Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

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 adopted its comprehensive plan in 2010. The fundamental quality of small-town character 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. Conversely, open space is more dominant along the outskirts of the community. There is limited development, environmental features are preserved, and the land is generally more rural in nature.

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.

The City of Sturgeon Bay Ordinance controls invasive species in many ways. Ordinance 10.19 (1) was recently amended to include all noxious weeds listed on the DNR Invasive Species List. The City maintains a list of acceptable trees and shrubs to be planted according to a city-approved forestry program, amended contingent upon changing conditions. The City also does not allow any person to transport into the city any bark-bearing elm wood or elm brush, diseased or not. In addition to the ordinance, the City also provides education materials and resources to control the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer. An Arbor Day celebration also educates and empowers the public on tree planting, invasive species, etc.

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 publication that is attached, shows designated important Bird Area 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 Coun ty. 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.

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. 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 Facebook page 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 as well as the City Facebook page.

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 Facebook page.

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 also offer parks and/or trails left in their natural state, further encouraging birds of all types. The Door County Land Trust also has 350 acres located off of Barge Rd. that offers a variety of habitats and landscapes for many types of birds.

International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)

A. This community's municipal body passed the required International 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 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.

The City of Sturgeon Bay provided educational IMBD materials to the elementary schools as well as take home materials. In the future the City is considering teaming up with Crossroads at Big Creek to have an IMBD presentation.

Joined Bird City: 2017

Population: 9,144

Incorporated: 1883

Area: 11.66 mi2

Community Website

Community Bird City Page

Community Map