Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

Town of Grafton

Community Achievements

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 Grafton’s Comprehensive Plan: 2035 was adopted on April 9, 2008, and is continuously monitored by Staff (and amended as needed). For example, the Town adopted Ordinance No. 2010-01: AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF THE TOWN OF GRAFTON, WISCONSIN.

The Town of Grafton also has an ordinance creating an Open Space Program to protect and preserve open space and natural areas within the town. Ordinance 60 authorizes the Board of Supervisors to purchase lands within the town for present and anticipated town purposes, to appropriate money for establishing, maintaining and repairing ecological areas, and to appropriate money to conserve natural resources in the town.

The Town has an active Open Space Commission with a mission to preserve the open space and rural landscape of the Town, which serve to protect birding habitat.

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)

The Riveredge Bird Club continues to include parts of the Town of Grafton in the Christmas Bird Count and that is documented by the map of the bird count and found along with survey data on the Riveredge website.

Birding Hotspots are identified by Ozaukee County in the Ozaukee County Trailside Birding Guide. Of the 11 on-trail hotspots, 4 are in the Town of Grafton. Of the 9 off-trail hotspots, 4 are in the Town of Grafton. That means 8 of 20, or 40% of the designated birding hotspots in Ozaukee County are in the Town of Grafton. (2017)

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)

Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve, a prominent Ozaukee County Park and bird habitat on Lake Michigan, is legally protected by a conservation easement held by the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT). The conservation easement assures that Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve will be maintained as a nature preserve, prevents any use of the property that could impair or interfere with conservation, and preserves the lake shoreline, forests, wetlands, bluffs and other natural features of the property. The property is also under the guidance of a Stewardship Grant Contract and Land Management Plan for protecting the natural resources. In addition, there are several other State and Federal properties in Ozaukee County with existing bird habitat under legal protection, including several USFWS Waterfowl Production Area properties, including the Ulao Waterfowl Production Area along Hwy. C north of Hwy. 60.

The Ozaukee Washington Land Trust owns the Bratt Woods and Kurtz Woods properties in the Town of Grafton and holds easements on several properties in the Town of Grafton, notably Woodland Shores with a strong Forest Management Program that supports bird life. (2017)

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

Updates to the Open Space Program include segments on Important Bird Areas, providing additional bird habitats (e.g. expanding Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve).

The Town of Grafton has begun construction on its 15-mile Multi-Use Trail to connect open space areas within the town. The Park and Open Space Plan “is intended to provide for areas where the recreational needs ...can be met without undue disturbance of natural areas". The P-1 Park and Recreation District is intended to provide for areas where the recreational needs, both public and private, of the populace can be met without undue disturbance of natural resources and adjacent areas.

The C-1 Conservancy Overlay District is intended to be used to prevent destruction of valuable natural resources and to protect watercourses, including the shorelands of navigable waters, and areas that are not adequately drained, or which are subject to periodic flooding, where development would result in hazards to health or safety, or would deplete or destroy natural resources or be otherwise incompatible with the public.

The RCDO Residential Conservation Development Overlay District is intended to preserve the rural landscape character, sensitive natural areas, farmland and other desirable areas of open land as determined by the Town, while permitting residential development at appropriate densities in an open space setting which is designed to reduce the perceived intensity of development and provide privacy for dwellings. It is an overlay district to be used in the R-1, R-2 or R-3 Residential Districts by choice of the landowner/developer. Specific objectives of the RCDO District are as follows: A) To maintain and protect the Town of Grafton’s rural character by preserving important landscape elements, including those areas containing such unique and environmentally sensitive natural features as woodlands, hedgerows, stream corridors, wetlands, floodplains, shore lands, prairies, ridge tops, steep slopes and critical species habitat by setting them aside from development. Such areas contained in primary environmental corridors, as identified by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, are of particular significance for this District. B) To preserve scenic views and to minimize views of new development from existing streets. C) To provide for the unified and planned development of clustered, single-family, low-density residential uses, incorporating areas of permanently protected common open space.

To aid the Town of Grafton in determining whether the applicant has accomplished the purpose and objectives and has met the design standards of cluster groups and common open space, the development shall include an inventory and site analysis of the tract, including wildlife habitat areas including identification of the predominant species of birds, mammals, amphibians, fish, and reptiles present. The presence of rare and endangered species shall be noted.

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 Town of Grafton has a noxious weed ordinance requiring that all noxious weeds shall be destroyed prior to the time in which such plants would mature to the bloom or flower state. The Town enforces it through its weed commissioner.

Our public education in 2017 was concentrated in the IMBD event at Froest Beach Migratory Preserve.  INformation was sent to residents via the Town's email list and was included in publicity in the Ozaukee Press. (2017)

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 Town of Grafton has three sites on the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail: Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve, the Ulao Waterfowl Production Area, and the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, which crosses through the Town. Bratt Woods is also identified at the trailhead as a birding hotspot.(2017)

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

The Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, through a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant, provided invasive species control in OWLT-owned preserves (Bratt Woods and Kutrz Woods) and in some places along some public roadways.  Ozaukee County Plananing and Parks does significant invasive species control at Lion's Den Gorge.  The US Bureau of Land Management does invasive species control on Bike Path Island. (2017)

Community Forest Management

F. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Forest management in the Town of Grafton continues to be done by Ozaukee County staff and OWLT staff and volunteers. Ozaukee County manages the Lion’s Den Nature Preserve area. OWLT manages Bratt Woods, Kurtz Woods and the private easement forest land in the Town, such as Woodland Shores. All properties have a management plan in place and are monitored a least once a year in addition to property management activities from spring through autumn. Additionally, Ulao Creek Partnership has an active program in both tree planting and invasive plant removal along Ulao Creek and on adjacent properties. (2017)

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.

