Ozaukee County

Ozaukee County

HIGH FLYER

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.

Ozaukee County and 14 cities, villages, and towns began working together in 2002 and prepared a multijurisdictional comprehensive plan for Ozaukee County. The partnership also prepared comprehensive plans for each participating city, village, and town. All cities, villages, and towns in the County, except the City of Cedarburg, participated in the joint planning process. As part of the planning process, the County and local governments identified existing desirable land uses and important natural resources that should be preserved to maintain the high quality of life in Ozaukee County. A desired land use plan for the year 2035 was also identified. The County and local comprehensive plans were prepared, in part, to comply with the requirements of Wisconsin’s comprehensive planning law, which took effect in 1999. The law, set forth in Section 66.1001 of the Wisconsin Statutes, requires County and local governments that enforce general zoning, shoreland zoning, subdivision, or official mapping ordinances to have an adopted comprehensive plan by January 1, 2010. The Wisconsin Department of Administration awarded a comprehensive planning grant to Ozaukee County in 2004 to help fund preparation of the County and local plans, the first such grant award in southeastern Wisconsin.

An amendment to the County plan was adopted in 2009 to incorporate the land use plan maps adopted by each city, village, and town as part of their local comprehensive plan. The amendment was approved by the CPB on April 3, 2009. A public hearing was held on May 4, and the amendment was adopted by the County Board on May 6, 2009.

The Multi-Jurisdictional Comprehensive Plan for Ozaukee County: 2035 inventories natural communities identified as ecological priorities and critical species habitat sites, such as Harrington Beach State Park Old Fields which is home to the upland sandpiper. The plan discusses Wisconsin’s Important Bird Areas and maps the locations of those areas in Ozaukee County. The plan also has native habitat preservation, restoration and enhancement as one of the major goals. Ozaukee County also has a rich history of park and open space planning, dating back to the 1970's. Periodic updates of the County Park and Open Space Plans (POSP) have been made approximately every five years.

Farmland preservation is another issue of concern in Ozaukee County. Agriculture has been, and will continue to be, a major factor in both Wisconsin and Ozaukee County's economy. In 2010, the Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department updated the Farmland Preservation Plan (FPP) originally adopted in 1983 to meet new requirements set forth in the new Working Lands Initiative created by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP). The update includes an inventory and analysis of existing agricultural resources, the identification of key trends and projections, the delineation of farmland preservation areas (FPAs), visioning, issue identification, recommendations, as well as implementation measures. The Farmland Preservation Citizen Advisory Committee (FPP CAC), comprised of 16 local government representatives and 16 at-large citizen appointments, was formed to help guide the plan throughout the planning process. The Ozaukee County Land Preservation Board (LPB) and Ozaukee County Comprehensive Planning Board (CPB) also provide oversight and the CPB recommended the plan to the County Board for adoption.

The Farmland Preservation Plan (FPP) was adopted by resolution of the Ozaukee County Board of Supervisors as a stand-alone plan on July 3, 2013. The Department also prepared an update to the Park and Open Space Plan (POSP) for Ozaukee County in 2010 - 2011 and the County Board adopted the plan in June 2011. The POSP, along with the FPP for Ozaukee County became amendments to the County's Comprehensive Plan on May 1, 2013, and December 4, 2013 respectively.

The Ozaukee County Multi-Jurisdictional Comprehensive Plan, Park and Open Space Plan and the Farmland Preservation Plan documents can be found at: https://www.co.ozaukee.wi.us/551/Planning-Division.

The Department is currently working on an update to the POSP and an update and amendment to the Comprehensive Plan under a contract with SEWRPC.

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)

Bluebird box monitoring data has been collected at Mee-Kwon County Park and Golf Course and Hawthorne Hills County Park and Golf Course since 2008 by local volunteers with the support of Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department (Department) staff.  This past year, the 28 boxes fledged 82 eastern bluebirds, 54 tree swallows, 8 chickadees and 5 house wrens at Mee-Kwon County Park and Golf Course. Since 2008, 1,487 bluebirds have fledged in the 28 boxes. Note: The number of boxes has ranged from 26-30 with unproductive boxes removed and moved as needed.  Volunteers were unable to monitor the boxes at Hawthorne Hills County Park and Golf Course in 2021, but plan to continue in 2022.

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 Department continues to manage two major habitat restoration projects on Ulao Creek in the Village and Town of Grafton and Mole Creek in the Village and Town of Saukville. Project activities include (1) channel remeandering, (2) improvement of lateral connectivity by connecting aquatic habitat to floodplain wetland with suitable hydroperiod, (3) wetland creation and/or enhancement, (4) invasive plant control, (5) native plant restoration (e.g. tree and shrub planting and seeding wetland species), and (6) installation of fish and bird habitat structures. In 2014 the initial phases of each project were completed, restoring portions of the creeks to a natural and dynamic state, which included installing multiple habitat structures for fish, avian and wildlife species. Hundreds of native trees, shrubs and wetland plants were planted within both project areas providing additional habitat for birds and wildlife and competing with invasive species growth. In 2015 and 2016, subsequent phases were completed on both Ulao and Mole Creeks undergoing the same restoration activities with additional native tree and shrub plantings and invasive species management activities. In late 2016, a tributary to Ulao Creek, Kaul Creek, underwent the same habitat restoration activities as Ulao and Mole Creek, expanding the restored creek channel and adjacent floodplain/wetland areas. In 2019, another phase of the Mole Creek project began, and final construction was completed in fall 2021. The Ulao Creek and Kaul Creek restoration sites (approximately 1.5 miles of stream) are located on private properties and each owner has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to preserve the project enhancements and restoration for a minimum of 20-years. In collaboration with the Ulao Creek Partnership and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), the Department is working on acquiring permanent conservation easements and/or fee simple acquisition of portions of the restoration area at Ulao and Kaul Creek in order to permanently protect the investment. The Mole Creek restoration sites (8,211 linear feet of stream restoration) are located on multiple permanent public easements owned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 

In 2019, the Department acquired a 56-acre parcel in the City of Mequon from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) for addition to the Ozaukee County Parks System, as the Little Menomonee River Fish and Wildlife Preserve (LMRFWP) County Park. The parcel was part of the MMSD Green-Seams Program, which acquires and protects land from development for water quality and flood control. Land acquired under the program is required to be kept as an open space/natural area in perpetuity to help manage stormwater and is protected by a conservation easement. MMSD will hold the conservation easement on the LMRFWP and monitor the easement at least annually. The Department began a restoration project on the property in 2019 that is similar to those completed on Ulao and Mole Creeks including wetland creation, stream restoration, invasive species management and native vegetation restoration. Major construction components of the project were completed in 2021 with additional vegetation restoration planned for 2022 (e.g. prairie restoration, tree planting and invasive species management).

Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve, a prominent Ozaukee County Park and bird habitat on Lake Michigan, is legally protected by a conservation easement held by the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT). The conservation easement assures that Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve will be maintained as a nature preserve, prevents any use of the property that could impair or interfere with conservation, and preserves the lake shoreline, forests, wetlands, bluffs and other natural features of the property. The conservation easement is monitored annually by the OWLT. The property is also under the guidance of a Stewardship Grant Contract and Land Management Plan for protecting the natural resources. In addition, there are several other State and Federal properties in Ozaukee County with existing bird habitat under legal protection including several United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Waterfowl Production Area properties including the large Armin O. Schwengel Waterfowl Protection Area, Harrington Beach State Park, Huiras Lake State Natural Area and the Cedarburg Bog State Natural Area. Also, the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, Inc. owns several properties in Ozaukee County with existing bird habitat under legal protection including Huiras Lake, Donges Bay Gorge, Kurtz’s Woods and the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve. Finally, both the Mequon Nature Preserve and Riveredge Nature Center are found in Ozaukee County and have existing bird habitat under legal protection.

