Village of Plover

Village of Plover

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.

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. The Village of Plover is currently in the process of updating the Comprehensive Plan with plans to complete the updated plan in early 2022. 

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 18 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 1,200 boxes and from 1 to 72 monitors. For nine years it has been the largest and most productive trail in Wisconsin and for the last seven years is thought to be the largest and most productive in the U.S. For the 2019 nesting season, this trail produced over 6,000 songbirds, over 4,000 of which were Eastern Bluebirds. In the 19 years of its activity, the ABT has produced over 95,000 songbirds, 70,600 of which were bluebirds (74%). In addition, one Portage County Resident has gone above and beyond in his efforts to monitor Birds throughout Portage County. Rob Pindergast identified 231 bird species in the year 2020 alone. Document 1B-1 represents the list of birds Rob identified. 

For the 2020 season in the Village of Plover, a total of 55 boxes were checked by four monitors (Konrad & Nancy Chojnacki, and Bill & Jill Ziehr).  Four Village parks were included in this monitoring. A total of 244 bluebirds and another 163 songbirds (Chickadees & Tree Swallows) were produced from these boxes. 

For the 2021 season in the Village of Plover, a total...

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 II criteria to make these judgments.

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. 

Lastly, the Village of Plover owns approximately 75 acres of land that encompass the Lake Pacawa Park, within this park there are no pets allowed and there are several birders whom frequent the area for bird watching. The parcel(s) are also zoned Conservancy which has specific requirements and limitations related to uses onsite. 

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.  It should be noted that this Project is a collaboration of the Village of Plover, the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, Wisconsin Wetlands Association, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Portage County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Emmons and Oliver Resources. Additional information is included in Documents 1D-1 amd 1D-2. 

These steps include the following:

1. Wisconsin Habitat Partnership Fund Project 

2. Wisconsin Wetland Conservation Trust Grant (Soik Wetland Restoration Project)

3. Little Plover River Conservancy Area Wetland and Prairie Restoration Project and 

4. Natural Resource Conservation Service Project. 

Additionally, there are current efforts to review and reestablish bird habitat (amongst other wildlife habitat) within Lake Pacawa Park. In conjunction with Canadian National Railway and America in Bloom there will be additional plantings and landscaping features installed Spring/Summer of 2022 to not only further enhance the scenic beauty of the area but to also re-establish habitat for local wildlife including birds. There will be a variety of species and types of vegetation planted including flowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees. In addition to the work being done with America in Bloom the Village of Plover will be investing additional funding into re-establishing the natural areas within the park to improve wildlife habitat. Due to recent strong wind events over the last 2 years there have been several large trees within the park that have been damaged or have fallen, these planting efforts will ideally offset the loss of these large trees with a multitude of species and types of vegetation to create a wild break from nearby agricultural fields. The plantings will also further diversify the wooded areas within the park to be more suitable for a variety of wildlife.

E. Describe your community’s ordinance demonstrating that your community does not restrict natural/native landscaping that emphasizes native plants and non-turf lawns.

Currently, the village does not restrict natural/native landscaping, additionally there are some regulations within the zoning code of ordinances that limits the total area a parcel can have that is a manicured lawn. These restrictions are established per Chapter 550-34 Wellhead Protection Overlay District and vary within the three district Districts which go from more to less restrictive, yet within all three of the Districts (A, B, and C) there are limitations on the total area a parcel can have that is manicured which would result in additional natural or green spaces for the land within those areas further providing bird habitat. Additionally, (where applicable) while going through the site plan review process, applicants and developers are encouraged to incorporate native species into there required landscaping plans.  Due to the climate and area in which Plover is located a lot of the species planted in these instances are native to Wisconsin.

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.  Certain segments of the stream have dried up in the past and the stream is listed as one of the 10 most endangered streams in the U.S. -- it is a Class I trout stream.  A major reason segments of the stream dry up is due to high capacity wells which dot the watershed.

The Village of Plover, along with its partners identified in Section 1D, organized significant conservation efforts to address the problems of the LPR watershed while also improving wildlife habitat.  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 (see above). Although some shrub planting work remains, these efforts can already be seen as a success and are being used as an example for similar watersheds in other areas of the state.

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

As noted in Document 1D-2, the Village of Plover, along with its partners, have taken hundreds of acres of irrigated cropland and restored it to a combination of grasses/sedge meadow, dry-mesic/sand prairie, and wetlands. In doing so, this area not only helps restore groundwater flows to the Little Plover River, but also provides quality habitat to a diverse array of birds and other wildlife. 

Additionally, as indicated in 1.D within the Lake Pacawa Park there will be additional vegetation plantings come spring and summer 2022 to provide more scenic beauty and wildlife habitat. There will be an estimated 50 trees planted and 460 ground covers, shrubs, and flowers planted under the America in Bloom grant funding. Additional plantings will also be done as a part of the Lake Pacawa Park project Phase 2 yet the documentation attached is specifically related to the America in Bloom grant application and approval.

