Making our communities healthy for birds... and people



Habitat Creation, Protection, and Monitoring

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)

There have been several organized efforts within the City of Wauwatosa to collect and monitor information on birds:

1. The Forest Exploration Center (FEC) is a Wauwatosa based non-profit that seeks to help visitors explore, explain and experience Wisconsin forests and forestry. The FEC compiles a checklist of birds observed in the FEC Woodland and surrounding area, located in Wauwatosa.  Over 158 species of birds have been documented. See attached file: Category 1B - FEC Bird Checklist

2. Local researchers and volunteers have summarized their bird monitoring results taken from Hart Park, Webster Park, Hartung Park, County Grounds, Menomonee River Parkway, and Jacobus Park, all located within Wauwatosa. See attached file: Category 1B - Local Volunteer Bird Monitoring

3. UWM conducted a Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern Study in 2018 that documented species of local conservation interest in the vicinity of the Milwaukee County Grounds, including the City of Wauwatosa. 90 records of 17 breeding birds were documented.  See attached file Category 1B - Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern Study

Please also review photos collected by the newly formed Friends of County Grounds Park (Sanctuary Woods) of birds and wildlife located in this area located within Wauwatosa. 

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)

In December of 2018, the Wauwatosa Common Council approved the Life Sciences District (LSD) Master Plan. The Plan covers 1,200 acres, including 500 acres of environmental green space. This area is located east of I-41 and north of Wisconsin Avenue and includes existing developments such as Innovation Campus, the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center, and the Milwaukee County Research Park. Historically, this area has been referred to as the County Grounds. The City of Wauwatosa has zoning authority over this land.

Along with goals to improve traffic flow, provide housing and guide development, the LSD Plan has an additional goal to protect and enhance existing green and environmental spaces and create shared public spaces, including minimizing the impact on wildlife and bird and butterfly migration. This latter goal particularly refers to 55 acres of land commonly referred to as the Sanctuary Woods. Prior to the approval of the Plan, the Sanctuary Woods was not zoned as a Conservancy. These woods have become cherished for its habitat that attracts rare species of wildlife, including long-eared owls and flying squirrels. See attached file Category 1C - Sanctuary Woods.

The relevant sections of the LSD Plan that deal with environmental issues can be found in the attached file Category 1C - Life Sciences District Environment Goals. With considerable input from key public stakeholders, the following amendments were added to the Plan:

  • Development adjacent to the parks and environmental areas to the north must be done in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner as not to negatively impact the natural resources that will generate irreplaceable value to the Life Sciences District and community.
  • The City should promote and initiate a collaborative implementation process in partnership with property owners or entities and actively participate in a collaborative communication process to maintain effective communications with surrounding neighbors, landowners, and other key stakeholders.
  • The first priority should be achieving the preservation in perpetuity of the parkland and natural areas to ensure those open spaces will be the foundation of the branding and unique amenity of the Wauwatosa Life Sciences District.
  • Working to ensure that the natural features and environmental areas are preserved and protected in perpetuity through the use of land regulations, conservation easements, deed restrictions, protective covenants, and/or development agreements.
  • Requesting and considering a land divisions and a zoning map amendment from Special Purpose District – Medical Center to Special Purpose District – Conservancy for the non-park land owned by Milwaukee County to preserve and protect in perpetuity the Parks and Environmental Areas as illustrated on the Framework Plan and Proposed Future Land Use Map.

In accordance with the final amendment above, in December 2019, the Wauwatosa Common Council unanimously approved Resolution R-19-196 and Ordinance O-19-30 to reflect a zoning modification to the Sanctuary Woods, making it now zoned Special Purpose Conservancy (SP-CON). This 55-acre property will now complement (and be annexed to) the 55-acre County Grounds Park, the 90-acre MMSD detention basin property and the 65-acre State Forestry Demonstration Area, creating an overall contiguous area of 500 acres of environmental green space that will provide and protect into perpetuity important wildlife habitat at the confluence of Underwood Creek and the Menomonee River.

E. Describe your community’s ordinance demonstrating that your community does not restrict natural/native landscaping that emphasizes native plants and non-turf lawns.

City of Wauwatosa Ordinance 24.12.050 provides the requirements for landscape material and design. Included among its requirements: the use of biodegradable mulch, native plants and non-invasive trees and shrubs. The complete ordinance can be found in the attached file Category 1E - Ordinance 24.12.050 Landscape Material and Design.

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.