D. Document that current municipal planning seeks to provide additional bird habitat.

The Department created the Ozaukee County Ecological Prioritization Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Tool to develop a master planning document for the County’s open space lands. The GIS Tool uses GIS to compile and spatially analyze a wide variety of natural and cultural resource data into implementable outputs that make the information easy to visualize across the landscape. The GIS Tool produces two unique outputs: a preservation score and a restoration score. The preservation score identifies and prioritizes areas of high environmental value for protection. The restoration score identifies areas with high restoration potential that, if restored, have the greatest potential to contribute to desired environmental value. Both of these outputs provide useful information to decision-makers about where and why to prioritize land protection, preservation, and restoration efforts. An accompanying technical report serves as a supplemental document to the Master Plan and is intended to provide additional information about the planning process, a more detailed explanation of the data and methods utilized, and a discussion of the limitations and considerations of both the inputs and outputs of the analysis. The Master Plan was funded by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program. Both documents are available for download on the County website at http://wi-ozaukeecounty.civicplus.com/551/Planning-Division.

The Department is currently working with Mequon Preservation Partners, a partnership which includes the City of Mequon, Wisconsin Wetlands Association, Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, UWM and the Mequon Nature Preserve, members of the Mequon Park and Open Space Board and citizens to refine and utilize the Ecological Prioritization GIS Tool and conduct education and outreach events. Through this partnership, the GIS Tool has been significantly refined and expanded and several education and outreach events have been conducted with assistance of the Department, such as those at Virmond County Park and Trinity Creek Wildlife Area in the City of Mequon. Draft maps have been utilized for landowner outreach and provided to City staff for land use decision-making. The final maps, as part of a County-wide revision of the GIS Tool, will be used to guide landowner outreach and implementation of preservation and restoration activities within the City of Mequon and throughout Ozaukee County, but specifically on the Little Menomonee River. The Department is currently funded by a Wisconsin Coastal Management Program grant to expand the GIS Tool countywide.

The Department began working on an update to the existing Park and Open Space Plan (POSP) for Ozaukee County in 2018, continuing efforts in 2021. The planning process will review a wide variety of data related to demographic and economic characteristics, existing land uses, and natural resources, provide information on existing park sites and facilities and open space lands, and collect public input through a statistically significant survey, site surveys of users and public informational meetings to determine the need for additional park and open space sites and facilities. The POSP will outline objectives, principles, and supporting standards for park and open space preservation, acquisition, and development, analyze park and open space needs, and set forth recommended actions.

Ozaukee County, the City of Port Washington and the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT) are in the process of acquiring approximately 132+/- acres along the coast of Lake Michigan, currently known as the Clay Bluffs Cedar Gorge Nature Preserve (CBCGNP). Upon acquisition, CBCGNP will be formally added to the Ozaukee County Park System and OWLT will hold a conservation easement on the property, similar to the arrangement with LDGNP, to provide protection in perpetuity. The land is located immediately north of Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve. Acquisition will provide long-term protection of a unique statewide important clay seepage bluff natural community, locally significant natural areas and critical species habitat, maintain the natural integrity of the Lake Michigan shoreline, preserve the scenic vistas of the Lake Michigan bluffs, protect high groundwater recharge areas and wetlands, preserve primary environmental corridor, and offer outstanding public access to Lake Michigan and recreational opportunities, including the Lake Michigan Water Trail and National Marine Sanctuary.  Clay Bluffs Cedar Gorge Nature Preserve will be open year-round to the public for nature-based outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking, bird watching, wildlife observation, nature study, snowshoeing, limited hunting, and cross-country skiing. The property will be important as a migratory stopover and breeding habitat for birds using the Lake Michigan flyway and Ozaukee Bight and Harrington Important Bird Areas. The semi-wooded upland clay banks included in this property provides critical bird species habitat for the short-eared owl (Asio flammmeus), a State-designated special concern species. This property contributes significantly to the overall value of this larger complex of bird stopover and breeding habitat in combination with Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve and the Ulao Swamp Natural Area.

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 Department continuously looks for opportunities to provide education and outreach (e.g. workshops, workdays, presentations, tours) related to the improvement of the native local ecology and management of invasive species in Ozaukee County. While regularly scheduled education and outreach activities were significantly paired back in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, the Department was able to provide educational information through several tours, presentations and ongoing public requests (e.g. phone, email) and staffing a booth at the Ozaukee County Fair. Department staff regularly respond to public requests for advice/information and provide educational media (e.g. brochures, handouts, online resources, additional contacts) to residents in Ozaukee County. Department staff are also present in the park system and frequently speak with park users inquiring about restoration activities (e.g. invasive species management).

The Department continued to utilize youth conservation corps teams to help with invasive species management in the Ozaukee County Park System and natural areas. During each team’s service period, they learn about local ecology, invasive species identification and management. In 2021, 29 conservation corps team members from AmeriCorps NCCC, WisCorps and Milwaukee Community Service Corps and Great Lakes CCC learned about the problems associated with invasive species, ash tree removal as management for the invasive EAB, and how to properly plant a tree. Each team receives a formalized training about the ecology of the area and invasive species management and removal techniques. Following the trainings, the teams use their knowledge to manage invasive species, remove EAB infected ash trees and plant native trees to replace the lost trees and assist in competing with removed invasive species.

In 2018, the Department partnered with SEWISC and Glacierland RCD to complete a County-wide roadside invasive species inventory for phragmites, Japanese knotweed, wild parsnip and teasel. The data was used in 2019 and 2020 to conduct roadside invasive species management. This effort also involved education and outreach efforts (e.g. email/phone call communications, presentations and webinars) to municipalities throughout Ozaukee County as a collaborative effort between Ozaukee County and local units of government to assist with management efforts. The Department plans to provide additional education and geographical information to these municipalities to promote follow-up roadside invasive species control treatments on these invasive species in 2022.

In 2021, Department staff worked closely with an Eagle Scout to design, build and install boot scrapers and permanent educational signage regarding invasive species at Hawthorne Hills County Park. The Eagle Scout completed and installed four scrapers and throughout Hawthorne Hills County Park (and around the HH Peters Youth lodge) in fall and winter 2021. Three signs were designed and installed with a fourth, more customized sign, to be designed and installed in 2022. As part of the project the Eagle Scout and his family coordinated an invasive species work day with the rest of the troop with plans to do another one in 2022. 

The Department uses multiple outlets to promote educational events and information such as sending out press releases, posting and mailing out fliers, Facebook and Department website announcements/updates and through email blasts. In addition to the partner activities listed above, the Town of Grafton, the Ozaukee Treasures Network, the City of Mequon, Ulao Creek Partnership, Treasures of Oz, SEWISC and the MAS are all active in recruiting volunteers and promoting Department educational opportunities through their website and in print.

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.

Ozaukee County has five sites on the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail, including Harrington Beach State Park, Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve, Ulao Waterfowl Production Area, the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, Riveredge Nature Center, and Schwengel Waterfowl Production Area. In fact, the Ozaukee Interurban Trail was the second multiuse trail in the State of Wisconsin to receive designation as a Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail.

Ozaukee County also has three designated Important Bird Areas (IBAs), including the Cedarburg Bog, Harrington Beach Lakeshore Migration Corridor, and Ozaukee Bight Lakeshore Migration Corridor. The Ozaukee Bight Lakeshore Migration Corridor is encompassed by Virmond County Park and Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve (LDGNP), two Ozaukee County Parks. These areas within Virmond and LDGNP County Parks contain important habitats for breeding and migratory stopovers along the Lake Michigan Flyway. The Department is actively managing invasive species, planting native trees and shrubs and restoring warm-season native prairie to improve the habitat in both IBAs.

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.

Ozaukee County, the City of Port Washington and the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT) continue the process towards acquisition of 132 +/- acres along the coast of Lake Michigan, currently known as the Clay Bluffs Cedar Gorge Nature Preserve. The Ozaukee County Tourism Council, Port Washington Tourism Council and Grafton Chamber of Commerce have been supportive in the acquisition of the Clay Bluffs Cedar Gorge Nature Preserve property at several County Board Meetings and by providing letters of support for grants to WCMP, WDNR and USFS.

