies have yet been found in the City of Eau Claire, the first Purple Martin colony in Eau Claire County was cataloged in 2017 and is ongoing.  In 2019, a single nesting colony continued in Eau Claire County and local residents have inquired about erecting Martin houses.

R. Show how your community aids a local youth group (e.g., Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of USA, 4-H Club, etc.) or conservation group in bird conservation projects (e.g., bluebird trail, habitat restoration, Wood Duck nest boxes, etc.).

An Eagle Scout project:  Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program, was done with the City of Eau Claire Parks Division.  Monofilament fishing line not properly discarded causes devastating problems for wildlife and the environment.  Recylcling stations were inserted at boat landings in public parks in the City of Eau Claire.  This program will protects wildlife, including fish eating birds like Loons.

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.)

Clark Bird Museum at the UW Eau Claire campus has a self-guided tour that emphasizes conservation content.

U. Show that your community maximizes the value of right-of-way space (e.g., power lines, pipelines, etc.) by planting them with native grasses, shrubs, herbs, and other prairie/grassland plants.

Xcel Energy, our energy company, has established a guideline to plant and promote native, low growth plant communities in their utility corridors.  

Community Forest Management

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

Eau Claire continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1976.

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.

With the onset of the Emerald Ash Borer infestation, many ash trees have been removed from the boulevards.  As we are replanting, the City has established guidelines to diversify the tree canopy and this includes an emphasis on native varieties like Basswood, Common Hackberry, and American Elm.

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 Eau Claire has a page on its website dedicated to Bird City that includes multiple links reducing bird mortality due to outdoor cats. 

B. Demonstrate that your community provides property owners with information on how to protect birds from window strikes (e.g., online links, brochures).

The City of Eau Claire has a page on its website dedicated to Bird City that includes multiple links reducing bird mortality due to outdoor cats and window strikes.

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

The City of Eau Claire has a page on its website within the Parks/Forestry/Recreation Division specifically titled Integrated Pest Management Plan.  Our City follows the recommendations issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency on Integrated Pest Management Principles.

D. Document that a municipal or major public building has been awarded LEED certification as a bird-friendly building (LEED SSpc 55).

Chippewa Valley Technical College's Energy Education Center is Eau Claire's first LEED Gold Certified Building with many renewable and sustainable features to include SSc5.1, Site development - protect or restore habitat.

F. Demonstrate that your community enforces an ordinance that requires domestic cats to be kept indoors, on a leash, or in an enclosure to prevent them from preying on birds and other wildlife and spreading disease.

Ordinance 6.08.010 is a City of Eau Claire ordinance that states, "A.  No dogs, cats or other domestic animals shall negligently or otherwise, be permitted to run at large within the city limits...  B.  All dogs, cats or other domestic animals shall be kept on a leash no longer than eight feet at all times when off the premises of their owners."  Ordinance 6.08.070 states, "Any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall forfeit not less than ten dollars and not more than one hundred dollars for each offense and, in default of payment thereof, shall be committed to the county jail of Eau Claire County." 

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 Eau Claire has a page on its website dedicated to Bird City that includes a link for creating urban bird habitat.

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).

Beaver Creek Reserve, "For more than 20 years the BCR Bird Bander’s have been collecting important data on local bird populations including winter residents and neotropical migrants. Data including age, sex, species and migration data is sent to the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory. The combined data helps researches and conservationists get a clearer view of bird populations, life spans, migratory patterns and more." 

 

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

The Gaylord Nelson Audubon held the Chippewa Valley Nature Festival in June, 2019.

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

The Gaylord Nelson Audubon Society is involved in school and other community programs in the City of Eau Claire, offering presentations to students and other community groups (Senior Learning, Memory Care, etc). These education and outreach efforts focus heavily on bird conservation are critical to the Gaylord Nelson Audubon Society.

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).

Since 2012, "Partnerships for Pollinators is a partnership of community members, local organizations, and UW-Eau Claire students and faculty dedicated to educating the public on the importance of pollinators in our ecosystems. Through outreach education, we aim to promote pollinators as vital contributors to the ecosystem and to show that without them, our environment, our economy, our very livelihoods would suffer greatly. Our partnerships also seek to encourage local projects, such as pollinator habit gardens, that not only educate but also directly benefit pollinators."

I. Show that your municipality promotes and supports a bird club or other environmentally/ecologically-minded club. (Exclusions: Garden clubs, unless you demonstrate a strong focus on native plants)

The City of Eau Claire works actively with Gaylord Nelson Audubon Society to implement bird policy in conjunction with Bird City Wisconsin guidelines.

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).

Forest Street Gardens displays interpretive signage recognizing the benefits of native habitats.

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.

Beaver Creek Bird Club sponsors bird hikes in the City of Eau Claire at sites such as Carson Park, Rod and Gun Park, and Putnam Park.

M. Show that your community participates in the Natural Resources Foundation’s Great Wisconsin Birdathon to raise money for your community and for statewide conservation.

Local residents participated as part of a Great Wisconsin Birdathon team that raised funds for the Natural Resources Foundation.

Energy & Sustainability

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

Amuresco Company audited all the City of Eau Claire municipal buildings for energy conservation.  The City is in the process of implementing their recommendations.

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.

The City of Eau Claire has the second largest bike/pedestrain trail system in the State of Wisconsin (34 miles). An estimated 150,000 users annually.  In addition, the city encourages bike use with the addition of bike corrals (designated parking).  The bike/pedestrian plan has been enacted by the BPAC (commission). 

C. Document that a municipal building is LEED certified (silver or higher).

Although our buildings do not carry the certification due to the cost to certify, every effort is made during new construction and remodel to meet all the LEED Certification criteria.  And, according to the City of Eau Claire Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Policy, under the best practices section, "City of Eau Claire departments shall evaluate, where applicable, the following envrionmentally preferable product categories and purchase them whenever practical.  #13.  LEED Certifiable Construction." 

 

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

The City of Eau Claire has been an invited member since 2012.

https://greentiercommunities.org/eau-claire/

https://greentiercommunities.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/CityofEauClaireGTLC2017.pdf

E. Show that your community has implemented a sustainability plan that improves your community’s energy efficiency and/or increases the use of renewable energy. (Exclusions: Smart Growth comprehensive plans)

The City of Eau Claire's comprehensive plan includes a chapter dedicated to sustainability. http://www.ci.eau-claire.wi.us/home/showdocument?id=10541

 

F. Demonstrate that your community participates in a community solar program or that a municipal building receives a significant percentage of its electricity from renewable energy.

The City of Eau Claire municipal pool, Fairfax Pool, subscribes to 116kW solar electric power to offest 100% electric load from Xcel Energ's community garden solar garden progrm. 

We also produce biogas at our Waste Water Treatment Plant.  It is about 20% of total renewable energy for all our energy use. 

Excel Energy, "Solar*Connect Community® makes it easier than ever to power your home, apartment, condo or business with Wisconsin-based solar energy. Subscribers share in the benefits of the local community solar gardens in the 3-MW Solar Connect Community program. The Eau Claire garden has been generating clean, renewable energy since October 2017."  This program is already full and has a waiting list.

Also, Xcel energy offers a Renewable Connect program, "Renewable Connect provides an affordable way for you to benefit from renewable energy. The program is designed to offer flexible terms and subscription levels, easy enrollment, and no equipment to install.  The resource blend contains roughly 80% wind and 20% solar."

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 2019, Eau Claire held Welcome Back Bird Day on May 16th.

Joined Bird City: 2013

Population: 65,883

Incorporated: 1872

Area: 34.14 mi2

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