Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Port Washington

Community Achievements

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.

The City of Port Washington has adopted and is in compliance with Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” law concerning land use planning and natural resources. Their comprehensive plan is in effect until 2035.

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)

City ordinance 11.02.140 protects against cruelty to animals and specifically birds and bird nests. Ordinance 11.02.120 A, 11.02.120 B and 12.02.130 each deal with regulating and/or licensing cats as listed below. City ordinance 14.05.000 (C) (2) (L) prohibits people from destroying or impacting the vegetation within City parks, including those like Birchwood Hills and Sauk Creek Nature Preserve, that offer great bird habitat. These relevant ordinances are outlined below.

  • 02.140 Cruelty to Animals. No person shall treat animals cruelly or injure or destroy birds, bird nests or animals except birds and animals not protected by Chapter 29, Wis. Stats.
  • 02.120 Regulation of Dogs and Cats. A. Running at large prohibited. No owner or other person who keeps, harbors or feeds any dog shall permit such dog to be on any public property in the City or on any private property in the City without the owner’s permission when such dog is not secured by a leash, chain or rope in control of any person, or confined within a fenced enclosure. No owner or other person who keeps, harbors or feeds any cat shall permit such cat to be off the premises of the cat’s owner or other person who keeps, harbors or feeds a cat and not under the control of some person, either by leash, or otherwise. Any licensed dog or cat running at large contrary to this section may be apprehended by a police officer and the police officer shall confine such dog or cat. The owner of any dog or cat, or any person who harbors, keeps or feeds any dog or cat, so confined may reclaim the same upon payment of all costs and charges incurred by the City in apprehending and keeping said dog or cat. Every dog or cat so apprehended shall be kept for up to three (3) days, and if not reclaimed within that time by the owner, such dog or cat may be disposed of in a humane manner.
  • 02.120 Regulation of Dogs and Cats. B. Unlicensed dogs and cats. Members of the police force or any other person appointed for that purpose, may humanely dispose of in a summary manner, all licensed dogs or cats running at large, provided, however, that any such disposals shall be done in a proper place and manner.
  • 02.130 Animals Running at Large. No person shall permit any animal owned by him or under his control or in his possession to run at large. Paragraph (11.02.120 A) shall govern in determining whether an animal is at large.
  • 05.000 (C) (2) (L). It is prohibited to soil, deface, injure, damage, upset, or remove any building, fence, fountain, bench, table, vegetation, or other object situated, used, or kept upon the Ozaukee Interurban Trail or within the City Park System, unless authorized by the City, the County of Ozaukee, or other participating municipalities.

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

The City of Port Washington is currently working with a prospective developer and landscape architect on a possible lakefront development – Cedar Vineyards – encompassing approximately 200 acres off of Highway C. As part of the development proposal, the City and developer are partnering with Ozaukee County and the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust to conserve approximately 100 acres of the most environmentally sensitive land to provide for migratory birds and ensure protection of habitat for numerous resident bird species, including several designated as State of Wisconsin Species of Concern.

Coal Dock Park is our City’s newest park. It is adjacent to the picturesque downtown and marina. The Park has a 1,500’ promenade and an 80’ pedestrian bridge that provide access to Lake Michigan, the South Dock (bird sanctuary) and to the South Beach. It also features scenic views, festivals, a walking path, benches, green space and an occasional visiting ship. Plans are in place to continue to enhance this park to include additional native plantings that will support resident and migrating birds.

We Energies established a wetland and upland buffer on the old south coal dock for the Port Washington Generating Station as a Migratory Bird Stopover. It was constructed as part of mitigation project associated with USACE permits for work that occurred related to the power plant. The mitigation requires the created habitat be maintained as such in perpetuity. We Energies will be working with the City and others to enhance this area to provide better habitat.

Our City Park and Open Space Plan specifically recommends preserving the high quality lands for protection of vegetation, drainage and wildlife resources. Several objectives associated with this recommendation call for habitat restoration and environmental corridor preservation. The plan also calls for potential future acquisition of lands, which was the impetus for the City taking the lead on the Cedar Vineyards development and advancing the central tenet of protection of the most environmentally sensitive land, including along the Migratory Bird corridor.

Additionally, our City is in the planning stages for wetland clean-up and enhancement as part of our “Breakwater Gateway” project near and along the public entryway to the North Breakwater. We believe this can function as a very nice “micro-Stopover” area for migrating birds, and are thrilled to be looking at commencement of work in 2017 and completion in spring of 2018. It will allow for birding activities in the new “community gathering space” and lookout areas we are constructing as part of the Breakwater Gateway project work. We likely will be including this project in our application for “High Flier” Bird City status in 2018.

