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 Mequon’s Ordinance #2009-1270, approved the 2035 Comprehensive Plan for the City of Mequon and they have been in compliance with Wisconsin’s Smart Growth law ever since.
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)
Mequon Nature Preserve (MNP), one of the city’s several preserves, has been conducting official (scheduled point-count) and official/unofficial (various eBird.org submittals) bird studies since 2004.
Between point counts and staff and volunteer observations, 109 species were observed in 2016 (including 10 newly added species) bringing the total number of observed species at MNP to 164, up from only 68 in 2007.
One study in particular involves volunteers and MNP staff participation in the annual eastern bluebird nesting survey. The results of this survey are sent to the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW) Board. There are 25 bluebird nesting boxes found on Mequon Nature Preserve’s grounds, all of which were initially placed under the supervision of Dr. Kent Hall, Vice President of BRAW. 2016 results showed 6 of 25 boxes used by bluebirds. Tree swallows dominated the nesting boxes this year and fledged 65 young in 2016. House wrens used a few boxes and fledged 21 young this year.
Bluebird stats for 2016: eggs laid - 53; eggs hatched – 48; bluebirds fledged - 45. The 45 fledged bluebirds is a dip from 2015 when an MNP record 65 bluebirds fledged on the property. Still, the 2016 number continues the general upward trend in fledglings when compared to 39 in 2013 and 31 in 2014.
Wood duck, screech owl, kestrel and other bird houses were built and placed on the property and monitored by the volunteers and Wisconsin Waterfowl Association. These boxes are monitored by MNP staff and volunteers, and results of the annual survey are kept in-house.
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)
Many of the city’s nature preserves (e.g. Mequon Nature Preserve, Trinity Creek, and Highland Woods) were purchased with DNR Stewardship Fund grants. Receipt of these grants has resulted in the placement of conservation easements on the land guaranteeing that it will remain in a natural state in perpetuity. All 438 acres of Mequon Nature Preserve is also protected by Ozaukee-Washington Land Trust.
D. Document that current municipal planning seeks to provide additional bird habitat.
The City of Mequon continues to work towards providing additional bird habitat. Newly-developing habitats at the Mequon Nature Preserve are attracting wildlife species. As of 2016, MNP has 178 acres being managed as natural habitat through invasive plant removal, native seeding, and tree plantings. Starting in December 2016, MNP is reclaiming another 72 acres from agriculture and converting it into wetlands, tall grass prairie and early successional hardwood forest. The variety and proximity of these habitats promise to bring more birds to the site and offer more space and opportunities for breeding sites.
MNP planted a combination of 1800 container and seeding shrubs and trees in 2016. The City of Mequon also handed out hundreds of tree seedlings annually at its Arbor Day celebration to any interested resident.
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 of Mequon offers the publication: Mequon’s 8 Most Unwanted Woodland Invader to the community on the city’s website and in paper copy. The publication identifies invasive plants and methods for management or eradication and can be found on the Forestry page of the City’s website.
This year MNP participated in Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium 2016 Garlic Mustard Pull-a-thon. On June 2nd, 90 5th graders from Donges Bay Elementary (Mequon) and a handful of willing parents and teachers helped pull close to 3,500 pounds worth of garlic mustard and dames rocket.
Mequon Nature Preserve also hosted 180 volunteers from Concordia University – Wisconsin (Mequon) in 2016, each assisting MNP staff for between 4-8 hours. These volunteers performed a variety of tasks including removing non-native plants (garlic mustard, dame’s rocket, buckthorn, honeysuckle, and sweet clover), collecting prairie plant seed, planting tree seedlings or assisting with educational programming.
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.
A Print of “Great Wisconsin Birding & Nature Trail” home page and Ozaukee Interurban Trail showing Site 51 and Mequon is available online. This 30-mile system of paved trails connects you to cities, parks, historic sites, restaurants, and shops. The Trail runs adjacent or very close to the Port Washington Harbor, crosses the Milwaukee River at an Ozaukee Washington Land Trust easement, Highland Woods in Mequon at Cedarburg Road, USFWS property at the northern county line, and Trinity Creek Wildlife Area in Mequon near County Line Road.
L. Show that your community has restored at least two acres of woodlands, wetlands, or prairie.
The City of Mequon leases Mequon Nature Preserve’s land and buildings to Mequon Nature Preserve, Inc., a non-profit, tax-exempt, friends group. MNP, Inc. manages the restoration of a 438 nature preserve. The goal is to return the land to the hardwood forest and wetlands that existed in the early 1800’s. In 2004 MNP began with less than 30 acres in a relatively natural state and 1.5 acres of wetlands. As of 2016, 178 acres are in active restoration, including 25 acres of wetlands. In 2017, MNP will be reclaiming another 72 acres from agriculture (shown in red on map below) and converting it into prairie and wetlands, and eventually hardwood forest.
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 City of Mequon has information about removing invasive woody plants on its website in a document entitled “Mequon’s 8 Most Unwanted Woodland Invaders”. Mequon Nature Preserve is also listed as a reference and routinely receives phone calls and emails for advice. In response, MNP has produced specific informational packets on buckthorn and honeysuckle removal which are freely distributed to any interested individuals.
