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.
Spring Green’s website contains a link to the Town of Spring Green Comprehensive Plan, approved in 2005, and an excerpt on the town’s natural resource objectives which is in compliance with Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” law. The Town of Spring Green’s community vision statement includes this excerpt:
In the year 2025, the Town of Spring Green is envisioned as a largely rural community with residential areas carefully placed amid farmlands, riverside, woodlands and hills. Town government, local citizens and landowners have proactively collaborated to provide leadership and commitment to create a green community — grass, parks, conservancy, woods — that preserves its productive farmland and productive woodlands.
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)
Spring Green's Bird City group is in the 3rd year of coordinating the volunteers who do the winter bald eagle count at the Lone Rock roost, part of a project of the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council. Although the roost site is across the Wisconsin River from the Town of Spring Green, it is a close roost site to our town, and many residents of our community participate in the count. Sent via email with this application is the data for the most recent count, on Jan. 15, compiled by Jeb Barzen of the FBEC. (Note: our town has no local park system. We are a rural, largely farming, community and the town owns virtually no public land.)
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 Town of Spring Green contains a 2,678-acre section of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway as well as the 1,112-acre Spring Green Preserve (a Nature Conservancy property) and the 663-acre Sauk County Community Forest.
Much of the town is in the Lower Wisconsin Riverway, whose mission is “to protect and preserve the scenic beauty and natural values of the Riverway through the administration of a permit program to control land use and development.”
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.
Much of the town is in the Lower Wisconsin Riverway Important Bird Area, which encompasses most of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. Additionally, the township has two official stops along the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail-Southern Savanna Region (http://www.wisconsinbirds.org/trail/southernsavannamap.htm): Bakken’s Pond and the Spring Green Preserve.
The Town of Spring Green is blessed to be located in the Driftless Area of southwest Wisconsin, on the southern edge of the Baraboo Range, and composed mostly of productive farmland and woodland. The town contains three formally protected properties, comprising nearly 14% of the township land, that provide excellent bird habitat: the Lower Wisconsin Riverway, the Sauk County Community Forest and the Nature Conservancy’s Spring Green Preserve.
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.
The Spring Green Area Chamber of Commerce has given its complete support to the town’s goal of becoming a Bird City and efforts to protect existing bird habitat through public information and planning of bird events. In 2012, the Chamber approved a Bird City Spring Green representation in the community’s Country Christmas, an annual festival sponsored by the Chamber. It added Bird City to the publicity for the December festival. In subsequent years, members of the town’s Bird City group have conducted a variety of activities related to Country Christmas, including decorating outdoor trees with bird-themed ornaments and setting up an educational booth at the River Valley Christmas Fair. In the Chamber’s 2015 visitors’ guide to the Spring Green area, the local Bird City committee contributed a full-page article on birdwatching opportunities in the town.
Community Forest Management
B. Implement a municipal moratorium on the trimming of trees and shrubs and the mowing of ditches, storm water retention basins, and other grasslands from May 15 to July 15 to prevent the destruction of active bird nests. (Exceptions: Invasive species control and public safety)
The township itself owns only a few acres of land, none of it forested. Forest management is conducted by the DNR on the Lower Wisconsin Riverway, by the Nature Conservancy at the Spring Green Preserve and by Sauk County in the Community Forest.
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.
Brochures on the American Bird Conservancy’s “Cats Indoors!” program are distributed at the Spring Green IMBD event, and every public Bird City event in Spring Green, as well as at the local veterinary clinic.
B. Demonstrate that your community provides property owners with information on how to protect birds from window strikes (e.g., online links, brochures).
For now, this information is distributed at Spring Green’s annual IMBD festival. We offer suggestions regarding feeder placement, using blinds and shades for windows and where decals and screening can be obtained.
Members of the Spring Green community join in the annual Midwest Crane Count, with a site at Bakken’s Pond, and the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council’s winter roost counts along the Wisconsin River, with township roost sites at Jones Slough and off Big Hollow Road. A heavily used winter roost, the Lone Rock roost, is just across the Wisconsin River from the township and the local Bird City group coordinates volunteer counters at this roost.
D. Describe your community-sponsored annual bird festival. This must be a multi-day event or a truly exceptional one-day event.
Spring Green’s big event is our annual Wings Over River Valley Bird Festival that coincides with International Migratory Bird Day. The event includes bird walks (Bakken’s Pond and the Spring Green Preserve), a bird art display, artwork opportunities for kids, informative presentations and lots of informational handouts and displays.
Our DNR partners have collaborated on providing bluebird houses, made by students at Pecatonica High School, and river birch suet logs, which we offer for a donation. Art students from River Valley High School have created bird paintings and sculptures, which have been displayed at the library. More than a dozen retailers and others in Spring Green have donated prize offerings, ranging from gifts to gift certificates. Our local optometrist, a birder himself, donated $100 toward a lovely standup banner we had made for use at our ongoing events. The banner contains our local Bird City logo, which features a Sandhill Crane and was designed by a high school student, as well as the official Bird City Wisconsin logo. At several of our festivals, we have had a live bird presentation, usually focusing on rehabilitation work and the characteristics of the bird’s species.
2017 will be the fifth year for the festival.
E. Illustrate a program that involves schools, garden clubs, or other organizations in bird conservation activities.
Efforts to partner with local teachers have so far not panned out well. Instead, Spring Green Bird City launched “River Valley Birders” in 2015 – a club that incorporates our current email list of interested local people. Our intent is to continue to offer public talks, bird walks, etc. to encourage a community of people to bond over their love of wild birds and our hope that they will support habitat preservation, work days, etc. In 2015, we had Jeb Barzen of the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council speak about bald eagles along the Wisconsin River, and in February 2016, a presentation by the International Crane Foundation on the thousands of Sandhill Cranes that use Spring Green farm fields as a staging area prior to migration. This past year we initiated Birds and Beers events two or three times during the winter months. Bird enthusiasts gather to discuss birds they’ve seen recently as well as a myriad of other bird-related topics. This event can be a vehicle for disseminating bird conservation information.
With bird migration in full swing, May is the perfect time for Wings Over River Valley, the annual bird festival sponsored by the Town of Spring Green Bird City committee.
After early morning bird walks, participants head to the Spring Green Library to view avian artwork and hear presentations, which have included native plantings to attract birds, bird photography, attracting and protecting birds in your backyard, as well as the best types of feeders, birdhouses, and seed.
Our displays focus on migration, “why birds matter,” Bakken’s Pond, The Nature Conservancy’s Spring Green Preserve and the Cornell Nest Watch citizen science project.