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.
An Ordinance to Adopt the Comprehensive Plan of the Village of Plover, Portage County, Wisconsin, was adopted by the Village Board on April 6, 2005, and is currently under revision.
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)
For the past 14 years, the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society (ALAS) has developed and monitored an Eastern Bluebird nest box trail (ABT = Audubon Bluebird Trail). In that time the trail has grown from 89 to 1,360 boxes and from 1 to 75 monitors. For the last six years it has been the largest and most productive trail in Wisconsin and for the last four years is thought to be the largest and most productive in the U.S. For the 2016 nesting season, this trail produced 7,238 songbirds, 5,289 of which were Eastern Bluebirds. In the 15 years of its activity, the ABT has produced about 75,340 songbirds, 57,299 of which were Eastern Bluebirds.
For the 2016 season in the Village of Plover, a total of 111 boxes were checked by 9 monitors (Kate Anderson, Stacy & Elijah Grajkowski, Janice Rath, Bill & Jan Seybold, Joe Schultz and Bill & Jill Ziehr). Four Village Parks were included in this monitoring. A total of 340 bluebirds and another 298 songbirds (wrens, chickadees & Tree Swallows) were produced from these boxes.
A key to the success of the ABT is its weekly monitoring program. Monitors check all boxes and turn the data in for a weekly report prepared by Kent D. Hall. This approach yields several dividends including: 1) a comparison of what is happening on the ABT and a chance to educate all monitors, 2) a chance to address problems throughout the trail and, 3) maintenance of high motivation and morale for the monitors. The ABT has been the focal point of great publicity and has helped develop a conservation conscience among dozens of people, especially children.
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 Village of Plover administration and Board had voted to manage 36 acres of the Little Plover Park using the Wisconsin Forest Management Program. They removed huge amounts of timber and created a firestorm among many of the Village residents and have vowed to be better stewards in the future, including some specific actions:
Earmarking $5000 for invasive plant control (especially black locust) for the Little Plover River Park.
Black Forest: This 26 acre site was slated to go through the same management plan as the Little Plover River Park, but the Village has agreed to re-consider that plan. To that end, Village residents have been surveyed and unanimously want to maintain this site. Kent Hall has made three breeding bird surveys there to establish the bird variety on the property.
The most significant development is with the 40 acre, water overflow area In the Village of Plover. This property is immediately west of the Boston School Forest property (environmental forest for the Stevens Point School system). It is a Red and white pine plantation. The Village has agreed to donate this 40 acres to the School Forest. A management plan has been developed by School Forest Director, Karla Lockman. Much of the property will be clear cut and deciduous trees planted to replace the aging pines. This will develop habitat that will appeal to a wide-range of bird species.
D. Document that current municipal planning seeks to provide additional bird habitat.
The Village of Plover is taking these critical steps to preserve avian habitat within the Village limits.
State-approved wetland mitigation bank on about 240 acres of land adjacent to the Little Plover River headwaters (would be converted from irrigated agricultural land): Status—development likely in 2016.
The Village and the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association have created a 501(c)(3) Organization (Conservation of the Little Plover River, UA, a Wisconsin Unincorporated Association), to fund the Master Plan for the Little Plover River Conservation Area ($75,000 raised to date).
Celebrate Plover Committee has developed a 501(c)(3) organization. The goal is to raise money to assist the Village with planned improvements in parks and public spaces.
V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.
In the summer of 2016 a nest of Merlins (a small falcon) were discovered in the Village of Plover. The nest was quite high and inaccessible, so the Village Fire Department provided a “hook and ladder” truck to elevate a bird of prey expert, Gene Jacobs (see 2nd photo), so he could remove the young from the nest (see adult bird and chick in first photo). This is a great example of the cooperative efforts extended to birds on behalf of the Village.
Community Forest Management
A. Demonstrate that your community has been awarded Tree City USA status by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
The Village of Plover continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1993. Each spring, the Village holds a ceremony combining Tree City USA and Bird City Wisconsin. This ceremony usually involves school children in the community and receives advertising in the local papers.
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 Village of Plover’s website has links to the American Bird Conservancy’s “Cat’s Indoors!” campaign. In addition, the ABC brochure “Cats, Birds & You” is being distributed for free by the Village to the Portage County Humane Society, Oakview Medical Center, Inc., and Woodhaven Animal Health veterinary clinic. These three sites use 100-200 of these brochures each year. It is important to note that cats are the second leading killer of birds and kill an estimated 1,000 times more birds than wind turbines.
