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 updated this plan creating the “2040 Comprehensive Plan”. This plan was adoption by City Council on 1/27/21. Natural resources was again a focus in the updated plan.  More specifically, the Ag, Natural & Cultural Resources chapter acknowledged local efforts in community gardens, community-supported agriculture, native landscaping, and taking a proactive approach to floodplain mitigation.

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 organized activities for the 2022 World Migratory Bird Day on April 27 and May 5 & 6, five events were held, including a late afternoon event near a large pond looking for waterfowl, woodcocks, song birds and bats at dusk. Other walking events will be in the Greenway Arboretum, Lakeside Park, Lakeside Park West (new location), and a bike ride to various birding hotspots.

On a related note, local organizers used Facebook to post web pictures from species that are in the area at the time of the post. The activities and pictures from the Marshland Birding Group are routinely added to the Fond du Lac BCW Facebook site. The four bald eagle nests in Fond du Lac County continue to be observed as active. The Facebook group has also been a source of advice and exchange of ideas between bird watchers.

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.

Plans for several City parks will protect or enhance bird habitat.

The McDermott Park master plan includes walking trails, landscaped areas and gathering spaces in this large City Park.  The park is bordered by DeNeveu Cr., along which evergreen trees and vegetated creek banks provide wildlife habitat.  The City completed, with help from a DNR Stewardship grant, a bike/pedestrian trail through the center of the Park in 2020. Trees and benches were added in 2022. In 2023, the City will be adding landscape areas and gathering places found in the master plan.

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. Lighthouse Drive is being reconstructed in spring 2023 and while removing some existing trees is necessary for the project (due to adding a safer bike and pedestrian trail), the City will replant more trees and shrubbery than what is existing.

Lakeside Park West is a large expanse of parkland almost completely undeveloped, west of the Fond du Lac River. A boardwalk into the marsh and viewing platform was complete in winter 2023. These will be great additions for bird viewing. A bird walk is planned for this park during the 2023 WMBD celebration. A new bike and pedestrian bridge will be built over the Fond du Lac River in 2023 that will connect this park with Lakeside Park. This will create additional access to birding sites in both parks. Landscaping will be added to these two projects if budget allows or in future years.

Cardinal Park had walking trails constructed in 2022 and trees were also planted.

The Living Well Coalition is watching to see how fruit trees and community gardens in Hamilton Park, Franklin Park, and the local YMCA start to produce, not only so these fresh foods can be made available to the community in these "food deserts," but also to be able to tell and show other interested parties what can come from these trees and food plots.

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 leaders periodically recruit other volunteers to learn more about, and to remove, garlic mustard and buckthorn in Lallier Park, Greenway Arboretum, along the Peebles Trail, and by the Ledgeview Pond. 

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

In 2019, the City completed a Public Safety Training Facility for its Police and Fire Departments. The site was an agriculture field prior and the plan included two stormwater ponds and a new prairie over two acres in size. With the initial maintenance periods now complete, the benefits of the prairie should start to show.

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, Lallier Park, and is now looking to Lakeside Park West. 

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.

The American Transmission Company continues to provide tree-planting grants to local communities, as well as direct funding to Fond du Lac specifically to replace trees that were required by federal law to be removed under high-voltage lines in Lakeside Park.  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.

B. Implement a municipal moratorium on the trimming of trees and shrubs and the mowing of ditches, storm water retention basins, and other grasslands from May 15 to July 15 to prevent the destruction of active bird nests. (Exceptions: Invasive species control and public safety)

The City's Public Works Department bought a mini-excavator and brush mower attachment in late 2019 that will allow it to complete needed ditch and pond maintenance more efficiently and effectively. 2020 was the first year we were able to avoid this work during the May 15 to July 15 time period to avoid bird nests. This will also free up the seasonal employees who conduct this work to complete other duties.  

