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 Wisconsin Rapids Smart Growth Plan was adopted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 and remains in effect.
E. Describe your community’s ordinance demonstrating that your community does not restrict natural/native landscaping that emphasizes native plants and non-turf lawns.
The Wisconsin Rapids Council adopted the International Property Maintenance Code of 2009 on June 15, 2010.
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.
Booklets on control of garlic mustard, buckthorn, reed canary grass, and others can currently be found in the brochure racks at the Wood County Land & Water Conservation office in Wisconsin Rapids. The location of these booklets is also mentioned on the city web site. The booklets include Wild Parsnip, Japanese Knotweed and Invasive Exotic Plants. See attachment to Invasive Exotic Plants booklet.
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.
In Wood County we have four designated State Wildlife and Natural areas. They include: Mead, Paul J.Olson, Sandhill, and Powers Bluff Maple Woods State Natural Area. See Attached pdf booklet titled, Great Wisconsin Birding & Nature Trail: Central Sands Prairie Region.
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.
In 2018 a Monarch Encouragement project was adopted by Clean Green Action, a 501(c)3 local organization dedicated to sustainability and the environment. As part of this project a test prairie was planted along the Wisconsin Rapids Riverview Expressway with permission from the city. This prairie hopes to attract both butterflies and birds. In August of 2019 the project was dedicated and signage was installed. Currently, there are seven monarch way stations in the city. The map can be viewed here.
In 2020 the Monarch Encouragement Committee created a border around the prairie so that native bushes could be planted. See Clean Green Action Project Updates for 2020 attached.
I. Document a recent project that created or restored bird habitat in your community. (Exclusions: Bird feeders and small-scale artificial nesting structures)
As part of Wisconsin Rapids City Beautification, a rain garden located by City Hall was restored. There is a continuing effort to remove invasive species in that location. Bird-friendly plants including coneflowers, Coreposis, etc. were added. A dedication took place June 4, 2019 in which Mayor Zach Vurwink dedicated the Rain garden. See attached photo of dedication.
As part of Lincoln High School Woodlot project, a prairie of over one acre was planted in 2018. In 2019 a prescribed burn took place by the Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department. The school district did a brush cut in the fall of 2020 to further maintain the prairie.
A kiosk was installed in front of the prairie naming the LHS Woodlot Project. It includes a large map of the trails. Tree identification signs were added on the trail to educate walkers on the diversity of the woodlot. An open house introducing this project to the community is being planned for 2021. See pictures attached.
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.).
Grant and Washington Elementary schools and Lincoln High School have maintained their Bluebird Trails with the boxes donated by the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society.
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.)
In 2020 six tree identification signs were installed in the Woodlot Project along the hiking path near the grounds of Lincoln High School as part of the Woodlot Project. See attached pictures.
For the adjacent prairie, prairie flower identification signs were purchased in 2020 and will be installed in the spring of 2021. One side of the kiosk will have bird and plant identification information the front side currently identifies the project.
The Prairie Chicken kiosk on County Hwy W was rededicated in 2014. It was originally built in 1993 to recognize the contribution of the Greater Prairie chicken to our state's rich natural history and as the gateway to the Buena Vista Wildlife Area. It had fallen into disrepair. The renovation was a collaboration of many local groups including a young member of Troop 118 of the Boy Scouts who took on the construction of a maple bench and brochure display box as his Eagle Scout project. It is a very popular a stop for tourists and birders interested in viewing grassland birds and in the winter the snowy owl. See attached picture of the dedication.
Community Forest Management
A. Demonstrate that your community has been awarded Tree City USA status by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
A list of trees planted by the City in 2020 is attached.
E. Show that your forester, a member of your tree board, or another person currently responsible for managing your community’s trees has completed the Wisconsin DNR’s Wisconsin Tree Management Institute.
The City of Wisconsin Rapids has an employee on their staff who has completed the Wisconsin DNR's Wisconsin Community Tree Management Institute. His name is Joseph Terry, Public Works Director. In 2017 he took an advanced course in this program.
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.
We continue to supply the South Wood County Humane Society with brochures titled “Cats, Birds and You” (see attachment) from the American Bird Conservancy provided by the Incourage Foundation. The Humane Society contacted us in 2019 to provide copies for inclusion in their pet adoption kit whenever cats go to their adoptive homes. In 2020 we provided 125 brochures.
B. Demonstrate that your community provides property owners with information on how to protect birds from window strikes (e.g., online links, brochures).
Bird City Wisconsin Rapids contacted local vendors of bird seed and other supplies. We provide a handout titled " Making your Windows Safe for Birds” from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Other businesses that distribute this bird strike prevention information include The Feed Store, Quality Feed and Seed, and South Wood County Humane Society. Additionally we provided opportunities at community booths like Kiwanis Youth Outdoor day to make falcon silhouettes to take home with information included.
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.
Wisconsin Rapids Ordinance (MC#505) outlaws free roaming cats, noting that they must be on a leash when off of their owner’s property and under control when on it. If there are complaints to the city, a cat will be captured and surrendered to the South Wood County Humane Society.
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.
A survey to the Wisconsin Rapids School District teachers was sent out and the results are included showing the many diverse environmental educational activities that the teachers are providing. The survey highlighted the limited use of the aforementioned programs as well as the other activities that are being offered. See attached.
Bird City Wisconsin Rapids participated in the Christmas Bird Count in 2020. Go to the Audubon Christmas Bird Count website for the result for Wisconsin Rapids.
D. Describe your community-sponsored annual bird festival. This must be a multi-day event or a truly exceptional one-day event.
In 2020 Bird City Wisconsin Rapids helped to organize the Wisconsin Prairie Chicken Festival in cooperation with local conservation agencies and organizations. Activities included: Greater Prairie-chicken viewing, grassland bird tours, locally-sourced luncheon, presentations on grassland, grassland birds, and pollinators. The event was canceled due to the pandemic.
E. Illustrate a program that involves schools, garden clubs, or other organizations in bird conservation activities.
The Wood County Master Gardeners organization is involved in promoting bird friendly gardening. See attachment.
The local state Wildlife Areas, Mead and Sandhill offers on going birding educational opportunities. Mead has a permanent environmental educator that offers field trips and educational programs on site and at their Visitor center. Permanent displays in the Outdoors Skills Center at Sandhill features local birds. There is a Sandhill Crane watch every fall.
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.
Washington School maintains web cams on two of the nest boxes on their Bluebird Trail and continues to make the feeds available online. The goal is to provide both the student body and general public the opportunity to view online a natural history experience involving nesting behavior. The Wisconsin Rapids Area Convention and Visitors Bureau features birding as a recommended activity.
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.
McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids installed solar panels in September of 2017. Thirty percent (30%) of the energy produced is being returned directly to the city. In 2020 the new Wisconsin Rapids Recreation Complex opened. It includes solar power for the shelter. The city obtained gold status designation through the SolSmart program.
H. Describe your community’s efforts to educate residents about climate change.
Clean Green Action hosted a Climate Change Forum in April of 2019 that was well attended and ideas for local action were generated. For 2020 CGA kept members informed of climate change educational opportunities. See Clean Green Action Projects attached.