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 the 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 of Wisconsin Rapids' website.  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 areas. They include Mead, Paul J.Olson, Sandhill,  and Wood County, 

See Attached pdf booklet titled, Great Wisconsin Birding & Nature Trail: Central Sands Prairie Region.   

Wood County also has a number of state natural areas which provide unique habitats for a wide range of species.   Hiles Wetlands;  Hog Island Tamaracks;  Mead Conifer Bogs;   Owl Creek Fen Savanna;  Powers Bluff Maple Woods;  Red Oak Bottoms;  Skunk Creek Woods;  and the Yellow River Floodplain Forest.

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 on June 4, 2019, in which Mayor Zach Vurwink dedicated the Rain garden.  See attached photo of dedication. 

As part of the 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 the pictures attached. 

In the fall of 2021, Bird City Wisconsin Rapids received a grant from Bird City Wisconsin with which we purchased a seed mix for a 1/4 acre named Pollinator Palooza from Prairie Moon Nursery, Minnesota to reseed the Lincoln HighSchool Woodlot project.  Students helped with the broadcasting of the seed.  

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.

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.

The list of trees planted by the City of Wisconsin Rapids in 2021 is attached.  

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.

Bird City Wisconsin Rapids continues 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.

Bird City Wisconsin Rapids also promotes this brochure on our social media. 

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 birdseed 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, Bird City Wisconsin Rapids provided opportunities at community booths like Kiwanis Youth Outdoor day to see windows with bird strike prevention tape compared to an unprotected window.  

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 aforementioned programs as well as the other activities 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 2021.   Go to the Audubon Christmas Bird Count website for the result for Wisconsin Rapids.  

Bird City Wisconsin Rapids participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count.  One of our participants received a thank you letter for the large nmber of birds that they contributed.

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

In 2021 Bird City Wisconsin Rapids helped to organize the Wisconsin Prairie Chicken Festival in cooperation with local conservation agencies and organizations. Activities schedule included: Greater Prairie-chicken viewing, grassland bird tours, locally-sourced luncheon, presentations on grassland, grassland birds, and pollinators.Unfortunately all field activities had to be cancelled due to Covid so pre-festival and festival activities included a variety of presentations virtually.  .

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 Songbird Project 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.  

N. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Bird City Wisconsin Rapids volunteers initiated a City of Wisconsin Rapids Parks and Recreation summer program to teach youth more about birds, going on an identification walk, practice using binoculars, play bird related games and go for a bird walk.

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 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. The city obtained gold status designation through the SolSmart program. 

Wood County is committed to streamlining permitting processes and making information about renewable energy easily accessible to interested people and businesses. The County is seeking a solar-ready designation through SolSmart, a Department of Energy program.

Wood County Nepco Lake County Park installed a solar installation power bank to power the shelter building which hosts many community special events.

Mid State Technical College has installed a solar electric vehicle charging station which is open and free to the community.

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

Clean Green Action is hosting a Climate Awareness Book Club in 2021 that was well attended and ideas for local action were generated. For 2021 CGA kept members informed of climate change educational opportunities and is proposing a new project entititled Climate Change Awareness Project.  

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.  

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.

In 2021 Bird City Wisconsin Rapids held a booth at the Kiwaiis Youth Outdoor Day where we educated many community members especially youth and family members about birds. . 

Joined Bird City: 2013

Population: 18,367

Incorporated: 1869

Area: 14.67 mi2

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