Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Fond du Lac

City of Fond du Lac

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 Fond du Lac has demonstrated that it has continued to comply with the state of Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” law for land use and planning and resource management. Its “Comprehensive Plan 2010-2030” was adopted on 10/14/09.

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)

City Ordinance 488-5(N) specifies that interfering with animals and birds is not allowed in City Parks. All vehicle access is limited as well, further protecting the wildlife.

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

MCDERMOTT PARK is bordered on the west by McDermott Creek. Deciduous trees that surround the homes of the abutting streets provide a corridor for passerines to migrate north as they follow the contour of Lake Winnebago. Evergreens planted near the bank of the creek provide habitat for many birds, which were observed in private yards along the creek. In 2017, the City Council endorsed a master plan that was commissioned by the Friends of McDermott Park, whcih includes multiple walking trails and landscaped areas.  While much of this work is in the City's budget for 2020, we plan to apply for a DNR grant to get the work done sooner. 

LAKESIDE PARK provides a large expanse of shoreline on the southern end of Lake Winnebago. In the winter months the wastewater treatment outfall provides excellent birding and is a favorite of local birders. Bald Eagles sit on the ice and in the trees surrounding the lake shore.  These eagles' visits were highlighted on our new Bird City Facebook page over the 2017 Christmas season. The City Council continues to support Parkwatch's goal of not constructing a large new structure in the park unless it is placed on the footprint of a current facility. 

BROOKSIDE PARK—with DeNevue Creek as its focal point—is another corridor for spring passerines moving north through the Fond du Lac area. This park is bordered by the creek and the backyards of bird watchers who feed the birds year-round. Warblers are commonly sighted on their way north.

The West Branch of the Fond du Lac River does not currently pass park land, but is bordered for a mile on the City’s west side—along both banks—by city land saved as open space and flood plain mitigation. This area is known by local birders looking for migrating passerines, particularly where Hickory Street crosses the river. Hundreds of Mallard Ducks have been found wintering in the small tributaries that feed this stretch of the river. In the summer Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons stand along its banks hunting for crayfish, frogs and minnows in the shallow waters. Belted Kingfishers patrol the area and find nesting areas in the protected habitat.

 A new City park, Maggie Park, is planned to be developed in 2018, and based on feedback from the neighborhood, will remain rustic and boast walking trails along a meandering creek. 

A third new park, Cardinal Park, is planned to be developed in 2020 to remain largely natural, accessed by new walking trails.

City crews worked with the two Rotary clubs in Fond du Lac to meet their goal of planting a new tree for every Rotarian by Earth Day 2018.  This diverse group of partners--including UW-FdL, Marian University, and the Gottfried Arboretum, were awarded an Urban Forestry Grant, which will be used to plant 175 new trees in city terraces, parks and private property. 

Along with the Rotary program, Fond du Lac's Living Well Coalition is promoted food forests in the community, and will see fruit trees and other edible plants placed in Hamilton Park and Franklin Park in 2018. 

A local manufacturer commissioned a master landscape plan for the Fond du Lac Bike Loop.  This 16-mile system of trails will boast more trees and landscaped areas in the future as the plan is implemented.  City funding for projects begins in 2019.

When several mature trees in downtown planters were found to be at the end of their expected life, City crews planted new trees of appropriate species in those sites. 

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.

Local advocates have been clearing buckthorn and other invasive species from area parks and trails, including the Greenway Arboretum where most major areas have been cleared.  This is having an impact on wildlife, as instead of very dense woodland coverage by invasive species, the area is being opened up considerably and native plants are appearing where they could not grow before. Parkwatch also removed cattails from the Greenway in hopes that spring waters will drown their reoccurence so the water is more open to ducks and other waterfowl. 

In October and November, 2017, the Audubon Society scheduled five days for volunteers to remove buckthorn along the Peebles Trail, in Lallier Park, and in Hobbs Woods. 

