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.  The City's Community Development Department has begun the process of updating this plan in 2019.  

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)

Volunteers counted the different species that were observed in four Fond du Lac locations at the 2018 Migratory Bird Day.  Twenty-four species were observed at Lakeside Park, 35 were seen near a business park pond, 45 were tabulated in the Greenway Arboretum, and 50 were seen at a site new to the group--a preserve on the Niagara escarpment.  

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, which includes multiple walking trails and landscaped areas.  Much of this work is in the City's 2019 budget, and we are applying for a DNR grant to complete the entire project.

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.  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 DeNeveu 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, was developed in 2018, and based on feedback from the neighborhood, remained rustic.  In early 2019, an edible forest will be planted and walking trails constructed.

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

In 2018, over 200 trees were planted in Fond du Lac in partnership with two Rotary clubs, UW-Fond du Lac, Marian University, the Gottfried Arboretum, Youth for Christ, Boy Scouts, and Boys & Girls Club.  The partnership benefited from a DNR urban forestry grant, and the Rotary Clubs' efforts in this District earned it a Project Partnership award from the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council.  Demonstrating that this was not a one-time effort, in 2019 Noon Rotary is also sponsoring the planting of another dozen trees on a state highway boulevard that lost ash trees to Emerald Ash Borer.  

Complementing the Rotary program, Fond du Lac's Living Well Coalition continues to promote food forests in the community.  Fruit trees in Hamilton Park, Franklin Park, and the local YMCA were planted in 2018, and team members spoke at a nutrition symposium at Marian University.  

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 wayfinding signage and/or landscaped areas will begin.

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.

The City remains commited to a future marshwalk in Supple Marsh, part of Lakeside Park West.  Last year's WMBD celebration included a summary of AIS burning in Horicon Marsh, and a similar approach may be appropriate in Supple Marsh in the future.  Two improvements of Lakeside Park West--a newly renovated restroom and a rustic kayak launch--were completed in 2018, and a fabricated kayak launch will be installed early in 2019.  Finally, a Leadership Fond du Lac team will be developing and promoting Lakeside Park West as a snowshoe destination, making more people more aware of these future marshwalk sites.  

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!

 Neighbors have worked with the City to create beautiful gardens along walking trails near Ledgeview Pond.  In 2018, they posted Bird City Wisconsin certificates and language reminding dog-walkers to leash their dogs to avoid disrupting birds enjoying the habitat.  

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

Plans are on track to establish a two-acre oak savannah on a former disposal site at the Greenway Arboretum.  The total site 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!  

M. Demonstrate that your community offers a program for private property owners who are interested in dealing with invasive plants that have significant negative impacts on bird habitat.

The DNR received over $100,000 in grant funds to treat phragmites in Supple Marsh and other sites in the region in 2018 (including private property), and will continue that program in 2019. 

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

Local advocates continue to clear buckthorn and other invasive species from area parks and trails, especially the Greenway Arboretum, Peebles nature trail, and Lallier Park. 

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 plant and care for new trees along a bike trail and in nearby city parks. 

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 2018, a scavenger hunt was again 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. 

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.

Unfortunately, the American Transmission Company is required by federal law to remove trees under high-voltage lines in Lakeside Park.  On the positive side, these trees are being replaced with low-growing landscaped areas, including many native plants.  The Park will focus even more on planting native species as more of this space becomes available.  

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.

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.

Planting native trees in its terraces is a win-win decision for Fond du Lac.  Native trees are already suited for the Wisconsin climate (although not necessarily for growing alongside a street), and increasing diversity makes the urban forest more resilient against future pests or diseases, similar to loss of so much tree canopy due to the Emerald Ash Borer.  In 2018, 64% of the terrace trees planted by the City were native.  

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.  Jordan is the current chair of the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council, and in 2018 was appointed as the urban representative on the Wisconsin Council on Forestry, both of which monitor the activities of CTMI.  

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 (, which periodically features information on protecting pets and people from neighbors' lawn chemicals, Christmas bird counts and backyard bird counts. 

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

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.  Adding this area to the WMBD celebration for 2018, Kay's Ledge provided views of the most species of birds--50--of the four sites selected.  

For the second year in a row, John McDowell led a bike tour along the Fond du Lac Loop in 2018 during WMBD, pointing out the beauty of nature, observing many areas of bird habitat, and biking past some feathered friends!

Area artists and other downtown business owners proudly hung Bird City symbols in store windows and provided bird habitat education during WMBD.  

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.

L. Show that your community works with traditionally underserved communities to increase their access to natural areas, environmental education, birding resources, and local environmental experts.

The Hamilton area in Fond du Lac contains a high percentage of low-income housing, and has experienced significant problems with vandalism in the past.  A neighborhood organization meets with Community Development and the Police Department regularly to improve conditions.  Hamilton Park is one of the areas where fruit trees were planted in 2018 to provide fresh fruit for park-goers and to improve the beauty and appeal of the neighborhood.  

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 the City Garage, in the City's three fire station bays, at the wastewater plant's exterior, Senior Center, and in various police department locations.  Energy efficienty fluorescent lights have been installed in the Municipal Service Center office areas, and are planned for the Park shop.  Significant energy has been saved in Fond du Lac's water plants by installing variable frequency drives.  A state-of-the-art boiler has been installed at the Senior Center.  In 2018, the Fire Dept. installed new energy-efficient HVAC equipment.  Bluestem Energy Solutions has begun an audit of City facility energy usage, hoping to identify buildings with sufficient energy demand and roof or green space that can support solar panels.  

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.  A five-year update of that plan was approved by the City Council in 2018, with completed projects recognized and new projects identified.  This update included a Complete Streets Policy, unanimously approved by the City Council.  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.  The first leg of a three-year project was completed in 2018, as a Fond du Lac Ave. reconstruction project included a multi-use trail, which will eventually connect the Fairgrounds and several residential areas with Theisen Middle School. 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.   A bike-share program continues to be explored by Community Development, with possible implementation in 2019.  

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 Fond du Lac's Wastewater Treatment & Resource Recovery Facility (WTRRF).  The methane and other gases that are generated by its wastewater treatment processes are cleaned and converted to electricity, providing approximately 40% of the plant's electrical needs.  Staff have improved their ability to accept high-strength waste from area industries, providing a less expensive way to get rid of this unique waste and leading to high bio-gas generation for the plant's 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 2018, around 50 individuals participated in one or more bird walks for WMBD.  In addition, downtown art galleries and other businesses focused on bird art and products, displayed Bird City information, and discussed this passion with customers.  John McDowell led a group of a half dozen bicyclists to several birding sites along the Fond du Lac Loop. Wood carvers performed demonstrations at a local hardware store and art gallery.  And around 30 people met at the Library to listen to a DNR biologist discuss how native habitat was restored at Horicon Marsh by burning invasive cattails. 

Other than the plan for speakers, these elements of Fond du Lac's WMBD celebration will occur again the weekend of May 3 - 5.  The timing of the bird walks may be altered to provide a different perspective than last year.  Organizers hope to have three different talks at the Library in the weeks leading up to the big event, with one possible topic being edible forests.  The local performance center may hold a class on folding origami birds. 

Joined Bird City: 2012

Population: 43,021

Incorporated: 1852

Area: 20.11 mi2

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