Town of Manitowish Waters

Town of Manitowish Waters


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 of 2003, the Town of Manitowish Waters adopted by ordinance the “2022 Comprehensive Plan for the Town of Manitowish Waters, Vilas County, Wis.” The 2022 Comprehensive Plan was prepared by Foth and Van Dyke Consultants, in cooperation with the Town of Manitowish Waters Planning Commission, general public, Vilas County University of Wisconsin-Extension, Land Information and Zoning Departments, the North-Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, and the Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources, Transportation, and Administration. This Plan meets the requirements of the Wisconsin “Smart Growth” Legislation, WI Statue 66.1001 (Appendix A).

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)

Powell Marsh State Wildlife Area: More than 95% of the 4,303-acre Powell Marsh State Wildlife Area lies within the Town of Manitowish Waters. Powell Marsh State Wildlife Area is home to waterfowl, deer, Ruffed Grouse, furbearers, raptors, shorebirds, grassland birds, songbirds and many other types of wildlife. The property is a large peat land complex with a variety of wetland types and plant communities. It was established in 1955 to produce more geese for hunters. Today, it provides significant, local wildlife-based recreation, particularly waterfowl hunting and birding opportunities. Management emphasizes habitat for waterfowl and species that require open wetland and grassland habitat. A combination of prescribed fire, hand cutting, mowing and shearing is used to limit the growth of shrubs and tamarack, while increasing the abundance of grasses and sedges. An 1,800-acre refuge within the marsh is maintained to protect wildlife (including all bird life) from hunting and other disturbances. Entry into this posted area is not allowed from September 1st to December. This refuge lies completely within the Town of Manitowish Waters.

Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest: Approximately 5,700 acres lie within the Town of Manitowish Waters. Protection and management of these lands for wildlife, including many bird species, is a high priority.

North Lakeland Discovery Center: All of the 66 acres of this Private Education Center lies within the Town of Manitowish Waters. The center offers year-round environmental education. Birds and wildlife are protected within the center’s grounds.

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 Town of Manitowish Waters website has an aquatic invasive species link to the North Lakeland Discovery Center Invasive Species web page. The Discovery Center is also located in the Town of Manitowish Waters. At the website, information is given on invasive species identification and what the public can do to stop invasive species from spreading. The Manitowish Waters Chamber of Commerce distributes a multitude of invasive species literature and information.

The Town is also an active participant in the Wisconsin Headwaters Invasive Partnership (WHIP). This is a cooperative program between Oneida and Vilas Counties to combat terrestrial invasive species.

Manitowish Waters’ officials attend WHIP meetings and distribute information on the threats of invasive species.

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.

As cited in the state published guide to the Great Wisconsin Birding & Nature Trail in the Lake Superior Northwood’s Region,  Manitowish Waters has 3 sites listed: The Northern Highland- American Legion State Forest (pg. 65), The North Lakeland Discovery Center (Pg. 66) and Powell Marsh State Wildlife Area (Pg. 66)

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

The Town Aquatic Invasive Species Partnership (TAISP), consisting of the Manitowish Waters Lakes Association (MWLA), the North Lakeland Discovery Center (NLDC), and the Town of Manitowish Waters (MW) undertook efforts in 2022 to prevent the introduction of and minimize the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in area lakes, rivers, and wetlands. The NLDC coordinated the 2022 Aquatic Invasive Species Program with the staffing of Jamie Van and summer interns with funding provided through WDNR lake management, AIS education, and AIS control grants sponsored by the NLDC and supported by the Towns of MW and Boulder Junction.

The Town is also an active participant in the Wisconsin Headwaters Invasive Partnership (WHIP). This is a cooperative program between Oneida and Vilas Counties to combat terrestrial invasive species.

Manitowish Waters’ officials attend WHIP meetings and distribute information on the threats of invasive species.

P. Demonstrate the implementation of a program to preserve Chimney Swift nesting and roosting sites (preferred) and/or to construct Chimney Swift towers.

The North Lakeland Discovery Center (NLDC) Bird Club constructed a 12’ Chimney Swift Tower at the NLDC in 2014. The Bird Club secured funds for the project and the construction was completed. This was the first tower built in northern Wisconsin and is promoted as a model for others to follow. A permanent sign was placed next to the tower in the fall of 2016 to add to visitor education.

T. Document that your community maintains a birding trail or hot spot location with educational signage and/or literature. (Note: A birding hotspot alone is not sufficient - your community must actively promote birding and public education at the site itself.)

The North Lakeland Discovery Center (NLDC) Bird Club has designed and installed 22 educational bird signs depicting 30 species of birds for the trail system at the Manitowish Waters NLDC. The professionally made, metal signs are in color, and set on 4-foot cedar posts. The signs are distributed strategically throughout the trail system in habitat typically used by the birds depicted. Each sign gives specific information about one to two species. The information includes: key identification characteristics; song and call traits; facts about their life history; and a North American map displaying the bird’s annual distribution with breeding, migration and wintering areas; and GPS quadrants. A leaflet is available at the start of the trail, giving information on the location of the bird signs. The signs are maintained and periodically replaced by the NLDC Bird Club. For more information on the bird signs of the North Lakeland Discovery Center, call 715-543-2085.

Community Forest Management

F. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

The Town of Manitowish Waters has a rich history of significant forest protection and management. Approximately one-quarter of Manitowish Waters is own by the State Department of Natural Resources and managed as the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest (NHALSF). Established in 1925, the NHALSF operates under a master plan approved by the Natural Resources Board in October 2005 with significant public input. In addition, the NHALSF is certified as sustainably managed by both the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (certificate #NSF-SFIS-1Y941-S1) and by the Forest Stewardship Council (certificate # SCS-FM/COC-00070N). Both of these programs promote and assess effective community forest management practices.

