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 Stevens Point Smart Growth Plan was adopted in 2005, amended in 2006, and is currently in effect.
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)
Birds continue to be monitored at Koziczkowski City Park and the Erickson Natural Area in Stevens Point. No significant changes have occurred since our first BCW application. For the 2022 season, 14 nest boxes were monitored in these park areas. Four Elementary Schools continue to check nest boxes. No specific bird counts were available at the time of this writing. Monitoring occurred from mid-April to mid-July.
For the past 19 years, the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society (ALAS) has developed and monitored an Eastern Bluebird trail. This trail has grown from 89 to over 1,000 boxes and the number of monitors has increased from 1 to 65 monitors. For the last 10 years, this trail has been the largest and most productive Eastern Bluebird trail in Wisconsin. For the last 7 years is was thought to be the largest and most productive trail in the U.S. In the 20 years of its activity, the ABT has produced over 101,000 songbirds, of which over 74,500 were bluebirds. The facillitator for this project (Kent Hall) is no longer able to fulfill those duties, so project managment is being reviewed.
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)
15 acres of prime bird habitat lie in the Stevens Point area. This 15 acres encompasses city park land known as Koziczkowski Park and the Erickson Natural Area, and is used by birders year round. Home to dozens of migrating species, it is a confirmed nesting site for 33 bird species, including the Osprey. ALAS was instrumental in preserving from development a 5.5 acre site adjacent to the 14 acre Koziczkowski Park, owned by the City of Stevens Point. In less than one year, Audubon and friends raised $308,000 for purchase of what is now known as the Godfrey & Maybelle Erickson Natural Area. Audubon members alone raised nearly $32,000. The Erickson family contributed $60,000, the City of Stevens Point $75,710, and the Wisconsin DNR contributed $140,500 through its Urban Space Program.
Koziczkowski Park and the Erickson Natural Area continue to be used for visitation by local citizens, tourists and special Audubon field trips. In 2011 ALAS added two Leopold benches to the site and were involved in the removal of the invasive species black locust and tatarian honeysuckle. In the late winter of 2014, a pier on McDill Pond was added to this property. It is used by McKinley Elementary School students to fish, bird watch and take water samples. This area is a very important stop over site for Neotropical migrants.
ALAS has enhanced this property with an educational kiosk, two boardwalks, an entryway sign, and removal of invasive species (for seven years).
ALAS has held the following activities at the Koziczkowski Park/ENA site: bird walks, including two World Migratory Bird Day celebrations; 13 years of nest box inspection; and Cavity nesting songbird Workshops for central Wisconsin in 2009 and for the Natural Resources Foundation in 2010.
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.
Portage County is part of the Central Sands Prairie Region of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail. Stevens Point has two locations on this trail (No. 53, Iverson Park, and No. 55, Schmeeckle Reserve).
The Stevens Point Cycling without Age Program was introduced in 2019. Part of this Intiative allows older persons and people with disabilities to be transported along segments of the Green Circle Trail in special "Trishaws" that enable them to observe nature, including birds seen along the Wisconisn River and other inland portions of the Trail. There are six "Trishaws" operated by physically able 'pilots". In the first year of operation these pilots pedaled about 1,450 miles and gave rides to 750 passengers. COVID-19 over the past three years has reduced usage of this viewing opportunity, but it remains a viable outdoor resource for its’ targeted populations. The Green Circle Trail is a 26 mile walking and biking trail that encompasses the Stevens Point metro area.
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.
In December of 2012, the Stevens Point Area Convention and Visitors Bureau put the BIrd City Wisconsin (BCW) videotape prepared by Northland Adventures on its website. This video is also available on the ALAS website, and is very descriptive of the BCW program.
North Central Conservancy Trust (NCCT) is the primary land preservation group in central Wisconsin. Historically, they have developed 53 easement properties totaling 4,407 acres, including some in the Stevens Point area. Our Audubon chapter, the Green Circle Trail Board, and the City of Stevens Point have developed a productive and collaborative working relationship with NCCT. This involves holding legal documents for selected easements. ALAS donated $7,500 to purchase and renovate their new headquarters located in the Village of Whiting. The land easements provide migrating and seasonal nesting habitat for thousand of birds representing over 200 species.
In 2020, ALAS continued to develop a bird habitat and bird viewing area in conjunction with Schmeeckle Reserve, a part of the University of Stevens Point. It is located right at the administrative office location of the Reserve. For bird habitat, we planted "bird friendly" trees, put in an artificial stream and placed a dozen or so bird feeding stations within the habitat. The idea was to develop a model backyard habitat that viewers could use for developing their own backyard habitat. An area for children and adults to view the birds coming to this habitat was developed. This area was equipped with binoculars and bird guides to help with the identification of birds coming to these feeding stations. Viewers have already documented 30+ species of birds coming to these feeders. This area now attracts hundreds of viewers each year.