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

Chapter 15 of the City Municipal Codes is the section that would address prohibitions against “wild” or natural landscaping. As it stands, no such restriction exists.

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 City has a noxious weed ordinance requiring that all noxious weeds shall be destroyed prior to the time in which such plants would mature to the bloom or flower state. This is enforced through the City’s weed commissioner.

In addition:

  • The City’s website includes information on weed control for residents.
  • The City is cooperating with the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT) to hold community invasive species workshop at Sauk Creek Nature Preserve in conjunction with an OWLT work day. Participants will be encouraged to work with the City’s Park department to adopt a City Park or volunteer to help control invasive plants throughout the City.
  • The City staff also makes annual rounds and sends notices to residents if they have weeds that need control.
  • The City has cooperated with Ozaukee County to provide educational birding signage along sections of the Interurban Trail and at the City Harbor.
  • The Port Washington Tourism Council was a sponsor of the Ozaukee County Trailside Birding guide.

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 Ozaukee Washington Land Trust and Ozaukee County are actively working to protect two key natural areas within the City of Port Washington. The sites are the Port Washington Clay Bluffs and the Cedar Heights Gorge. Both sites are on the shores of Lake Michigan and serve as important habitat for resident birds and stopover habitat for migratory birds.

V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Birding Hotspots are identified by Ozaukee County in the Ozaukee County Trailside Birding Guide. Of the 11 on-trail hotspots, 3 are in the City including:  Port Washington Harbor, Port Washington Ravine and Upper Lake Park.

Community Forest Management

A. Demonstrate that your community has been awarded Tree City USA status by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

The City of Port Washington continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1995.

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 City website provides online information on controlling free‐roaming cats. As an incidental support, Ozaukee Humane will not adopt cats to county residents without guarantee that the cats will be kept indoors.

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

The City’s website also provides a link for information on how to protect birds from window strikes.

Public Education

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 City’s website provides a link on attracting birds to your back yard, including these sites:

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 Riveredge Bird Club included the City of Port Washington in its count circle for the 2015 Christmas Bird Count, including a field team and feeder counters. Riveredge provided the City with a copy of the field report. The count is documented by the map of the bird count and found along with survey data on Riveredge’s website.

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

Beginning in 2015, our City of Port Washington Environmental Planning Committee (EPC) has partnered with our Port Washington-Saukville School District staff to advance the concept of an “Earth Week” celebration. Using nationally-celebrated “Earth Day” as our springboard, we have worked with junior high school leadership and instructional staff to integrate sustainability-related activities each day of the week. We believe this provides a far greater impact than a single day of activities. Over the past two years, our “Earth Week” celebration has included a Community Clean-Up Day (including of our beaches and various parks, with garbage, invasive species, and other issues of focus); a Community Tree-Planting Day; a “Mayor’s Monarch Pledge” Day with focus on planting and protection of Monarch habitat; a Celebration of the Arts in the Environment Day (with one year focused on rain barrels and the next year focused on stenciling of storm water drains); and “Eco-Palooza,” a three-hour “smorgasbord” of environmental themes, highlighted at numerous stations around the gym at which the students rotate and spend about 20 minutes. Bird (and other wildlife) protection and education themes have been incorporated into “Eco-Palooza” stations, with our partners from Riveredge and the Wisconsin Humane Society presenting to the students. This year, we also added a station with the Principal Ecologist from We Energies, who spoke of their Peregrine Falcon Recovery Program!

International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)

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 International Migratory Bird Day website. To see what other Bird City communities have done in the past, please view some other profiles on our website.

In May 2016, our City of Port Washington, in partnership with Ozaukee County and Ozaukee Washington Land Trust leadership, hosted a “birding and habitat stroll” event in and throughout the We Energies Migratory Bird Preserve immediately adjacent to our national award-winning Coal Dock Park. Approximately two dozen people joined us for the two hour event on a chilly, sunny spring day. A very special part of the event involved a park bench dedication in memory of Noel Cutright. Noel retired from We Energies as the company’s Senior Terrestrial Ecologist, but he was also an Ornithologist Extraordinaire and the Founder of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory. We believed the bench dedication on the We Energies Migratory Bird Preserve was a very fitting celebration of Noel’s amazing life and countless contributions.

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Community Details

Joined Bird City: 2014

Population: 11,250

Incorporated: 1882

Area: 7.08 mi2

Community Website

Community Bird City Page

Community Map