A significant number of community organizations collaborate within the City of Wauwatosa to conduct annual and semi annual weed outs to control and remove invasive species such as buckthorn and garlic mustard, particularly along the Menomonee River. One of the most active is the Friends of Hoyt Park and Pool annual spring river cleanup as one of 50 locations organized by Milwaukee Riverkeeper. This event will be held April 18. 

Milwaukee Riverkeeper conducts several additional spring cleanup events in Wauwatosa, including Menomonee River Parkway and North Avenue, Gravel Sholes Park, Webster Park, Hart Park, Jacobus Park, and Honey Creek Parkway at 84th Street.

The Park People have been conducting spring and fall weedouts in locations such as Wauwatosa for over 20 years, focusing on the removal of garlic mustard, dame’s rocket and burdock in park natural areas. Wauwatosa locations have included the Menomonee River near Hartung Park as well as Honey Creek Parkway and Hoyt Park

The Friends of Hart Park have conducted cleanups for the removal of buckthorn along the Menomonee River 

The Friends of County Grounds Park, located in Wauwatosa are conducting 2 upcoming cleanup events: 1. Invasive Species Removal Event - Buckthorn Remediation - on March 7; 2. River Cleanup and Invasive Species Removal on April 18. 

Eco-Resource Consulting (ERC) performed invasive species removal at the 55 acre County Grounds Park located in Wauwatosa.  Over the course of two years ERC performed regular invasive species activities at the site and provided detailed maintenance reports documenting the work performed.  At the conclusion of the 2 years, large amounts of invasive species were no longer thriving in the park and more of the native species were beginning to reestablish. See attached photo Category 1F - Invasive species removal at County Grounds Park

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 Watertown is a proposed apartment building developed by Samapa with 5 stories and 147 units on the former Milwaukee County Food Services site (9150 Watertown Plank Road). The building is being designed with sensitivity to its location adjacent to the Sanctuary Woods (see Category 1C) by incorporating native landscaping, dark sky lighting strategies, and bird friendly details.

Areas in urban settings can be negatively impacted by nearby structures and other development, thereby limiting their habitat value. To address those issues, Wauwatosa’s Plan Commission has required that developers of the Watertown meet with two representatives from local environmental groups to discuss the potential impacts on the habitat in the vicinity of the parcel.

The County Grounds Coalition, an environmental advocacy group, has taken an active role to meet with the developers to advocate for design elements to help protect wildlife. One proposal is a 20-foot buffer of evergreen trees between the development and the woods. In addition, the developers have reduced the site from 3.36 acres to 2.25 acres to respect the sanctuary Woods conservation district boundaries.

The County Grounds Coalition is also worried about light pollution, the height and density of the building, stormwater drainage and nearby birds colliding into the glass of the building and continue to have on-going meetings with the developers.

The developers of the Watertown have recognized that birds navigate the built environment and the two critical areas of challenge are the glass surfaces and the light pollution. As designers they can decrease bird collision hazards by incorporating bird friendly strategies. Glazing will include patterns that break down large expanses of glass. Lighting systems will be designed and managed with “dark skies” in mind so that levels of light spill at night are controlled

Additional detail on plans for the Watertown, including requirements for collaborating with environmental groups, can be found here

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

The City of Wauwatosa coordinated activities with the Milwaukee County Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture to convert a degraded 2.5-acre man-made lagoon near the intersection of Burleigh Street and the Menomonee River Parkway into a six-acre wetland surrounded by four acres of restored upland habitat. The restored area will now trap stormwater and pollutants that currently drain directly into the Menomonee River. The Fund for Lake Michigan provided a grant to partially fund this project  See 5 attached photos of these wetlands titled Category 1L

Community Forest Management

A. Demonstrate that your community has been awarded Tree City USA status by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

As of 2019, the City of Wauwatosa has been awarded Tree City USA status for 37 years, celebrated annually with a tree planting around the time of Arbor Day

Limiting or Removing Threats to Birds

C. Show that your municipality practices Integrated Pest Management, using natural pest control and the best available science to minimize pesticide and herbicide use.

According to City of Wauwatosa Forester Alex Krutsch, Wauwatosa practices many of the principles associated with Integrated Pest Management, but does not have a formal IPM plan

Public Education

A. Demonstrate that schools in your community participate in a nationally-recognized environmental education program (e.g., Flying WILD, Audubon Adventures) or that your community organizes its own substantial education and outreach program for young people. 

