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.
Chapter 101 of the Maple Bluff Ordinance, specifies that their community is in compliance with Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” law for land use planning and resource management. Sections 101‐1 through 4 specifically summarize the steps that the Village followed to comply with Wisconsin’s statutes.
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)
A regular group of citizen volunteers has been tracking bird counts in the Village of Maple Bluff and outlying areas for many years. This group is led by Paul Noeldner, who is a lead volunteer with Madison area FUN Friends of Urban Nature partner group co-sponsored bird and nature activities and lives in Maple Bluff. Paul and other area birders go birding regularly in village neighborhoods and log data to eBird that includes an annual Christmas Bird Count and a north side Great Wisconsin Birdathon as well as individuals doing backyard bird counts. The Maple Bluff counts include Johnson Park, the Maple Bluff Beach Park, and the Maple Bluff Marina.
Maple Bluff birding activities also include two bluebird trails, martin houses, and other citizen science habitat and monitoring initiatives. Paul Noeldner, Deb Rhode and other Madison FUN partner group volunteers regularly maintain and monitor the Maple Bluff Bluebird Trail and the Maple Bluff Country Club Bluebird Trail and report data to BRAW Bluebird Restoration of Wisconsin.
Another martin house was added in 2016 and additional bluebird houses with help from Maple Bluff Summer Camp kids, with new houses installed in the Maple Bluff Beach Park area. The new plastic gourd martin house at the Marina had 4 resident pairs and approximately 12 fledglings the first year in 2016 but the triangular pole jammed and proved difficult to raise and lower for maintenance so the fledgling counts were approximated based on observations. The pole will be replaced in 2017 with a telescoping pole or crank and cable pole to allow more regular monitoring and maintenance. More rigorous data recording using PurpleMartin.org protocols and resources will be instituted in 2017.
E. Describe your community’s ordinance demonstrating that your community does not restrict natural/native landscaping that emphasizes native plants and non-turf lawns.
Maple Bluff’s ordinances are not narrowly drawn—they allow for a wide range of options for building and landscaping choices. However, all homes and structures constructed or remodeled in the Village must be reviewed and approved by the Building Board before construction can take place.
Section 225‐30 addressed Landscaping specifically: (a) Requirements. Landscaping shall be used for a functional as well as decorative purpose, including framing desirable views, screening unattractive features and views, screening different uses from each other, and complementing the architectural massing of the building. (b) Guidelines. Landscaping should express the unique natural beauty of the Village. There should be a variety of trees and shrubs in group plantings, alternated and dispersed in order to create some variety. While indigenous species will be favored, they should be in scale with the buildings and complement the topography.  Landscaping shall be designed to maintain existing mature trees and shrubs to the maximum extent possible; and  Landscaping shall provide an aesthetically pleasing design and, where applicable, shall provide for the screening of parking, storage, refuse, and utility areas from the street and adjacent residential properties. In short, there is no restriction specified or implied in the Village of Maple Bluff’s ordinance that restricts “wild” or natural lawns or landscaping.
In 2016 Maple Bluff re-landscaped the Maple Bluff Marina parking and shoreline area with Accommodation Architecture to enhance bird and wildlife activity alongside fairly heavy human activity and uses. The nature-scaping included a sidewalk and natural plantings as a buffer to create and protect a triangular Nature Nook area along the Lake Mendota shoreline that is safe for bird and turtle nesting, resting and feeding activities. This initiative eliminated boat launch and vehicular traffic on that part of the beach and helps to reduce human impact on nests. Village recreation staff at the adjacent Maple Bluff Sailing Club facility reported seeing many bird and turtle nests this past year and enjoyment of the birds and wildlife as nature recreation and education. A new plastic gourd Purple Martin House was also erected adjacent to the beach area. This Maple Bluff initiative and Nature Nook area are critical components in what is rapidly becoming rare areas of Lake Mendota natural beach and shoreline bird and wildlife habitat that accommodate nesting and other activities with minimal human disruption.
The Maple Bluff Marina shoreline nature nook is still attracting native wildlife as nesting Killdeer and turtles have been seen on the shore area again this past year. As mentioned previously, that areas like this have become very rare as such a large portion of lake shoreline are now rimmed with rip rap walls for erosion control. It’s pretty exiting having been witness to their activity in an area that is allowed to go natural and provide the native scape that attracts the native wildlife.
In 2017 the village also re-landscaped the tennis court area in Maple Bluff Beach Park to include a naturalized rain garden runoff area from the parking lot into Chatterton Pond. The feature attraction for birders is a new handicap-accessible walkway to a viewing platform for bird and nature recreation viewing right on Chatterton Pond behind the tennis court. Birds seen using the pond include a Black-crowed Night Heron perched on the new observation platform rail, Kingfishers, a Bald Eagle, Great Blue Herons, Pied-billed Grebes, nesting Tree Swallows and Red-winged Blackbirds and a variety of other passerines and waterfowl. The creek from the pond has a partially buried outlet through Maple Bluff Beach Park and there are always interesting birds around the small portion of unburied Chatterton Creek outlet into Lake Mendota. A mink family has taken up residence and raised young in nearby shoreline rocks.
