City of Prairie du Chien

City of Prairie du Chien

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 Prairie du Chien adopted a comprehensive plan in 2004. The City refers to the guidelines of the plan for any development activities. Goal 22 (Page B-28) describes how the city will protect natural resources and environmentally sensitive land from inappropriate use and development. Among the policies cited are "...protect rare and endangered species and maintain their habitat" and "support efforts to limit development on the bluffs rising above the city." These policies would protect migratory and resident bird habitats.

 

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)

Volunteer birders from Prairie du Chien have been involved in monitoring local birding activity. A bird list has been maintained at La Riviere Park, a City of Prairie du Chien nature park, since 1990. This bird list shows park visitors what birds can be seen at the park and their seasonal abundance. This list has been used by volunteers to document annual arrival dates or first-of-year-seen-dates of birds at the park since 1990. La Riviere Park has had an Eastern Bluebird trail since the first bluebird house was erected in 1978. A volunteer continues monitoring the trail and data from the nests boxes is reported to the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW).

 

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)

Birding habitat at La Riviere Park is protected by City Ordinance, which has adopted language that follows the conditions of the La Riviere family will.

 

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.

Birding habitat is improved at La Riviere Park with land management and prescribed burns and cutting of brush encroaching into the prairie. This has benefitted many grassland birds. An invasive honeysuckle removal project, started in 2008, continues in woodland habitat. This project has improved birding habitat in woodland areas of the park that were overtaken by honeysuckle. Additional invasive plant control for autumn olive and Asiatic bittersweet is being undertaken. These invasive plant management efforts are an example to park visitors of what can be done in invasive plant control.

 

G. Document that there is a segment of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail or a designated Important Bird Area within or adjacent to your community.

The City of Prairie du Chien is part of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail. The City has two areas listed in the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail: La Riviere Park and St. Feriole Island. La Riviere Park is 300 acres of woodlands and grasslands that is home to species such as Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, and Lark Sparrow. St. Feriole Island is located on the east channel of the Mississippi River and is a 240-acre expanse of beaches, woodlands and grasslands. Shorebirds are seen on the island during annual flooding. Mudflats create an exceptional feeding area for migratory shorebirds. Peregrine Falcons and Wood Warblers also are seen on the island.

 

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

La Riviere Park, a city of Prairie du Chien nature park does not have any free water on the 310 acre property. A series of bird baths made of satellite dishes were placed in the early 1990's by the Bluff Country Longspurs. The Longspurs are a local chapter of the National Wildlife Turkey Federation. Water to the bird baths comes from the park's watering system. In 2019 a new shelter was constructed at the park. The water system for that structure includes the water source from the bird bath system. The bird baths are replenished with water several times a day. Bird watchers now have a place to observe birds from a concealed location close to the water source.  The first bird bath to get water from the automated system received a beautification upgrade in 2020.  Flat stone landscaping was done around the raised bird bath and a long handled farm pump is now used as a port for the water delivery system.  Improvements to the bird bath system include a bird bath blind that is located along the Bird Bath Trail. This bird blind was constructed by the Prairie Rod and Gun Club. Birders can view birds coming for water or taking a bath from the concealment provided by this blind.  Maintenance of native prairie plantings and remnants in La Riviere Park and other properties in the city are conducted each year with selective cutting of encroaching trees, mowing, and burns.  Members of Saint Peter Luthern Church, ELCA, did a "God's work, our hands" project in the fall of 2022.  Youngsters and parents planted native prairie seed collected from several native prairies in  La Riviere Park.  The seed of little blue stem grass, lupine, cup plant, lavender hysop, and other prairie plants were then planted in a prairie area on St. Feriole Island to expand the amount of prairie grasslands for birds and butterflies.  The Prairie Rod and Gun Club continues to donate prairie seed to this effort.  

Prairie planting and maintenance continues yearly with burns and plantings as needed.  The elevated shooting tower at the La Riviere Park Archery Range, managed by the Prairie Rod and Gun Club, is a good place for birders wanting to get up in the tree tops to observe birds.  The elevated location is good for seeing warblers and other spring migrating birds.  Looking the birds in the eye is certainly better than observing the birds from ground level.   

 

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

In addition to the Red Bird Prairie project of 1-2 acres more prairie land has been added to the Cactus Prairie and to the roadside prairie along Vineyard Coulee Road. These additional acres will be managed for bird and butterfly habitats. Both are managed with fire and selective cutting.

P. Demonstrate the implementation of a program to preserve Chimney Swift nesting and roosting sites (preferred) and/or to construct Chimney Swift towers.