The Milwaukee Audubon Society (MAS) also works closely with the Department to plan and implement ecological improvement projects that benefit bird and other wildlife species. One such collaboration included the acquisition of the 155-acre Spirit Lake Property in the City of Mequon. The OWLT is the current owner of the property. The Department, OWLT, and MAS are working to restore and enhance this property for bird and wildlife habitat and stormwater filtration purposes. This property contains a pond, wetlands, mixed high-quality hardwood forest (NA-3), grassland, and agricultural lands being converted to prairie and forest. In 2018, the Department, with the assistance of conservation corps teams, planted 7,710 native tree seedlings on approximately 19 acres of agricultural lands through 2017 and 2018 USFS grants to mitigate the loss of ash trees due to the Emerald Ash Borer. The Department, OWLT and MAS are currently working on easement for the property to ensure prior restoration efforts are protected in perpetuity.

I. Document a recent project that created or restored bird habitat in your community. (Exclusions: Bird feeders and small-scale artificial nesting structures)

The Department has been actively managing Tendick Nature County Park for its ecological value through a variety of habitat restoration projects since 2007. Since 2015, the Department, in cooperation with its partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), ATC (American Transmission Company), Ducks Unlimited through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Pheasants Forever, have seeded and restored 45 acres of cool-season grassland/old field/invasive species to a diverse warm-season native prairie to enhance habitat for grassland birds and pollinators (e.g. bees, butterflies). This includes five acres that were seeded/restored in June 2021. The Department has also established a bluebird box trail within the restored areas. In 2020, the Department worked with a WisCorps conservation corps team to install 11 bluebird boxes, for a total of 21 boxes on the trail. The Department also worked with several partners including USFWS, Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust (SWWT), and We Energies to construct a 0.6 acre wetland restoration within the restored prairie for wildlife (e.g. amphibians, reptiles) as well as pollinators and other insects (e.g. dragonflies). The Department, in conjunction with an Eagle Scout candidate, built and installed a wood duck nest box with baffle at the wetland restoration in September 2018. In addition to the prairie seeding and wetland restoration, the Department has planted several scattered trees within and around the restoration site to further develop the grassland areas into a savannah-like ecosystem. In 2021, additional tree planting efforts continued throughout Tendick, focusing on improving woodland and wetland habitats. A total of 405 trees (small and large stock) of 12 different native species were planted throughout Tendick in 2021.

In 2016, The Department removed an old set of playground equipment at Virmond County Park and replaced it with a newer, nature-based themed playground equipment at a different location. The site of the old equipment was routinely inundated under rain events and is adjacent to an approximately 0.5 acre forested wetland. The Department worked with the Ozaukee County Highway Department to construct a 0.30-acre ephemeral wetland scrape that is hydrologically connected to the existing wetland area suitable for herptiles (e.g., blue spotted salamanders and frogs) and other wildlife (e.g. muskrats and ducks). The new wetland area was hand seeded with native wetland/prairie seed mix by Department staff and a GLCCC team. In spring 2019, the Department coordinated with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to facilitate a donation of native prairie plugs grown by inmates at a local prison. A workday with a MCSC team was held on 6/5/19 to plant the plugs around the Virmond wetland site to continue vegetation restoration efforts. The team planted a total of 882 plugs of nine different species including: lanceleaf coreopsis, showy tick trefoil, evening primrose, smooth penstemon, wild bergamot, wild quinine, butterfly weed, spiderwort and Virginia mountain mint. Each year since the construction of the wetland (2016 – 2021), the Department, with the assistance of various conservation corps teams, has been planting native trees and shrubs in the restoration area (e.g. American tamarack swamp white oak, American hornbeam) to improve the forest canopy and increase available habitat. The Department also worked with an Eagle Scout to install a wood duck nest box with predator baffle in spring 2019 to provide wood duck nesting habitat at the site of the newly restored wetland. Educational signage will be displayed in this area to explain the importance of ephemeral wetlands and discuss the wildlife species known to be in the park using these ephemeral wetlands. 

In July 2019, Department staff completed the seeding of the 8 acres of old-field/invasive species to warm-season native prairie at Virmond County Park, adding to the existing habitat restoration activities that have been completed. The Department prepared the site for the prairie planting in fall 2018 and June and July 2019 through a series of mowing and herbicide treatments to kill the existing vegetation in preparation for direct seeding. Department staff coordinated with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to select native prairie plant species and bid out the seed mixes. Department staff also coordinated with the WDNR to rent a direct drill seeder for the projects. The seed mix used for the restoration projects contains 38 native prairie species that were selected based on the soils and native local ecology of each Park and to provide high-quality habitat for resident, migratory and declining species of birds, pollinators (e.g. bees and butterflies) and other wildlife within the parks. In 2020, WisCorps and AmeriCorps NCCC teams assisted with the creation of a bluebird trail around the restored prairie area, installing 9 bluebird boxes. In 2021, Department staff began preparing (e.g. mowing and herbicide treatments) another 10.5 acres for restoration in 2022 and coordinated with USFWS to bid and order the seed mix to be used in the project.

In 2019, the Department acquired a 56-acre parcel in the City of Mequon from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) for addition to the Ozaukee County Parks System, as the Little Menomonee River Fish and Wildlife Preserve (LMRFWP) County Park. The parcel was part of the MMSD Green-Seams Program, which acquires and protects land from development for water quality and flood control. Land acquired under the program is required to be kept as an open space/natural area in perpetuity to help manage stormwater and is protected by a conservation easement. MMSD will hold the conservation easement on the LMRFWP and monitor the easement at least annually. The Department began a restoration project on the property in 2019 that is similar to those completed on Ulao and Mole Creeks including (1) channel remeandering, (2) improvement of lateral connectivity by connecting aquatic habitat to floodplain wetland with suitable hydroperiod, (3) wetland creation and/or enhancement, (4) invasive plant control, (5) native plant restoration (e.g. tree and shrub planting and seeding wetland species), and (6) installation of fish and bird habitat structures.  Major project elements were completed in 2021 including the construction of approximately 1,850 feet of the new stream channel, excavation and vegetation of 2 acres of new floodplain and restoration of 1.5 acres of spawning wetland, 1.7 acre waterfowl wetland and 0.4 acre ephemeral wetland. Major construction components of the project were completed in 2021 with additional vegetation restoration planned for 2022 (e.g. prairie restoration, tree planting and invasive species management). Extensive invasive species control and tree planting efforts were also completed with additional efforts planned in 2022. Thus far, 126 large trees and 630 tree seedlings of 15 different native species have planted throughout the project site. 

J. Show that a significant number of properties have been recognized as having bird-friendly yards (e.g., Yardmap/Habitat Network, National Wildlife Federation’s Backyard Certification Program).

The National WIldlife Federation reported that there are currently 113 Certified Wildlife Habitat locations in Ozaukee County.

The Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory (WGLBBO) launched the Neighborhood Habitat Improvement Project program to engage and empower residents to improve urban habitat at the most local scale, their yards, by providing education about and promoting native plant landscaping. Goals of the Program include improving habitat for birds and other wildlife in residential Port Washington as a pilot for future programs in other sub/urban areas, improve water quality of suburban streams in Port Washington, improve our scientific understanding of how urbanization affects birds and to nurture and promote a community of engaged, motivated and knowledgeable citizen scientists in Port Washington. The Department has been working with WGLBBO, presenting at bird-conservation webinars and leading tours for the program. The Department is implementing a stream restoration project (Mineral Springs Creek in Port Washington) and working with WGLBBO to restore native prairie within the project area. The restoration project will be used to showcase native landscaping to inspire local residents to restore their own properties. The Department will request statistics from WGLBBO about participating residents to gauge the on-the-ground impact of the program.

As a note, the Yardmap/Habitat Network program does not seem to be active.

