Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

Town of Rome

Town of Rome

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 Rome has been compliant with the State of Wisconsin’s Smart Growth Plan since the adoption of a Town wide Comprehensive Plan in February of 2004. The Town’s Plan has been updated several times since the original adoption date and is currently in the final stages of a ten year review and update process.

Sand Valley Restoration Fund,LLC (SVRF) is a close geographic neighbor to the town of Rome, Wisconsin and is affiliated with Sand Valley Golf Resort. SVRF consists of roughly 7,000 acres of Red Pine timberland which was acquired in Fall 2016. SVRF's plan is, to the best of our ability, restore the land to its original ecological condition. The restoration process is intended to be done in a methodical, professional, quality manner. Ultimately the SVRF land will be a refuge for wildlife as well as a venue for outdoor recreation.In the process of investigating and learning its land, SVRF found several endangered species including Kirtland Warblers, Karner Blue butterflies, and Slender Glass Lizards. Working closely with Federal and State Department of Natural Resources, SVRF has been careful to not only preserve the endangered species habitat that currently exists but also create additional habitat that might entice proliferation of both the endangered species and other wildlife as well. During this past summer of 2019, SVRF in conjunction with the DNR welcomed and participated in organized bird watching outings on its property. Participants were generally enthused about their outings and its outcome.

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)

Wisconsin’s Kirtland Warbler 2018 Season Report demonstrates monitoring results of the Kirtland Warbler in Adams County. They were able to monitor the number of males and females in Adams County. The report also shows data obtained by volunteers in Adams County. The results show how the population of the Kirtland Warbler has increased since 2008.

The Wisconsin Kirtland’s Warbler Conspecific Playback Experiment (2014) Report illustrates the excellent data being collected on the Kirtland Warbler in the Town of Rome.

Read / Listen to this August 2019 NPR Article featuring Sand Valley's Field & Operations Manager, Chelsea Sorbo : "Kirtland's Warbler Success Story Might Help The Future Of The Endangered Species Act"

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

As part of the review and update process to the Town of Rome Comprehensive Plan the people of the Town have added the following Objective and Policies to the Natural, Agricultural and Cultural Resources chapter of the Plan to express their desire to protect and enhance local bird habitats:

Objective 10: Strive to protect and enhance habitats for birds throughout the Town.

Policy 1: Work with private landowners to implement sound conservation practices.

Policy 2: Educate residents about birds and bird habitat.

Policy 3: Encourage the Town Board to pass an annual resolution to observe and celebrate International Migratory Bird Day.

Policy 4: Seek designation as a “Bird City” under the Wisconsin Bird City program.

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 Petenwell and Castle Rock Stewards are a local organization within the Town of Rome that has a main focus of cleaning up both Lake Petenwell and Castle Rock Lake. Their website demonstrates ways to properly remove invasive species in our area.

In addition, on the Town of Rome's Bird Information Page, the community is welcomed to regularly visit this Landing Page for information on how they can maintain our bird habitat here in the Town of Rome. 

H. Show that the local Chamber of Commerce or a similar group (e.g., an Audubon chapter, Wild Ones, etc.) takes an active role in the planning process for protecting and enlarging favorable bird habitat.

A walking trail named the Songbird Trail (open the public) is a monitored trail of bluebird nesting boxes located on the Sand Valley Golf Resort.  Kent Hall was our expert in placing the boxes and in monitoring instruction.  In 2018 the trail was monitored weekly and produced a total 100 new songbirds (43 tree swallows, 34 Eastern Bluebirds, 11 House Wrens, & 12 Black-capped Chikadees). 

The spring of 2018 an additional 20 Bluebird nesting boxes were added. Thirteen of the boxes are located along a walking trail named the Ridge Trail and seven boxes on some of Sand Valley Restoration Fund’s newly cleared stands. The 40 Bluebird boxes were monitored weekly and produced a total of 189 songbirds (98 Tree Swallows, 75 Eastern Bluebirds, 11 House Wrens, & 5 Black-capped Chikadees). 

