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, as of 2020, 202 species have been observed at Mequon Nature Preserve, up from only 68 in from baseline monitoring from 2004-2007.
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. In 2007 an 25 Bluebird nesting boxes were placed on Mequon Nature Preserve’s grounds. In 2020 56 nesting boxes were monitored by volunteers. These boxes fledged a total of 71 Bluebirds, 141 Tree Swallows, and 43 House Wrens. Between 2007 and 2020, MNP's nesting boxes have fledged a total of 509 Bluebirds, 1051 Tree Swallows, 555 House Wrens, and 8 Black-capped Chickdees.
Wood Duck, Screech Owl, and American Kestrel nesting boxes have also been placed on the property and are monitored by the volunteers and MNP staff.
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. 438 acres of Mequon Nature Preserve is also protected by Ozaukee-Washington Land Trust and an additional 6 are under conservation easement from MMSD.
D. Document that current municipal planning seeks to provide additional bird habitat.
The City of Mequon continues to work towards providing additional bird habitat. There is a total of 1,188 acres of green space in the City of Mequon (this number includes Mequon Nature Preserve's 444 acres).
Newly-developing habitats at the Mequon Nature Preserve are attracting wildlife species. In 2017 MNP reclaimed another 72 acres from agriculture and converting it into wetlands, tall grass prairie and early successional hardwood forest. This brings the total acreage in active habitat restoration to 250, up from only 22 acres of woodlot in 2004. 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 3,000 native-species tree and shrub seedlings in 2019, as well as 300 container trees and shrubs. The City of Mequon also hands out hundreds of tree seedlings annually at its Arbor Day celebration to any interested resident.
E. Describe your community’s ordinance demonstrating that your community does not restrict natural/native landscaping that emphasizes native plants and non-turf lawns.
The City of Mequon encourages native plantings in landscaping in City ordinances 58.564 and 58.637.
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 links page of the City’s website.
Mequon Nature Preserve also hosted 60 volunteers from Concordia University – Wisconsin (Mequon) in 2020, 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.
H. Show that the local Chamber of Commerce or a similar group (e.g., an Audubon chapter, Wild Ones, etc.) takes an active role in the planning process for protecting and enlarging favorable bird habitat.
In 2016 a consortium of nonprofits, government agencies and concerned citizens, called the Mequon Preservation Partners, began meeting together to plan protecting more green space in the Mequon area. The group's stated goal is to educate the public about creating/saving habitat and protecting water resources.
I. Document a recent project that created or restored bird habitat in your community. (Exclusions: Bird feeders and small-scale artificial nesting structures)
Mequon Nature Preserve has been creating bird (and other animal) habitat on City of Mequon land since 2004. Beginning with 22 acres of woodlot, 178 acres was placed into active habitat restoration in 2004. In 2017, the Preserve reclaimed another 72 acres from agriculture. In 2019, six acres and appoximately 800 linear feet of creek channel were restored back to historical conditions. All this acreage is planted with native species in order to offer breeding, nesting, and feeding opportunities for resident and migratory birds and other local animal species.
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 444 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 22 acres in a relatively natural state and 3 acres of wetlands. As of 2019, 250 acres are in active restoration, including 30 acres of wetlands. The property is being converted to a mosaic of 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.
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 49 Bluebird nesting boxes found on MNP’s grounds that 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, Mequon Nature Preserve staff and volunteers have places 14 Wood Duck, 4 Screech Owl and 10 American Kestrel nesting boxes on the property. These boxes are monitored by Mequon Nature Preserve staff and results of the annual survey are kept in-house.
College interns help to monitor American Kestrel and Wood Duck nesting boxes at MNP.
MNP Inc. staff engage around 200 students annually in bird watching/monitoring activities with student data (after being verified by MNP Inc. staff) being entered into eBird.org.
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.
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.
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.
The City of Mequon's Parks and Forestry Superintendent, Mike Gies, is a certified member of the Wisconsin Arborist Association and the International Society of Arborculture.