B. Demonstrate that your community provides property owners with information on how to protect birds from window strikes (e.g., online links, brochures).
The Village of Plover website shows a link to “Window Alert”. The Window Alert site demonstrates what to use and how to use window decals to prevent window collisions.
For 57 years the Village of Plover has participated in the Stevens Point Christmas Bird Count. There are 8 Sectors in the Stevens Point-Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Sector 5 has been monitored for 19 consecutive years by Kent D. Hall and other birding volunteers and careful records kept of the species and species’ numbers seen. During that time, 63 species have been seen or heard. In 2016, the Trumpeter Swan and blackbird species were #’s #62 and #63. We also observed 31 species (tied for #3 all-time record) and 1,497 individuals (32.1% of individuals counted, an all-time absolute number of birds and highest-ever percentage of birds seen on the CBC). New high counts were recorded for Trumpeter Swan, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Rough-legged Hawk (Tie). Sector #5 was the only Sector to record the following species: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker & blackbird species. Sector #5 had “high counts” for the following 15 species: Mallard, Rock Pigeon, Blackbird species, American Robin, Mourning Dove, Cooper’s Hawk (Tie), American Crow, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Junco, House Finch & House Sparrow. 6people counted birds in Sector #5.
For the entire Stevens Point CBC a total of 4,668 individuals representing 46 species were observed by 31 volunteers.
E. Illustrate a program that involves schools, garden clubs, or other organizations in bird conservation activities.
The Village of Plover provides support for the environmental school for the Stevens Point School System, the Boston School Forest (BSF). The BSF area totals 120 acres, the northern 40 of which is owned by the Village of Plover. The Village allows the BSF students to use its property for educational purposes.
Once again, the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society renewed its “cavity nesting song bird” program with Roosevelt Elementary School in Plover. The age group chosen this time were the three third-grade classes (total of 72 students). To “kick off” the season, Kent Hall made a presentation. Display boxes with nests and eggs were used to educate the students before they started their observations. Each week for 6 weeks, these students visited 8 nest boxes and recorded the contents. For the season, 43 chicks were produced, (Black-capped Chickadees, Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebirds).
N. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.
The Boston School Forest (BSF) is found in the Village of Plover. The northern part of this forest tract is managed by the Village of Plover. The BSF serves the needs of students in the Stevens Point and Plover areas. In 2015/16, 7,220 people were given environmental programs at this facility. In addition to the financial outlay in the Stevens Point School System budget, $4,738.09 in donations were made to the BSF in 2015/16. The Aldo Leopold Audubon Society (ALAS) donated $490.09 of this money.
The Aldo Leopold Audubon Society (ALAS) provided copies of “Jewels of Nature” by Alan Haney, to all 30 schools in the Stevens Point School System.
Little Plover River Appreciation Day: For the 11th year, Friends of the Little Plover River held an Appreciation Day for students at Roosevelt Elementary and Plover-Whiting Elementary Schools (146 in 2016). Mainly aquatic lessons were learned (fishes, water quality, stream dynamics), but birds are discussed as well.
McDill School Trail: A school trail system was made in a 5 1/2 acre wooded area at McDill School in May of 2016. Among other things, this trail will be used for bird watching. We are also negotiating the development of a nest box trail in the area (similar to that of Roosevelt Elementary School.
ALAS holds a series of 14 field trips each season. One of the field trips is high-lighted in the document shown.
ALAS also holds 8 major talks for the academic year (September-May). The one by Neil Diboll is an example.
Plover’s 2016 Our IMBD was held on May 7. The field trip started with a discussion of the worldwide nature of the program and of the huge number of birds migrating from over-wintering to breeding habitats. Seven field guides led the trip and were assigned 5-6 different persons (a total of 43 attended). We first toured Iverson Park (on the Wi State Birding and Nature Trail) and then went to the 350 acre Lost Creek Wetlands. Trip participants recorded 56 species of birds. Of special note was a troop of Bob Scouts working on their “Birding Merit Badges”. We were able to help most of them complete their badges. In 2017, Plover’s IMBD will be on May 13.