Because of their small office space and the infrequency of resident visits to that office, the Town continues to believe that internet links are the most effective way to inform town residents on educational topics. As an incidental support, Ozaukee Humane will not adopt cats to county residents without guarantee that the cats will be kept indoors. Additional brochures are available at the Town office. The Town’s website is also helpful. (2017)

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

The Town of Grafton Open Space Commission’s website provides links to information on how to protect birds from window strikes. (2017)

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.

The Town of Grafton Open Space Commission website provides web links to information on the creation and enhancement of backyard habitats.

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).

The Riveredge Bird Club’s Christmas Bird Count includes the Town of Grafton and that is documented by the map of the bird count and found along with survey data on Riveredge’s website. (2017)

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.

2017 - It’s for the Birds!

A Countywide Celebration of International Migratory Bird Day

Hosted by the Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory

Saturday, May 20, 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, 4970 Country Club Rd., Port Washington, WI

Featuring: Live Birds, Bird Banding, Native Plant Sale, Wildlife Experts, & More! FREE and Open to the Public!

Rain or Shine – Food Available

Great Wisconsin Birdathon

Just by showing up you become part of the Observatory’s birdathon team to raise money to support the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin’s Bird Protection Fund. What is a Birdathon? Think of a walk-a- thon with birds! We will collect pledges and donations for the birds seen with our team of experts at this free event, so don’t forget to bring your binoculars!

All Day: Native Plant Sale

Choose from hundreds of Wisconsin natives to beautify your yard and support the pollinators and insects that our favorite birds need to survive. There will also be free consultations with local experts, including “Prairie Doc” Mark Feider.

All Day: Ecological Rummage Sale

New and used bird houses, bird feeders, nature books, outdoor and gardening gear, and much more. All priced to move!

7:00 - 10:30 am – Bird Banding (weather permitting)

Master bander Al Sherkow and his team will have mist nets set up at Forest Beach to band as many birds as possible. This is a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the birds that make spring our favorite season. Don’t miss it!

7:00, 7:45, 8:30, 9:15 am – The Birds of Forest Beach

Guided bird hikes from the Clubhouse led by retired Fish & Wildlife Service biologist Joel Trick and the Observatory’s Waterbird Watch ornithologist Calvin Brennan. The Observatory’s director, Bill Mueller, will be at the clubhouse to answer bird-related questions and share the success of Forest Beach’s Purple Martin colony. (DURATION: 60-75 minutes each. DIFFICULTY: Easy)

7:00 - 8:30 am – OFF-SITE Birding Hike at Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve

Start your morning with Dan Panetti of Wild Birds Unlimited and Tina Kroening and Andrew Struck from the Milwaukee Audubon Society as they lead a guided bird hike at one of the last stretches of undeveloped bluff land along the Lake Michigan Shoreline. Stick around to help erect an American Kestrel nest box - Wisconsin’s smallest falcon needs our help to counter a population decline.

9:00 – 11:00 am – Hot Spot Field Trip

This carpool trip will be led by Wisconsin DNR biologists Rich and Amy Staffen and will depart from the Forest Beach parking lot. Stops include Harrington Beach State Park, the Ozaukee grasslands, and other area birding destinations.

10:00 – 11:00 am – Live Raptor Exhibit & Talk

Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center admits birds of prey, reptiles, and predatory mammals. Jeannie Lord, executive director, will thrill you with live birds during her introduction to these amazing animals and the threats they face.

11:00 – 11:45 am – Nature Photography

Naturalist Kate Redmond is a founding member of the Friends of the Cedarburg Bog, wrote the online field guide to the Mequon Nature Preserve and, as the Bug Lady, publishes weekly essays on insects and other invertebrates, complete with her photos. Join Kate for this beginner-level presentation aimed at helping you get the wildlife picture you want. Bring your camera and put your new skills to the test at beautiful Forest Beach!

12:00 – 12:45 pm – Pesticide Dangers

US Fish and Wildlife Service ecotoxicologist Sarah Warner will bring us up to date on the impact of pesticides on birds, butterflies, and moths, conservation issues that were brought to the public’s attention by

12:45 – 1:30 pm – Dragonfly Walk

Forest Beach was established as a migratory hot spot for birds, but it has turned out to be much more! Freda Van Den Broek will lead a walk to show you how Forest Beach has turned out to be a dragonfly hot spot as well.

1:30 – 2:00 pm – Bug Hotels

Tom Kroeger, manager of Lakeshore State Park, will demonstrate the concept behind “bug hotels” and explain why you want one for your property (Hint: They are good for birds and help abate worldwide insect declines!).

2:00 – 3:00 pm – Bird Identification

Join retired US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Joel Trick and the Observatory’s director Bill Mueller for tips on identifying the birds of spring as well as those who spend their whole year here.

For more information contact the Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory at 414-416-3272 or visit us at

Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation & Education Center

the 1950s. The Fish and Wildlife Service, which was instrumental in establishing Forest Beach Migratory Preserve,

Rachel Carson in

maintains Carson’s legacy through its continuing research into the effects of chemicals on wildlife. (2017)

Photo Gallery

Community Details

Joined Bird City: 2011

Population: 4,132

Incorporated: 1846

Area: 21.4 mi2

Community Website

Community Bird City Page

Community Map