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 Division of Parks, 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.  

 

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

As part of our Capital Improvement Projects, in 2020 we planted hundreds of trees under the Boulevard Tree Program. 

At Wold Court Greenspace, continued prairie development and planted bird friendly plants, shrubs, and trees.

First Avenue Greenspace design and installation of bird friendly plants, shrubs, and trees.

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 (pg 23), and the Carson Park, Half Moon Lake, Riverview Park (pg 24), and Putnam Park (pg 25) area.

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 City of Eau Claire Parks Division is in the process of creating a Master Plan for Carson Park. Gaylord Nelson Audubon Chapter has been and is, actively participating in the Carson Park Master Plan stakeholder and community meetings.  

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 in 2019 and 2020. This reinvigorates bird habitat in the area. The First Avenue and Wold Court Greenspaces were developed and will also help restore bird habitat.  

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 ISA TRAQ Certification.  This certification qualifies arborists to evaluate tree health and the relation to healthy habitat.

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

A shelter cut timber harvest was done at the Blue Valley Landfill in 2019 and 2020.

In development of a dog park and boat launch area near Ferry Street, approximately 15 acres of land was restored by removing invasive species.

At Carson Park, along Half Moon Lake, we planted approximately an acre of prairie grass. 

 

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

Invasive species were removed along the Chippewa River corridor along First Avenue and Ferry Street.

Working with volunteer groups from the community, invasive species were removed from several of our parks to include Carson Park, Pinehurst Park, Northwest Park, Boyd Park, Mt Simon Park, and along City walking trails.  

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 2020, there were no successful nesting colonies 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 the UW Eau Claire campus has a self-guided tour that emphasizes conservation content.

The trail through Putnam Park is a maintained birding hot spot.

The trail through Carson Park is also a maintained birding hot spot.

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 agressively 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. 

The Nextdoor Neighborhood Discussion groups in the City of Eau Claire have been actively discussing and educating citizens regarding the issues associated with allowing cats outdoors.

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.

GNAS has been actively working with the Eau Claire City Council to implement a citywide bird friendly building design initiative.

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.

Despite COVID 19, Welcome Back Bird Day, sponsored by the the Gaylord Nelson Audubon, took place on Wednesday, May 20th from 7am-7pm.

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

The Gaylord Nelson Audubon Society (GNAS) conducted virtual outreach efforts with local garden clubs that focused heavily on bird conservation critical to the GNAS.

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."

G. Provide a link to your community’s Bird City Wisconsin webpage, which must be visible from the main page of your municipal website (it may be located at the first level of a drop down menu on the main page but cannot be any less visible) OR demonstrate that your Bird City effort has a significant social media presence.

At www.eauclairewi.gov, if you hover over the "Recreation" tab on the main page of the City of Eau Claire municipal site, the Bird City Wisconsin link is shown in the second column under the Parks, Forestry, and Cemeter Division heading.

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 Pavilion and Gardens display 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 sponsored limited bird hikes due to COVID 19 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, in a COVID 19 socially distanced way, 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.

Ameresco Company audited all the City of Eau Claire municipal buildings for energy conservation.  The City is in the process of implementing their recommendations over the next several years.

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://www.eauclairewi.gov/home/showpublisheddocument?id=30799

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.  

The City of Eau Claire also has a Renewable Energy Action Plan, Electric Vehicle Roadmap and Net Zero Energy Guide.   

 

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."

City of Eau Claire Fire Station #8 added 35KW of ground mount solar to power almost all of the building's electric supply. 

H. Describe your community’s efforts to educate residents about climate change.

GNAS actively incorporates discussions regarding climate change in all of it's public programming.

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.

In 2020, Eau Claire held Welcome Back Bird Day on May 20th.

Joined Bird City: 2013

Population: 65,883

Incorporated: 1872

Area: 34.14 mi2

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