K. Implement a tree risk policy (see pg. 153) designed to leave dead trees standing as nesting and foraging resources for birds when it is safe to do so.

As part of a 2018 WDNR Urban Forestry Grant, the Department developed a Forestry/EAB Management Plan for several Ozaukee County Parks (Hawthorne Hills County Park and Golf Course, Tendick Nature County Park and Waubedonia County Park) which includes language about prioritizing removals for potentially hazardous trees and leaving others standing-dead to provide nesting and foraging resources for birds and other wildlife. The Forestry/EAB Management Plan was revised and updated in 2020 to include several additional County Parks (e.g. Virmond Park and Covered Bridge County Park) as part of a 2019 WDNR Urban Forestry Grant. The Department worked with staff in 2021 to prioritize ash and hazardous tree removals where necessary, while leaving those that could safely be left standing as snags. If removal was necessary, where possible, felled ash/hazardous trees were left as woody debris for habitat.

L. Show that your community has restored at least two acres of woodlands, wetlands, or prairie.

The Department has taken an active role in restoring habitat consistent with the native ecology throughout Ozaukee County through a variety of ongoing wetland, woodland and grassland/prairie habitat projects in multiple County Parks and within three large scale restoration project sites. The Department controlled invasive species, seeded native prairie, restored several acres of wetlands and planted hundreds of native trees, shrubs and wetland plants throughout the County park system as well as the Ulao/Kaul Creek, Mole Creek and Little Menomonee River habitat restoration sites.

From 2013-2017, hundreds of native trees, shrubs and wetland plants were planted within the Ulao and Mole Creek project areas, restoring 18.29 and 8.66 acres of habitat respectively, for birds and wildlife as well as competing with invasive species. In 2015-2017 subsequent phases were completed at both restoration project sites and the newly added Kaul Creek site with the same restoration activities and additional native tree and shrub plantings. Strategically placed ash trees (large woody debris) were installed within the newly restored creek channels to provide habitat for several fish, avian, wildlife and herptile species. In 2018, the Department began working with a landowner in the Ulao Headwaters (Ulao Hardwood Swamp) of the Ulao watershed through a USFS-GLRI grant to mitigate the loss of ash trees canopy caused by emerald ash borer through tree native planting. The locally significant natural area is dominated by ash trees that are now standing dead. The Department is working with the landowner, private contractors and conservation corps to replant the swamp with native trees. Many ash will remain standing-dead as habitat. The goal for this project was to plant at least 7,500 native tree seedlings and 200 large trees. The landowner is also planting hundreds of trees on the property as match to the project. Between 2018 - 2020, 7,695 tree seedlings and 520 large trees were planted over 40 acres of land as part of the project.

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 Planning and Parks Department, through collaboration with the Ulao Creek Partnership, Inc. (UCP) and MAS, sponsors programs/events to remove invasive species (e.g. invasive shrubs from riparian woodlands such as buckthorn and honeysuckle) on private property within the Ulao Creek Watershed. In addition, the Department, through its participation and collaboration with the UCP and in conjunction with the Ulao Creek Habitat Restoration project, offers a program to plant native trees on UCP member’s private properties to enhance the watershed and provide for native habitat. The Department has also provided advice on the management of invasive species to the private landowner of the Ulao Swamp headwaters where active tree planting is ongoing. As mentioned, the Department is managing an ongoing large-scale habitat restoration project on Ulao/Kaul Creek. All project work is being implemented on private property. The Department has also coordinated phragmites removal projects with OWLT on private properties adjacent to the habitat restoration projects. Throughout the duration of the projects, the Department has been assisting landowners in the removal of invasive species on their properties. The Department, in partnership with MAS, received a National Audubon Society Audubon in Action Grant in 2018 to continue working on private lands in the Ulao Creek Watershed to manage invasive species and plant native trees in 2019. In 2020, the UCP, in partnership with the Department, continued invasive species management efforts in the restoration area through a SEWISC invasive species management grant awarded to UCP. AmeriCorps NCCC and MCSC teams assisted with invasive species removal efforts, removing invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle from approximately 7 acres of private land in the Ulao Creek watershed. In 2021, the Department worked with the UCP to raise grant funds for continued invasive species management in the Ulao Creek watershed on private priority. The UCP was awarded a grant for work to continue management in 2022-2023 with assistance from the Department to manage and implement the project.

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

The Department continually seeks funding to support land management activities to improve the ecology and recreational opportunities within the Ozaukee County Park System and Department-managed Natural Areas. The Department has received federal, state, local and private grants including NFWF- SOGL, USEPA GLRI, WDNR Urban Forestry, SEWISC and Brookby Foundation funding to continue to control and manage invasive species, treat/remove ash trees for emerald ash borer (EAB), and replant native trees and shrubs to assist in competing with new invasive seedlings and provide habitat consistent with the native local ecology that will benefit many bird species. Invasive species targeted for removal include autumn olive, black alder, black locust, bull thistle, Canada thistle, common buckthorn, common burdock, common teasel, crown vetch, cut-leaved teasel, Dame’s rocket, European privet, garlic mustard, glossy buckthorn, honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), Japanese barberry, Japanese knotweed, lyme grass, multiflora rose, narrow-leaved cattail, purple loosestrife, reed canary grass, Russian olive, spotted knapweed, tree of heaven, white sweet clover, wild parsnip, and yellow sweet clover. In 2021, the Department, with the assistance of conservation corps teams and volunteers, managed 30 different invasive species on approximately 125 acres of land throughout the Ozaukee County Park System.

In 2018, the Department partnered with SEWISC and Glacierlands RCD to complete a County-wide roadside invasive species inventory for phragmites, Japanese knotweed, wild parsnip and teasel. The data being collected was used in 2019 and 2020 to conduct roadside invasive species management, specifically within the I-43 corridor and County-managed roads. A total of 262 populations were treated between 2019-2020 including: 59 phragmites, 3 Japanese knotweed, 161 cut-leaved/common teasel and 39 wild parsnip. As funding allows, the Department plans to conduct follow-up roadside invasive species control treatments on these invasive species in 2022 to help stop the spread.

Cumulatively, since 2016, the Department has managed over 400 acres of land for invasive species within Ozaukee County Parks, natural areas and habitat restoration areas. Secured NFWF-SOGL and SEWISC funding will support continued invasive species management activities in 2022.

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).

The Department has been directly involved with the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory’s Neighborhood Habitat Improvement Project. The Program is designed to engage and empower residents to improve urban habitat at the most local scale, their yards, by providing education about and promoting native plant landscaping. Goals of the Program include improving habitat for birds and other wildlife in residential Port Washington as a pilot for future programs in other sub/urban areas, improve water quality of suburban streams in Port Washington, improve our scientific understanding of how urbanization affects birds and to nurture and promote a community of engaged, motivated and knowledgeable citizen scientists in Port Washington. In 2021, Department staff presented at bird-conservation webinars for the program and lead a tour of a stream and vegetation restoration project planned in Port Washington in partnership with WGLBBO for “Love our Great Lakes Day”.  More information about the program can be found at: https://wglbbo.org/what-we-do/pillar-projects/neighborhood-habitat-improvement-project.  The Department is implementing a stream restoration project (Mineral Springs Creek in Port Washington) and working with WGLBBO to restore native prairie within the project area. The restoration project will be used to showcase native landscaping to inspire local residents to restore their own properties.