For the 2019 season : Our 40 Bluebird boxes were monitored weekly by volunteers. The boxes fledged a total of 131 songbirds (77 Tree Swallows, 46 Eastern Bluebirds, 4 House Wrens, & 4 Black-capped Chikadees). 

June 17, 2018:  Join Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Naturalist for a hike along the Rome bike trail.  Identify birds and beneficial additions for your yard or property.  Learn how to create year-round backyard habitat as we walk and talk about birds and other pollinators of our area.

In Fall of 2018, Visit Rome, WI, Inc. hosted a Raptor Education Program along with an Eagle Hike along Lake Petenwell. Speakers from REGI put on an hour informational session (free to the public), while volunteers then led the group on a hike to look for Eagles. 

December 28, 2018: Sand Valley Restoration Fund with the help of the Audubon Society hosted Rome, Wisconsin’s first Christmas Bird Count. The groups successfully identified 30 different species of birds with a total of 775 bird counted. This included: 179 Canada Goose, 9 Mallards, 2 Common Merganser, 1 Ruffed Grouse, 29 Wild Turkey, 59 Mourning Doves, 3 Rough-Legged Hawks, 1 Red-headed Woodpecker, 3 Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, 9 Downy Woodpeckers, 5 Hairy Woodpeckers, 1 Pileated Woodpecker, 42 Blue Jays, 98 American Crow, 4 Common Raven, 98 Black-capped Chickadees, 14 Red-breasted Nuthatch, 20 White-breasted Nuthatch, 27 European Starling, 58 American Tree Sparrows, 22 Dark-eyed Junco, 7 Northern Cardinals, 5 Bald Eagles, 9 Tufted Titmouse, 17 Rock Pigeons, 17 Bufflehead, 20 Greater Scaup, 11 Common Goldeneye, 1 Gull SPP, and 4 Cedar Waxwings.

January 4, 2020: Sand Valley Restoration Fund with the help of the Audubon Society and Visit Rome, WI, Inc.  hosted our second annual Christmas Bird Count. A group of 23 volunteers spent the day successfully identified 37 different species of birds with a total of 1,002 bird counted. This included: 99 American Crows, 27 American Goldfinch, 1 American Robin, 37 American Tree Sparrow, 9 Bald Eagles, 105 Black-capped Chickadee, 158 Blue Jays, 6 Brown Creeper, 96 Canada Goose, 2 Chipping Sparrows, 97 Common Goldeneye, 9 Common Raven, 63 Dark-eyed Junco, 17 Downy Woodpeckers, 2 Eastern Screech-Owl, 9 European Starling, 1 Great Horned Owl, 13 Hairy Woodpecker, 5 Herring Gull, 3 Hooded Merganser, 1 House Sparrow, 4 Mallards, 41 Mourning Doves, 9 Northern Cardinal, 2 Northern Harrier, 5 Northern Shrike, 8 Pileated Woodpeckers, 11 Red-bellied Woodpecker, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatch, 13 Red-headed Woodpecker, 13 Red-tailed Hawk, 5 Rough-legged Hawk, 61 Snow Buntings, 5 Trumpeter Swan, 3 Tufted Titmouse, 24 White-breasted Nuthatch, and 36 Wild Turkey.

Sand Valley Golf Resort, Sand Valley Restoration Trust, and US Fish and Wildlife Services partnered with the National Audubon Society to host two Audubon Convention field trips in 2019 as part of Audubon's yearly convention (July 25, 2019 & July 29, 2019). A mix of 40 Audubon donors, staff, and conservation volunteers total attended the tours. The tours previewed dunes habitat, Kirkland Warbler habitat, presentation from US Fish and Wildlife Services,  birding on our Songbird Trail, and a Naturalist presentation of our local restoartion efforts by ecologist Jens Jensen.