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.
F. Demonstrate that your community enforces an ordinance that requires domestic cats to be kept indoors, on a leash, or in an enclosure to prevent them from preying on birds and other wildlife and spreading disease.
City of Mequon ordinances found in Sec. 6-4. - Domestic animals at large.
(a) Definition of at large.
(1) "At large" shall mean any animal off of the premises of its owner or upon the public streets, alleys, public grounds, school grounds, or parks within the city except as provided in subsection (2).
(2) A non-vicious animal will not be deemed to be at large if:
a. It is attached to a leash of sufficient strength to restrain the animal and not more than ten feet in length where such leash is held by a person competent to govern the animal; b. When the animal is properly restrained within a motor vehicle, provided that such vehicle is properly ventilated for the animal's safety; or c. When not more than 50 feet from its owner or the agent of such owner in charge of such animal, and competent to govern such animal, at such distance, if the animal is not annoying or worrying pedestrians or trespassing on private property or public areas where such animals are forbidden.
(b) No person shall permit any domestic animal to be at large.
(c) Unless directed by the owner, no person shall open any door, gate or exit of any private property for the purpose of setting any domestic animal loose, or otherwise enticing or enabling animals to leave private property.
(d) If any person secures an animal or permits an animal to be secured by any tie-out, rope, leash or chain on that person's property or the property of another, such person shall ensure that any such tie-out, rope, leash or chain if so used be of such length as to prevent the animal so secured from roaming beyond the property limits of the property on which the animal is secured.
(e) Penalties. In addition to any other action or remedy, any person convicted of violating any provision of this section shall be subject to a penalty as provided in section 1-7 of this Code. Each violation and each day that a violation continues or occurs shall constitute a separate offense.
Mequon Nature Preserve and other City of Mequon parks require all domestic animals to be on leash and stay out of natural areas.
L. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.
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.
A. Demonstrate that schools in your community participate in a nationally-recognized environmental education program (e.g., Flying WILD, Audubon Adventures) or that your community organizes its own substantial education and outreach program for young people.
Mequon Nature Preserve Inc. provides environmental education courses free of charge to over 4,000 K-12 students annually. Courses are designed to meet Wisconsin Department of Instruction standards for science and environmental education. A catalogue of course listings can be found at mequonnaturepreserve.org/field-trips.
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.
The website page also has links to Mequon Nature Preserve’s monthly environmental publication, “Green Talk”. An article, “Bird Houses”, is linked on the website as well as an extensive article, written by Mariette Nowak, entitled “Beyond the Birdfeeder: Creating a Bird-friendly Yard with Native Plants”.
The City of Mequon offers links to other organizations with information on backyard habitat programs on the City’s Bird City Wisconsin web page.
Mequon Nature Preserve participates annually in the Great Wisconsin Bird-a-thon on the first Saturday in May, an effort advertised by the City of Mequon in its April ENews as well as in MNP’s April newsletter. MNP staff and volunteers also engage in the BRAW program by monitoring 49 Bluebird nesting boxes on the property.
E. Illustrate a program that involves schools, garden clubs, or other organizations in bird conservation activities.
Mequon Nature Preserve "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. Three courses deal specifically with birds: Owls and owl pellets, Bird Anatomy and Behavior, and Birding 101.
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, Eagle Scout candidates plan on placed more Wood Duck, American Kestrel and bat houses on the preserve. In 2019, Cub Scouts assisted staff in the installation of 6 hen houses around the preserve.
F. Demonstrate that your community understands the critical ecological role of pollinators by documenting your Bee City USA status or by describing another substantial effort to promote pollinator health (for ideas visit the Xerxes Society and the Pollinator Partnership).
The City of Mequon was recognized as a Bee City in 2016. Since 2015 Mequon Nature Preserve has its own Bee Club with over 60 active members in 2019. Bee Club members are allowed to keep their hives at Mequon Nature Preserve at no charge. The Club meets monthly, year-round.
