Making our communities healthy for birds... and people

City of Stevens Point

City of Stevens Point


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 Stevens Point Smart Growth Plan was adopted in 2005, amended in 2006 and is still currently in effect.

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)

Birds continue to be monitored at Kozcizkowski Park and the Erickson Natural Area, but no significant change has occurred from our first BCW application. For the 2017 season, the Bird Club of McKinley Elementary School fledged 31 individual birds: 7 House Wrens, 21 Tree Swallows and 3 Black-capped Chickadees. A total of 20 Club students monitored 14 nest boxes in these park areas. Some monitored from mid-April to mid-August, well beyond the school year (Document 1)

For the past 16 years, the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society (ALAS) has developed and monitored an Eastern Bluebird nest box trail (ABT = Audubon Bluebird Trail--see Document 2A). In that time the trail has grown from 89 to 1,378 boxes and from 1 to 80 monitors. For the last seven years it has been the largest and most productive trail in Wisconsin and for the last five years is thought to be the largest and most productive in the U.S. For the 2017 nesting season, this trail produced 6,708 songbirds, 5,279 of which were Eastern Bluebirds. In the 16 years of its activity, the ABT has produced about 80,619 songbirds, 62,578 of which were Eastern Bluebirds.

In the Stevens Point city limits and closely adjacent area, there are 111 nest boxes. In 2017 these boxes produced 459 bluebirds and another 127 songbirds. Monitors for these boxes were Dave and Patti Becker, Sue Hall, Dianna and Richard Mrozinski, Cassidy Crunkilton, Jean Klein and Woody & Madge Bishop.

Monitors for the ABT perform a series of tasks that are not found for any other monitors that I know of anywhere in the country (See Document 2b). They are expected to: 1) weekly monitor and report their findings for all nest boxes on their routes 2) pay for their own transportation and 3) for the season, complete an individual data sheet for each box and turn them in as a “route package”. These monitoring expectations maximize the morale and education for the individual monitors.

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)

15 acres of prime habitat lies in the Stevens Point area. This is park land known as Kozcizkowski Park and Erickson Natural Area. Home to dozens of migrating species, it is a confirmed nesting site for 33 bird species (including the Osprey). It is Stevens Point land and is used by birders in spring, summer and fall (see McKinley Elementary School above). ALAS was instrumental in preserving from development a 5.5-acre site adjacent to the 14-acre Kozcizkowski Park, owned by the City of Stevens Point. In less than one year, Audubon members raised $308,000 for purchase of what is now the Godfrey & Maybelle Erickson Natural Area. Audubon members and friends raised nearly $32,000, the Erickson’s contributed $60,000, the City of Stevens Point contributed $75,710, and the Wisconsin DNR contributed $140,500 through its Urban Greenspace Program.

Kozcizkowski Park and the Erickson Natural Area continue to be used for nest box monitoring by McKinley Elementary School (70 songbirds produced in 2014 season), visitation by local citizens and tourists and special Audubon field trips (Stevens Point CBC and spring bird counts). This area continues to be used by large numbers of migrating birds and as a nesting site for 33 species of birds (including a pair of ospreys and the newest member of the species list, the Long-eared Owl). In 2011, they added two Leopold benches to the site and were involved in removal of Black Locust and Tartarian Honeysuckle. Also, in the late winter of 2014, a pier was added to this property. It will be used for McKinley Elementary School students to fish, bird watch, and take water samples. The Whiting Dam that produces the McDill Pond had major leakage problems. Repair of the McDill Pond Dam was completed in October, 2012, and McDill Pond was filled in April, 2013. This is a very important stop-over site for Neotropical migrants and the 2013 year of renewal brought it back to its original luster as an avian stop-over site in the spring of 2014. We experienced several fall outs during this time – an indication that this habitat has recovered after a drop in the water level.

ALAS enhanced the property with an educational kiosk, two boardwalks, an entryway sign, and the removal of invasive, Black Locust and exotic Tartarian Honeysuckle over a period of 6 years. More than 100 people helped with this effort.

