Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Evansville

City of Evansville

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.

In November 2015, the City of Evansville Common Council unanimously approved a state-required, ten-year update to the 2005 Smart Growth Comprehensive Plan. Sustainability is incorporated throughout the updated Plan.

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 City of Evansville began holding a Lake Leota bird walk as an International Migratory Bird Day activity in 2011. These walks have occurred each year since as part of the local IMBD celebration. A total of 89 species have been sighted in the seven walks, 2011-2017. Three new species were seen in 2016, the American Kestrel, dark-eyed junco, and yellow-bellied sapsucker. One rare species was seen in 2017, the Caspian Tern (gull).

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 City of Evansville Park & Outdoor Recreation Plan, adopted by the Common Council in 2007, was updated by the City Park and Recreation Board in 2013. In 2012, the National Park Service listed Leonard-Leota Park on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district. Improvements to the aquatic environment at Lake Leota continue, with collaborative effort among Evansville Community School District, Boy Scouts, and the City.

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

The School District has implemented a School Forest Education Plan since 2009. In 2017, Eagle Scout Matt Dudzic did prairie restoration an an information kiosk on school grounds. Bird information has been displayed in the kiosks. Aldo Leopold style benches have been built using recycled wood from old light poles.

The updated Smart Growth Plan identifies new “open space and conservation” property on the west shore of Lake Leota. Bald eagles have built a nest in a cottonwood tree on this property.

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.

A local native landscaping company posts information on invasive species, rain gardens and improved bird habitats on Facebook. The business owner also makes presentations to local community organizations.

The Scouts have been undertaking removal of invasive species at the Grove Community School Forest. 

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

On the south edge of the city between First and Second Streets is Wind Prairie Park. The 5.4 acre parcel was a former city dump. Local organizations restored the area. The Evansville Park and Outdoor Recreation Plan states that:  "Wind Prairie Park is a specialized recreation area consisting of an open space prairie conservation area in the southern part of the city. The area contains a variety of prairie plant species and a few trees that have been planted along the property's boundaries for screening and beautification." The plan also points out that the Park is intended to be a nature preserve. Wind Prairie Park is a local site for the Christmas Bird Count. Eagle Scout Ethan Pierick put up five bluebird houses in Wind Prairie Park. There is a mowed walking path and wood benches that allow for nature study.

In 2016 the prairie was burned and invasive shrubs were removed. A $2,000 purchase of prairie seed from Agrecol was sown in late fall. There were further prairie seedings and volunteers maintained and removed invasives from the area.

O. Document a program to support the establishment of natural lawns and native landscaping, possibly including public presentations of Audubon’s Plants for Birds Initiative (contact them for a presentation kit).

For several years the DNR has provided thousands of native trees that are distributed for free throughout the community. The City uses these trees to enhance City parks, such as a 2016 project that added tree canopy at Westside Park.

P. Demonstrate the implementation of a program to preserve Chimney Swift nesting and roosting sites (preferred) and/or to construct Chimney Swift towers.

There are Chimney Swifts in the Evansville area. They are known to roost in a local church. A member of the Evansville Woodchucks, a woodworking group affiliated with the community and senior center, has constructed two Chimney Swift towers that will be located near a restored praririe. The towers will augment the educational resources of the Nature Center.

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.).

Evansville has a long history of collaborative efforts to accomplish local projects. During the spring of 2012, SOLE, a local group dedicated to improving the lake ecosystem, built an Osprey platform and erected it on property near Lake Leota. SOLE has led the effort to restock fish in Lake Leota. SOLE has also installed Wood Duck boxes at Lake Leota.

In coordination with the Wisconsin Bluebird Association, additional Bluebird nesting boxes have been placed along the Grove Community School Forest Trail and throughout the community.

A number of Eagle Scout projects have been completed that enhance birding or habitat. Installation of Bluebird boxes and construction of educational kiosks and benches at Wind Prairie Park and the School Forest Trail are recent projects. The Boy Scouts were also active volunteers in planting the 2000+ native trees and shrubs along the School Forest Trail. Praire resoration has also occurred along the School Forest Trail.

S. Demonstrate how a public golf course is managed to benefit birds.

A Bluebird trail was established at Evansville Community Golf Course in 2009. Resident Rod Courtier is monitoring and maintaining the 14 nesting boxes.

V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

The Evansville Police Department installed a 24/7 drug drop off box at the police station. They also participate in the National Rx Round Up. Citizens can anonymously drop off unused, unwanted and expired prescription and over-the-counter medications, keeping them from polluting landfills and groundwater and out of the hands of our youth. Nearly one ton of drugs have been collected locally through these programs. In 2017, 526 pounds of medication were collected.

The City provides information about Emerald Ash Borer to volunteers for distribution throughout the community.

Community Forest Management

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

The City of Evansville continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 2001.

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 City has maintained rough habitat at the edge of Lake Leota for fish, insects, and small birds.

