Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

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.

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, 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.

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 its 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.)

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. One member of the Kishwauketoe Board is a Wisconsin Master Naturalist Instructor and also 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 the 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 sponsor and support a community garden that includes plants favored by birds and butterflies.

Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy is alsio a certified Butterfly Garden.

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 is in the process of restoring a large area of rollong prairie, which abuts an old growth hardwood forest, by removing highly invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle. This area is being planted with the seeds of numerous native plants including grasses and forbs. In addition, a large number of native trees and shrubs are being planted in this area. All of these native species are much more attractive to birds than invasives like buckthorn.

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.

The 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 and sedges in approximately 10 acres of the conservancy during 2019 and continuing throughout 2020. 

Kishwauketoe just completed an additional restoration project of a six acre prairie by removing buckthorn and honeysuckle and planting approximately $7,000 worth of native seeds.

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 two separate locations in the conservancy.

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 worked with American Transmission Company (ATC), Alliant Energy and WE Energies during 2018, 2019 and 2020 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 has been awarded grants from ATC and Alliant Energy to plant native grasses and forbs on improved right of ways as well as trees and shrubs in other areas of the conservancy. WE Energies has also provided grant funding to reseed and improve trails that traverse above their underground natural gas pipeline.

V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

The Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy has Blue Bird trails located in multiple areas of the conservancy property.

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 the premier nature conservancy, and continues to build high-quality bird habitat. The tree planting event in 2020 was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, more that 300 native trees and shrubs were planted by volunteers practicing social distancing via a highly organized process in order to keep everyone safe.

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 nature conservancy eliminates non-native and invasive trees, shrubs and plants only locally native species are planted as replacements. More than 300 native trees and shrubs were planted in 2020 in recognition of Arbor Day.

F. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Harold J. Friestad, Chairman of Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy, located in the Village of Williams Bay, was awarded by Gathering Waters, Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts, the Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. Harold was responsible for the Village’s acquisition of the 231 acre parcel that is now Kishwauketoe during the time that he served as Village President; he continues to serve Kishwauketoe as Chairman and remains very active in conservation workday projects throughout the year. Kishwauketoe continues to improve as a high-quality bird habitat.

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.

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 restricts 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; this program was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. More than 500 grade school children participate in an Arbor Day tree planting program each April at Kishwauketoe; this program was also cancelled in 2020 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 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.

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.

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. The Village recently applied for two separate grants from the State of Wisconsin to add a pedestrian and bike trail along Theatre Road in the Village.

H. Describe your community’s efforts to educate residents about climate change.

The Village's Nature Series program, co-hosted and sponsored by Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy and Barrett Memorial Library, routinely speaks to and addresses the overall topic of climate change.

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.

James Killian co-led a bird walk through Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy in recognition of International Migratory Bird Day. Social distancing was practiced. This event was held on Saturday, May 9, 2020 from 7:00 am to 9:00 am. This event was widely publicized on the Village’s community calendar, posted on the Village website, and with the Lakeland Audubon Society and their members/friends. This same event is scheduled for Saturday, May 8, 2021.

Joined Bird City: 2010

Population: 2,582

Incorporated: 1919

Area: 2.8 mi2

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