Over the past years, ALAS has held the following activities at the Kozcizkowski Park/Erickson Natural Area site: 1) Bird walks, including two International Migratory Bird Day celebrations; 2) two years of nest box inspections by McKinley Center Elementary School; 3)Cavity Nesting Songbird Workshops for central Wisconsin in 2009 and for the Natural Resources Foundation in 2010.

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.

Portage County is part of the Central Sands Prairie Region of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail. Stevens Point has two locations on this trail (No. 53, Iverson Park, and No. 55, Schmeeckle Reserve).

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 December of 2012, the Stevens Point Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau put the BCW videotape prepared by Northland Adventures, on their website. This video is also on the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society’s website.  This video is very descriptive of the BCW program.

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

The Green circle trail (Document 3a) encompasses three municipalities (Stevens Point, Whiting and Plover).  Started ortiginally with 22 miles of trail, it has since added 13 miles of spurs.  This trail passes through many habitats that are favorable to birds.  Bird watching is common on the trail and is especially appealing along the Wisconsin River where ducks, geeser and swans are common during migration The trail is maintained but fragile habitat is kept in good shape. 

Kiosks are being placed at the intersections of trail seqments for the Green Circle.  Audubon has helped pay for two of these kiosks ($9,000).  In 2017 (Document 3b) another kiosk was completed.  It joined the Stagecoach and Brickyard trails.  Please note that each of the trails has its own descriptive panel that features a bird.

P. Demonstrate the implementation of a program to preserve Chimney Swift nesting and roosting sites (preferred) and/or to construct Chimney Swift towers.

The Aldo Leopold Audubon Society has spent $4,000 on two Chimney Swift Towers in the Stevens Point Sculpture Park (2012). To date, no swifts have nested in these towers.

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.).

The Aldo Leopold Audubon Society has started nest box trails at six different elementary schools in Wisconsin.  Two are in Stevens Point and 1 is in Plover and will be used in our BCW applications. (Document 4).  The others are in Grant Elementary School, SW Portage Co., Wisconsin Rapids and Marathon, WI.

In mid-April of each breeding season, students involved in this program start collecting data from their nest boxes around their respective schools.  Last season that involved 110 students.  Most trails  have at least 3 species of birds nest, sometimes 4 (bluebird, Tree Swallow, chickadee and wren).  Students learn to ID nests, eggs and chicks.  But the most important thing they learn is how to collect accurate data.

Local papers regularly give us publicity for our efforts (see Document 4).  Last season, Roosevelt E.S. fledged 36 songbirds, McKinley E.S.  fledged 31 songbirds and Madison E.S. fledged 19 songbirds. The turnover of monitors is continuous. New ones are needed each year. Kent Hall always takes out prospective monitors to show them the procedures involved in monitoring.

V. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Over a 9-year period (2001-2010) the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society constructed 3,900 nest boxes (Document 5).  These were constructed at the Wood Laboratory on the UW-SP campus and transported to a storage area.  About 1,300 of these boxes were used by the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society Trail, but 2,600 were distributed to other bluebird trails in the state.  Payment for most of these additional boxes was made by the Bluebird Restoration Association of WI, but ALAS helped with distribution of boxes statewide and installation of over 100 bluebird trails.  Although these nest boxes were made in Stevens Point, we had a major influence on bluebird conservation statewide (over a 3-year period).

Community Forest Management

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

Stevens Point continues to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation following its initial award in 1976 (38 years when accepted this year--See Document #6a). The City has also received the Growth Award for 15 years. An Arbor Day Celebration in Stevens Point was held in May of 2016.

Audubon applied for a $750 grant from Audubon National for replacing trees damaged by the summer storm of 2017.  We received it and have donated it to the Forestry Department of Steven Point.   We also added' another $649 from our Treasury for a total of $1399.  Audubon members will help plant trees in Stevens Point Parks.

Todd Ernster, local Stevens Point Forester, tries to educate the public.  One such effort is presented in Document 5b.

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.

Todd Ernster, our Stevens Point Forester, has not only completed the Wisconsin DNR's WI Community Tree Management Institute course, he will teach it for the 4th time in spring of 2018.

F. OTHER: Demonstrate in a narrative.

Todd Ernster alerts selected persons about specialized events involving trees.  Check out his news release involving ash trees (Document 6b).