Our community continuously uses the Grove Community School Forest to engage our students in improving habitat. Boy Scouts collected prairie seed and planted it at two orairies being restored along the School Forest Trail.  Throughout the year the nature center works with students to plant trees and shrubs to help create bird nesting habitat.

F. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

The city offers an annual terrace tree sale and planting, in conjunction with Arbor Day, to increase size and diversity of city tree canopy. Free trees obtained from the DNR are distributed throughout the community.

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 brochure “Birds, Cats, and You” is available on the Bird City Wisconsin page of the city website.

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

Children made window silhouettes for preventing bird collisions at the Library and Nature Center.

I. Demonstrate that your community has enacted a bird collision monitoring program and has treated problem windows to reduce collisions with municipal and commercial buildings.

Because Bird City Selection reviewers commented that it would like Evansville to do more to address "Cats Indoors!" and window strikes, the local Bird City Committee made an effort to provide education in this area. Copies of three American Bird Conservancy brochures are available to attendees: two regarding cats and one on bird collisions. Posters on both topics are periodically displayed at the public library. Children are able to make window silhouettes as an interactive program at the library after school and during the International Migratory Bird Day celebration.

K. Attach (in the “Application Documents” section in your profile) and describe in your narrative your community’s ordinance that requires new buildings to be built following bird-safe design, construction, and operation guidelines (e.g., Toronto Green Standard, see Ecology: Bird Deterrence; San Francisco).

The Bird City Committee displayed information throughout the year at the library (and throughout the community) on invasive plants and animals, offered brochures and handouts from the American Bird Conservatory, entitled "Cats. Birds, and You," "Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR):  Bad for Birds, Bad for Cats," and "You Can Save Birds from Flying into Windows," to attendees. Loon Watch materials on lead poisoning by lead fishing tackle were also distributed. Outdoor days occur with K-6 students throughout the year to inform on protecting bird habitat and protecting birds from harm.

Public Education

A. Demonstrate that schools in your community participate in a nationally-recognized environmental education program (e.g., Flying WILD, Audubon Adventures) or that your community organizes its own substantial education and outreach program for young people. 

Local residents and teachers have taken Flying WILD training and use the materials to design birding activities for Evansville youth.

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 public library provided a family gardening program with hand-on activities. A local native landscaping company makes presentations on native plantings to organizations such as the Women’s Literary Club.

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).

Evansville has participated in the Christmas Bird Count for decades. Former Evansville resident and University of Wisconsin art professor John Wilde began local participation in the Count in the mid-1960s. Currently, local resident Quentin Yoerger coordinates the Cooksville Bird Count, part of the Christmas Bird Count. The Cooksville Bird Count occurs each year on January 1 and includes Evansville locations such as Lake Leota and Wind Prairie Park.

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

The Evansville community obtained a bird monitoring kit in April, 2013. The kit was introduced at the Bird City table at the Energy Fair. The Youth Center and local scouts often use the birding kit. Outdoor days are now incorporated into the school 4K-6 curriculum. Work stations including bird identification, bird habitat, and monitoring with binoculars are used by 700 students.

Eager Free Public Library has organized the STEAMpunks Club, with students in K-6. The students enjoy hands-on science and nature activities, including birding.

Activity at the Grove Community School Forest is ongoing. Additional native prairie plants and shrubs were planted in 2017. Bluebird houses previously installed along the School Forest Trail are monitored by school students and results are reported to the Bluebird Association. Evansville Park Board member Rod Courtier installed bluebird houses around Evansville.

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.

Environmental education is a priority in Evansville, led by the Evansville Community School District. A prime example is the continuing development and improvement of the Grove Community School Forest Trail, with its incorporation into the school curriculum, its community-wide volunteer base, and recent addition of educational kiosks.

The Evansville Environmental Center is a rich resource for students and the community to support sustainability.

Committee members have written articles about birds and the Bird City program for the local newspaper. The Committee has added birding information to the City website.

The goal of the Evansville Bird City Committee is to promote public awareness of bird conservation throughout the year, making each day Bird Day. With the assistance of dedicated volunteers, school district, public library, scout and 4-H leaders, city and others, programs, presentations, and activities are available to citizens year round.

The Nature Center maintains a Facebook Page.

N. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

The Evansville Environmental Center, the community nature center located at the intermediate school, launched an effort in 2015 to encourage district teachers from 4K through high school to utilize the many Center resources to enhance curriculum. The school district has two environmental coordinators.

Energy & Sustainability

I. Document that your community is part of the Energy Independent Community program.

Evansville's Energy Independence team meets quarterly to discuss ennergy effienency measure in the City.  We are listed as an Energy Independent Community Here: http://energyonwi.uwex.edu/energy-independent-communities

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.

The Lake Leota IMBD Bird Walk, led by several members of the local Audubon chapter, was held on May 6, 2017 from 7:00 – 9:00 am.  The weather was partly cloudy and windy. 41 species were observed.

Joined Bird City: 2011

Population: 5,124

Incorporated: 1896

Area: 3.31 mi2

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