As the community continues to follow up on recommendations from the 2015 Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee, we remain commited to a future marshwalk in Supple Marsh, part of Lakeside Park West.  We have reached out to the DNR about possible grant funding for water quality and removing aquatic invasive species (AIS) in the Marsh.  We have also met with Chris Acy, the AIS coordinator for the Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance, who provided background on removal of these invasive plants and animals.  The DNR office that oversees the Horicon Marsh has also provided guidance on AIS removal, and plans to speak at an event in Fond du Lac for IMBD week 2018.  We are also looking to add two kayak launches near the Marsh to increase our ability to enjoy the waterfowl there. Finally, the restrooms in Lakeside Park West will be renovated and made ADA-compliant in 2018 to allow more people to enjoy this beautiful nature area.

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

Colwert-Edward Park, newly developed in 2016, has nature trails winding through it and new trees planted to buffer it from neighboring homes.

Parkwatch established a prairie planting area along DeNeveu Creek in the City's Lallier Park a few years ago.  The planting is mature prairie now and attracts more birds than the bluegrass that was there before.  The Goldfinches love the thistles!

Plans are on track to establish an oak savannah on a former disposal site at the Greenway Arboretum, which consists of 24 acres of natural habitat along the East Branch of the Fond du Lac River. Efforts to establish prairie grasses in the area have been successful, and Monarch Butterflies have enjoyed our efforts so far!  This past year we spotted at least two woodcocks for about a week, and a great blue heron was spotted fishing in the river along one of the trails. 

Nanny berries, red osier dogwood and cadar have been planted in Fond du Lac County's Roosevelt Park. 

Four cedars have been planted in the Greenway, with more planned for 2018. 

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.).

The Rotary clubs have worked with the Boys & Girls Club, Youth for Christ, and Boy Scouts of America to arrange for new trees along a bike trail and in nearby city parks to be watered and cared for. 

Each year's Arbor Day celebration plants a tree in Lakeside Park, and involves a local elementary school class.  Each student receives educational material, helps plant the tree, and takes home a seedling for their own yard. 

Waste Management's Conservation Station was held at Fond du Lac's Walleye Weekend, a summer event that brings tens of thousands of visitors each year.  In 2017, a scavenger hunt was enjoyed by dozens of children who visited stations and answered questions about backyard beehives, urban chickens, water quality, flower gardens, and the many benefits of trees. 

Community Forest Management

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

The City of Fond du Lac continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1988.

E. Show that your forester, a member of your tree board, or another person currently responsible for managing your community’s trees has completed the Wisconsin DNR’s Wisconsin Tree Management Institute.

Both John Redmond (Parks Superintendent, CTMI class of 2016) and Jordan Skiff (Director of Public Works, CTMI class of 2010) have graduated from CTMI, and both attended the "alumni" program in 2017.  In addition, Jordan has been an instructor at the three CTMI rotations held since he attended. 

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 has an ordinance (216-16, 216-17, and 216-18) prohibiting dogs and cats running at large, and requiring their owners to restrain them. Their local chapter of the Audubon Society has been distributing a pamphlet entitled “Cats, Birds and You” at their public meetings and multiple community events where they set up their booth. The Humane Society distributes a locally-produced brochure to all cat owners (based on information from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) that encourages them to keep their cats indoors.

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.

Fond du Lac Audubon offers a newsletter five times a year (, the most recent of which features information on protecting your pets and yourself from neighbors' lawn chemicals,  on Christmas bird counts and backyard bird counts. 

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

In 2017, the Audubon Society put together a Bird Migration Game for an activity at Prairie Fest, hosted by the Gottfried Prairie Arboretum.  This educational game was for fourth graders through adults,  Participants picked one of the bird species and put on a set of wings (handmade and painted) and a sports pinnie that matched the breast of a bird.  They mapped out their route on a larger map, then rolled a large foam die and flew from stations to station, flapping their wings and encountering food, hazards, and sometimes tailwinds.  While the hope was to make it to their migration destination, sometimes they died and didn't make it.  The participants all received a prize at the end.  We are looking to introduce a similar game at our IMBD celebration.

