Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

Town of Three Lakes

Town of Three Lakes

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 Town of Three Lakes Comprehensive Plan is intended to assist local and county officials implement the goals, objectives and policies outlined within and to serve as a guide for making future decisions in each of the nine plan elements. The plan is also to assist with development and management issues by addressing long-range needs and concerns regarding growth, development and preservation of the community while simultaneously identifying short-term tactical initiatives that can be undertaken now and which are in concert with the overall goals. This plan meets the requirements of the Wisconsin “Smart Growth” Legislation, WI Statue 66.1001 (Appendix A).

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)

Three Lakes doesn’t have a park system like many communities have. What we enjoy as our natural surroundings are our chain of lakes. The Loonwatch Program began in 1978 at the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute to protect the Common Loon through education, monitoring, and research. Big Fork Lake, Long Lake, and Planting Ground Lake which are all part of the Three Lakes Chain of Lakes plus Seven Mile, Spirit Lake, and Whitefish Lake have a Loonwatch volunteer which collects data on the habits and rearing of the loons on these lakes.

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)

Thunder Lake State Wildlife Area: Thunder Lake Wildlife Area is a 3,000 acre property located in northeast Oneida County, one mile north of the village of Three Lakes. It consists of 50 percent open peat wetland (poor fen) and 50 percent forested tamarack/black spruce wetland with the 120-acre Rice Lake and 1.3 miles of shoreline on 1,800-acre Thunder Lake. The whole property is open for hunting except for the waterfowl closed area around Rice Lake. A wide variety of wetland wildlife use the property including Mallards, Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked Ducks, Great Blue Herons, Sandhill Cranes, Canada Geese and numerous species of wetland songbirds. Three rare species, the Nelson Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Merlin, and the Yellow Rail nest on the property. Common mammals include white-tailed deer, beaver and muskrats.

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

The community of Three Lakes set aside a portion of the Don Burnside Park called “Memory Lane” for survivors of deceased to plant native trees and shrubs as a memorial to their deceased, thus providing additional bird habitat.

The Nicolet Bird Club of Three Lakes is in the initial stages of working with the Three Lakes Town Board in hopes that the club may have an influence and guidence for the landscape plantings when the new town community center/ town office building are completed. The club would use Birdscaping in the Midwest by Mariette Novak as a guide, focusing on "high and very high bird value" species for food value.

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.

Three Lakes has partnered with the Wisconsin Headwaters Invasive Partnership  (WHIP) and received a grant to map the invasive species along the nearly 130 miles of town roads. Upon completion in 2013, the Natural/Cultural Resource Subcommittee created a terrestrial invasive species management plan for the town crew and notifies property owners who have terrestrial invasives on their property with a spec sheet to aid in the identification and explaining ways to eradicate the problem species. This could become the model for other communities to develop their invasive species management program.

The Three Lakes Chamber of Commerce and the Demmer Memorial Library distribute literature on both aquatic and terrestrial invasive species. The Three Lakes Township and the Demmer Memorial Library both have an invasive species link directing the community to the Wisconsin DNR web site for invasive species.

The Three Lakes Chamber of Commerce recently put the DNR’s individual Invasive Species - YouTube video segments on controlling honeysuckle, buckthorn and garlic mustard on their website.

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.

Thunder Lake State Wildlife Area is a 3,000 acre property just N.E. of Three Lakes, WI. It is part of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail system. 

M. Demonstrate that your community offers a program for private property owners who are interested in dealing with invasive plants that have significant negative impacts on bird habitat.

The Three Lakes Natural Cultural Resources Committee, a sub-committee to the Plan Commission, organizes and guides in the removal of Buckthorn for the general public annually during the month of September.

N. Show that your community works on public lands to control invasive species that have significant negative impacts on bird habitat.

The spring of each year, Three Lakes High School teacher Al Votis, recruits students who spend a combined effort of approximately 600 hours removing buckthorn from the forested area surrounding the Three Lakes High School and community. This is an ongoing project.

S. Demonstrate how a public golf course is managed to benefit birds.

The Big Stone Golf Course, located within Three Lakes Township recently planted 2500 firs trees. The management also supports the policy of maintaining deadwood trees unless they pose a danger to the public.

T. Document that your community maintains a birding trail or hot spot location with educational signage and/or literature. (Note: A birding hotspot alone is not sufficient - your community must actively promote birding and public education at the site itself.)

The Nicolet Bird Club of Three Lakes erected a kiosk in the Thunder Lake Wildlife Area in 2016. It contains a map of the 2 trails the club established, information on the terrain and checklists of birds which may be found while walking the trails.