The Wauwatosa School District has a number of schools that have organized environmental outreach programs:

  • McKinley Elementary School and Jefferson Elementary School have organized Green Teams that focus on composting leftover food from the lunchroom.  The schools partner with the organization Compost Crusaders in this initiative. This program has resulted in McKinley School being recognized with a Recycling Excellence Award by the Wisconsin DNR.  McKinley School has also been designated a Green & Healthy "Sprout School" of Wisconsin for reducing environmental impact, improving health and wellness, and increasing environmental and sustainability literacy.
  • Wauwatosa East High School has an environmental club (Tosa East Environmental Club - TEEC), which puts on an annual EcoFair.  The environmental science classes at Tosa East have a unit project about bird migration and have conducted observations in the wild woods of Tosa.

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).

A number of citizens participate in Wisconsin eBird. eBird is the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project, with more than 100 million bird sightings contributed each year by eBirders around the world.  In Wauwatosa, the area of focus is the Wil-O-Way Woods.  Documented bird counts in the Will-O-Way Woods can be found in here

The Friends of County Grounds Park will be conducting a Birding Tour of Sanctuary Woods on May 23. Carl Schwartz  will lead a 90-minute spring migration hike, hoping to catch views of colorful spring warblers, Scarlet Tanagers and Baltimore Orioles, along with many year-round residents. He'll also share photos taken on the County Grounds of birds seen through many seasons. 

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

Wauwatosa Library Director Pete Loeffel and Children's Librarian Anne Kissinger report that the Children’s Library visits the Wehr Nature Center annually for a program that includes several topics, including a focus on birds.

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).

The City of Wauwatosa Ordinances 9.04.070 and 9.04.080 allow honey beekeeping in residentially zoned districts within the City of Wauwatosa. Two hives (apiaries) are allowed. Permits and approval from adjacent neighbors are required. The complete ordinance and permit can be found in attached files Category 4F - Beekeeping ordinances 9.04.070 and 9.04.080 and Category 4F - Beekeeping application.

H. Document a substantial regular program that educates young people on any of the following topics: climate change, energy efficiency, green/bird-safe buildings, or environmental sustainability.

The City of Wauwatosa conducts an annual sustainability event called the Tosa Green Summit. The 10th annual summit will occur on September 12, 2020.

The event is a free informational open house to learn how you can make your community green and sustainable.  Over 20 Exhibitors build AWARENESS and education on topics ranging from climate, home energy, conservation, water, gardening, transportation, and food.  Among recent exhibitors: Citizen Climate Lobby, Focus on Energy, Midwest Renewable Energy Association, Sierra Club Great Waters Group, Compost Crusader, Master Gardeners and many more.

The Tosa Green Summit also offers several opportunities to take ACTION, with numerous recycling and refuse collections taking place in the Wauwatosa City Hall Parking Lot: MMSD's annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection, Wauwatosa Police Crime-stoppers project featuring collections for shredding, electronic recycling, medicine, along with bike collections from Dreambikes. 

Energy & Sustainability

A. Document an energy audit for a municipal building and show that your community is working to implement its recommendations.

The City of Wauwatosa Energy and Recycling Advisory Committee (currently known as the Sustainability Committee) has conducted a number of energy audits of municipal buildings over the past several years, including the Muellner Building, Parks Department Administration Building, Police Headquarters and City Hall.  Here is detail on the results of the audit and implementation of the recommendations at the Muellner Building: 

  • As part of an ongoing effort to improve energy efficiency in Wauwatosa, the city renovated the Muellner Building at Hart Park to reduce energy usage by about 20 percent. It's just one of many strategies the Energy and Recycling Advisory Committee has looked at to conserve energy.
  • In the Tosa Room at the Muellner Building, which houses an ice rink used by local curlers, the city has installed a new low-emissivity ceiling that prevents heat from warming the ice. The old ceiling's high emissivity meant it radiated most of its energy to the ice. This increased the temperature of the ice, requiring more refrigeration to keep the ice rink from turning into a swimming pool. The low-E ceiling means less heat radiated to the ice sheet and less refrigeration required to keep the ice sheet at the proper temperature.
  • The building also received a more efficient air conditioning system for summer rentals. Formerly, the building used the same machine for air conditioning as it used to freeze ice, which meant it had to operate at lower temperatures than was actually needed to cool the building because it operated by freezing water.
  • These changes were recommended after the Energy and Recycling Advisory Committee conducted an audit of the building looking for inefficiencies. 

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.

Wauwatosa has become a leading Milwaukee suburb, and a leader in the state of Wisconsin, in implementing innovative biking (and pedestrian) solutions.  Headlining this achievement is Wauwatosa's Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities Plan, with goals and recommendations that build on the existing bicycle and pedestrian network, and that provides education and encouragement programs to facilitate bicycling and walking. 

