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 17 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 1,315 boxes and from 1 to 72 monitors (Document 1). For the last eight years it has been the largest and most productive trail in Wisconsin and for the last six years is thought to be the largest and most productive in the U.S. For the 2018 nesting season, this trail produced 6,899 songbirds, 4,035 of which were Eastern Bluebirds. In the 17 years of its activity, the ABT has produced about 89,000 songbirds, 66,600 of which were bluebirds (75%)[Document 1].
For the 2018 season in the Village of Plover, a total of 84 boxes were checked by 6 monitors (Kate Anderson, Konrad & Nancy Chojnacki, Janice Rath, and Bill & Jill Ziehr). Four Village Parks were included in this monitoring. A total of 248 bluebirds and another 174 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 owns 16 acres of property at their Water Department. In the summer of 2017, Kent Hall did a bird survey on the property and found 29 species of birds. In three visits, he judged 14 of these as breeding birds and 10 as probable breeders--used WI Breeding Bird Atlas criteria to make these judgments (see Document 2).
In addition, the Village of Plover owns a 40 acre piece of property in their flood protection zone west of Boston School Forest. They have permitted BSF to make multiple use of this property for educational purposes. No survey has been conducted on this property, but walk throughs have given evidence of several breeding birds.
D. Document that current municipal planning seeks to provide additional bird habitat.
The Village of Plover is taking the following critical steps to preserve avian habitat within the Village limits or in nearby areas. These developments are centered around the Little Plover River Watershed Enhancement Project and occurred mostly in 2018. These steps included the following, all documented in Document 3.
1) The Village of Plover began to implement improvements to its Water System facilities in 2018, beginning with Well #3.
2) WDNR "In Lieu" Project. The Village of Plover project application was approved and the Village closed on the purchase of approimately 60 acres of land in December, 2018. The property will be converted to wetland and upland prairie.
3) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Project. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed plantings in November, 2018, that will result in the creation of 43 acres of tall grass prairie habitat within the Little Plover River Conservancy Area property. In addition, 12 acres of land were scraped to promote wetland reestablishment. A total of 4 acres of shrub and tree plantings on the Little Plover River Conservancy property will be completed in 2019.
4) Wisconsin Habitat Partnership Fund/Federal Wildlife Restoration Program Project. The Village applied for and received Wildlife Restoration Funds for a variety of projects.
5) Natural Resource Conservation Service Project. The Village was awarded $300,000 to be used by the Natural Resource Conservation Service to work with willing landowners (farmers) in and around the Little Plover River watershed to implement equip and other conservation practices.
6) Outreach Materials. An Outreach piece was created in August, 2019, and was used to promote voluntary participation in Little Plover River Watershed Enhancement Projects (Document 4).
7) Volunteer Efforts. On January 15, 17 & 19, voluntary work details were organized to cut and bundle trees and brush occurring as part of the Wisconsin Habitat Partnership Fund Project. A total of 47 volunteers were on hand for these sessions.
H. Show that the local Chamber of Commerce or a similar group (e.g., an Audubon chapter, Wild Ones, etc.) takes an active role in the planning process for protecting and enlarging favorable bird habitat.
The Little Plover River (LPR) has been a conservation nightmare for the past 10 years. It has dried up over extensive segments of the stream three times and is listed as one of the 10 most endangered streams in the U.S.--it is a Class I trout stream. A major reason it is drying up are the high capacity wells which dot the watershed.
The Village of Plover has organized a conservation effort to address the problems of the LPR watershed. Note that this watershed is partially outside the village, but the LPR runs through the Village--to address its long-term health, problems in the watershed must be addressed. The Plover Village administration, led by Dan Mahoney, has wisely solicited the help from other organizations to help this project realize success. These organizations include: WI Vegetable and Potato Grower's Assoc., Wisconsin Wetland Assoc., Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, U.S. Corps of Engineers, U.S. Resource Conservation Service and the WI DNR. If this project is successful, it will rank among the most important conservation projects in Portage Co. history (Document 4) and could set an example for similar watersheds in other areas of the state.
The first project for the LPR Flow and Watershed Enhancement Plan is the Soik Property Wisconsin Trust Mitigation Project (Document 4). The restoration plan includes a combination of the following actions to raise the groundwater level and restore site hydrology: 1) Decommissioning a high capacity irrigation well on the site to reverse the localized groundwater drawdown that its pumping has caused, 2) full or partial ditch fill, and 3) drainage tile removal.
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.)
Plover is part of the Green Circle Trail--4.5 miles of the GCT are found in Plover (Hoover Rd. Trail--Document 5). This trail connects to 22 miles of additional GCT (plus another 13 miles of spurs). Long-range plans include building 12 educational kiosks (10 of which are built and all have birds which are found along the GCT). In addition, the Hoover Rd. Trail is part of the GCTBirding Trail featured on the GCT website. Over 200 species of birds are listed on the GCT and many of them are found along the Hoover Rd. Trail.
