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 2018, year 4 of the breeding bird atlas continued in Eau Claire. 2019 will be the 5th and concluding year of the project.
D. Document that current municipal planning seeks to provide additional bird habitat.
Initial phase of the Cannery District Park was completed in 2018 along the Chippewa River. A walking trail was established. Additional nesting habitat for birds was created in the process.
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.
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 area.
The following web pages provide further information on these wonderful areas:
I. Document a recent project that created or restored bird habitat in your community. (Exclusions: Bird feeders and small-scale artificial nesting structures)
Bluebird Trail established and monitored at Forest Hill Cemetery in 2018.
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 aborist to evaluate tree health and it's relation to healthy habitat.
N. Show that your community works on public lands to control invasive species that have significant negative impacts on bird habitat.
Buckthorn removal in 2018 exceeded 20 acres. In addition, Black Locust was removed along the Eau Claire 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 2018, nesting was confirmed in Eau Claire County and local residents have inquired about erecting Martin houses.
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 UW Eau Claire campus has a guided tour to include 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, the City has established guidelines to diversify the tree canopy and this includes an emphasis on native varieties. For example, 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.
Residents of the City of Eau Claire participate in Swift Night Out each year, in August or September.
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 Audobon held the Chippewa Valley Nature Festival in June, 2018.
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).
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 are very important to the Gaylord Nelson Audubon Society and will continue in 2018.
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.
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.
The City of Eau Claire has the second largest bike/pedestrain trail system in the State of Wisconsin (31 miles). An estimated 150,000 users annually. In addition, the city encourages bike use with the addition of bike corrals (designated parking). There is a bike/pedestrian plan in put in place by the BPAC (commission).
C. Document that a municipal building is LEED certified (silver or higher).
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)