Finally, the non-profit group Wild Ones partnered with the City of Stevens Point to plant over 1500 native plant species along the bank of the Wisconsin River and adjacent to the Green Circle Trail. These plants play a critical role in preserving and enhancing this stretch of shoreline in the city owned Pioneer Pfiffner Park.
L. Show that your community has restored at least two acres of woodlands, wetlands, or prairie.
The Green Circle Trail is a biking, walking, and bicycling opportunity encompasses four municipalities (Stevens Point, Whiting, Hull and Plover). This is a 26 mile trail, with 23 miles of “spurs” that connect the original trail to various points of interest. The Green Circle passes through many habitats that are favorable to birds. Bird watching is common on the trail and is especially appealing along the Wisconsin River, where ducks, geese and swans are common to see during the Spring and Fall migration. The trail is maintained through agreements with local municipalities, ensuring that fragile animal habitat surrounding it is protected.
Kiosks are placed at the intersections of trail segments for the Green Circle. Audubon has helped pay for two of these kiosks ($9,000), and fundraising continues for others being erected. In 2023 and beyond., One new kiosk was completed in 2021, with another planned for 2023. Each of these Kiosk segments has its own descriptive panel that features a bird species, while a bird species list has been developed for the major segments of the Green Circle Trail and is available on the Green Circle Trail website.
In 2020, a 5.13 acre parcel of land was purchased next to the city owned Bukolt Park by the North Central Conservancy Trust (NCCT). This parcel has now become part of the Green Circle Trail, and is a great example of the cooperation between the City of Stevens Point, the Green Circle, and NCCT in preserving green space in an urban environment.
An major extension of the Green Circle Trail is being planned for in the future that will connect the eastern edge of Stevens Point and the Town of Hull to the main section of the Green Circle. This extension would include a walking/biking bridge over the Plover River, Resulting not only in trail expansion but more areas for individuals to view wildlife along that river basin. The City is negotiating a purchase of land necessary to the trail expansion, and grant opportunities/fundraising are being explored.
Finally, the Trailhead project for the Green Circle Trail is now complete, with Menzel Pavilion now being used for events. The Menzel Pavilion is an open-air shelter featuring a two-story, double-sided fireplace, stone columns, a cedar roof, uncovered patio area, and seating for 50 people. This project involved the City of Stevens Point, the Green Circle, and the University of Stevens Point.
R. Show how your community aids a local youth group (e.g., Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of USA, 4-H Club, etc.) or conservation group in bird conservation projects (e.g., bluebird trail, habitat restoration, Wood Duck nest boxes, etc.).
The Aldo Leopold Audubon Society has started nest box trails at eight different elementary schools in central Wisconsin. Three are in Stevens Point and one is in Plover, and the results will continue to be used in our BCW applications. The others are at Grant Elementary School, SW Portage Co., Wisconsin Rapids, Port Edwards & Nekoosa.
In mid-April of each breeding season, students involved in this program had collectied data from their nest boxes around their respective schools. Most trails had at least three species of birds nesting, and sometimes four (bluebird, Tree Swallow, chickadee and wren). Students learned to ID nests, eggs and chicks, and how to collect accurate data on specially prepared data sheets. This activity has been temporaily suspended, and is being discussed by ALAS as to it's future continuance.
S. Demonstrate how a public golf course is managed to benefit birds.
Bluebird nest boxes are located on two different golf courses in the Stevens Point area. Volunteers monitor and identify the number of birds fledged from those 20 boxes located at the Stevens Point and Wisconsin River Country Club, respectively.. Volunteers continue to maintain excellent rapport with administrators at these golf courses, which allows golfers to get educated regularly about conservation of songbirds from nest box monitors.
V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.
Over a nine-year period (2001-2009), ALAS constructed 3,500 nest boxes. These were constructed at the Wood Laboratory on the UW-SP campus and transported to a storage area. About 1,300 of these boxes were used by the ABT, and 2,200 were distributed to other bluebird trails in the state. Payment for most of these additional boxes was made by the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin. ALAS helped with distribution of boxes statewide and installation of about 100 bluebird trails. In 2020 the City of Stevens Point established a new park named the John Groholski Park (9.25 acres). The land was donated by John's widow in his name. A Master Plan has been developed for this park by the locally based Rettler Corporation. The majority of the park is wetlands, a great habitat for birds. Planning and develeopment for this new area continues.