Representatives from the Audubon Society have toured a segment of the Niagara Escarpment (or "Ledge") with several Marian University biology professors.  This area, dubbed "Kay's Ledge," is a part of the Glacial Lakes Conservancy.  They have preserved a beautiful segment of the ledge.  There are uplands (ledge rock face) and lowlands on the property, including a high quality stream and wonderful habitat.  It would likely providing amazing birding in early May, so we are looking to add it to IMBD 2018. 

Upcoming Audubon Society events include talks on Wisconsin Winter Birds, and Managing Wildlife Damage in Your Backyard.

John McDowell led a bike tour along the Fond du Lac Loop in 2017 during IMBD, pointing out the beauty of nature, observing many areas of bird habitat, and biking past some of our feathered friends!

Area artists and other downtown business owners proudly hung Bird City symbols in their windows and provided bird habitat eduction during IMBD.  Parkwatch advocate Laura DeGolier notes, "From [artist organizer] Julie [Balsom's] reaction and some of the other shops, they liked it!" 

Energy & Sustainability

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

Alliant Energy completed an energy audit of all city-owned occupied buildings in 2012, and several projects have been researched more fully and implemented since then.  LED lights have been installed in our City Garage, in our three fire station bays, outside our wastewater plant, and in various police department locations.  Energy efficienty fluorescent lights have been installed in our Municipal Service Center office areas.  Significant energy has been saved in our water plants by installing variable frequency drives.  A state-of-the-art boiler has been installed at our Senior Center.  In 2018, we plan to convert lighting at the Senior Center to LEDs, and the Fire Dept. is planning to install new energy-efficient HVAC equipment. 

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 completed a bike/pedestrian plan in 2013, and has implemented projects to live out this plan every year since.  Key segments of a 16-mile bike Loop have been completed, including new trails in Lakeside Park, along Pioneer Rd., and in the Camelot business park.  Wayfinding signage has been installed, improved ramps have been poured, and a critical street crossing now has a rapid rectangular flashing beacon (RRFB) to help bicyclists and pedestrians cross safely.  The County included bike lanes in resurfacing a bridge over I-41 and on a long segment of Pioneer Rd. that serves a middle school.  Leadership Fond du Lac teams have sponsored mileage signs for the trail, and a local Boy Scout planted trees alongside it as an Eagle Scout project.  More work is planned for 2018 and beyond, including providing a multi-use trail along Fond du Lac Ave. and Hwy V., as well as the busy intersection of Hwy 23 and Pioneer Rd. and in McDermott Park.  The Friends of the Fond du Lac Loop have been instrumental in offering feedback about needed projects, presenting information and advocacy to service organizations, and being champions for bike/ped efforts in the community. 

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.

In 2013, a bio-gas engine was installed at our Wastewater Treatment & Resource Recovery Facility (WTRRF).  The methane and other gases that are generated by our wastewater treatment processes are cleaned and converted to electricity, providing approximately half of our electrical needs.  We have improved our ability to accept high-strength waste from area industries, providing them a less expensive way to get rid of this unique waste and leading to high bio-gas generation for our needs. 

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 2017, two dozen individuals participated in one or more of our three bird walks for IMBD.  In addition, downtown art galleries and other businesses focused on bird art and products, displayed Bird City information, and discussed this passion with customers.  Finally, John McDowell led a group of bicyclists to several birding sites along the Fond du Lac Loop. 

In addition to many of these same activities--birding walks in Lakeside Park, the Camelot Business Park, and the Greenway Arboretum, and Bird City displays and products with our downtown partners--we are hosting a DNR speaker to share "lessons learned" from addressing aquatic invasive species in the Horicon Marsh, in hopes of curtailing this problem in our own Supple Marsh.  Finally, we hope to tour "Kay's Ledge," a segment of the Niagara Escarpment just north of Fond du Lac, an areas with uplands and lowlands which include a high-quality stream and wonderful habitat. 

Joined Bird City: 2012

Population: 43,021

Incorporated: 1852

Area: 20.11 mi2

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