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

As noted in Document 1D-2, the Village of Plover, along with its partners, have taken hundreds of acres of irrigated cropland and restored it to a combination of grasses/sedge meadow, dry-mesic/sand prairie, and wetlands. In doing so, this area not only helps restore groundwater flows to the Little Plover River, but also provides quality habitat to a diverse array of birds and other wildlife.

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

In addition to the efforts within the Little Plover River Watershed area, the Village actively works on controlling invasive species within its parks. Recently, Little Plover River Park (50 acres) has 17.5 acres (35%) being managed for black locust, tartarian honeysuckle and buckthorn. In addition, as part of the Villages 2021-2022 planned improvements to Lake Pacawa Park significant work is planned to address aquatic invasive species issues within and around Lake Pacawa. 

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).  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 list birds which are found along the GCT).  In addition, the Hoover Rd. Trail is part of the GCT Birding 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 of trail) 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 (trail is an old railroad bed).

V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Faculty and students in the College of Natural Resources (CNR) at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point have been heavily involved in restoration work in the conservation habitat along the LPR. The overall monitoring plan is first displayed and the specific work follows.  This includes work in the pine barrens, wetland scrapes, oak woodlands, and riparian areas.  Photos of students and faculty at their work sites are extensively displayed.

In addition to classroom students, a Master's student from the CNR, David Dale Parme, worked extensively on the LPR.  His Master's Thesis was entitled, "Restoration of a headwater stream in Central Wisconsin: A comparison of three techniques to enhance channel morphology in the Little Plover River."  It will take several more months before the efficacy of these techniques can be determined.

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.  No in-person event was held in 2020 in response to COVID-19 protocols, which was in line with Arbor Day Foundation policy. In 2021 the Village of Plover was awarded the Tree City designation for the 2020 year. The Village has also applied for Tree City USA recognition again in 2022 for the 2021 year and is awaiting verification. 

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.

The Village of Plover has a variety of projects throughout the municipality yet two specific projects come to mind, the first being the Little Plover River Restoration Project and the second being the Lake Pacawa Park project. The Little Plover River Restoration project involves not only re-establishing substantial woodland, prairie, and wetland areas along the corridor and within the watershed but includes working with UWSP, their staff and students to do forest management within the existing woodland areas to remove invasive species and promote native habitat.

E. Show that your forester, a member of your tree board, or another person currently responsible for managing your community’s trees has completed the Wisconsin DNR’s Wisconsin Tree Management Institute.

Roy Hopfensperger, Village of Plover's Asst. Public Works Manager, has completed the WDNR's Community Management Institute.

F. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Over 2020-2021 there have been great improvements to the Little Plover River Watershed Project which included forest management with the assistance and guidance of UW Stevens Point professors and related professionals. This has allowed for the little plover river habitat to be re-established to be more consistent with the historical characteristics of the area which improves water quality, wildlife habitat, as well as the overall health of the forest/wetlands. With this project, invasive species have been removed and tree plantings and maintenance are ongoing. Working with the local university has allowed the village to take a holistic approach to restoration and management. As apart of the next phase of the restoration project, wetlands (forested and otherwise) will be re-established in the historical locations within the wooded areas as well as the areas recently converted from agricultural production. Additionally, as addressed elsewhere in the application there have been and will be increased tree plantings in two other public parks within the village boundaries the most of which will be planted in Lake Pacawa Park. The Village is also going to be reviewing the Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan to review and identify additional parks and public lands that are in need of additional forest management and maintenance to both improve recreational opportunities but also improve native wildlife habitat.

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” are 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 leading killer of birds and kill an estimated 1,000 times more birds than wind turbines. 

The Village will also be increasing its efforts in 2022 to better educate current and future pet owners (through engagement at public events as well as providing educational materials to local animal shelters and the humane society) related to ways they as residents can prevent unnecessary bird deaths and other negative impacts related to domesticated animals.

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.  On October 17, 2020 Bryan Lenz talked to 67 people on the topic of "Birds, Windows and You". Bryan is Collision Coordinator for the American Bird Conservancy, a leading bird organization. He shared his knowledge of both commercial and home collisions. His information was important for preventing collisions with typical home windows and benefited those attending from the Village of Plover. Brochures are available at the Village Municipal building and staff can provide further insight to the public as requested. 

G. Show how your community regulates communication tower construction, siting, and lighting to mitigate their risk to migrating birds.

Chapter 550-36 of the zoning code of ordinances addresses and regulates Wireless Communication Facilities, these regulations are intended to be consistent with Wisconsin statutes and are intended to limit the number of towers installed within the village while ensuring there is adequate access to internet and reliable cellphone connectivity. Limiting the number of towers and evaluating the locations of a proposed tower can ensure wildlife and other related concerns can be taken into consideration. All lighting has to be in compliance with FCC and FAA rules and regulations.