The Central Wisconsin Recycling Collective (CWRC) was recently awarded the WDNR's 2020 Recycling Award for Projects and Initiatives. The CWRC is a regional (including Stevens Point) recycling education program with the message of "to bin or not to bin". Susan Schuller, Board member of ALAS, is development, education, and outreach coordinator for the CWRC.
John and Melissa Eron of Stevens Point were selected as the recipients of the 2020 Wisconsin Leopold Conservation Award. Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes farmers and foresters who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat management on private, working land. In Wisconsin the prestigious $10,000 award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, American Farmland Trust, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Foundation, and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.
Finally, ALAS received a request from The Mead Wildlife Area to support a grant request to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act Proposal to repair the Little Birch Dike. The grant request was approved and ALAS donated $500 as its commitment to the project.
A. Demonstrate that your community has been awarded Tree City USA status by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
Stevens Point continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1980. The City has also received a Tree City's Growth Award for the past 16 years, and this award has been applied for consideration again in 2023. An Arbor Day celebration was held in Stevens Point in the Fall of 2021. 24 fruit trees were planted in the newly acquired area north of Bukolt Park adjacent to the Green Circle Trail for use by birds and those using the Trail for exercise.
Audubon applied for a $750 grant from Audubon National for replacing trees damaged by the summer storm of 2017. It was received it and donated it to the Forestry Dept. of Stevens Point. ALAS added an additonal $649 for a total grant of $1,399. Audubon members have worked with City staff to help plant many trees through this reforestation project.
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.
Todd Ernster, Stevens Point City Forester, has completed the Wisconsin DNR's WI Community Tree Management Institute course. Todd taught it for the 5th time in spring of 2019. The 2020 and 2021 Institutes were canceled due to COVID-19. Todd did teach this course in 2022.
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 ALAS website has a link to the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) web site and its “Cats Indoors!” program. ALAS is cooperating with local veterinary clinics and the Portage County Humane Society to distribute the ABC brochure, “Cats, Birds and You.” This information is available to all City residents.
G. Show how your community regulates communication tower construction, siting, and lighting to mitigate their risk to migrating birds.
In 1999, ALAS members approached the Portage County Planning and Zoning Department for consideration of the development of a Communication Tower Ordinance. With the strong backing of then Stevens Point Mayor, Gary Wescott, this ordinance (Wireless Telecommunication Facility Ordinance) was passed on May 18, 1999. This ordinance was revised on January 1, 2007, and again on June 17, 2008.
This ordinance, to the best of our knowledge, was the first ordinance in the state to address concerns about migratory birds and communication towers (7.3.1 PURPOSE: F; 7.3.7 DISTRICT REQUIREMENTS: B—Areas prohibiting telecommunications facility location: Floodplains, Wetlands, Shorelands, Conservancy-zoned districts).
This ordinance is quite sensitive to and supportive of healthy bird populations. Although this became a county-wide ordinance, the original motivation for it came from residents in the City of Stevens Point.
H. Document that your community operates a significant Lights Out program that dims building lights to reduce collisions during spring and fall migration or that you have an outdoor lighting ordinance that includes Lights Out during bird migration.
A new and exciting Safe Passage for Birds Initiative began development late in 2021 through a joint effort from ALAS and the City of Stevens Point. Members of ALAS met with the Mayor and his staff to begin the development of this initiative.. Multi-story buildings in the city are being targeted in an effort to mitigate the risk posed to migratory birds emimating from evening building lighting. This initiative is a work in progress. It is being modeled on Lights Out programs currently in place nationwide.. Stevens Point would become the first small town to implement this type of program, according to existing program administrators. To-date, agreements are in development with the City, University, and private corportations.
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).
ALAS has organized and facilitated a Christmas Bird Count for 63 years. The center of the city count circle is at the Old Main Building on the UW-Stevens Point campus. A total of 25-40 persons participate in this community-wide conservation project each year. The species record for a single count is 53 and was set in 2005. The 2022 summary for species and individuals will not have been compiled by the time this application is ready for submission. This count is also conducted in rural Portage County under the auspices of ALAS.
E. Illustrate a program that involves schools, garden clubs, or other organizations in bird conservation activities.
The Aldo Leopold Chapter of the National Audubon Society had coordinated nest box programs for elementary schools over the past 15 years. In Stevens Point, McKinley, Roosevelt, Madison and McDill elementary schools had participated. The students at these schools were given an orientation session in preparation for each birding season. For 5-7 weeks they then investigate 6-8 nest boxes (donated by ALAS) and record the contents. They were able to observe nest building, egg laying and chick hatching. They were taught by volunteers how to handle chicks and dispel the myth that human smells cause the parents to abandon the chicks. This program had been very well received by the students, their teachers and their parents. As noted earlier, this program is curretly being reviewed by ALAS for coninuationin 2023 and beyond.