Two Chimney Swift towers were constructed in 2018 at La Riviere Park.  The need for the towers came about when the city removed the farm home at the park.  Chimney Swifts have used the two chimneys in the old house for over 30 years.  With the aid of the Prairie du Chien High School Wood Technology Class, members of the Prairie Rod and Gun Club and other volunteers two chimney swift towers were placed. Financial support was provided by the Friends of the Sherman Swift Tower group, the Prairie Rod and Gun Club, the Prairie du Chien Rotary Club, and other donors.  Chimney Swifts continue to  use both towers for nesting and roosting sites since they were placed.    

 

Q. Document the establishment of a program to promote the conservation of Purple Martins through research, state of the art management techniques, or public education.

Several individuals continue to expand on the building and placement of Purple Martin houses in the city.  Their effort has generated additional interest in martin houses within the city.  More action in the Purple Martin discipline in 2023 is anticipated.  

Community Forest Management

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

The City of Prairie du Chien continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 2014.

 

F. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Forest rejuvenation of areas affected by the La Riviere Park timber cut of 2017 continues. Regrowth of trees and additional tree planting in these cut-over areas continues to improve bird 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.

Prairie du Chien’s website links to the American Bird Conservancy's  information to educate residents about the hazards of free roaming cats.

 

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

Prairie du Chien’s website links to the American Bird Conservancy and All About Birds to educate residents about the hazard of bird window collisions. A display on bird window strikes is provided at Eagle Day and HawkWatch events to educate visitors to the bird window collision problem.  

 

Public Education

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).

Residents of Prairie du Chien have participated in the Bridgeport Christmas Bird Count since 1988.  This Christmas Bird Count was startred by Sam Robbins in 1987.  Local birders have also participated in the Yellow River (Iowa) Christmas Bird Count since 1993.  Most of Prairie du Chien is covered by these two counts.  Volunteers have also participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count since its inception.  

 

D. Describe your community-sponsored annual bird festival. This must be a multi-day event or a truly exceptional one-day event.

Prairie du Chien's annual Bald Eagle Appreciation Day takes place the last Saturday of February. This day-long event is a celebration of the presence of Bald Eagles in the Prairie du Chien area. The City of Prairie du Chien, the Prairie du Chien Chamber of Commerce, and the volunteers of this event received the Governor's “Putting Wisconsin on the Map Award” in recognition of Bald Eagle Appreciation Days.  The Prairie du Chien area continues to promote its status as one of nation's premier destinations for winter Bald Eagle watching.

 

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

Prairie du Chien's La Riviere Park has received recognition from the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat because of the conscientious planning, management, and landscaping providing sustainable quality wildlife habitat. This designation has been shared with the community and provides an example of what can be done to improve birding habitat on any size property. Each year, news releases regarding birding and bird habitat at La Riviere Park have been provided to local news media. A "Timberdoodle Dance" event is held at La Riviere Park each spring. At various times during the spring, between mid-March and early May, a volunteer takes interested persons to an area of La Riviere Park where American Woodcock conduct courtship displays. This educational event introduces park visitors to another element of the park and birding.

Prairie du Chien Kiwanis co-sponsors a Mississippi River Adventure Day with the McGregor District of the Upper Mississippi River Fish and Wildlife Refuge. This annual day-long event is scheduled for early August.  

Bird related projects completed at the Prairie du Chien Bluff View Middle School campus include: establishment of a small prairie in an urban setting, conducting the Annual Bluff View Birding Bee Challenge to identify 264 of Wisconsin's regular bird species, participating in the Cornell Lab eBird survey, banding birds, studying bird behaviors at feeding stations, and conducting a Bluebird monitoring project with the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW). 

Evening "Visit the park in the dark" events were tried in 2022 at La Riviere Park. These events, held after sunset, were to acquaint the park visitors to what goes on in the dark in wildlife habitat. Owls were heard, tree frogs and toads were heard and found. The participants enjoyed a different way to enjoy our outdoors. Similar events are planned for 2023.

Energy & Sustainability

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.

Crossing Rivers Health, the local hospital complex, and the Prairie du Chien School District continues to use solar energy from their solar panels.  .  The hospital has multiple solar panels on the roof of the main building while the Prairie du Chien High School has multiple large free standing solar panels on a portion of the school's campus. 

 

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.

As part of Prairie du Chien's effort with the World Migratory Bird Day event bird walks to see local and migrating birds is held at Prairie du Chien’s La Riviere Park and Effigy Mounds National Monument.  The volunteer La Riviere Park naturalist continues to inform park visitors of birding activity and where to see the birds of La Riviere Park and the surrounding area.  Bird watching is the fastest growing outdoor sport in North America. Come and enjoy that sport in the Prairie du Chien area.  

Joined Bird City: 2013

Population: 5,911

Incorporated: 1872

Area: 6.36 mi2

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