G. Provide a link to your community’s Bird City Wisconsin webpage, which must be visible from the main page of your municipal website (it may be located at the first level of a drop down menu on the main page but cannot be any less visible) OR demonstrate that your Bird City effort has a significant social media presence.
H. Document a substantial regular program that educates young people on any of the following topics: climate change, energy efficiency, green/bird-safe buildings, or environmental sustainability.
Mequon Nature Preserve offers free environmental education classes to any interested groups: schools, boy/girl scouts, boys and girls clubs, child care groups, churches, retirement homes, gardening clubs and more. The list of 20 courses can be found on the Preserve's website: http://mequonnaturepreserve.org/education/field-trips/
J. Document that a municipal building has significant bird-friendly landscaping that features native plants AND signage that explains the importance of native plants and providing diverse habitat for birds (e.g., brush piles, water features).
Mequon Nature Preserve's PieperPower Education Center (a City of Mequon property, leased and operated by Mequon Nature Preserve Inc.) is surrounded by different types of bird feeders and labeled, native plants that can/should be used in property landscaping. Various educational posts around the Education Center and 5 miles of MNP's trails detail different native plants and how the benefit native animals.
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 2 lessons designed specifically to study birds: Owls and Owl Pellets and Birding 101.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions affecting in-person environmental education, MNP went virtual providing educational videos for all ages on their youtube and facebook pages. Before Covid-19 restrictions were set at the end of March, MNP provided in-person education to 4,088 adults and children. Virtual education attracted over 14,000 views. Environmental education videos included bird species profiles, habitat restoration activities, invasive species control and ecological characteristics of SE Wisconsin.
Mequon Nature Preserves offers information to the community via their Facebook Page on bird sightings at the nature preserve.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, MNP had to cancel all organized birding events at the preserve.
Native American students from the City of Milwaukee took part in a virtual summer camp co-facilitated by Milwaukee Public School's First Nations Studies Program 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. Virtual Camp Kits were created for the kids that followed a video series realating to wildlife and the habitats that they need.
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, Kestrel houses, Wood Duck houses, bat houses and a campfire pit.
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.
Mequon Nature Preserve serves mainly City of Milwaukee schools. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, MNP was only able to serve 400 students from public, parochial or charter schools in the City of Milwaukee came to MNP in 2020. In order to remove any potential financial barriers, students/schools come to MNP free of charge. Bus transportation was also covered by MNP.
M. Show that your community participates in the Natural Resources Foundation’s Great Wisconsin Birdathonto raise money for your community and for statewide conservation.
Mequon Nature Preserve participate in the Great Wisconsin Birdathon annually on the first Saturday of May. Requests for donations are posted on MNP's Facebook page and in MNP's April enewsletter. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, 400
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.
Energy & Sustainability
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.
Mequon Nature Preserve's PieperPower Education Center (which is owned by the City of Mequon) gets over 50 percent of its electricity annually from its photovoltaic array and wind turbine.
J. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.
Mequon Nature Preserve's PieperPower Education Center was renovated between 2007 and 2009 to LEED Platinum standards. If certification was pursued (paid for), it would have been the first renovated building in the State of Wisconsin to receive that award. The Education Center's green feature include: photovoltaic solar array, geothermal heating, wind turbine, green roof, recycled roof tiles, marmoleum floors, 48% recycled plastic carpet, low VOC paint, reflective lighting, low-flow toilets and sinks, bamboo flooring and cabinets, porous pavement, recycled asphalt, biofiltration islands and cistern to sequester rainwater from the roof.
World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD)
A. This community's municipal body passed the required World Migratory Bird Day resolution.
The City of Mequon was to observe WMBD at the Arbor Day event on April 26, 2020. Pamphlets and informational brochures were passed out so the community could learn more about Bird City and migratory bird species. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Arbor Day event was shifted to a drive-up tree pickup where native tree and shrub species were handed out to City of Mequon residents.