ALAS joined with the Portage County Master Gardener Program during the 2022 Annual Garden Parade by locating an ALAS booth at one of the six gardens on display. This was the fifth opportunity for ALAS to provide information about its mission during this annual gardening event, attended by hundreds of interested plant lovers.
A new initiative created by ALAS during the Covid pandemic when schools went virtual invites children (and adults!) to join a zoom class that involves the drawing of a different bird each time the zoom class is held. A local artist donates her time and expertise to this initiative. This initiative continued in 2022, and it has proved to be very popular!
The mission of the Central Wisconsin Children’s Museum (CWCM), located in downtown Stevens Point, is to provide a family-based discovery place where children and adults can play and explore together to strengthen confidence, capabilities and creativity through hands-on investigation. This investigation includes a multitude of environmental issues and concepts.
In 2013, the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society developed and funded the following initiatives with the CWCM, initiatives that continue to serve children and families today.
F. Demonstrate that your community understands the critical ecological role of pollinators by documenting your Bee City USA status or by describing another substantial effort to promote pollinator health (for ideas visit the Xerxes Society and the Pollinator Partnership).
In 2019, the City Council developed a Beekeeping Ordinance for the City of Stevens Point. It is modeled after Wisconsin Statute 94.76 and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection ATCP Chapter 21.23 regarding beekeeping and transportation of bees. This ordinance has proved to be quite popular and is definitely in the best interests of ecosystems (including birds).
In addition, the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point has been recognized as a "Bee Campus-USA". One of only three state campuses certified as a Bee Campus USA, the university maintains gardens across campus that use very limited amounts of pesticides and maintains habitat for pollinating insects.
The City of Stevens Point Dept. of Forestry and ALAS are cooperating to develop four acres of prairie pollinator garden with American Transmission Company. We have received $4,500 in grants from ATC for this project. We have cleared the first acre under the power lines of Koziczkowski Park and killed competing vegetation with roundup. ATC has cleared an additional three acres and they were treated with roundup in the spring and summer of 2021. In the winter of 2020 we planted the first prairie seeds in acre #1, and in the spring of 2021 we planted plugs to enrich the pollinator prairie in the first acre. The other measure taken was in 2022 to manually remove a significant growth of garlic mustard in this area. Local Boy Scout members also participated in this activity.
K. Demonstrate that your community actively raises awareness of its bird assets. Examples include placing a remote web camera on a nest platform, offering bird watching field trips, or creating a significant educational resource on your community's bird life.
The Aldo Leopold Audubon Society has for many years offered an interactive presentation series and guided field trips that cover a variety of environmental topics and trip locales. These events are advertised in a brochure, in the nine newsletters sent out to our 500 members, and through local media outlets. In 2020 and 2021, we provided virtual programs through Zoom due to Covid restrictions. We averaged over 50 online viewers for threes program offerings. in 2022, ALAS offered these presentations in both an in-person and zoom format.
The Boston School Forest and it’s associated learning center is located in Plover and serves the entire Stevens Point School System. In the 2021-2022 school year, over 5,600 students and adults attended this outdoor learning center.
A. Document an energy audit for a municipal building and show that your community is working to implement its recommendations.
Since 2013, the waste water treatment plant in Stevens Point has used methane gas from its waste water intake to power its generator. After receiving a $114,000 grant from the state agency, Focus on Energy, that efficiency reached a remarkable 95%. The former Director of the plant, Joel Lemke,noted that the waste water department might reach a point where it can actually generate power and sell it back to the power grid. This effort is remarkable because release of methane contributes 23 times the effect for global warming that Co2 does, so its importance cannot be overstated. This year the plant developed the technology to upgrade its solid waste from a Class B to a moisture-less, Class A level. This solid waste is used by a local farmer on his crop fields.
Heat from waste is used to heat the buildings at the waste water treatment plant. In addition, they have built a new municipal garage for storage of City vehicles. This building has a 131 kW solar array on top of the building, largest in central Wisconsin. In its first year of operation, it produced 110 kilowatts of energy, considerably more than the 86.9 kilowatts used by the building. Dozens of kilowatt hours were sold back to the grid. This program successfully continued in 2022.