V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Three Lakes is a proactive community. This is evident by the creation of the Three Lakes Waterfront Association in 1967. Its mission statement is “Three Lakes Waterfront Association is organized to preserve and protect Wisconsin inland waters, their watersheds and ecosystems in the vicinity of Three Lakes through:

  • Promoting and encouraging through education responsible stewardship of Wisconsin waters.

  • Acquiring, exchanging and disseminating information to members on water and land use, related environmental matters, zoning and other pertinent laws and regulations.

  • Supporting and conducting related research and education.

  • Coordinating joint endeavors with similar organizations to promote environmental and ecological education and activities.

With objectives

  • Preserve and conserve water and natural resources.

  • Protect native wildlife and its habitat.

  • Promote water related safety regulations and practices.

  • Promote ecologically sound sanitation standards and practices.

  • Provide a forum for members to share ideas and concerns regarding Three Lakes waterways.

The TLWA monitors boats arriving and departing our area lakes, checking them for aquatic invasive species. They also supply links to the Wisconsin Association of Lakes, many links regarding shoreline restoration, Oneida County UW-Ext., Cooperative Extension which contains updated information on invasive species, and the Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association working with protection and preserving of the riparian habitats of our waterways.

Community Forest Management

F. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

After years of neglect, Bill Lamon, coordinating with the Three Lakes Parks Board, initiated aggressive forest management practices in Cy Williams Park. Buckthorn, bush honeysuckle and multiflora rose had destroyed much of the native landscape. Hand pulling and spot treating the cut stumps with herbicide were techniques used in eradicating these invasive species. This is a major project with the goal of creating the three tiers of a healthy forest in the Cy Williams park.

The Nicolet Bird Club of Three Lakes has adopted the Thunder Lake Wildlife Area. The club contributes 100 hours to this effort which includes the annual Earth Day clean up and educational hikes which are open to the public.

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 American Bird Conservancy leaflet, "Cats, Birds and You" is distributed at the Three Lakes Town Hall, Chamber of Commerce Office and at the Demmer Memorial Library.

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

The American Bird Conservancy leaflet "You Can Save Birds from Flying in to Windows!" is distributed at the Three Lakes Chamber of Commerce Office and at the Demmer Memorial Library.

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.

These links can be found in the Three Lakes Chamber of Commerce, library, and the town of Three Lakes website:

How to build a backyard bird habitat

Making a wildlife habitat at home

Creating a home for birds and natures other creatures

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).

Annual Midwest Crane Count: Each year in mid-April, the Nicolet Bird Club of Three Lakes join the over 1,000 volunteers travel to their local wetlands and favorite birding locations to participate in the Annual Midwest Crane Count. Though not specifically a local park, the club monitors the Sandhill Cranes found in the Lake James Cranberry Marsh which lays within the township of Three Lakes. This annual survey of Sandhill and Whooping Cranes spans over 90 counties in six states of the upper Midwest (Wisconsin and portions of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota).

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

The Nicolet Bird Club of Three Lakes has funded and organized 2-day Bird Fests, annually since 2012. The Chamber of Commerce has provided advertising on its website, billboard, in its brochure in addition to inhouse club flyers.

The Bird Fest starts in the Three Lakes Center for the Arts, first Friday in June. The evening starts with a meet and greet, followed by a keynote speaker, then a bird related or environmentally themed movie. The following Saturday, the event features a bird walk, bird banding exhibition, wild flower hike, loon calling contest, children’s bird house painting and more.

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 June 2016, Three Lakes began work establishing two of four demonstration sites in and around Three Lakes where native plants favored by pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies will be planted to increase insect numbers and improve the ecosystem.

Energy & Sustainability

E. Show that your community has implemented a sustainability plan that improves your community’s energy efficiency and/or increases the use of renewable energy. (Exclusions: Smart Growth comprehensive plans)

The Town of Three Lakes doesn’t have a large footprint when it comes to energy efficiency, but it does take this seriously. The current street lights are replaced with LED bulbs through attrition.

Additionally, there are plans for new, energy efficient buildings to house our town offices, police station, as well as an expansion of our Demmer Memorial Library. Both will include the application of energy efficient windows, upgrade HVAC and lighting.

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.

Our International Migratory Bird Day festival starts in the Three Lakes Center for the Arts, on first Friday in June. The bird fest starts at 5:30 P.M. with a meet and greet, followed by a keynote speaker, then a bird related or environmentally themed movie. The following Saturday, the event continues at 7 A.M. with a bird walk, 9 A.M. bird banding exhibition, 10 A.M. wild flower hike, 11 A.M. loon calling contest and at 1 P.M. children’s bird house painting. The club is always seeking additional events.

Joined Bird City: 2012

Population: 2,339

Incorporated: 1909

Area: 99.9 mi2

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