L. Show that your community has restored at least two acres of woodlands, wetlands, or prairie.

The Sand Valley Golf Resort has restored approximately 1,200 acres of property to a glacial sand barren as part of the golf course development.

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

The Sand Valley Golf Resort has two hiking trails; the Songbird Trail and the Ridge Trail.  The Songbird Trail has 20 monitored nesting boxes and the Ridge Trail has 13 monitored nesting boxes.  The golf course has also removed red pine plantation allowing the Jack Pines to flourish in an effort to attract the Kirtland Warbler to the property.

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 Songbird Trail (20 nesting boxes) at Sand Valley has signage with information about the nesting boxes on the trail.

Community Forest Management

F. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Sand Valley in the Town of Rome (open to the public) is committed to conserving the land around them. They are focused on returning the 1,700 acres of land back to its original status of “Sand Barrens”. The land will be restored to its original landscape.

Approximately one third of property located in the Town of Rome is currently enrolled in the State of Wisconsin’s Managed Forest Law (MFL). The MFL is a landowner incentive program that encourages sustainable forestry on private woodlands. The law incorporates timber harvesting, wildlife management, water quality and recreation to maintain a healthy and productive forest. To participate in the MFL program a property owner must commit to a 25 or 50 year sustainable forest management plan.

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 Town of Rome has provided information on its website about the “Cats Indoors” program.

The Town has printed information on protecting birds from window strikes available at the Town Hall. 

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 Rome has information on window strikes from the American Bird Conservancy featured on both the Town’s website as well as on Visit Rome, WI's Pinterest 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.

Visit Rome, WI's Pinterest page contains a bird watching board. This board features unique DIY projects for the enhancement of local backyards for bird habitats (https://www.pinterest.com/visitromewi/bird-watching/) and is updated on a regular basis. 

On our Visit Rome, WI, Inc. website, www.visitromewi.com, the Town of Rome has created a section dedicated to birding. This provides residents and visitors with information on where to go to bird (https://www.visitromewi.com/bird-watching). In addition, Visit Rome, WI, Inc. has included the Bird City logo along with a summary stating: "The Town of Rome boasts one of the most distinctive habitats in the country. Once the bed of a glacial lake, Rome’s landscape is comprised of spectacular sand barrens and rolling pines. Home to the endangered Kirtland Warbler, Whooping Crane, Clay Colored Sparrow, and Karner Blue Butterfly, Town of Rome is a bucket list destination for nature-enthusiast and birders. Walk, hike, bike and enjoy the rare beauty that surrounds you."

The Town’s website provides residents with information on how to help protect the local birds in our area.

In September 2018, Visit Rome, WI (The Town of Rome Tourism entity) sponsored two REGI raptor education program presentations followed by an "Eagle Hike" along Lake Petenwell.  Members of our local community, as well as many out of town guests participated in this very informative program.  

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 Town joined Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (B.R.A.W.) this year.  As part of our Sand Valley Songbird Trail, Ridge Trail, & Restoration Land nesting box monitoring, we reported our results to B.R.A.W.   The Town of Rome with the aid of the Audobon Society participted in its second annual Christmas Bird Count on Januray 4, 2020.  

January 4, 2020: Sand Valley Restoration Fund with the help of the Audubon Society and Visit Rome, WI, Inc.  hosted our second annual Christmas Bird Count. A group of 23 volunteers spent the day successfully identified 37 different species of birds with a total of 1,002 bird counted. This included: 99 American Crows, 27 American Goldfinch, 1 American Robin, 37 American Tree Sparrow, 9 Bald Eagles, 105 Black-capped Chickadee, 158 Blue Jays, 6 Brown Creeper, 96 Canada Goose, 2 Chipping Sparrows, 97 Common Goldeneye, 9 Common Raven, 63 Dark-eyed Junco, 17 Downy Woodpeckers, 2 Eastern Screech-Owl, 9 European Starling, 1 Great Horned Owl, 13 Hairy Woodpecker, 5 Herring Gull, 3 Hooded Merganser, 1 House Sparrow, 4 Mallards, 41 Mourning Doves, 9 Northern Cardinal, 2 Northern Harrier, 5 Northern Shrike, 8 Pileated Woodpeckers, 11 Red-bellied Woodpecker, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatch, 13 Red-headed Woodpecker, 13 Red-tailed Hawk, 5 Rough-legged Hawk, 61 Snow Buntings, 5 Trumpeter Swan, 3 Tufted Titmouse, 24 White-breasted Nuthatch, and 36 Wild Turkey.