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 American Bird Conservancy leaflet “Cats, Birds and You” is distributed at the Manitowish Waters Chamber of Commerce Office and at the North Lakeland Discovery Center Office.

B. Demonstrate that your community provides property owners with information on how to protect birds from window strikes (e.g., online links, brochures).

The American Bird Conservancy leaflet “You Can Save Birds from Flying into Windows!” is distributed at the Manitowish Waters Chamber of Commerce Office and at the North Lakeland Discovery Center Office.

L. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Loonwatch Program: At the Siqurd Olson Environmental Institute, there is a Loonwatch Program that promotes the protections of the common loon, one of the signature birds of the Northwoods of Wisconsin, through monitoring, education, and research. 3 lakes within the Town of Manitowish Waters, Clear, Island, and Dead Pike Lakes have Loonwatch volunteers. Through these volunteers and education programs, loons and their young are protected from boaters and other human activities that may have a negative effect on loon reproduction.

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).

The Manitowish Waters Christmas Bird Count’s circle center is within the Town of Manitowish Waters. John Bates, local naturalist and writer, has been the coordinator since 1993. There are approximately 20 participants each year, and results are published by the local newspaper article and the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. Although it is not located in Manitowish Waters, several NLDC Bird Club members also participate in the Minocqua Christmas Bird Count.

A bird banding station has been established at the North Lakeland Discovery Center. This station provides training opportunities for volunteers interested in bird banding and provides free public demonstration on a monthly basis. This station collaborates with the Northwoods Wildlife Center to study survival of post-rehabilitation of passerines and is working towards becoming a long-term monitoring station through the MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) Program.

Each year in mid-April, the Discovery Center’s Bird Club and Manitowish Waters community members participate in the Annual Midwest Crane Count. The count in Manitowish Waters is coordinated by Sarah Besadny, and typically 20-25 people participate in the count. This early spring count has been conducted for over 20 years.

In 2019, the NLDC Bird Club participated in the Great Wisconsin Birdathon. Fifteen members participated and six did fundraising. The Birdathon supports nine priority projects of the Bird Protection Fund. Participants collect pledges and donations for finding as many bird species as possible.

Many NLDC Bird Club members use eBird software to gather data on bird species in the Manitowish Waters community. Participants record the birds that they see and share these sightings with the eBird community. The online checklist program was launched by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society in 2002. The goal of the project is to maximize the number of bird observations made each year to gain information on bird abundance and distribution.

D. Describe your community-sponsored annual bird festival. This must be a multi-day event or a truly exceptional one-day event.

The NLDC and NLDC Bird Club have organized and funded an annual Bird Festival established in May 2005. The Manitowish Waters Chamber of Commerce has been a partner every year, providing some advertising from January to May. In addition, to monetary support, the Chamber publicizes the festival on the Chamber’s website and billboard. This year’s 18th Annual Bird Festival will be held May 12-13, 2022. During this festival, participants will hear keynote speakers, attend sessions and workshops with birders from around the state, and go on exploratory field trips to bird and learn skills such as bird banding.

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.

The North Lakeland Discovery Center (NLDC) Bird Club offers a free monthly program (May-Oct) to the Manitowish Waters Community and to other residents of the northern Wisconsin. These programs are always on bird-related topics and are presented by federal, state, and non-governmental avian experts. Programs cover a wide range of topics including, but not limited to: bird diseases, identification, life history, monitoring, rehabilitation, research, and habitat management affecting local wild bird populations. The programs typically cover topics that are of current interest and are definitely a significant educational resource on the community’s bird life. The programs are advertised through the NLDC website, and press releases to the local media.

The NLDC offers a variety of year-round bird focused programming, including: bird banding demonstrations, bird presentations by experts, birding canoe trips, and birding hikes.

The NLDC Bird Club has many affiliates including the Raptor Education Group Inc., Northwoods Wildlife Center, Loon Watch, Wisconsin Center for Ornithology, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, International Crane Foundation, and the Migratory Duck Stamp Program.

The NLDC Bird Club sponsored and paid for a snowy owl mount for NLDC’s nature center. The mount added to the collection of owls already existing in the nature center. It will be used for education through travelling owl and bird programs around the community as well as education on site at NLDC.

Energy & Sustainability

J. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

In 2022, As a commitment to reduce energy expenditure and promote cleaner forms of heating and cooling, the North Lakeland Discovery Center installed geothermal lines and systems for an ecologically sustainable alternative to temperature control. This also opens the door to more casual conversations about switching to sustainable practices in building. These improvements are the first steps to demonstrating the importance of sustainable practices to our community and it’s visitors.   

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.

Manitowish Waters held its annual IMBD event on June 4-5  2021 at the Discovery Center’s annual Northwoods Birding Festival.

This year's Festival encouraged birders to safely learn more about birds and wildlife in their area by holding a hybrid conference with online presentaitons and in person birding field trips.  

The 18th annual Northwoods Bird and Wildlife Festival will be held May 12-13, 2023. It's an opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to celebrate the amazing biodiversity of our region, participate in sunrise bird walks and field trips to unique ecological areas, try their hand at bird banding, and learn from bird and wildlife experts.

Joined Bird City: 2010

Population: 646

Incorporated: 1939

Area: 36.4 mi2

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