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

2015 Brookby Foundation grant funding allowed the Department to design, engineer, and build a functional chimney swift nesting tower in Virmond County Park, a designated Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society and the State of Wisconsin. The nesting tower was built by the County’s Highway Department and installed in November and December 2015. In order to make the tower more aesthetically pleasing and provide an educational opportunity at the park, the Department requested proposals from local artists to create and implement their ideas for an artistic design that would be added to the structure. Local artist, Sally Duback, was chosen by a County advisory committee comprised of artists, citizens, a County board supervisor, tourism representative and others to implement her community based mosaic design proposal. Throughout 2017, Sally worked with nearly 600 students throughout Ozaukee County to create and glaze clay tiles that were used to form colorful mosaic design panels for the tower. In 2018, Sally created and installed intricate façades for each side of the tower that depicted day and night nature scenes, and native Wisconsin wildflowers and tree leaves. In celebration of the tower, art installation and the annual International Migratory Bird Day, the Department hosted a special event at Virmond County Park on Saturday, May 19th 2018. Teachers and students involved in the project, neighbors, a representative of the Brookby Foundation, Nicole Lightwine, Chairperson of the Ozaukee County Natural Resources Committee, Jennifer Rothstein, and curious members of the public joined the Department Director, Andrew Struck and Ecological Program Assistant, Tina Kroening and Sally Duback in celebrating the completion of the beautiful and functional public art piece. Several chimney swifts were seen flying overhead during the celebration, as Department staff discussed the ecology of this fascinating species.

On June 15th 2019, MAS and Department staff participated in the annual Treasures of Oz Eco-Tour at Virmond County Park. The Treasures of Oz event takes place each year to bring residents of Ozaukee County and beyond to the ecological gems of Ozaukee County. Volunteer docents provide ecologically focused tours of each property. MAS and the Department provided tours to 79 individuals that visited Virmond that day. Visitors learned about the ecology of the park, restoration activities taking place (e.g. invasive species management, wetland and prairie restoration, and reforestation) and focused on the significance of Virmond as a designated Important Bird Area. The chimney swift tower was also highlighted to bring awareness to chimney swifts and other declining aerial insectivore species as well as the preservation of their habitat and structures that provide for nesting and roosting. A booth with educational information was also on display for event participants. Tom Mlada and Eddee Daniel (of a Wealth of Nature) put together an article on the event which can be found at: https://awealthofnature.org/ozaukee-county-celebrates-10th-annual-treasures-of-oz/.

The Department hopes chimney swifts will use the tower for nesting and roosting, but above all, the tower is there to bring awareness about the declining species and the importance of preserving existing chimney swift habitat. As such, the Department is in the process of installing permanent educational signage to explain chimney swifts and the importance of protecting existing habitat structures. The sign has been designed and installation is planned for spring 2021. It is also the first public art piece to be installed in the Ozaukee County Park System and, hopefully, the first of many!

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.).

The Department works with several Eagle Scouts each year on a variety of projects such as building bird nest boxes, boardwalks, boot scrapers and split rail fences for several Ozaukee County Parks. The Department provides materials and guidance to complete the projects. In 2018, one wood duck box was built and installed at the new wetland scrape restoration at Tendick Nature Park and another was installed at the Mee-Kwon County Park pond. 12 additional wood duck boxes were built and installed by Eagle Scouts in 2019 at Covered Bridge County Park, Ehlers County Park, Hawthorne Hills County Park, Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve, Mee-Kwon County Park, River Oaks County Park, Tendick Nature Park, Virmond County Park and Waubedonia County Park. An Eagle Scout also built a split rail fence around a portion of the newly restored prairie at Tendick Nature County Park to create an expanded and defined border around the prairie and separate it from the adjacent landowner. In 2020 an Eagle Scout built a wooden kiosk/shelter at Virmond County Park that will eventually include educational information, including information about the local ecology, conservation and restoration efforts being implemented in the park as well as the bird species benefiting from available habitat. In 2021, an Eagle Scout built and installed four boot scrapers with permanent educational signage at Hawthorne Hills County Park to reduce the spread of invasive species and create awareness within the public. As part of his project, the Eagle Scout crew learned about invasive and native species ecology and organized and implemented an invasive species removal work day at the park. In addition, Department staff began working with another Eagle Scout on a project to build and install additional nest boxes throughout the property in 2022.

S. Demonstrate how a public golf course is managed to benefit birds.

The Department, through the Golf Course Division, continues to manage approximately 1.5 acres of native prairie at Mee-Kwon County Golf Course that was planted in 2008. The Department has also stopped mowing large areas (approximately 25 acres all together) of the golf course in conjunction with scattered tree plantings to create a savannah-like habitat throughout the property. As mentioned in the Basic Requirements section, bird boxes were installed at both Mee-Kwon and Hawthorne Hills Golf Courses in 2008 and have been monitored nearly every year since.

The Department received 2016-2021 funding from USEPA-GLRI, USFS-GLRI, WDNR Urban Forestry, Brookby Foundation, ATC and WDNR-WI Regional Planning Commission to plant native species of trees, in the Ozaukee County Park System, including the two Golf Courses. This ongoing effort to mitigate the loss of ash trees due to EAB and to naturalize out-of-play portions of the golf courses continued in 2021. As part of USFS-GLRI grant funded EAB-mitigation projects, 90 large trees and 2,500 seedlings and were planted at Hawthorne Hills Golf course and 117 medium and larger trees were planted at Mee-Kwon Golf Course in 2021. From 2017 to 2021, 140 large trees and 3,325 seedlings were planted at Hawthorne Hills County Golf Course and 919 large trees and 11,430 seedlings were planted at Mee-Kwon Golf Course. The Department focuses on native species diversity when selecting species for planting and has used over 30 locally native species including: northern white cedar, yellow birch, American tamarack, quaking aspen, shagbark hickory, serviceberry, red maple, silver maple, American hornbeam, hackberry, red oak, bur oak, swamp white oak, white oak, chinquapin oak, American Witch-hazel and American elderberry.

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.)

Ozaukee County is home to 22 birding "hot spots," including 11 along the Ozaukee Interurban Trail. "Hot spots" located along the trail are marked with a "Trailside Birding Hot Spot" sign as shown in the attachments. Additional educational signage can be found at seven kiosks along the Trail and in three County Parks identifying and detailing the various birding "hot spots," important bird habitat types including wetland, open grassland, riverine, woodland, and Lake Michigan, as well as the typical species of birds one may find in each habitat type. The Department promotes these birding areas through a variety of events, announcements and distribution of the Ozaukee County “Trailside Birding Guide” including the annual Treasures of Oz event, International Migratory Bird Day and the Ozaukee County Fair. The Ozaukee County Tourism Council also actively distributes the guide from online website requests. Several hundred guides have been distributed over the last several years.

U. Show that your community maximizes the value of right-of-way space (e.g., power lines, pipelines, etc.) by planting them with native grasses, shrubs, herbs, and other prairie/grassland plants.

As mentioned, the Department has been restoring old-field/invasive species to native warm-season prairie in several Ozaukee County Parks. Specifically, at Tendick Nature County Park, the Department has partnered with American Transmission Company (ATC) through Community Tree Planting Program and Pollinator Habitat grants (most recent award in 2020 for restoration completed in 2021) to restore prairie (prairie seeding) and savannah habitat (through tree planting) while maintaining vegetation in compliance with ATC’s vegetation standards within ROW areas. The Department has maximized and will continue to maximize the value of the ATC ROWs by seeding prairie forbs and grasses (low growing vegetation) and planting trees outside of the ROW to create savannah or forested ecosystems.

V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Ozaukee County is also a member of the North Branch Milwaukee River Wildlife and Farming Heritage Area Advisory Committee. This representation is indicative of Ozaukee County’s long-term efforts to promote the Natural Areas and Critical Species Habitat Management Plan for Southeastern Wisconsin. Ozaukee County has also incorporated the December 2010 amendment to the Regional Natural Areas and Critical Species Habitat Management Plan recommendations into its Park and Open Space Plan (POSP) for implementation. Ozaukee County implemented one of the recommendations of the POSP through the acquisition of the Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve. The Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Director is also on the Friends of Cedarburg Bog Board and assists with programming.

Community Forest Management

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.