Starting in 2014, MNP started a volunteer program on shaping the future of the natural environment for future generations by becoming a Restoration Ranger. This program was honored by the WI DNR and Invasive Species Council with the 2016 Invader Crusader Award.
Restoration Rangers play a critical role in restoring the habitats that existed on the land prior to European settlement. Rangers were involved in all phases of land restoration including: removing invasive species that disrupt our native landscape; carrying out prescribed burns in our fields; planting and maintaining native trees, plants and wildflowers; and monitoring wildlife and plant life needed for research. During the growing season weekly work days attracted anywhere from 5 to 12 volunteers.
N. Show that your community works on public lands to control invasive species that have significant negative impacts on bird habitat.
Mequon Nature Preserve regularly incorporates instruction on identification and removal of all types of non-native plants when student groups or boy/girl scout groups visit. In 2016, Mequon Nature Preserve, in partnership with Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department, began offering classes specifically designed to address invasive species identification and management. Over 200 students from 3 different schools participated in the program.
O. Document a program to support the establishment of natural lawns and native landscaping, possibly including public presentations of Audubon’s Plants for Birds Initiative (contact them for a presentation kit).
Redbud Trees – Benefit Birds
In 2011, The Mequon-Thiensville Sunrise Rotary Club developed a vision of future springtime beauty along the Mequon-Thiensville Riverwalk and Town Center to attract visitors. The two Rotary Clubs proposed to plant 1,000 multi-trunked Redbud trees. The initial planting of 100 redbud trees was done in May 2011 at the Village and Molyneau Parks in Thiensville. In 2012, Redbuds were planted around Mequon’s Settler’s Park, the Mequon community pool, Library and Riverwalk Library loop. The Mequon-Thiensville Rotary annually sponsors a May Redbud planting day to plant the trees in public spaces, pre-selected locations along the Riverwalk and through the joint community Town Center. Visit Mequon-Thiensville Sunrise Rotary, Help Beautify Mequon-Thiensville Riverwalk and Town Center.
Due to the efforts of the two rotary clubs, redbud trees will not only beautify the Mequon-Thiensville Riverwalk and Town Center, the trees will provide a beautiful habitat and a source of food for birds.
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.).
There are 25 bluebird nesting boxes found on MNP’s grounds, all of which were initially placed under the supervision of Dr. Kent Hall, Vice President of BRAW and are part of the UW Steven’s Point bluebird trail project. Local volunteers monitor the boxes and submit their data to Mequon Nature Preserve staff at the end of the breeding season. In addition duck and bird houses were built and placed on the property and monitored by the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association. These boxes are monitored by Mequon Nature Preserve staff and results of the annual survey are kept in-house.
In 2012, two Eagle Scout projects have resulted in the construction and installation of 25 chickadee houses. A second project with the assistance of Dan Panetti resulted in the installation of another nine bird houses and feeding platforms. Additional wood duck, American kestrel and bat houses are planned for installation by two Eagle Scout candidates in 2017.
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 City of Mequon and the MNP are featured in the Ozaukee Trailside Birding Guide for on and off trail hotspots along the interurban trail. For more information visit Ozaukee Trailside Birding Guide. (See attached Ozaukee County map of the birding hotspots.)
On June 14, 2011, the City of Mequon passed Resolution No. 3028, approving the transfer of the 438 acre MNP from its long-time partner, the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust. By passing Resolution No. 3028 the City of Mequon agrees to the terms of the conservation easement to preserve and protect MNP and its conservation values in perpetuity. The lease also requires annual reports on land restoration efforts to ensure that the natural resource values continue to become more diverse and support wildlife, including bird populations.
On February 15, 2011 the City of Mequon passed Resolution No. 2992, accepting and recognizing land donation from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), agreeing to keep the land undeveloped and natural, pursuant to conservation easements and intergovernmental agreements.
The City of Mequon has successfully promoted conservation subdivisions since 1995. In this design, at least 40 percent of the property is placed in an outlot where it is protected from development. High value natural features are placed in outlots including hardwood forest remnants, wetlands, and in two subdivisions, the head waters of Fish Creek.
MMSD offered to donate certain parcels of land to the City of Mequon to remain undeveloped and natural, pursuant to conversation easements and intergovernmental agreements. On November 21, 2006 the City of Mequon passed Resolution No. 2695, accepting and recognizing a land donation from MMSD.
Community Forest Management
A. Demonstrate that your community has been awarded Tree City USA status by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
The City of Mequon continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1994. Each year the City of Mequon celebrates Arbor Day.
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)
In 2014, the City of Mequon and MNP were recognized for their reforestation program by being awarded the DNR Urban Forestry Award in Innovations in Forestry Management. The Wisconsin Forestry Council’s award recognizes the effort to restore and preserve an urban forest for the benefit and pleasure of so many people living in the region. Of particular interest was the unusually large scale of the project and the Preserve’s effort to contribute to the body of reforestation research.