Community Forest Management
A. Demonstrate that your community has been awarded Tree City USA status by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
The Village of Maple Bluff continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 2002.
The Forestry committee will discuss enhanced use of native species that support higher levels of bird and wildlife biodiversity including host dependent species, using Tallamy and others as education resources and advice. For example, native Quercus family Oak species are documented to support about 550 species of native birds, insects, and other wildlife and native rhysome and understory layer plants and mycelium, based on Oak host-dependent species, where a non-native Norway Maple looks great and grows a bit faster, but is documented to support almost no native species, and it’s value as bird and wildlife habitat and nature recreation and education value depends entirely on also having lots of nearby native species. Specifically, even highly human tolerant Black-capped Chickadees are 20 times less likely to nest in summer and visit neighborhood feeders in winter if there are not a lot of native Oaks nearby. The Forestry committee will also discuss planting more native ground cover such as low-maintenance (once established) native plants such as Milkweed for Monarchs and other pollinator friendly flowering woodland and prairie plants, and native understory plants to create Nature Nook areas around trees such as Red Dogwood and High Bush Cranberry that provide lots of native bird food and cover near Village tree plantings and in Village roadway borders and by citizens, to improve the health of the rhizome layer and the long term health and value of the trees. This can be done alongside other desirable landscaping plantings and decorative flowers, and will benefit endangered pollinators like butterflies and bees, and provide more bird and wildlife habitat and nature recreation, natural beauty and neighborhood value to Village residents and homes.
In 2017, the Maple Bluff Forestry Committee discussed Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home and other research promoting more native plants in urban areas for biodiversity as well as climate change, and approved focusing on native species for future tree, understory and ground cover plantings. The committee also gathered and shared information about local sources for Wisconsin area specific native trees, seeds and plants. The village should be able to set aside a portion of our forestry and park budgets to continue and further our efforts of populating the reserved gardens spots along Lakewood Blvd. with native flowering perennials as well as native ground cover and understory shrubs and plantings to create a more desirable natural setting for birds and butterflies. Our intent will be to connect the garden spaces that our currently at the turn thru areas along Lakewood Blvd. from end to end with mulch zones that would provide a more natural setting for additional plantings to complement the current landscaping composed primarily of deciduous trees with some conifers.
Limiting or Removing Threats to Birds
B. Demonstrate that your community provides property owners with information on how to protect birds from window strikes (e.g., online links, brochures).
Currently, the Village of Maple Bluff’s webpage is undergoing updating and reconstruction. Bird City Wisconsin has been assured that one such update will include information on preventing birds from window strikes and further access to their monthly newsletter that promotes backyard bird habitat information to its citizens. The newsletter is currently available on the site.
In 2017, the annual village IMBD Bird and Nature Festival and articles in the local Northside News and village newsletter are used as opportunities to share information about accommodating birds, keeping cats indoors, and preventing bird strikes. Articles will cover things homeowners and businesses can do individually to reduce window strikes, and how recommendations or requirements for bird friendly windows and other bird-friendly Accommodation Architecture design elements such as leaving some architectural ledges for nesting where that can be accommodated, and using down-cast lighting to reduce impacts on migrating birds, can be added to Village building and remodeling guidelines.
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.
Currently, the Village of Maple Bluff’s webpage is undergoing updating and reconstruction. Bird City Wisconsin has been assured that one such update will include information on preventing birds from window strikes and further access to their monthly newsletter that promotes backyard bird habitat information to its citizens.
The newsletter is currently available on the site. For instance, the February 2013 edition featured an article about the newly installed Eastern Bluebird trails and nest boxes in Maple Bluff. The project, aided by the Madison Audubon Society, completed 9 trails and erected 81 nest boxes. The boxes are to be monitored by volunteers and the data to be sent to the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW).
In 2017, the Village continues to update citizens with email advisories as well as newsletter articles about how best to accommodate birds and wildlife. As an example, the Village emails advisories about Coyote sightings in the village and how best to accommodate them. Research has indicated that Coyotes can benefit challenged ground nesting bird species by helping keep other more numerous smaller nest egg and bird predators like skunks and raccoons in check naturally.
The local Northside News newspaper regularly features a calendar of walks and other activities at which nature education topics are discussed, and regularly incudes a Nature Trails and Tales column and other articles written by local resident Paul Noeldner and north side neighborhood naturalists and students. The editors are highly supportive of north side nature group activities and nature education for the public in Maple Bluff and other nearby neighborhoods.
