Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Wisconsin Rapids

City of Wisconsin Rapids


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 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 Conservation office in Wisconsin Rapids. The location of these booklets is also mentioned on the city web site.   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. pp 64-66.        

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 sustainabilty and the environment.  As part of this project we planted a test prairie along the Wisconsin Rapids Riverview Expressway with permission from the city. This prairie hopes to attract both butterflies and birds.  This past year the project was dedicated and signage was installed in August.  Currently, there are seven monarch way stations in the city. The map can be viewed at:

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 has being restored. There is a continuing effort to remove invasive species. Bird-friendly plants have been added, including coneflowers, Coreposis, etc.   A dedication took place June 4th, 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 (1) acre was planted in 2018 and  a perscribed burn took place this year by the Wisconsin Rapids Fire Department.   A kiosk was installed for educational purposes.  

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. 


Community Forest Management

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

Wisconsin Rapids has been a participant in the Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree City, USA” program since 1988.  It is currently administered by the City of Wisconsin Rapids Department of Parks and Recreation.

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.

Wisconsin Rapids’ City Beautification Program and the Parks Department make efforts annually to plant native trees and cultivars throughout the community. Students from Lincoln and Assumption High Schools continue to be involved in planting a small number of trees which have included oak, catalpa, crab apple, maple, and others. See plant list in attachments.

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 Spring of 2019 to provide more copies to include this brochure with their pet adoption kit whenever cats go to their adoptive homes.

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 Kiwani's Youth Outdoor day to make falcon silhouettes to take home and taught about the importance of preventing bird window strikes.

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. 

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. 

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 afformentioned programs as well as the other actvities that are being offered.  (see attached)

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).

Bird City Wisconsin Rapids participated in the Christmas Bird Count in 2019. Go to the Audubon Christmas Bird Count website for the result for Wisconsin Rapids 2019.  

D. Describe your community-sponsored annual bird festival. This must be a multi-day event or a truly exceptional one-day event.

In 2019 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.  See attachment.

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

The Wood County Master Gardeners organization is quite involved in promoting bird friendly gardening.    see attachment

The local state Wildlife Areas, Mead and Sandhill offers on going birding educational opportunities for example a progam on Saw Whet owls in the Spring of 2019 at Sandhill with the Friends of Sandhill.  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 also features local birds.   There is also a Sandhill Crane watch every fall at Sandhill.


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 makes 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.

N. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Bird City Wisconsin Rapids was a sponsor for Hawks & Tails & Cocktails fundraiser for Raptor Education Group, Inc. (REGI).  see attachment 

Energy & Sustainability

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

Wisconsin Rapids has adopted the resolution to become a Green Tier Legacy Community.  Green Tier Legacy Community 

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 Memoria Library, Wisconsin Rapids installed solar panels in September of 2017. Thirty percent (30%) of the energy produced is being returned directly to the city. Go to

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.  see attached

I. Document that your community is part of the Energy Independent Community program.

The City of Wisconsin Rapids is listed among 140 communities part of the Energy Independent Community program. energy independent community

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.

Each year Bird City Wisconsin Rapids participates in two events to celebrate IMBD. The first event, Kiwanis Youth Outdoors Day, is held the first Saturday in June. For the fourth year Bird City WR participated in Kiwanis Youth Outdoors Day. At this event we have booths with bird-related activities for youth,  including: education from Flying Wild curriculum, arts and crafts, educational materials (e.g. Great Wisconsin Birding & Nature Trail booklets and birds lists from Buena Vista and Mead Wildlife Areas). One features children’s crafts: for example,  coloring bird pictures and having them laminated into wearable buttons, coloring bird masks and more. This year we also featured a bird identification trail and game offering the children take home paper binoculars.  see attachments

The second event is the Grand Affair held on the second Sunday of September in the downtown area of Wisconsin Rapids. The Grand Affair is a fall festival that includes food booths, craft and clothing vendors, a vintage car show and local service booths. Our booth has children’s bird-related crafts, nest displays, brochures on birding hot spots, and a Monarch butterfly demonstration that allows children to band butterlies, learn about their migration and stages of development.  see attachment

Joined Bird City: 2013

Population: 18,367

Incorporated: 1869

Area: 14.67 mi2

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