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.

The ALAS website has a link to the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) web site and its “Cats Indoors!” program. ALAS is cooperating with four local veterinary clinics and the Portage County Humane Society to distribute the ABC brochure, “Cats, Birds and You.”  Several hundred of these brochures are now in the hands of these facilities and more will be provided by ALAS as needed.

B. Demonstrate that your community provides property owners with information on how to protect birds from window strikes (e.g., online links, brochures).

Links to the Window Alert website can be found on both the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society and the Stevens Point websites.

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

In 1999, ALAS members approached the Portage County Planning and Zoning Department for consideration of the development of a Communication Tower Ordinance. With the strong backing of then Stevens Point Mayor, Gary Wescott, this ordinance (Wireless Telecommunication Facility Ordinance) was passed on May 18th, 1999. This ordinance was revised on January 1st, 2007, and again on June 17th, 2008.

This ordinance, to the best of our knowledge, was the first ordinance in the state to address concerns about migratory birds and communication towers (7.3.1 PURPOSE: F; 7.3.7 DISTRICT REQUIREMENTS: BAreas prohibiting telecommunications facility location: Floodplains, Wetlands, Shorelands, Conservancy-zoned districts).

This ordinance is quite sensitive to and supportive of healthy bird populations. Although this became a county-wide ordinance, the original motivation for it came from residents in the City of Stevens Point.

Public Education

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).

ALAS has held a Christmas Bird Count for 58 years. The center of the count circle is at the Old Main Building on the UW-Stevens Point campus. A total of 25-35 persons participate in this community-wide conservation project each year. The species record for a single count is 53 and was set in 2005.

A total of 44 species and 5,750 individuals were found on the 2017 SP-CBC (Document 7). There was one new species found in the 58th count year, the Pintail duck (#120 for 58 years). Uncommon species observed included Northern Harrier (1), Brown Creeper (5), Golden-crowned Kinglet (4) No. Shrike (4), White-throated Sparrow (1) and Purple Finch (2).  25 people participated in this year’s count.

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

The Aldo Leopold Chapter of the National Audubon Society has coordinated nest box programs for Elementary schools for the past 11 years. In Stevens Point, one has been McKinley School (see earlier comments). In 2015 we added yet another Stevens Point elementary school, Madison. The students at these schools are given an orientation session in preparation for the season. For 5-7 weeks they then investigate 8 nest boxes (donated by ALAS) and record the contents. They are able to observe nest building, egg laying and chick hatching. They are taught how to handle chicks and dispel the myth that human smells cause the parents to abandon the chicks. This program has been very well received by the students, their teachers and their parents (Document 4). 

The mission of the Central Wisconsin Children’s Museum (CWCM) is to provide a family-based discovery place where children and adults can play and explore together to strengthen confidence, capabilities and creativity through hands-on investigation.

In 2013, the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society developed the following initiatives with the CWCM, initiatives that served 23,678 people in 2017:

  • Bird Wing Display: Children hold their arms up and compare them to the wingspread of an Eagle, Hawk, Owl, etc. This remains a very active display. ($200 ALAS donation)
  • Cavity-nesting Songbird Display: Nests and eggs of Eastern Bluebird, Black-capped Chickadee, House Wren, and Tree Swallow are displayed in viewable, plexiglass containers. ($150 ALAS donation and USFWS permit renewal)
  • Bird Books for Children: Purchase of 30+ books. ($250 ALAS donation).

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.

The Aldo Leopold Audubon Society has an active series of talks (8 per academic year) and field trips (14 in 2016-17). Our total attendance at our talks is between 500 & 600 and our attendance on our field trips total 250-300 (Documents 8 & 9).

Boston School Forest is located in Plover but serves the entire Stevens Point School System (Document #10). In the 2015-2016 school year, 7,220 students (mainly) and adults attended the facility. In addition to monies allocated from taxpayers, a total of $4,738.09 was received in donations. The Aldo Leopold Audubon Society contributed $300.00 plus donated display boxes with nests and eggs for the Eastfern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, chickadee, wren and House Sparrow.

Energy & Sustainability

A. Document an energy audit for a municipal building and show that your community is working to implement its recommendations.