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

 

Visit Rome, WI, Inc. & the Sand Valley Restoration Fund plan to host a birding informational session on Earth Day, April 22, 2020, at the Lester Public Library of Rome. This Spring Session will be the first of its kind and be accompanied with presentation from D.R.A.F.T. (the local hiking & biking organization) and the Town of Rome Parks & Rec Committee. They will promote trail use and share information about how our community can be more active in the upcoming summer season. 

The REGI group held two raptor presentations in 2018 along Lake Petenwell in the Town of Rome.  We intend to offer similar presentations in 2020 in conjunction with IMBD.

This upcoming 2020 Summer Season, we plan to host the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and invite them to attend our Rome Farmer's Market to provide our residents with educational & fun programs on birding.

G. Provide a link to your community’s Bird City Wisconsin webpage, which must be visible from the main page of your municipal website (it may be located at the first level of a drop down menu on the main page but cannot be any less visible) OR demonstrate that your Bird City effort has a significant social media presence.

The Town of Rome has "Bird Information" under the "About Us" Tab on the homepage of their website (https://townofrome.com/). 

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.

Visit Rome, WI, Inc. hosted a Raptor Presentation & Eagle Hike on September 15, 2018. REGI’s (Raptor Education Group, Inc.) one-hour Raptor Presentation provided an opportunity for the community to learn more about raptors and how we can help the population survive and thrive. Then, a two-mile hike, following the program, took place along the shore of Lake Petenwell in an area that has Bald Eagle nesting and are commonly viewed hunting on the lake. The event took place at The Lure Bar & Marina (1735 Archer Lane, Nekoosa, WI).

Energy & Sustainability

B. Show that your community goes above and beyond in its support for, and implementation of, green transportation (e.g., bike trails, rideshare programs, bike trails/lanes, etc.). Be sure to utilize the narrative to illustrate why your community is exceptional because standard practice will not receive credit.

The Town of Rome has a local group D.R.A.F.T (Discover Rome Area Family Trails).  This group is committed to creating and improving our existing biking trails to connect them safety throughout the committee.  They will be marking safe routes on the roadways and are researching travel patterns to link our local residents throughout the Town, while avoiding high traffic areas.  Cooporation between local land owners has resulted in a series of trails which allows our residents to safely walk or bike throughout the Town.  To learn more about this local organization, here THIS BLOG on the Visit Rome, WI, Inc. website. 

Not only does D.R.A.F.T. promote trail usage, the organization hosts guided hikes on our Town of Rome trails, family-friendly bike rides, adult bike events, and shares information weekly at the Rome Farmers Market (from Memorial Day - Labor Day). 

A group of local Community members started a weekly biking program - "Two Tire Tuesdays." This group met on Tuesdays and rode different bike road routes in the Summer of 2019, and has plans to continuing riding on weekly basis in the Summer of 2020. 

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 Town of Rome Board of Directors has on their February 2020 Agenda an item to pass a Resolution recognizing International Migratory Bird Day as Saturday, May 9, 2020 in the Town of Rome. We plan on continuing educational events for the 2020 year and plan to partner with the local Necedah Wildlife Refuge, the Rome Farmer’s Market, Visit Rome, WI, Inc,, and local schools to have an exhibit and bird walk for the community!  We are also in discussions with REGI to offer a raptor presentation to the community in conjunction with IMBD.