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 is committed to using native species in our plantings. In our parks, we added 40 new trees in 2022, including one in Lakeside Park for our Arbor Day celebration. In additions, we planted 550 terrace trees in 2022. Most of them replaced locations of ash trees but some were added to relatively recent subdivisions (15-20 years old) that did not have any terrace trees. Overall, we used about 70% native species.

Our landscaping project in McDermott Park in 2023 will also include an overwhelmingly % of native species of trees, shrubs, and grasses.

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.

John Redmond, Parks & Forestry Superintendent, graduated from CTMI in 2016, and attended the "alumni" program in 2017.

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. The 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.

C. Show that your municipality practices Integrated Pest Management, using natural pest control and the best available science to minimize pesticide and herbicide use.

City park staff primarily used mechanical means (hand pull/weed eating) along with some organic product and some glyphosate. The City remains committed to using the most responsible, cost-effective and safest products in maintaining its parks.

A local volunteer stepped forward and used his weed trimmer to keep the trails at the Greenway Arboretum trimmed and eliminated the need to use an herbicide.

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 Fond du Lac Audubon Society offers events and provides a variety of educational information.

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).

Laura DeGolier, leader of our local birding group, organized two Swift Night Out events. One was August 19-21 at a manufacturing site and the other was August 26-28 at a local church. The count for the first weekend was about 245 birds!

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

Once again for the 2023 WMBD, John McDowell will lead a bike tour along the Fond du Lac Loop, pointing out the beauty of nature, observing many areas of bird habitat, and biking past some feathered friends!

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)

Parkwatch is a group of volunteers that focuses on park habitat and caretaking, in particular at the Greenway Arboretum, but has interest of all City parks. They remove invasive species and help plant new trees and shrubs for bird habitat. City staff work closely with this group and their activities.

Sustain Fond du Lac is a group of sustainability-minded citizens and included participation by City Council members and City department heads. The group currently is promoting recycling throughout Fond du Lac.

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. A community garden is also now part of the park.

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 efficient fluorescent lights have been installed in the Municipal Service Center office areas, and are being installed at the Park shop as funds allow.  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.  A Bluestem Energy Solutions audit showed four City facilities that may be good candidates for solar panels, which may be pursued once planned roofing projects are completed in the next few years. At the library, solar panels are planned for install in 2023 and a project to replace all interior lighting to LED in 2023 as well.

Alliant Energy has selected Fond du Lac as the Wisconsin community it will partner with to promote sustainable ideas like community solar, smart streetlight poles, solar park benches, and electric vehicle charging stations.

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. Another update to this plan will be complete in 2023.

Recent projects on Military Road have included bike lanes and the final segment is planned for 2024. Once complete, these bike lanes will connect the Brooke Street trail with the Pioneer Road trail and is a connection from our downtown through residential neighborhoods to business and commercial areas.

In 2022, a combination of projects on Pioneer Road and Johnson Street included bike lanes and an off-street trail adding about 2 more miles of facilities.

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. The wastewater plant is in discussion with Alliant Energy about selling the rest of its biogas into the grid.  

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.

The Bird City, Fond du Lac Team and volunteers are planning the following events in 2023: on Tuesday, April 25, Erin Railsback, USF&W, will speak on identifying ducks at the Fond du Lac Library;  At the Camelot Pond on Friday, May 5 at 6:00 pm; on Saturday, May 6 at the Greenway Arboretum at 7:00 am; at Supple’s Marsh at 10:00 am and using the new boardwalk; a bike ride starting at the Gottfried Prairie to birding hotspots at 10:00 am, and in Lakeside Park at 1:00 pm. All of these locations have water – a stormwater pond, the East Branch of the Fond du Lac River, Lake Winnebago, and Taycheedah Creek. Group leaders will discuss the importance of water for our migratory birds.

Supporting events will be held at some of the downtown business: Ubuntu Art Space, Kitz & Pfeil, Gallery Frame Shop.

Joined Bird City: 2012

Population: 43,021

Incorporated: 1852

Area: 20.11 mi2

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