Since 2013, the waste water treatment plant in Stevens Point has used methane gas from its waste water intake to power its generator.  After receiving a $114,000 grant from the state agency, Focus on Energy, that efficiency reached a remarkable 95%.  Director of the plant, Joel Lemke, thinks the waste water department might reach a point where it can actually generate power and sell it back to the power grid.  This effort is remarkable because release of methane contributes 23X the effect for global warming that CO2 does.

A new waste water treatment is being built and is scheduled for completion in fall, 2018.  This building will be fitted with a 130 KW array of solar panels.  The goal is to make this building 100% efficient and sell energy back into the grid. 

The Portage Co. Democratic Party Building is being fitted with solar panels.  The building is located on Division St. in central Stevens Point.  The money ($22,000) has been raised to pay for these panels and they will be installed in April, 2018.

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.

Bike Trail Development (Biking and walking can reduce the use of cars significantly and that leads to lowered greenhouse gases).

On 22 April 14 the Portage Co. Board approved a County-wide bike plan. Each municipality has to approve it separately. On 19 Oct. 15 the Stevens Point City Council approved the component of the bike plan for Stevens Point.

In September of 2016, Stevens Point received a grant of $390,141 for the WisDOT’s Transportation Alternative Program. This grant funds a community infrastructure Project that will add 13.16 miles of marked and signed bicycle lanes, urban shoulders, and shared lane marking on existing and arterial streets. The City will provide matching dollars totaling $97,535. Stevens Point ranked 2nd out of 33 projects approved for the 2016-2020 period.

Mayor of Stevens Point, Mike Wiza, started a Biking and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) in August, 2015.  They gave a report on Jan. 9, 2018 (Document 11).  Among other things, they reported on a cooperative map developed with UW-SP.  This map was developed based on comfort and convenience. 

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

The Stevens Point City Council unanimously on June 19, 2017, to join the ranks of Green Tier Legacy Communities (Document 12).

In 2015 Stevens Point was selected 7th out of 1,300 communities surveyed by Nerdwallet (Document 13).  i did not include that information in that year's BCW application, so am including it now.  

The City holds many events for tourists.  But this year, an event was held that dealt strictly with birds: Contest for selection of the Federal Duck Stamp (Document 14).  The City and the University combined to host this federally important program.

UW-SP is considered one of the most sustainable colleges/universities in the USA (Document 15). They are now working with the City on a compost plan that will serve the needs of over 30,000 people (combined populations of Stevens Point and UW-SP.  If implemented, it will be unique for a city the size of the area.

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

Talks by the Citizens Climate Lobby, Stevens Point Chapter (525 members mainly from Stevens Point). We had  5 major talks last year, two of which are featured in Document #16.

Aldo Leopold Audubon Society also has an active series of talks and two dealt with climate change this year: 1) The Sixth Extincttion by Eric Anderson and 2) A Bird's Perspective on Climate Change by Alan Haney.

Another way to educate the public is through Letters to the Editor or Opinion Pieces in local papers. Last year Citizens for Climate Lobby, Stevens Point Chapter, published over 100 LTE's and OP's. Three LTE's are found in Document #17.

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.

The Resolution for the May 12, 2018, IMBD was approved by the Stevens Point City Council on January 15, 2018 (Document #18).

Our last IMBD was held on May 13 (see introductory comments in Document #19.  Some photos of that event are found in Document #20.  A total of 22 people attended this event and 52 species were observed.

Stevens Points’s IMBD was held on 13 May. The field trip started with a discussion of the worldwide nature of the program and of the huge number of birds migrating from over-wintering to breeding habitats. Seven field guides led the trip and were assigned 5-6 different persons. A total of 43 adults & children attended the event. We first toured Iverson Park (on the WI State Birding and Nature Trail) and then went to the 350 acre Lost Creek Wetlands (has a checklist of 222 bird species). We saw/heard a total of 56 species of Birds. This IMBD was unique in that a troop of 10 Boy Scouts attended who were working on their “birding merit badge.

Joined Bird City: 2010

Population: 26,717

Incorporated: 1858

Area: 17.2 mi2

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