As mentioned in the Basic Requirements, the Department continues to implement a variety of projects to enhance, restore and expand habitat for birds, fish and wildlife. The Department has received 2016-2021 grant funding from USEPA-GLRI, USFS-GLRI, WDNR Urban Forestry, Brookby Foundation, ATC and WDNR-WI Regional Planning Commission to plant native species of trees, in the Ozaukee County Park System, including the two Golf Courses, habitat restoration project sites (e.g. Ulao and Mole Creeks) and several private or partner-owned properties. In 2021 alone, the Department with the assistance from conservation corps teams, contractors and volunteers planted 4,083 trees. Since 2014, the Department has planted over 30,000 trees throughout Ozaukee County. The Department focuses on native species diversity when selecting species for planting and has used over 30 locally native species including: northern white cedar, yellow birch, American tamarack, quaking aspen, shagbark hickory, serviceberry, red maple, silver maple, American hornbeam, hackberry, red oak, bur oak, swamp white oak, white oak, chinquapin oak, American Witch-hazel and American elderberry.

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 Department’s website provides web links to information on controlling free-roaming cats and also actively publicizes the “Cats Indoors!” program. The Department is beginning to work with its partners including the Ozaukee Humane Society, Inc., Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Wild Birds Unlimited (Mequon), and several veterinarians in the County (e.g. Little Animal Hospital in Port Washington) to publicize the “Cats Indoors!” program through the placement of brochures and posters at their places of business. The Department is actively working to expand this effort and provide the “Cats Indoors!” brochure free of charge to local businesses.

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

The Department website also provides web links to information on how to protect birds from window strikes. The Planning and Parks Department also has copies of the “You can save birds from flying into windows!” brochure at its main office in the County Administration Center.

I. Demonstrate that your community has enacted a bird collision monitoring program and has treated problem windows to reduce collisions with municipal and commercial buildings.

The Department’s website provides web links to information on how to protect birds from window strikes. The Department also has copies of the “You can save birds from flying into windows!” brochure at its main office in the County Administration Center.

The Department has also begun an effort to identify potential window strike areas amongst its County Parks’ buildings and Golf Course clubhouses and install “shadow hawk” window clings to minimize bird window strikes. While this program is in its infancy and is primarily focused on the buildings under the purview of the Department, it is desired to expand this program to all the other County buildings including the Administration Center and Justice Center. It is also anticipated that in the future, Ozaukee County would adopt a formal policy to endorse this program countywide for its facilities. The Department is currently working to raise funds to purchase more effective tape that deter bird window strikes. This effort will be one step towards minimizing the impact of County buildings on bird window strikes.

Public Education

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. 

The Riveredge Nature Center in Saukville developed a nature-based public 4K option for Southeastern Wisconsin families in 2019. 75% of the instructional time is nature-based and students are immersed in the natural world. The program features hands-on, child-centered opportunities for learning through exploration and discovery in rich outdoor settings. Through a wide variety of seasonally appropriate experiences, children develop a strong connection with the natural world and build fundamental skills needed to prepare them for kindergarten.

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 Department continues to use multiple outlets to promote creating and enhancing backyard habitat for bird through educational information and events such as staffing informational booths at public events, sending out press releases, posting and mailing out fliers, Facebook and website posts and email blasts. In addition to the partner activities listed above, the Town of Grafton, the Ozaukee Treasures Network, the City of Mequon, Ulao Creek Partnership, Treasures of Oz, SEWISC, WGLBBO and the MAS have all been active in promoting the creation and enhancement of backyard habitat for birds through their websites, print and hosting meetings/conferences.

The Department’s Bird Conservation website provides web links to information on backyard habitat programs such as: the National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat Program, the National Audubon Society’s Backyard Habitat program, Audubon’s Plants for Birds program, Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (WBCI), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, American Bird Conservancy and Bird City Wisconsin.

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 Department continues to look for opportunities to take the lead in developing or becoming a partner in bird monitoring programs throughout Ozaukee County including the Riveredge Nature Center Christmas Bird Count, Great Backyard Bird Count and Swift Night Out.

The Department received a WDNR Citizen Based Monitoring grant in 2016 to develop a kestrel box monitoring program in partnership with the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory (WGLBBO) and local volunteers. As part of the project, the Department, along with Bill Mueller of the WGLBBO, coordinated a well-attended educational kestrel workshop to educate and recruit volunteers to help install and monitor 10 kestrel boxes throughout Ozaukee County. Department staff, with the assistance of volunteers, purchased, installed and monitored the 10 kestrel boxes throughout Ozaukee County. The attendees also learned how to build, install and monitor kestrel boxes on their own property. Department staff will recruit additional volunteers in 2022 to continue monitoring the kestrel nest boxes as well as other bird nest boxes that have recently been added to the Ozaukee County Park System (e.g. bluebird and wood duck boxes). Kestrel monitoring data is provided to the Kestrel Monitoring Partnership each year.

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

While Ozaukee County has had to modify its traditional annual WMBD recognition and celebration with partnering organizations since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Ozaukee County was able to bring awareness to the importance of bird conservation efforts through other efforts in 2021 using virtual and social distanced options. During the month of May 2021, the Department hosted a bird observation scavenger hunt activity for the public to participate in. Residents were invited to try to find as many bird species as possible within natural areas of Ozaukee County. At the end of May 2021, the Department also hosted a guided bird hike at Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve County Park. The Department has declared that it will continue its annual celebration and recognition of WMBD on a Saturday or Sunday in May 2022 with its partners using virtual and social distanced options depending on the COVID-19 situation at that time.

E. Illustrate a program that involves schools, garden clubs, or other organizations in bird conservation activities.

The Department’s USEPA GLRI grant (2016-2019) included a component to work with local nature centers on creating curriculum and teaching area schools about the issues of invasive species on how they affect ecology and the importance of native vegetation for birds and other wildlife. Students had classroom curriculum mixed with outdoor hands-on educational opportunities such as weed-outs and tours of Virmond County Park lead by Department staff, which highlighted improved bird habitat through native plantings, invasive species management and structural habitat (e.g. kestrel box, wood duck box, chimney swift tower and bluebird boxes). The Department, Riveredge Nature Center, Mequon Nature Preserve and Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (SANC) collectively educated 1,241 students from private, public and home schools in Milwaukee and Ozaukee Counties from 2017-2019. With the success of this educational effort, the Department coordinated with SANC to plan additional programming. The Department applied for and received a grant from the Natural Resource Foundation – Go Outside Fund to support the continuation of the program and the Department and SANC were able to coordinate and implement the program again in 2021, bringing 35 students (5th and 8th graders) from Mount Lebanon School in Milwaukee to SANC and Virmond County Park for a day of indoor and outdoor ecological experiential classroom learning.

In addition, the Department has a strong partnership with several youth conservation corps groups including AmeriCorps NCCC, AmeriCorps GLCCC, WisCorps and the Milwaukee Community Service Corps. During their period of service, each team is provided safety and technical training related to the projects they are involved in (e.g. tree planting, invasive species management, construction projects). They are also provided extensive environmental education related to the local ecology and Department-lead restoration efforts including invasive and native species identification and lessons on applicable management/restoration practices. The ecological training provides the team members context and meaning for the work they are conducting as well as real-world experience in environmental related career fields and working with local units of government. Specifically, in 2021, 29 conservation corps team members from AmeriCorps NCCC, WisCorps, Milwaukee Community Service Corps and GLCCC were trained and assisted the Department with tree planting, invasive species management, bluebird box installation and boardwalk construction. The teams learned about specific invasive species identification (e.g. EAB, buckthorn, honeysuckle and the associated ecological impacts), native vegetation species identification, grassland birds in relation to the bluebird boxes and prairie restoration (as well as other bird conservation efforts) and the Department’s efforts to improve the ecology in Ozaukee County (e.g. prairie, stream, wetland and forest stream restoration, fish passage, land acquisition and environmental monitoring).

