City of Sturgeon Bay

City of Sturgeon Bay

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 Sturgeon Bay originally adopted its comprehensive plan in 2010 and continues to support the quality of small-town character which is a balance between development and open space. The community is more intensely developed within the core, yet remains walkable, is built to a smaller, pedestrian scale, and includes significant public spaces despite the ever-increasing population. Conversely, open space is more dominant along the outskirts of the community. Development is well thought out and environmental features are preserved, and the land is generally more rural in nature. Our parks continue to be a main focal point. 

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 City of Sturgeon Bay Zoning Ordinance, Chapter 19, contains zoning ordinances protecting bird habitat through boundaries of all wetlands, with no alterations to those wetlands, to remain consistent with shore land protection objectives. Chapter 20 of the City Ordinance is dedicated to preserving the natural state of scenic areas by providing parkland and open space, encouraging wildlife. The Door County Zoning Ordinance, which also covers the City of Sturgeon Bay, contains zoning ordinances protecting bird habitat. Chapter 2 is dedicated to wetland zoning and natural areas, while Chapter 5 is dedicated to woodlands. These chapters outline specific goals while highlighting the importance of preservation and enhancement of these areas. This directly gives legal protection to wildlife, such as birds, through habitat management and natural resource guidelines. City owned natural areas include Franke Park (8 acres), Lawrence Big Hill Park (5 acres), Woodside Wildflower Preserve (3 acres), and Little Creek Parkway (5.7 acres). Door County also has Crossroads at Big Creek (80 acres) and the Door County Nature Preserve (350 acres).

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

The City of Sturgeon Bay Municipal Code, Chapter 32.06, demonstrates that the city does not restrict “wild” or natural lawns and landscaping. The ordinance reads as follows:

Chapter 32.06, 2(e); Application for natural lawn. Any owner operator of land in the City of Sturgeon Bay may apply for approval of land management plan for natural lawn, one where the grasses exceed ten inches in height, with the city clerk. Approvals, conditional approvals or denials of the land management plan shall be by majority of the community protection and services committee.

  1. Land management plan means a written plan relating to management of the lawn which contains a description of the area of the lawn upon which the grass or ground covering will exceed ten inches in height, a statement of intent and purpose for said area a general description of the vegetation types, plants, and plant succession involved, and the specific management and maintenance techniques to be employed. The land management plan must include provisions for cutting at a length no greater than eight to ten inches the terrace area (which is defined as that portion between the sidewalk and the street or a strip not less than four feet, adjacent to the street where there is no sidewalk) and at least a three-foot strip adjacent to neighboring property line unless waived by the abutting property owner on the side so affected.

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.

Our municipal services/public works staff provides the public information on invasive plants and how to destroy and dispose of them by distributing copies to interested parties. We, also, enlist the help of volunteers in the removal of such plants in our City parks and properties throughout the growing season.  

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 Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail publications show designated important Bird Areas within or adjacent to Sturgeon Bay. The Ahnapee State Trail is a 30-mile former railroad bed from Sturgeon Bay south to Algoma and Casco in Kewaunee County. The trail follows the meanders of the Ahnapee River along farm fields, meadows, marshes, bogs and grasslands. It's a quiet walk or bike ride through some beautiful habitat that attracts many interesting and colorful birds, as well as deer, fox and other native wildlife. Potawatomi State Park, located in Sturgeon Bay, is also included in this publication. Straddling the shoreline bluffs along the bay, Potawatomi State Park offers two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline dotted with granite boulders. The rocky bluffs and shorelines and deep, lush forests provide habitat for numerous species of native flora and fauna. Bird watchers and nature enthusiasts will find 9 miles of hiking trails that access this 1,225-acre property. Adjacent areas to the City of Sturgeon Bay include to the north, Whitefish Dunes State Park and Cave Point County Park which features picturesque limestone sea caves. Diverse habitats and a Great Lakes locale make birding on these properties ideal. You can find waterfowl of all kinds, Rough-winged Swallows, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. Sturgeon Bay, also, provides a 13.8 mile segment of The Ice Age National Scenic Trail, a thousand-mile footpath that highlights some of the state's most beautiful natural areas for hikers, wildlife and bird enthusiasts. 


Community Forest Management

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

Sturgeon Bay continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1994 and recently, our renewal application was approved for another year, 2021. In 2015 the City also earned the Tree Growth Award for the first time. 

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 of Sturgeon Bay website has a link to the American Bird Conservancy's "Cats Indoors" article, which explains the importance of protecting bird habitats by keeping cats indoors, as well as an instructional link on the City of Sturgeon Bay website on creating a bird-friendly habitat.

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 of Sturgeon Bay provides property owners with information on how to protect birds from window strikes on the City website.

F. Demonstrate that your community enforces an ordinance that requires domestic cats to be kept indoors, on a leash, or in an enclosure to prevent them from preying on birds and other wildlife and spreading disease.

The City of Sturgeon Bay actively enforces its regulations on the licensing and keeping of cats that, also, addresses cat numbers in households. Citizens are encouraged to report unleashed cats and strays and routinely uses our local Humaine Society campus for animal control. Animal Regulations

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.

Information on creating and enhancing backyard habitats for birds is located on the City of Sturgeon Bay website.

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).

There is a large group of bird enthusiasts who volunteer with doing the Christmas Bird Count for almost 50 years.  They have counting in areas in Sturgeon Bay, and other Door County municipalities and parks. Some of these same volunteers often raise the hands when the DNR is organizing bird counts in our area. 

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

The Sturgeon Bay community offers Crossroads at Big Creek as a way to involve schools, garden clubs, and many other organizations in bird conservation activities. Crossroads offers lectures, exhibits, bird hikes, outdoor trails and areas all dedicated to nature and available to the general public. Woodside Park and Franke Park in Sturgeon Bay includes trails left in their natural state, further encouraging birds of all types. The Door County Land Trust has 350 acres located off of Barge Road that offers a variety of habitats and landscapes for many types of birds. 

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 City of Sturgeon Bay provides educational WMBD materials to our elementary schools along with take-home materials. The City is talking with Crossroads at Big Creek to possibly launch a WMBD presentation. 

Here is a link for the event that took place April 4, 2023, at Crossroads at Big Creek: