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.
On November 3, 2009, the Village of Osceola adopted the Village of Osceola Comprehensive Plan 2009-2029.
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)
Osceola’s bird surveys have been conducted along a five mile portion of the St. Croix River (2.5 miles upstream and downstream from Osceola) by Robin Maercklein (a retired biologist and Ornithologist for the National Park Service) and Joe Hudick (a retired National Park Service Ranger) and are documented through the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and unpublished National Park Service documents. Mr. Hudick began conducting this survey in 1982. In 1999, 1999-2001, and every other year through 2013, Mr. Maercklein also conducted these surveys. In 2015, Matt Berg (a research biologist who conducts long term monitoring and habitat restoration projects over a variety of specialties) conducted the survey under contract. In the future, the National Park Service has committed to continuing this bird monitoring program. Findings from these surveys can be found in the Final Cooperative Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement under “Unpublished National Park Service Documents”.
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)
The land behind the Osceola Public Library, along Mill Pond Park and Osceola Creek is protected and favorable for bird habitat for multiple reasons. First of all, part of this land was bought by the DNR and is protected as a flood plain. One of the stipulations is that buildings cannot be erected upon it. Secondly, the Polk County Land and Water Resources Department partnered with St. Croix Valley Landscaping in planting native prairie grasses, shrubs, trees and forbs that naturally support bird habitat. Attached documentation to this application shows the land’s protection as a flood plain and that it is maintained with best management practices (BMPs). There are many benefits for birds related to using BMPs. The native vegetation provides food, water, and shelter (i.e. berries and seeds, invertebrates, structure, etc.). Native vegetation also provides habitat and food for fish, reduces sedimentation and protects spawning areas, and provides small microclimates via shading. Therefore, by planting native grasses, using BMPs, and having its protection as a flood plain, this land is protected as bird habitat.
Standing Cedars Land Conservancy is located just a few minutes south of Osceola is 1500 acres that includes some of the highest-quality natural areas along the St. Croix River. Standing Cedars uses various tools to protect land from development, is open to the public, with trails in forests, fields, and bluff lands along the Lower St. Croix River. These beautiful natural areas have trails and vast acres of restored prairie (great bird habitat) that you can experience three ecosystems converging: Northern Boreal Forest, Eastern Hardwood, and Tall Grass Prairie. It is protected land for bird habitat.
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.
Buckthorn is a major concern in the Village of Osceola. A story about buckthorn was published in the village newsletter and educational brochures are also readily available at Village offices. Buckthorn removal is managed by the public works department and volunteers from the Rivertown Trails Coalition and Standing Cedars. Education is also provided on volunteer work days.
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.
The local Chamber of Commerce and MainStreet Director Germaine Ross has 20 years of experience as a landscape designer specializing in sustainable landscaping that promotes bird friendly habitats. She has been the Chair of the Grow Osceola Design Committee (a WI MainStreet approach committee) for ten years and along with her current role as director remains active in guiding the group as well as an active member of the Rivertown Trails Coalition. Ms. Ross pledges to continue to integrate her expertise and commitment to make Osceola a bird-friendly village.
Community Forest Management
A. Demonstrate that your community has been awarded Tree City USA status by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
Osceola continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 2008. With every installation of new planting areas, the Village considers adding bird-friendly habitat. For example, the new Trailhead located within the Village that was recently planted in October 2016 included mostly bird-friendly plants and designed to attract more birds to the area. Several rain gardens have been planted with bird-friendly designs and are effective in attracting migratory birds and many more song birds into the Village.
Standing Cedars Land Conservancy also manages and protects 1500 acres adjacent and within the Village boundaries. They have a strategic management plan, are Chamber members, and work in collaboration with the Osceola Fire Department to conduct controlled burns.
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 Osceola Area Chamber of Commerce and Village have collaborated to provide brochures for property owners on the Village’s website and placing them in the Village’s December newsletter that is sent to property owners with their utility bill.
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.
An educational brochure written by a St. Croix Valley Landscape Designer, Germaine Ross, who specializes in planting for bird and butterfly habitat, is posted on the Osceola Area Chamber of Commerce’s website on the birding page. The brochure educates property owners on ways to plant a bird-friendly yard.
E. Illustrate a program that involves schools, garden clubs, or other organizations in bird conservation activities.
Grow Osceola is a volunteer organization that plans and implements projects and installs and maintains plantings in the Village. With the guidance of Germaine Ross, a landscape designer with expertise in bird habitat, many of the plantings incorporate bird-friendly species within traditional municipal plantings. Grow Osceola creates and maintains hiking trails, manages buckthorn, cares for parks, seasonal plantings, and encourages the use of trails, flowers, and trees, all of which help conserve bird habitat and make Osceola more bird friendly. A new trail called the Falls Bluff Loop Trail was built in 2016 that includes the Falls, St. Croix River, views from the bluffs of the river valley, and a natural spring (all great diversity for a variety of birds.) Along with the St. Croix River Association, Osceola is planning and has funding available for new interpretive signage that includes education about birds along at least three trails in Osceola. The Village is in the process of identifying viewing areas and having new benches built by the Osceola Boy Scout troops for the Falls Bluff Trail.
Standing Cedars Land Conservancy is located adjacent to the Village of Osceola and includes 1500 acres open to the public, with trails in forests, fields, wetlands and bluff lands along the Lower St. Croix River. They also have a new property within the Village boundaries. These beautiful natural areas with vast restored prairies have trails that you can experience three ecosystems converging: Northern Boreal Forest, Eastern Hardwood, and Tall Grass Prairie. Every spring bird walks are conducted on a variety of these trails.
International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)
A. This community's municipal body passed the required International Migratory Bird Day resolution.
The Village, Chamber of Commerce, Osceola Public Library, and Osceola Rivertown Trails Coalition are experienced event planners and work well together. These groups are collaborating to plan a dedication event for the IMBD on Sat. May 13th. The Village will host and promote a trail walk with an expert birder and print and distribute the educational brochures at the event. These groups will distribute press releases and invite the WI Dept. of Tourism representatives and local and state public officials to help promote and educate about the ecosystem and economic benefits of protecting bird habitat. The Osceola Public Library will create birding crafts for kids and families. Invitations to the event and educational information about the economic benefits of attracting birds and people to our town and surrounding areas will also be sent out through both the Chamber of Commerce’s email list of 500 and the Village newsletter.