Also, the Tomorrow River Trail connecting Plover with Manawa (29 miles) has its Trail Head in Plover. This area is well-maintained, with prairie and the start of a wooded area. The Trail is now graveled and allows bikes and horses on it in summer and snowmobiles in winter. The sides of the trail are left in a natural state and harbor dozens of breeding birds.
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 (Document 6). 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. This year, this ceremony was held on 2 October because of road construction in the area of the Plover Municipal Building. Kent Hall usually brings a brood of bluebirds or Tree Swallows for students to handle but all birds had already fledged (Document 7).
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.
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.
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 two, third-grade classes (total of 54 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, 26 chicks were produced, 14 Black-capped Chickadees, 4 Tree Swallows and 8 Eastern Bluebirds (Document 8).
For 59 years the Village of Plover has participated in the Stevens Point Christmas Bird Count (Document 9). There are 8 Sectors in the Stevens Point-Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Sector 5 has been monitored for 21 consecutive years by Kent D. Hall and other birding volunteers and careful records kept of the species and species’ numbers seen (Document 10). During that time, 66 species have been seen or heard. In 2018, the Great Blue Heron and Winter Wren were added. We also observed 32 species and 1,684 individuals (31% of individuals counted). Sector #5 was the only Sector to record the following species: Great Blue Heron, Winter Wren and Tufted Titmouse. Sector #5 had “high counts” for the following 20 species: Canada Goose, Am. Black Duck, Mallard, Bald Eagle, Ruffed Grouse, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecer, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Am. Robin, House Finch, Common Redpoll (Tie), Pine Siskin, Am. Goldfinch, Winter Wren, Tufted Titmouse & Great Blue Heron. 11 people counted birds in Sector #5. For the entire Stevens Point CBC a total of 5,441 individuals representing 49 species were observed by 36 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) (Document 11). 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. In the 2017-2018 school year, a total of 10,005 students (mainly) and adults attended the facility. In addition to monies allocated from taxpayers, a total of $11,466.89 was received in donations. The Aldo Leopold Audubon Society contributed $300.00 for a wall mural plus donated display boxes with nests and eggs for the Eastern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, House Wren, Black-capped Chickadee and House Sparrow. This beautiful facility has an extensive feeder system and has a large number of nesters (including Barred Owls). There is ample opportunity for students to learn about birds. This spring, Audubon will develop a nest box trail on the property like those at our 7 elementary schools in the Stevens Point and Plover area.
H. Document a substantial regular program that educates young people on any of the following topics: climate change, energy efficiency, green/bird-safe buildings, or environmental sustainability.
Aldo Leopold Audubon Society has 8 different programs per year which address environmental concerns of children (Document 12). We also have 14 field trips, some of which (International Migratory Bird Day) deal with many children (Document 13). In addition, the Citizens' Climate Lobby, Stevens Point Chapter, presents a puppet show to children. Usually, several presentations are made each year. In 2018, special shows were made at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair and on E-Day at Boston School Forest. Several hundred attend these shows over the course of a year.
Energy & Sustainability
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)
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UW-SP) provides numerous opportunities for Village residents to learn more about climate change and how individuals and organizations can take initiatives to address this important topic. For example, UW-SP offers lectures and presentations and panel discussions that are open to the public. UW-SP has presented climate change information and adopted policies that affect transportation, sustainable energy, and land use within the university and also provide information that is geared to local, State, national and international interests. UW-SP also offers courses on climate change and the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education provides workshops on sustainability and energy education.
The Village of Plover continually looks for ways to minimize its carbon footprint, in an effort to minimize its impact on the environment. For example, the Village recently replaced lighting in its municipalities with LED lighting to reduce energy consumption. In addition, the Village is working with Wisconsin Public Service to convert street lighting to LED lighting. This conversion is anticipated to take several years before all street lighting is converted. Public Works Department staff also reviews and recommends other energy saving measures for all Village facilities on an annual basis. The Village is pleased to offer a free composting and brush site for Village and Town of Plover residents from April through October each year and provides spring and fall pickups for Village residents on an annual basis.
The Village intends to use the Village of Plover Information Guide and biannual Community News publications to inform the public of these efforts and other efforts that have a positive impact on the environment.
In addition, Citizen's Climate Lobby sponsors talks during the year. Two are featured in Document 14. These talks are free and open to the public. In addition, CCL, Stevens Point Chapter, attracts Plover residents to its monthly meetings. These meetings always feature a national or international speaker that presents for upwards of 30 minutes (12 meetings per year).
H. Describe your community’s efforts to educate residents about climate change.
Citizens' Climate Lobby is a Stevens Point/Plover group of 550+ members that are working to prevent greenhouse gas production. Several dozen members are from Plover. In 2017 we held 4 major talks/panels (Document 14). We averaged about 75 persons per talk and wrote 76 Op-Eds and LTE's in 2018 to local news outlets.
International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)
A. This community's municipal body passed the required International Migratory Bird Day resolution.
Plover’s 2018 IMBD was held on May 12. 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. Four field guides led the trip and were assigned 3-4 different persons (a total of 14 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 52 species of birds (Documents 15 & 16).