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 Department understands the importance of pollinator health and has been working to create high-quality pollinator habitat in several Ozaukee County Parks. From 2015-2019, the Department has been restoring old-field/invasive species to warm-season native prairie at Tendick Nature Park to create large, contiguous tracts of grassland/prairie habitat. Following restoration efforts in 2021, 45 total acres have been restored to date under this phased-project. Similarly, the Department is restoring native prairie at Virmond County Park. Eight acres were seeded in 2019 with preparations being made for an additional 10.5 acres to be restored in 2022. The Department also began preparing (e.g. mowing and herbicide treatments) approximately 15 acres of land within the Little Menomonee River Fish and Wildlife Preserve County Park to be restored to mesic and wet prairie in 2022 as part of the comprehensive restoration for the property. The Department has also continued to manage small native prairie plantings at Ehlers (1.0 acre) and Harborview County Parks (0.5 acre) (urban area in the City of Port Washington), Mee-Kwon Golf Course maintenance building (0.5 acre) to provide habitat for pollinators will continue to look for opportunities to plant and promote native prairie as future funding allows. The Department also recognizes the value of biodiversity in these projects and uses diverse seed mixes containing 30-40 native prairie species selected based on the soils and local ecology to provide high-quality habitat for resident, migratory and declining species of birds, pollinators (e.g. bees and butterflies) and other wildlife within the park.

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.

The link to Ozaukee County’s Bird City Wisconsin webpage is located under the first drop down menu on the main page: https://www.co.ozaukee.wi.us/623/Bird-Conservation

Please see the attached screen shot of the website for verification.

 

 

I. Show that your municipality promotes and supports a bird club or other environmentally/ecologically-minded club. (Exclusions: Garden clubs, unless you demonstrate a strong focus on native plants)

The Department continues to support local bird advocacy and educational organizations like Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, Riveredge Birding Club, the MAS and the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center and the Friends of Cedarburg Bog. The Director of the Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department is on the board of directors for the Wisconsin Audubon Council (President), the Friends of Cedarburg Bog and Ulao Creek Partnership.

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).

The Department manages a 0.3 acre prairie (part of Harborview County Park) and a 0.1 acre raingarden/prairie that are both a part of the Ozaukee County Administrative (municipal) building. Educational signage is displayed at the raingarden/prairie next to the entrance of the building to provide information about green infrastructure and native vegetation. Both natural areas contain a diverse mix of native vegetation including herbaceous species as well as a scattering of trees such as bur oak, chinquapin oak, service berry and quaking aspen. The Department continually manages both areas for invasive species and occasionally adds new trees or prairie plugs as needed.

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.

Ozaukee County is host to a myriad of bird related activities focused on raising awareness of its bird assets. The Department has staffed educational booths at a variety of public events including: the MAS's Natural Landscapes Conference, Lake Michigan Stakeholders Events, the International Migratory Bird Day celebration hosted by the County and its partners at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, the Grosbeaks Galore Conferences and the Ozaukee County Fair. The community’s efforts also extend to several significant non-profit organizations located and/or active in Ozaukee County including: the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve in Ozaukee County, Riveredge Nature Center and the Riveredge Bird Club in Ozaukee County, the Mequon Nature Preserve in Ozaukee County, Friends of the Cedarburg Bog in Ozaukee County, Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center and the Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Ozaukee County. Each of these non-profit organizations is active in Ozaukee County in raising awareness of its bird assets in very unique ways including research, education and outreach, on-going speaker series and education and implementation of bird rehabilitation. Finally, the Department has assisted with the posting of educational signage along the Ozaukee Interurban Trail and in the County Parks and publishing the Ozaukee Trailside Birding Guide.

In June 2021, the Department partnered with the Ulao Creek Partnership to host its fifth annual "Birding, Boating and Breweries" birding trip by kayak/canoe on the Milwaukee River, organized through the Natural Resources Foundation. Eight people participated in the event, paddling from Waubedonia County Park in Fredonia to River Oaks County Park in Grafton, and learned about what the UCP and the Department are doing for fish, avian and wildlife conversation in Ozaukee County. The group recorded seeing and hearing at least 38 bird species during the paddle.

Department intends to keep these types of events going in 2022, particularly in partnership with the Natural Resources Foundation, to continue the annual event.

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.

The Department’s USEPA GLRI grant (2016-2019) included a component to work with local nature centers on creating curriculum and teaching area schools about the issues of invasive species on how it effects ecology and the importance of native vegetation for birds and other wildlife. Students had classroom curriculum mixed with outdoor hands-on educational opportunities such as weed-outs and tours of Virmond County Park lead by Department staff, which highlighted improved bird habitat through native plantings, invasive species management and structural habitat (e.g. kestrel box, wood duck box, chimney swift tower and bluebird boxes). The students learn in a combination of classroom and field settings to give them a comprehensive experiential learning experience. The nature centers use data from the WI Department of Public Instruction to determine which schools are eligible for assistance with educational programming based on their population of economically disadvantaged and underserved students. The Department, Riveredge Nature Center, Mequon Nature Preserve and Schlitz Audubon Nature Center collectively educated 1,276 students from private, public and home schools in Milwaukee and Ozaukee Counties from 2017-2021. With the success of these educational efforts, the Department plans to continue coordinating these events with SANC in 2022 as time and funding allows.

Energy & Sustainability

A. Document an energy audit for a municipal building and show that your community is working to implement its recommendations.

Working with We Energies in 2015-2018, Ozaukee County performed energy audits at four of the County’s largest facilities: The Justice Center, Administration Building, Lasata Care Center, and the Highway Departments’ Spring Street buildings. The results of this audit, which found that heat, hot water, and lighting comprised a large majority of energy usage in the County municipal buildings, were instrumental in the Ozaukee County Energy Action Teams funding proposal.

This audit also helped prioritize proposed energy savings projects at the Justice Center, Administration Building and the Highway Department Buildings. The plan involves a budget of $100,000 to be spent over the course of three years to fund a subset of the recommended projects and the County Board authorized $114,583 as part of the 2016 budget to be implemented over three years (2016-2019). Recommended projects were mainly for lighting replacements at the Justice Center and Administration Center due to the facilities extended operating hours and greater potential for energy savings.

In order to document changes in energy use over time, the County’s Energy Action Team used an online energy management and tracking tool called EPA EnergyStar Portfolio Manager. Looking from 2004 to 2013, the tool showed that overall energy use in the county has been steadily decreasing due to significant investments in energy efficiency. The largest decrease in energy usage was found at the Justice Center, with a 24% decline in the years studied, and a 22% decrease at the Administration Building. However, it was also found that that rising energy costs continue to increase spending, making additional energy savings economically necessary going into the future.

B. Show that your community goes above and beyond in its support for, and implementation of, green transportation (e.g., bike trails, rideshare programs, bike trails/lanes, etc.). Be sure to utilize the narrative to illustrate why your community is exceptional because standard practice will not receive credit.

Ozaukee County is home to the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, a 30-mile paved trail based on the historic Interurban railway connecting Milwaukee to Sheboygan. The trail connects the communities of Mequon, Thiensville, Cedarburg, Grafton, Port Washington and Belgium. Unlike many other bike trails, the Ozaukee Interurban Trail is free to the public for commuting and recreating. Along the entirety of the Trail are rest stops equipped with bike repair stations, seating, scenic overlooks, rest rooms and aesthetically constructed informational kiosks.

The Ozaukee Interurban Trail Advisory Council was formed to assist in the planning and implementation of the trail. The Councils mission is to ‘promote the safe public use of the OIT for transportation, recreation, health, education, economic development, and enjoyment of Ozaukee County’s unique cultural, historical and natural resources.’ Six trail counters have been recording trail usage since 2013 across the county. Incorporating 2021 trail count data, usage averages 235 users per day and drawing over 343,772 users annually.

In addition to providing an eco-friendly commuting and recreational opportunities, the Ozaukee Interurban Trail also has several birding hotspots. The trail winds through and by woodlands/forests, riparian areas (e.g. Milwaukee River and Cedar Creek), grasslands, wetlands, Lake Michigan and several urban parks and golf courses in these various habitats and includes informative informational signs on the bird species a visitor is likely to encounter, as well as other conservation information.

