Village Williams Bay

Village Williams Bay


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 Village of Williams Bay has an ordinance that is in compliance with Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” law for land use planning and resource management and continues to remain in compliance. The Village is about to approve an updated and revised 10 year strategic plan in February, 2023.

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 Lakeland Audubon Society, which meets monthly in the Village of Williams Bay at the Village-owned Lions Field House, routinely participates in the Christmas Bird Count, International Migratory Bird Day bird walk and the Great Backyard Bird Count. We also periodically participate in the Annual Crane Count. A Board member from the Village's Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy participates in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) "Snapshot Wisconsin" wildlife monitoring program, hosting two DNR wildlife trail cameras; this includes classifying all wildlife images that are captured including birds. Snapshot Wisconsin, beginning in 2022, began a program to more closely identify, classify and monitor bird species recorded on all trail cameras located throughout the state of Wisconsin.

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)

A large percentage of the Village of Williams Bay has legal protection of bird habitat that goes far beyond tree ordinances. Among the protected areas is the Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy, a municipally owned 231-acre area set aside in 1990 to insure “the protection of this fragile shoreland-wetland area for future generations.”  (This was documented with a zoning map of the Village showing Kishwauketoe, copies of web pages about its history, a brochure, and a copy of the ordinances protecting it.) Jim Killian, the individual responsible to managing the Bird City designation for the Village of Williams Bay co-authored a book about Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy. The book, "Kishwauketoe - A Nature Conservancy for the Children of Tomorrow," was published and released in March 2022. 100&% of the proceeds from the sale of this book benefit continuing restoration efforts at Kishwaketoe.

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

The revised 10-year plan for the Village includes plans for planting additional native trees throughout the community in order to increase and improve bird habitat.

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.

Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy offers regular press releases, volunteer work days, workshops and guided nature hikes involving control and removal of invasive species, hosts an event calendar, and advertises on its Facebook page. The Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy is fortunate to have a botanist with a University of Wisconsin Master’s Degree on staff to plan and lead various restoration projects. This individual also leads numerous educational walks through the conservancy. Two members of the Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy Board are Wisconsin Master Naturalist Instructors; one of these individuals serves as a volunteer host for two wildlife trail cameras for the Snapshot Wisconsin program operated by the Wisconsin DNR and the University of Wisconsin Extension Office.

The Geneva Lake Environmental Agency, based in Williams Bay, regularly publishes information in its newsletter about the dangers of invasive species and encouraging their removal. Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy routinely holds volunteer workdays to remove invasive species and publicizes this issue in the local newspaper.

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 Village's Parks & Recreation Department along with the Lakeland Audubon Society sponsor and support a community garden that includes plants favored by birds and butterflies.

Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy is also a certified for its butterfly and pollinator habitat. Kishwauketoe also participates in the Pollinator Partnership program by hosting native seed gathering/harvesting sessions each fall.

I. Document a recent project that created or restored bird habitat in your community. (Exclusions: Bird feeders and small-scale artificial nesting structures)

Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy continues to restore large areas of the conservancy by removing highly invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle. These areas are being planted with the seeds of numerous native plants including grasses and forbs as well as a large number of native trees and woody shrubs - particularly varities favored by birds. All of these native species are much more attractive to birds than invasives like buckthorn. A local Cub Scout Troop leader recently contacted Kiswhwauketoe an will be constructing and installing replacement and new bluebird house in Kishwauketoe in the spring of 2023.

K. Implement a tree risk policy (see pg. 153) designed to leave dead trees standing as nesting and foraging resources for birds when it is safe to do so.

Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy routinely leaves snags (dead tree trunks) in place throughout the 231 acre conservancy as long as they are not in danger of falling on a walking trail or path.

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

Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy removed and eliminated invasive buckthorn, honeysuckle and replanted native plants, wildflowers, grasses, sedges, trees and woody shrubs in approximately 25 acres of the conservancy during 2022.

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

The entire Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy parcel is public property owned by the Village of Williams Bay. What makes this conservancy unique is that it receives no public funding but is managed 100% by an independent board and supported by numerous volunteers, private donations and grant awards.

R. Show how your community aids a local youth group (e.g., Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of USA, 4-H Club, etc.) or conservation group in bird conservation projects (e.g., bluebird trail, habitat restoration, Wood Duck nest boxes, etc.).

Numerous Boy Scout Eagle Scout and Girl Scout Gold Award projects have been completed in Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy. These include benches, bee hotels, bat houses, work on boardwalks, invasive species removal, etc. Two classes of high school students constructed and installed bat houses in separate locations in the conservancy. A Cub Scout troop is currently constructing bluebird house which they will install in Kishwauketoe.

U. Show that your community maximizes the value of right-of-way space (e.g., power lines, pipelines, etc.) by planting them with native grasses, shrubs, herbs, and other prairie/grassland plants.

Kishwauketoe Nature Nature Conservancy and the Village of Williams Bay work routinely with American Transmission Company (ATC), Alliant Energy and WE Energies to improve electrical utility and natural gas right of ways. Overhead power lines were burried underground in one location on the conservancy property and the power poles and aerial power were removed. The conservancy is periodically awarded grants from these utility companies to plant native grasses and forbs on improved right of ways as well as trees and woody shrubs in other areas of the conservancy. Kishwauketoe recently received a significant grant award from ATC to restore two different fen areas.