Madison and Maple Bluff became Bird Cities together in 2013. One of the main goals for both Madison and Maple Bluff, Madison Audubon and other area Bird City partner environmental groups, has been to engage more families, kids and minorities in Nature Education and Nature Recreation in nearby Urban Natural Areas. To that end, we co-sponsor nature education activities together as the Madison area FUN Friends of Urban Nature. The FUN coalition partners include the city of Madison, the village of Maple Bluff, Madison Audubon, Sierra Club, Aldo Leopold Nature Center, the UW Nelson Institute and local environmental and a number of area Friends of Parks partner groups. The FUN partners help sponsor the annual Bird and Nature Festival IMBD celebration activities. The other main activity achieved by the FUN partner groups has been to co-sponsor regularly scheduled year-round weekly free, family-friendly Bird and Nature Outings in nearby urban parks and natural areas such as Warner Park and the UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve. The outings on the 3rd Sunday every month at Warner Park are in the oak opening, prairie and wetland ecosystem that abuts Maple Bluff, Maple Bluff Country Club and Maple Bluff Marina. This program of regular year-round Sunday afternoon Bird and Nature Outings is now in the 5th year and has been highly successful. In 2017 we are adding 3 new locations holding year-round free family friendly Saturday Bird and Nature Outings, offering the pubic in Maple Bluff and surrounding communities great nature recreation and education engagement. Participation in these Bird City Madison area FUN Friends of Urban Nature partners co-sponsored Nature Recreation and Nature Education outings regularly includes families, kids, students, elderly, physically challenged, and minority participants. This successful initiative continues to grow.
Paul Noeldner is an avid Great Backyard Bird Count participant and has continued his activities beyond the BYBC weekend and added to the species list quite substantially in the spring of 2013. The extensive species list that he has provided corresponds to sightings made in the village limits of Maple Bluff.
In 2017, Aaron Stutz who coordinates the Madison area Christmas Bird Count personally monitors and reports Area 1 which includes Maple Bluff. Maple Bluff resident Paul Noeldner leads a nearby north side ecosystem Christmas Bird Count team and the annual north side Great Wisconsin Birdathon Bird by Bike Peddling Pewees team that covers Maple Bluff and other north side neighborhoods.
Maple Bluff’s yearly IMBD day include a combined celebration forIMBD + Arbor Day in April each spring. The annual event includes:
Tree‐planting and native bird-friendly habitat planting ceremonies
Walking tours (e.g., the bluebird trail along the golf course and a shoreline/village walk)
Nature talks about birds, habitat and what people can do in their yards.
Arts/crafts activities for kids that focus on the birds found in the Village.
A special project dedication.
May 7th 2016, the IMBD and Arbor Day was celebrated at Johnson Park. The festivities included a “Birding Station” with numerous displays and hands on arts and crafts for kids and adults alike. Paul Noeldner supplied the materials for all to learn from and enjoy while Samantha Knutson and Veronica Uribe led the visitors thru the programing that included the opportunity to make your own feeding station for birds and squirrels.
Nearby there was a location selected for a sugar maple to be planted in celebration of Arbor Day. All in attendance helped with the preparation of the site and the planting as well as the grading and mulching that finished off the new home for this beautiful tree.
Plans for the Maple Bluff 2017 IMBD event are currently under discussion and will be similar to the 2016 IMBD event. The Madison area FUN partner group coalition that includes Maple Bluff, has a small fund for nature education and plans to purchase a licensed copy of the recently released Hometown Habitat movie DBD for nature education classroom use. This documentary movie is based on Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home and features successful implementations of establishing native habitat in urban areas around the nation, which can be emulated by communities like Maple Bluff and individuals in their yards. A sign-up class showing of Hometown Habitat may be featured at the Maple Bluff 2017 IMBD event or at another time during the year.
Maple Bluff also continues to participate, support, and benefit in activities that benefit Bird City goals and birds and nature, as a Madison area Bird City partner in FUN – Friends of Urban Nature. Village families and kids join other area nature lovers on FUN partner group coordinated year-round weekly Sunday Bird and Nature Walks at Warner Park that directly borders Maple Bluff, and at nearby Cherokee Marsh, Turville Point, and the Lakeshore Preserve just across Lake Mendota. Some Maple Bluff Village kids attend nearby Sherman Middle School that co-sponsors weekly after-school Nature Club outings in Warner Park along with the UW Nelson Institute and other FUN Friends of Urban Nature partner groups. These and other FUN co-sponsored partner initiatives are help to develop, coordinate and implement more bird and nature recreation, nature education, natural health, and more natural areas and borders with native bird and wildlife friendly biodiverse habitat in all of our communities and neighborhoods.