The County has made a significant investment over the last 10 years in the development and maintenance of the OIT. The County budgets approximately $50,000 each year towards maintenance of the trails.

The Planning and Parks Department has also been partnering with the Ozaukee County Tourism Council, local Chambers of Commerce, particularly the Grafton Chamber of Commerce, and municipalities to implement a Joint Effort Marketing grant (JEM) from the State Department of Tourism to market the OIT as a transportation and recreational trail. The Department was awarded the $35,000 JEM grant in 2019 for implementation in 2019-2020. The check for the marketing effort was presented by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism at the annual Chris Kegel Day Bike Ride/Walk celebration on October 3, 2019.

C. Document that a municipal building is LEED certified (silver or higher).

Objective 1 in the Action Plan contained within the Sustainable Design section of the County Energy and Sustainability Plan is to design new County buildings as well as renovations in accordance with LEED Green Building Standards.

The Transit Services building was constructed in 2012 and included the following sustainability features: Materials re-use, recycled materials, water efficient fixtures, low or no emitting products, sustainable methods for storm water management and daylighting. This new construction was built from the demolition of the former Modern Equipment building at the site. Overall, 285 tons of steel were recycled, 8,100 tons of concrete were crushed and used on site, and only six percent of building materials from the former facility were sent to a landfill for disposal.

The Modern Equipment crane structure was adaptively reused to define the space of the Interurban Trail Pocket Park and incorporate the industrial history of the property into the design. The construction of the Transit Services building incorporated a variety of natural lighting and energy efficiency aspects. In addition, native and non-invasive landscaping was used around the facility, which requires little or no irrigation or maintenance, and a bio-retention area was created for stormwater management.

Ozaukee County is currently in the process of completing a $10 million renovation of the Lasata Care Center. The 48-year-old facility will be outfitted with a variety of updated equipment including new, more efficient boilers and energy efficient lighting. Not only will these improvements enhance the quality of life for Care Center residents, they will also improve the operation and performance of the county’s facilities for decades to come.

E. Show that your community has implemented a sustainability plan that improves your community’s energy efficiency and/or increases the use of renewable energy. (Exclusions: Smart Growth comprehensive plans)

Created in 2015, the Ozaukee County Energy and Sustainability Plan outlines a collection of strategies for government operations and facilities in an effort to promote economic and environmental stewardship and to improve the quality of life for Ozaukee County’s current and future residents. This initiative has been guided by the Ozaukee County Energy Action Team. The Director of the Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department is represented on the Energy Action Team and it has been authorized by the County Board by resolution.

The plan includes six areas of focus: energy, water, waste, transportation, sustainable design, and education and awareness. The goals of the plan include: Reducing energy use associated with government operations, promoting water conservation and stormwater best management practices, promoting the reduction, reuse, and recycling of resources as an alternative to landfill-bound waste, exploring opportunities for reducing fuel usage by county government vehicles through the purchase of fuel efficient vehicles, promoting the use of energy incentives and LEED standards in new construction, renovations, and equipment replacement, and increasing knowledge and awareness among county employees and the public on sustainability and energy saving programs and practices.

In creating this plan, Ozaukee County utilized US EPA’s ENERGY STAR Guidelines for Energy Management as a framework. Each subsection of the plan contains specific goals, objectives, and current and prospective projects that aim to better coordinate sustainability throughout the County.

Link to the plan:

https://ozaukee.uwex.edu/community-development/energy/

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.

Ozaukee County is currently raising funds to purchase and install solar panels on the roof of the Ozaukee County Administration Center. The estimated cost to design-build a 114 KW solar (pv) system on the flat roof of the Administration Center is $360,000. Funding from the Public Service Commission's (PSC) - Energy Innovation Grant (EIG) program (pending grant application), Focus on Energy's (FOE) prescriptive 2022 renewable energy incentive program and County project funding will support the project.

A 114 KW solar pv system would produce 138,959 kWh annually, offsetting approximately 24% of the Admin Center's annual electric usage, and 2% of County's overall usage. This project would save $13,605 annually, and has a 7-year payback of project funds requested, and a 30-year cash flow of $645,000. 138,959 kWh produced annually would offset approximately 96 metric tons CO2 producing greenhouse gas emissions, approximately 1.25% of our annual GHG emissions.

The Wisconsin Electric Power Company (WEPCO), the parent company for our utility, WE Energies, initiated a program in 2019 where they will install Solar PV Systems on utility customer’s roofs or property and pay their customers rent for that use. The Department of Administration (DOA) has been working with WEPCO this year on finding a suitable location for a Solar PV installation on Ozaukee County property. WEPCO proposed a 1.22 MW ground mounted Solar PV installation on a piece of land owned by Ozaukee County at Mee-Kwon Park. Under the agreement, WEPCO will pay Ozaukee County approximately $42,000 annually, in monthly installments of approximately $3,500 per month for 20 years. The Solar PV System occupies approximately 3.9 acres of land. See attachments showing the design layout. The DOA has worked with the Planning & Parks Department to ensure that the solar installation does not interfere with their fill site or any wetlands and the County maintains the ability to use the remainder of the site for passive recreation, i.e. trail use. At the expiration of the 20-year lease, there will be an opportunity for the County to purchase the Solar PV System, or WEPCO will remove it.

J. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

The Energy Action Team was created in June of 2014 via Resolution 14-16 and was charged with assessing historical and current energy use associated with Ozaukee County government operations, evaluating and recommending energy goals, practices and policies, and developing a plan of action to implement energy-related projects and initiatives. The Energy Action Team is a group of county department heads and staff from Finance, Highway, Land and Water Management, Maintenance, Planning and Parks, Transit and UW- Extension, representatives from We Energies and Focus on Energy, Ozaukee County Supervisors and County Administrator. The team meets quarterly to discuss progress and opportunities for energy savings.

Within the last five years, significant building retrofits and lighting upgrades have occurred at the Justice Center and Administration Building funded in part by the Wisconsin Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant award and/or Focus on Energy incentives. At the Justice Center, boiler system upgrades, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning) control upgrades, the replacement of A/C chillers, and the addition of a heat recovery unit are some of the major energy efficiency upgrades that have been performed in recent years. At the Administration Building, the facility’s chiller, air handling units, steam boiler, and chilled water and cooling tower pumps have been replaced with more efficient equipment. In addition, variable frequency drives have been installed to further reduce energy consumption.

In these County facilities, including several Planning and Parks Department facilities (Golf course maintenance building and clubhouses and HH Peters Youth Camp building), large energy savings have been accomplished through lighting changes including; replacing incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), replacing T12 fluorescent lighting and ballasts with T8 fluorescent lighting, installing reflectors where applicable, using LED exit lights and traffic signal lights, LED lighting fixtures and use of occupancy sensors and timers to reduce lighting costs. In 2015, the County installed solar panels on Transit Services Building. From 2016-2018, the Energy Action Team has been implementing $114,583 in lighting replacements at the Justice Center and Highway Department Buildings.

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.

The Department continued its annual celebration and recognition of WMBD in 2021 using virtual and social distanced options. During the month of May 2021, the Department hosted a bird observation scavenger hunt activity for the public to participate in. Residents were invited to try to find as many bird species as possible within natural areas of Ozaukee County. At the end of May 2021, the Department also hosted a guided bird hike at Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve County Park. The Department has declared that it will continue its annual celebration and recognition of WMBD on a Saturday or Sunday in May 2022 with its partners using virtual and social distanced options depending on the COVID-19 situation at that time. The agenda is currently under development, but will include guided bird hikes, native plant sale to benefit birds and bird related presentations. Department staff plan to lead a bird hike at Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve with the Town of Grafton as a partner and possibly sponsored by Wild Birds Unlimited.

Joined Bird City: 2010

Population: 86,395

Incorporated: 1853

Area: 1116 mi2

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