Although Wauwatosa is a city of only 13 square miles, it includes 11 miles of bike lanes (including green bike lanes and green box boxes in East Tosa) and 14 miles of shared use trails.  Wauwatosa annually hosts the East Tosa Gran Prix, the final stage in the 11 day Tour of America's Dairyland bike racing competition.  See attached file Category 5B - Biking Map.

In addition, Wauwatosa has partnered with Milwaukee area Bublr Bikes to provide bike sharing throughout the city, with 16 stations and over 3000 rides taken annually in the city.

Finally, Wauwatosa has become a leader and award winner in the Safe Routes to School program, achieving in excess of $500,000 in state grants that have provided infrastructure for items such as flashing beacon crosswalk signs and car speed display signs.  All schools have participated in annual Walk to School and Bike to School Days, with the safest route to walk or bike identified for each school.

D. Document that your community has been recognized as a Green Tier Legacy Community.

The City of Wauwatosa has been a Green Tier Legacy City in good standing since 2017.

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)

Wauwatosa has an active and engaged Sustainability Committee (formerly known as the Energy and Recycling Advisory Committee). Its mission is to champion environmentally sound practices fostering the City’s long-term livability and economic vitality.  The committee advises the Common Council and City staff on sustainability matters, and collaborates with residents, businesses and other partners to advance the City’s environmental goals.

One of the Committee's overall goals is to reduce the city's energy consumption by 20%, thus far achieving a 10% reduction (moving from 82,644 MMBTU in 2010 to 74,294 MMBTU in 2018). To achieve this, the Committee and the City implemented a solar panel project at the DPW facility (meeting 96% of the facility's electricity needs).

The Committee and City have also embarked on a program to convert all streetlights to LED, which will reduce energy usage by approximately 1,500,000 KWH per year and save the City an estimated $105,000 annually. The City owns about 6,000 street lights. Approximately half of these lights have already been converted to LED fixtures through various capital improvement programs with the remaining half planning to be replaced by 2021.

Cities around the world are switching to LED lights as a way to save both money and energy while simultaneously increasing safety and visibility.  The following benefits warrant the switch to LED:

  • Better visibility. Compared to the traditional orange/yellow light, LED streetlights provide a white directional light, creating more uniformity.
  • Dark-sky friendly. LED lights allow little to no uplight, reducing light pollution and allowing people to see stars and planets more clearly.
  • Energy savings. LEDs use about 50 percent less energy than typical neighborhood streetlights, so energy costs will be lower.
  • Longer life. LED streetlights are expected to last more than four times longer than current streetlights. That means fewer outages and fewer repair trips.
  • Recyclable. LED streetlight components are recyclable. Current streetlights have components that are not recyclable.

See attached photo Category 5F - Solar panel installation at DPW Building

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.

The City of Wauwatosa partnered with McKinstry to design, install, commission and monitor solar panels on the roof of the city’s Public Works Facility. The project is expected to meet an estimated 96% of the facility’s annual electricity consumption, as well as reduce CO2 emissions.

In addition to substantial energy cost savings, the City of Wauwatosa will receive more than $100,000 in incentives through the Renewable Energy Competitive Incentive Program (RECIP) offered by Focus on Energy. The statewide utility program provides incentives for cost-effective renewable energy systems installed at eligible Wisconsin businesses through a competitive proposal process. The combination of these incentives and annual energy savings will cover the cost of the Wauwatosa solar project.

In 2017, Wauwatosa partnered with Midwest Renewable Energy Association to create the Solar Tosa program. Solar Tosa is a grassroots residential and commercial group purchasing program for solar energy. Home and business owners throughout Wauwatosa participated in this program to help pool their buying power to secure significant discounts that make installing solar more affordable than ever. 120 kW of solar were added on 24 properties in Wauwatosa as a result of this program. 

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.

The City of Wauwatosa will hold its inaugural World Migratory Bird Day on October 2, 2021, using the 2021 theme of "Sing, Fly, Soar - Like A Bird!". In collaboration with the Forest Exploration Center (FEC), we will conduct a Fall Bird Tour at the FEC's Nature Trail, 1800 Forest Exploration Drive in Wauwatosa. Observe, explore and discover on a 90 minute fall migration hike, led by Carl Schwartz, editor of "The Badger Birder" and former director of Bird City Wisconsin. Binoculars are recommended, but not required.  All are welcome but Tour size is limited to 25 and may fill up quickly. Accessible parking is available at the Main Entrance, but is limited. There will be goody bags for adults and children after the tour.

To signup for this free event or for more info, go to:

Joined Bird City: 2020

Population: 48,118

Incorporated: 1897

Area: 13.23 mi2

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