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 16 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 1,378 boxes and from 1 to 80 monitors (Document #1). For the last seven years it has been the largest and most productive trail in Wisconsin and for the last five years is thought to be the largest and most productive in the U.S. For the 2017 nesting season, this trail produced 6,708 songbirds, 5,279 of which were Eastern Bluebirds. In the 16 years of its activity, the ABT has produced about 80,619 songbirds, 62,578 of which were Eastern Bluebirds (Document 2).
For the 2017 season in the Village of Plover, a total of 111 boxes were checked by 8 monitors (Kate Anderson, Konrad & Nancy Chojnacki, Stacy & Elijah Grajkowski, Janice Rath, and Bill & Jill Ziehr). Four Village Parks were included in this monitoring. A total of 269 bluebirds and another 156 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 a 2nd year of 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 Village still has this property up for sale, but will not cut timber on it while waiting for the sale.
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 let the Stevens Point School System use this 40 acres for School Forest activities. A management plan is being 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.
The village has worked for several years on the preservation of about 100 acres of land next to the Little Plover River. Known as the Little Plover River Conservation Area, it is being developed in two Phases (Document 3). The first Phase is 59 acres: 43 acres of tall grass prairie habitat for migratory birds and waterfowl nesting; 12 acres of wetland restoration for wildlife and improving ground water infiltration and 4 acres of shrub and tree plantings which will benefit shrub and early successional and woodland bird species.
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 (LTR) 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 5). 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 6). 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 7). 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 13 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 8).
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, 36 chicks were produced, (20 Black-capped Chickadees, 8 Tree Swallows and 8 Eastern Bluebirds (Document 9).
For 58 years the Village of Plover has participated in the Stevens Point Christmas Bird Count (Document 10). There are 8 Sectors in the Stevens Point-Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Sector 5 has been monitored for 20 consecutive years by Kent D. Hall and other birding volunteers and careful records kept of the species and species’ numbers seen (Document 11). During that time, 64 species have been seen or heard. In 2017, the Pintail was #64. We also observed 30 species (#5 all-time record) and 1,235 individuals (21.5% of individuals counted). New high counts were recorded for Rough-legged Hawk (Tie). Sector #5 was the only Sector to record the following species: Pintail and Purple Finch. Sector #5 had “high counts” for the following 15 species: Rough-legged Hawk (tie), Ruffed Grouse (tie), Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove; Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Bluejay, American Crow, Brown Creeper (tie), American Robin, Black-capped Chickadee, Dark-eyed Junco; Snow Bunting, House Finch and Golden-crowned Kinglet. 5 people counted birds in Sector #5. For the entire Stevens Point CBC a total of 5,750 individuals representing 44 species were observed by 25 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 12). 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 2015-2016 school year, 7,220 students (mainly) and adults attended the facility. In addition to monies allocated from taxpayers, a total of $4,738.09 was received in donations. The Aldo Leopold Audubon Society contributed $300.00 plus donated display boxes with nests and eggs for the Eastern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, 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.
N. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.
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 Wastewater utility is researching a new technology for its treatment process. The new technology would incorporate algae into the final treatment process and would reduce phosphorus and nitrogen discarges to trace amounts (to the point that the waste water would be drinking water quality), would highly oxygenate the water before it is discharged to the Wisconsin River, and would result in reductions in energy costs for the wastewater treatment faciity. The algae byproduct is a vastly sought-after resource in commercial and manufacturing markets in the US, and would be sold to those markets.
In 2018, the Water utility will be constructing improvements to municipal wells #1 and #2 and will be replacing the denitrification plant that has served these wells since the municipal water system was installed in 1990. These improvements are expected to significantly reduce the Village groundwater pumping (up to 30,000 gallons per day) and will also reduce electrical costs at these locations.
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.
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 5 major talks/panels (Document 13). We averaged about 75 persons per talk and wrote several dozen opinion pieces and LTE's 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 2017 IMBD was held on May 13. 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. Six field guides led the trip and were assigned 4-5 different persons (a total of 21 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 55 species of birds (Documents 14, 15 & 16).