Lastly, per state statute 66.0401 and PSC 128 when and if there were to be a large scale wind or solar project within the village additional wildlife and habitat studies would need to be done to ensure the impact of the project is minimal and the development is designed in a manner to prevent adverse effects on rare or endangered species.

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. 

For 10+ years Audubon has worked with Roosevelt Elementary School in Plover on a nest box trail of eight boxes around the school.  Each week 30-50 3rd and 4th graders visit these boxes and record the kinds of nests, eggs and chicks that are in the boxes. Teachers include the data in the science and math classes taught to the students. Most years unusual species numbers are recorded (bluebirds, wrens, chickadees and swallows) because of placement of boxes in ideal habitat for these species. This approach instills a distinct appreciation for bird life in the minds of these young students.

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).

For 60 years the Village of Plover has participated in the Stevens Point Christmas Bird Count. There are eight Sectors in the Stevens Point-Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Sector #5, included in the Village of Plover, has been monitored for 22 consecutive years by Kent D. Hall and other birding volunteers and careful records kept of the species and species numbers seen. During that time, 64 species have been seen or heard. In 2020, no new species were added. In Sector #5, we observed 30 species and 1,105 individuals. Additional data for Section #5 can be found in Document 4C-1. For the entire Stevens Point CBC a total of 7,102 individuals representing 52 species were observed by 31 volunteers. Additional details for the entire Stevens Point CBC can be found in Document 4C-2. 

In 2021 The VIllage of Plover again participated in the Stevens Point Christmas Bird Count, through this 2021 bird county the party of volunteers and staff documented 6,360 individuals and 49 differenet speciees. Additional details can be found from the Stevens Point CBC in the document attached labeled 4C-2 2021 Christmas Bird Count Summary.

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 in 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 for flood control. The Village allows the BSF students to use its property for educational purposes.  In the 2018-19 school year, a total of 9,041 students (mainly) and adults attended the facility.  In addition to monies allocated from taxpayers, a total of $30,232.95 was received in donations. The Aldo Leopold Audubon Society contributed $300 for the ropes course plus donated display boxes with nests and eggs for bluebirds, wrens, chickadees, swallows and sparrows. Finally, Audubon had an interactive educational booth display at BSF on E-Day, 2019.

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.

Here is the link found on the front page Village of Plover website. The link includes an image of the Bird City Wisconsin logo.  

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 eight different programs per year which address environmental concerns of children (examples found in Document 4H-1).  They also host 14 field trips (examples in Document 4H-2), some of which (World Migratory Bird Day) deal with many children. In addition, the Citizens' Climate Lobby, Stevens Point Chapter, presents a puppet show to children. Usually, several presentations are made each year. In 2020, the Citizen's Climate loby met virtually on a monthly basis for discussions on climate relate topics. 

N. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Although the work has not yet been completed, as discussed in the previous sections the Village of Plover will be planting a vast variety of native species and will be creating educational kiosks/informational posters to be installed in Lake Pacawa Park as apart of Phase 2 and 3 of the park revitalization. The Village anticipates some of these educational “posters” and kiosks will include information and educational materials related to bird habitat and history of some common/rare bird species in the area. These educational items are proposed to be placed throughout the park in different locations with a variety of educational information located on them. 

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 (UWSP) 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, UWSP offers lectures and presentations and panel discussions that are open to the public.  UWSP 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.  UWSP 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 municipal buildings 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. 

In 2019 the Village of Plover renewed its recycling contract for a 10 year period. Each resident will be provided a 95 gallon container free of charge for recycling materials when the service begins in January, 2020. In addition, recycling will occur weekly instead of every other week as in the past.

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.

For the first time, the Village of Plover qualified for the SolSmart program in 2019. The Village qualified at the "Silver" level. This achievement means that the Village constituents can place solar panels on their properties with a minimum of Village ordinance restrictions. Here is a link to SolSmart's Designee Map.  

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 four major talks/panels. We averaged about 75 persons per talk. In addition, Audubon presents talks about climate change (Matt Dahlman, "Climate Change and Wisconsin Forests").

J. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

The Village has approved a new $3.5 million development for Lake Pacawa Park. This development will include the addition of 9.5 acres of land. The lake already attracts unusual birds such as Snow Geese, Trumpeter Swans, Greater White-fronted Geese, assorted waterfowl and a variety of shorebirds. This lake is a regular stop for local birders and these developments will increase the attraction of local birders to the area. Further, the Village is in the process of coordinating with the local Library Director to create educational landscape beds throughout the Park.  

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 Village of Plover celebrated World Migratory Bird Day on May 8, 2021. Turnout was lower than normal, but expected given the circumstances of COVID-19. Seven people participated in observing boxes for four common species (eastern bluebird, tree swallows, black-capped chichadee, and house wren). Additional details can be found in Document 6B. The Village intends to continue its joint celebration with the City of Stevens Point in 2021 and 2022.

Joined Bird City: 2012

Population: 12,123

Incorporated: 1971

Area: 10.8 mi2

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