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 six walks, 2011-2016. Three new species were seen in 2016, the American Kestrel, dark-eyed junco, and yellow-bellied sapsucker.
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 SOLE (Save Our Lake Environment), 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 2013, Eagle Scout Dan Johnson built and installed wood and Plexiglas educational signage kiosks along the Forest Trail. 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 on Facebook. The business owner also makes presentations to local community organizations and exhibits at the annual Earth Day Energy Fair.
The Scouts have been undertaking removal of invasive species at the Grove Community School Forest. A display and hands-on activity on invasive plants and animals was a part of the Energy Fair.
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. Work continued in 2016. There were further prairie seedings and volunteers 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 hundreds of native trees that are distributed for free at Evansville’s Energy Fair. The City uses these trees to enhance City parks, such as a 2016 project that added tree canopy at Westside Park.
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 the School Forest Trail, most likely atop one of the school buildings. The towers will augment the educational resources of the School Forest.
A Chimney Swift tower has been displayed at the Energy Fair. Instructions for construction of a Chimney Swift tower were made available to fair attendees and an informative poster about Chimney Swifts was also part of the Evansville Bird City exhibit.
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.
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.
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 David Huset has monitored and maintained the 14 nesting boxes since they were installed.
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 2016, 597 pounds of medication were collected.
The City provides information about Emerald Ash Borer at the Bird City table at the Earth Day Energy Fair.
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. 120 Evansville kindergarten students “planted” prairie seeds by tossing mud balls imbedded with seeds that they had made. The seeds will enhance the prairie plot of the Grove Community School Forest to provide habitat and food for area birds.
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 at the Energy Fair.
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 Earth Day Energy Fair.
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. At the Bird City Energy Fair exhibit, copies of three American Bird Conservancy brochures were available to attendees: two regarding cats and one on bird collisions. Posters on both topics were displayed and a Bird City Committee member manning the exhibit to talked with attendees. Following the Fair, a display with this and other information was placed in a prominent location in the local library. Children were able to make window silhouettes as an interactive program during the Energy Fair and during the International Migratory Bird Day celebration.
The 14th Annual Evansville Earth Day Energy Fair was held on April 22nd, 2016. This is Evansville's largest annual community-wide event other than the 4th of July celebration. An estimated 2000 people attended the fair in 2016. The fair offers hands-on activities for students.
The Bird City Committee was an exhibitor at the Fair. The Committee displayed information 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.
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.
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 David Huset 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. 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-5. The students enjoy hands-on science and nature activities, including birding.
We continue to use the Evansville Earth Day Energy Fair to provide bird and habitat information.
Activity at the Grove Community School Forest is ongoing. Additional native prairie plants and shrubs were planted in 2016. Bluebird houses previously installed along the School Forest Trail are monitored by school students and results are reported to the Bluebird Association.
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.
The School District is also a lead sponsor of their community's Earth Day Energy Fair and provides the majority of Fair volunteers. Bird City Wisconsin exhibited at the 2013 Energy Fair, promoting the statewide initiative to attendees. The Evansville Bird City Committee is an exhibitor at the Energy Fair.
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.
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.