Community Forest Management

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

The Village of Williams Bay continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 2001. Every April since then, approximately 500 school children from numerous Geneva Lake area elementary schools participate in the planting of approximately 100 trees and/or native shrubs in the Village’s Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy in celebration of Arbor Day. This is an annual on-going event at this premier nature conservancy, and continues to build high-quality bird habitat. The tree planting events in 2020 and 2021 were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, more that 500 native trees and woody shrubs were planted by volunteers, including families and children, practicing social distancing via a highly organized process in order to keep everyone safe. 2002 saw the return of school groups to plant native trees and shrubs for the benefit of wildlife.

C. Document an ongoing community program to incorporate a significant number of native trees, native shrubs, native herbaceous plants, and/or cultivars of native species in public or large-scale private landscaping.

As the Village-owned Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy continues to remove non-native and invasive trees, shrubs and plants; only locally native species are planted as replacements. More than 200 native trees and shrubs were planted in 2022.

F. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Jim Killian and Jen Schildgen wrote and published the book "Kishwauketoe - A Nature Conservancy for the Children of Tomorrow.: While copyrighted in 2021, the book wasn't released until March, 2022 due to numerous Covid supply chain issues and due to the fact that book publishing was halted for an extended period of time during the pandemic. The book is dedicated to Harold Friestad the founder and Chairman of Kishwauketoe. The book includes extensive photographs of birds located in Kishwauketoe, all taken by local photographers.

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.

Cats Indoors!” brochures are available and on display both at the Williams Bay Village Hall and at Williams Bay’s Barrett Memorial Library.

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

Herbicide use is limited to staff who maintain certifications in their use. In Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy, herbicide use is primarily applied by dabbing cut trunks and sprouts while the use of spray is extremely limited. When possible, non-herbicidal methods are utilized to prevent invasive woody shrubs and trees from regrowing.

F. Demonstrate that your community enforces an ordinance that requires domestic cats to be kept indoors, on a leash, or in an enclosure to prevent them from preying on birds and other wildlife and spreading disease.

Williams Bay has a leash ordinance has an ordinance that requires dogs and cats to be leashed except whn dogs and owners utilize the two Village dog parks.

G. Show how your community regulates communication tower construction, siting, and lighting to mitigate their risk to migrating birds.

Cellular communication towers are severly restricted within the Village limits of Williams Bay and are only located atop designated Village-owned water towers.

H. Document that your community operates a significant Lights Out program that dims building lights to reduce collisions during spring and fall migration or that you have an outdoor lighting ordinance that includes Lights Out during bird migration.

The Village of Williams Bay is fortunate to be the home of Yerkes Observatory. Ever since the establishment of the observatory in 1897, the Village has tightly controlled artificial light pollution through strict lighting ordinances, including lighted signs. Lighted business signs are required to be turned off at the close of business each day and not left on all night. The Village also prohibits the use of electronic flashing or scrolling signs.

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. 

Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy offers an outdoor children's education program which runs during the spring, summer and fall each year. Each fall, approximately 50 community high school students participate in a volunteer workday at Kishwauketoe led by the high school biology teacher and Kishwauketoe's Master Naturalist Instructor. More than 500 grade school children participate in an Arbor Day tree planting program each April at Kishwauketoe due to the pandemic..

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 Lakeland Audubon Society meets monthly at the Village-owned Lyon’s Field House in Williams Bay. Members participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, an International Migratory bird walk and the Christmas Bird Count annually. Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy Board member Jim Killian manages two wildlife trail cameras in Kishwauketoe for the Wisconsin DNR Snapshot Wisconsin citizen science program. He also manages 20 blue bird houses at Kishwauketoe and corrdinates the installation of additional bird boxes for raptors and wood ducks as well as a number of bat houses.

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

Each year, the Village’s Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy hosts an Arbor Day celebration event with the planting of a large number of trees by classes of elementary school children accompanied by their teachers and parent assistants. Each group of children that plants a tree is also accompanied by a Kishwauketoe volunteer, who also discusses the benefits of tree planting including for the bird population.

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).

Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy maintains designation as a Certified Butterfly Garden by documenting the presence of various specific plant and flower species. Kishwauketoe volunteers, in addition to collecting seeds from native grasses and forbs for planting in the conservancy in areas that are being restored, also participated in seed harvesting for the multi-state Pollinator Partnership in 2020 and 2021. Kishwauketoe's only full-time staff member maintains and manages bee hives.

I. Show that your municipality promotes and supports a bird club or other environmentally/ecologically-minded club. (Exclusions: Garden clubs, unless you demonstrate a strong focus on native plants)

Williams Bay is the monthly meeting location for the Lakeland Audubon Society. Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy co-sponsors a bi-monthly "Nature Series" education program with the Barrett Memorial Library in Williams Bay; this program consists of book reading and discussions about nature conservation books, guest speakers and film viewing and reviews. Audubon Society members and Kishwauketoe volunteers co-host an International Migratory bird walk in the conservancy each May.

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.

Periodic guided bird walks are offered in the Village's Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy. A Master Naturalist in the community hosts two Snapshot Wisconsin DNR-sponsored nature trail cameras. These cameras have captured numerous images of birds.

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 Village has a bike trail and added bike lanes on a portion of WI State Highway 67 through the assistance of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

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.

James Killian co-leads a bird walk through Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy in recognition of International Migratory Bird Day. This event was held on Saturday, May 14, 2022 from 7:00 am to 9:00 am. This event was widely publicized on the Village’s community calendar, posted on the Village website, the Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy website and with the Lakeland Audubon Society and their members/friends. This same event is scheduled for Saturday, May 13, 2023.

Joined Bird City: 2010

Population: 2,582

Incorporated: 1919

Area: 2.8 mi2

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