Mequon Nature Preserve has also become a Project BudBurst partner. As a result of ten years of transformative land restoration projects, many plant species have returned to Mequon Nature Preserve, providing an opportunity to enhance the Preserve’s educational programs and provide citizen scientists at MNP the chance to report their observations of plants throughout the seasons. This will in turn contribute to a better understanding of how plants respond to climate change.
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 of Mequon’s urban forest is managed by a part time City Forester. Serving in a professional capacity, the City Forester selects and maintains trees for the City nursery, which will be planted on streets and in parks, provides advice to citizens and City departments regarding trees, and assists builders and homeowners in preserving or preventing damage to specimen trees.
The City of Mequon has multiple adopted ordinances that regulate and require minimum amounts of tree and shrub plantings in conjunction with any new construction of homes, businesses, berms and/or parking lots. For example, any new parking lot construction must have trees planted along the edges that will yield 30 percent shade coverage within 5 years.
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.
Mequon Nature Preserve is actively working to keep dogs leashed to protect ground-nesting birds. Signs informing visitors of the leash ordinance have been placed at all trail entrances. The staff also reports off-leash dogs to the police department, who have stepped up enforcement and ticketed offenders and helped to reduce the number of off-leash dogs at MNP.
Mequon Nature Preserve also makes use of tree cage protection that is open enough and climbable for birds that may get stuck in the tubes instead of solid, non-climbable tubes that can permanently trap birds.
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 City of Mequon has a whole page of its website devoted to bird conservation. On the page visitors can find links to the American Bird Conservancy’s “Cat’s Indoors Campaign” and Bird City Wisconsin’s “Collision Avoidance Protects Birds” article.
Mequon Nature Preserve was again part of the Great Wisconsin Bird-a-thon, an effort advertised by the City of Mequon in its April ENews as well as in MNP’s April newsletter. Two counts took place on Saturday, May 97th, engaging 23 people. MNP staff and volunteers also engage in the BRAW program by monitoring 25 bluebird nesting boxes on the property. (Results of 2015 monitoring are listed earlier in the application under 1B.) MNP also hosted a Christmas Bird Count on December 10, 2016.
E. Illustrate a program that involves schools, garden clubs, or other organizations in bird conservation activities.
inspires exploration, cultivates stewardship, and encourages visitors to get off the path. The preserve provides ongoing educational programs in bird conservation activities to schools and other organizations. The classes are teacher designed and state standard aligned and focus on topics such as migration, bird anatomy and identification.
Area clubs (e.g. local Lego League Teams, Boy and Girl Scout groups, Mequon’s Green Tree Garden Club) request and receive presentations on environmental topics. Most often the topics center on planting native vegetation in order to benefit insects and birds.
Mequon Nature Preserve also offers a place for Eagle Scouts to work on projects such as building bird houses for the Preserve. MNP is dedicated to helping the community enjoy and explore nature while learning how to preserve the environment. In 2017, two Eagle Scout candidates plan on placing more wood duck, American kestrel and bat houses on the preserve.
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 Mequon Nature Preserve offers instructive and fun field trips for children of all ages. (Visit Mequon Nature Preserve field trips). Mequon Nature Preserve offers 3 lessons designed specifically to study birds: owls and owl pellets, birdwatching 101, and bird anatomy and behavior.
Over 10,000 students and adults were involved in educational activities at the Mequon Nature Preserve in 2016. About 4,580 students came to MNP specifically for environmental educational programming (3700 in 2015, 3130 in 2012) with 67 percent of the children being from underserved, inner city classrooms (58 percent in 2014). A total of 1,447 students were taught in their own classroom during the winter time as staff made a concerted effort to reach schools during the coldest months. This had not been done in the previous two years. Community education events engaged increased to 2,541 contacts.
In partnership with the City of Mequon, local newspapers and magazines, MNP produces monthly “Green Talk” articles that focus on environmental topics. Many of them deal with improving habitat for native species, especially birds.
Mequon Nature Preserves offers information to the community via their Facebook Page on bird sightings at the nature preserve.
Mequon Nature Preserve offers an opportunity for the community to learn about the American Woodcock. MNP hosted an annual “Evening Woodcock Walk” with Dan Panetti of Wild Birds Unlimited on April 27, 2016. Participants learned about and witnessed the distinctive dance and mating rituals of two American Woodcocks.
Native American students from the City of Milwaukee enjoyed time outdoors at a summer camp co-facilitated by First Nations Studies and MNP. Their camp was sponsored by Forest County Potawatomi Foundation. The focus this summer was on water: why we need it, what animals need it, and how to protect it.
Over the years, Scouting programs have used the PieperPower Education Center for troop meetings and Pinewood Derby races. Scouts have also engaged in land restoration service projects (like prairie seed collection and buckthorn removal), and Eagle Scout candidates and their troops have contributed countless hours to enhance MNP’s site with picnic tables, resting spots, photopoint monitoring stands and a campfire pit.
N. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.
Mequon Nature Preserve actively utilizes social media through its What’s New page and Facebook to provide information to the community bird life and land restoration and preservation topics.
Mequon’s Common Council will be voting on a resolution at its February 14, 2017 meeting. This resolution will be in regard to observing International Migratory Bird Day 2017. Information about protecting and enhancing bird habitat will be provided at the spring event on April 29, 2017.