City of Janesville

City of Janesville

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 March 2009, the Janesville City Council approved the City’s comprehensive plan after more than two years of work by city staff, the plan commission, a consulting firm as well as discussion among residents and council members. The Plan provides recommendations in the areas of land use, transportation, economic development, parks and open space, historical and cultural resources, housing, community facilities, agricultural and natural resources, utilities, and intergovernmental cooperation.

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)

Monitoring is conducted at the Cook Memorial Arboretum. Focus species are the Cerulean Warbler, Hooded Warbler and Acadian Flycatcher, all of which are considered to be rare to the area. Tom Klubertanz and Quentin Yoerger are the project coordinators.

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)

Janesville has five regional parks (750 acres) with considerable bird habitat and three community parks (100 acres) with bird-friendly settings.  One recent parkland aquisition in 2021 of formerly agricultural land is being converted to 15 acres of native prairie.

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

The City of Janesville, through the efforts of the Parks Department, provides bird habitat within “natural areas” locally known as the “Green Belt.”  These natural areas stretch 15 miles and essentially circle the City. Many are in the process of being restored to a natural prairie state. There are also 30+ miles of hiking trails and paths within the City, many of which run through or near Green Belt areas. Green Belts provide open space, encourage active and passive recreational opportunities, and preserve some of the native vegetation that once covered these important prairie areas. Green Belts support wildlife, natural prairie growth, trail use, enhance adjacent property values, and overall aesthetics. Future plans include planting additional prairie, prescribed burns, and trail improvements. Brochures are available.

The exposed Rock River edge after the removal of the Monterey dam (July 2018) has been restored with native plants, including a designated wetland area.  The exposed mud flats were attractive to shore birds.  Prairie restoration as of the fall of 2022 was in year two and has progressed nicely.  Waterfowl and other migratory bird species are more regularly observed.

Green-Rock Audubon Society is working with the City of Janesville to restore an area along Spring Brook at Main Street called "The Pond".  Ducks, geese, herons and other birds are present. This year a prairie restoration contractor completed reed canary grass treatment and fall seeding of native prairie seed. As of the fall of 2021 the reed canary has been greatly reduced and native plants are more abundant.

 As a part of the reconstruction of a half-mile section of River Street in the central city, the City has added a diverse group of 70 trees and a rain garden in the area along the street and the river. All plantings provide nesting habitat and nearly half of the trees are a source of bird food.

E. Describe your community’s ordinance demonstrating that your community does not restrict natural/native landscaping that emphasizes native plants and non-turf lawns.

In the spring of 2019 the City revamped City ordinance Article VII. - Noxious Weeds, Gardening, Natural Landscaping and Composting, to allow natural landscaping/gardens in all portions of a residential property except for a 2' boarder/buffer.

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 website's Bird City page includes links to garlic mustard control and SEWISC. 


G. Document that there is a segment of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail or a designated Important Bird Area within or adjacent to your community.

The Robert O. Cook Memorial Arboretum is located in the city of Janesville and is recognized in the Great Wisconsin Nature and Birding Trail guide as an important area. The arboretum is a city park, managed by the local school district and is considered an important area for breeding and migration of forest bird species. Among the 125 species of birds sighted on the property are the Tufted Titmouse, White-eyed Vireo and Blue-winged Warbler.  In an effort to increase plant diversity, intensive prairie restoration was started in the spring of 2020.

The Acadian Flycatcher is a species of interest at the Cook Memorial Arboretum.

Community Forest Management

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

The City of Janesville continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 2004. It is supported by a resident committee – Janesville Urban Forest Alliance (JUFA). "The mission of the Janesville Urban Forest Alliance shall be to promote and enhance the beauty and general welfare of Janesville's urban forest." The current focus is to increase the diversity of trees, moving away from the dominant “maple” culture and replacing the tree canopy following the Ash Borer infestation.

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.

Each year the City plants 50+ trees in the fall as part of the on-going ash replacement program. 

The Monterey dam was removed and as part of that project native species of trees and shrubs were planted along the rivers edge and open park spaces. 

In 2021 the City installed a gravel bed for growing 5'+ tall bare root trees which are planted in the fall.  The initial planting was 50 trees, which was a huge success.  In 2022 the City is purchasing 150 bare root trees and expanding the gravel bed to allow for those additional trees.  The bed is a collaborative effort with JUFA who also uses the gravel bed to store their bare root trees that are later planted throughout the community as part of an urban reforestation effort.

 In 2022 the City expanded the gravel bed and planted over 150 bare root trees, because they are easier to handle we have increased our order to over 200 trees for 2023.

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.

Ethan Lee, Janesville's forester, has a bachelor's degree from UW in Forestry.  He is a member of International Society of Arboriculture certification number - WI - 1082A

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.

 “Cat Indoors” brochures were purchased from the American Bird Conservancy. Over 450 have been distributed throughout the community:  Humane Society,  eight vet clinics, five pet stores, plus the City library and Ned Hollister Bird Club. Sites will be restocked as needed. The City of Janesville has a cat “leash law” that requires any cat to be on a leash when off of the owner’s property. Enforcement of this ordinance is spotty at best.

Public Education

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).

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, events were greatly reduced in 2021

In this area of Rock County, the Ned Hollister Bird Club coordinates the Christmas Bird Count and a May count. Typically 10 Janesville residents participate. Janesville residents also participate in the annual Crane Count. As previously described, the Cook Arboretum monitoring is an on-going project that utilizes local residents for the large group counts.

In May of 2022 a Pellican Party was hosted by the Janesville Bird Club to watch pellicans on the Rock River.  Approximatly 40 people attendend.

2023 Pelican education is planned again to interested public.

Chimmney swift monitoring in various locations such as VFW and Washington Elementary School

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

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, all events in 2020 were cancelled.

Community Programs:

Green Rock Audubon Society (GRAS)  is restoring about 80 acres of native habitat southwest of Janesville. The habitat includes oak woods, wetlands, and open prairie near and along the east branch of Raccoon Creek. The group hosted monthly hikes at their property and has a Bluebird trail.

Friends of Rockport Park and the City of Janesville have hosted an annual owl hike in June for at least ten years. Dave Bendlin, retired science teacher, leads the walk beginning at 9 p.m., calling Barred Owls. At times, the owls come to the trail by the participants. Over 75 adults and children have enjoyed each of these night adventures in recent years.

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.

Cancelled in 2021 due to COVID - Summer School (1-5 grades) at Wilson Elementary School (high free and reduced lunch eligibility) included four sessions: Introduction to the birds around us.  The sixty students learned to identify birds by their call/song and practiced using binoculars. The school is located near the Rock River, and the students were given the opportunity to use their skills outdoors.

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.

Plans to incorporate volunteer groups to hold a recognition event along the Rock River where much of the observance occurs with gowing interest of Pelicans and nesting Eagles in a centralized location of Janesville.

Joined Bird City: 2013

Population: 63,575

Incorporated: 1853

Area: 34.5 mi2

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