Town of Grafton

Town of Grafton

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 serves to protect birding habitat.

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. (2019)

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.

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 Town of Grafton Zoning and Landuse Code specifies:

(1) Preservation of existing natural landscape.

  1. For the purpose of conserving the natural landscape and in recognition of the time value of existing vegetation, the preservation of existing vegetation shall always be preferred to the installation of new plant material.
  2. Within all required separation areas between cluster groups and external streets and tract boundaries, existing woodlands and hedgerows shall be retained to the maximum extent possible. 
  3. Suitable existing vegetation shall be credited toward the landscaping requirements of this section when, in the opinion of the Town of Grafton Plan Commission, it would equal or exceed the visual impact of the new required plant material after two years of growth.
  4. All new landscaping to be installed and existing vegetation to be preserved shall be protected in accordance with the methods specified in the Land Division, Title 9, Ch. 2. 

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.  Our public education in 2023 will concentrated in the Port Washington and Ozaukee County joint event.  Information will be sent to residents via the Town's email list and was included in publicity in the Ozaukee Press.

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.

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 Planning 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. (2019)

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 at 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. (2019)

Public Education

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).

In May, Grafton will co-sponsor an event with Port Washington and Ozaukee County.

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.

Birding Hotspots are identified by Ozaukee County in the Ozaukee County Trailside Birding Guide. Of the 11 on-trail hotspots, four are in the Town of Grafton. Of the nine off-trail hotspots, four 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. (2019)

Energy & Sustainability

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.

in 2022 the Town of Grafton approved a Solar Field at the Grafton High School.

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.

As part of our celebration of WMBD, the Town of Grafton passes a Resolution in support of World Migratory Bird Day. The town supports, promotes, and attends WMBD events held at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve and in May of 2023 we will partner with Port Washington and Ozaukee County to celebrate Migratory Bird Day

Joined Bird City: 2011

Population: 4,132

Incorporated: 1846

Area: 21.4 mi2

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