The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association have designated Stevens Point with its highest recognition, Solsmart Gold. This designation recognizes Stevens Point for taking steps to encourage solar energy growth and to remove obstacles to solar development. 2022 was the fourth straight year this designation was received.
Stevens Point has continues to maintain two Tesla electric car charging stations in downtown Stevens Point. It is now estimated that the City is producing 26% of its energy from renewable sources (estimate from Mayor of Stevens Point).
Schmeeckle Reserve, located adjacent to the UW Stevens Point campus and part of the University, has added a solar array and two electric vehicle charging stations. These were purchased with $28,000 in grants.
Midstate Technical College students installed 135 solar panels on the roof of the downtown Stevens Point campus. On a sunny day the array will produce nearly 50,000 watts of power and will supply about 15% of the campus's energy usage.
B. Show that your community goes above and beyond in its support for, and implementation of, green transportation (e.g., bike trails, rideshare programs, bike trails/lanes, etc.). Be sure to utilize the narrative to illustrate why your community is exceptional because standard practice will not receive credit.
In April, 2014, the Portage County Board approved a County-wide bike plan. Each county municipality has to approve it’s own section separately. In October of 2015, the Stevens Point City Council approved the component of the bike plan for Stevens Point.
In September of 2016, Stevens Point received a grant of $390,141 for the WisDOT's Transportation Alternative Program. This grant funded a community infrastructure project that added 13.16 miles of marked and signed bicycle lanes, urban shoulders, and shared lane marking on existing and arterial streets. The City provided matching dollars totaling $97,535. Stevens Point ranked 2nd out of 33 municipal projects approved for the 2016-20 period.
The Mayor of Stevens Point, Mike Wiza, started a Biking and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) in August, 2015. They gave a report on 1/9/2018. Among other things, they reported on a cooperative biking map developed with UW-SP. This map was based on comfort and convenience. This Committee continued to operate in 2021, and has now ended its operation. The City Council voted to upgrade the existing BPAC to become a new Bicycle and Pedestrian Street Safety Commission (BPSSC).
The City Council also approved a four- to three-lane conversion on a one-mile stretch of a major east/west thoroughfare, Stanley Street. Bike lanes were added to this stretch with completion in the summer of 2019. In 2019 the City also installed parking kiosks throughout UW-SP to encourage more walking, bicycling and bus usage.
City crews began marking the 13.16 miles of bike lanes approved earlier by the City Common Council. These lanes run across the major streets of Michigan Ave., Clark Street, Main Street and Water Street.
Finally, the City received notice from the League of American Bicyclists that it has received SILVER status as a Bicycle Friendly Community. This status extends from 2020-2024. The City had been designated at the BRONZE status since 2016.
D. Document that your community has been recognized as a Green Tier Legacy Community.
The Stevens Point City Council voted unanimously on June 19, 2017, to join the ranks of Green Tier Legacy (GTL) Communities. In the summer of 2018, Stevens Point hosted the state convention of GTL communities. Recognition as a Green Tier Legacy Community was received on 8/28/2017, and continued through 2022.
UW-SP is considered one of the most sustainable colleges/universities in the USA. They continue to work with the City on a compost plan that will serve the needs of over 30,000 people (combined populations of Stevens Point and UW-SP). when implemented, it will be unique for a city the size of the area. The City of Stevens Point also partnered with a seperate community group to pursue a compost program, and developed a compost alternative to its city collected yard waste.
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.
The City now has a parking garage for city vehicles with the largest solar array on top (131 kW) of any in central Wisconsin. In 2020 it produced 110 kW hours of electricity, more than the 86.9 kW hours used. Most of the excess electricity was returned to the grid. This program continues.
H. Describe your community’s efforts to educate residents about climate change.
Climate change presentations were scheduled over the course of the year by UWSP, ALAS, and other private groups interested in promoting discussion of this worldwide challenge. The Stevens Point Chapter of CCL meets once per month, both in-person and virtually. They plan activities, including agenda items for local political groups to participate in such as the Stevens Point City Council. They also present biannual opportunities to lobby for the climate crisis in Washington, DC. This group is politically bipartisan.
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 Resolution for the June 2023 WMBD will likely be unanimously approved by the Stevens Point City Council in January, 2023. This Common Council action is scheduled on a perpetual basis in January of each year.
Our 2022 WMBD was held on May 28, 2022.. A total of 80 children and adults attended the WMBD. This year’s activity offered an opportunity for community members to get up close and personal with birds found in Central Wisconsin. Working with Master Bird Bender Bob Welch, along with staff and students from UWSP, this activity was organized to band birds. Each bird species banded and information about it was shared with the group. 20 birds from 12 different species were banded.