In 2020, Bird City Wisconsin awarded small grants to six deserving Bird City communities: Bayfield, Fond du Lac, Madison, Ozaukee County, Sheboygan, and Wausau. Here’s what Wausau, a High Flyer, accomplished with its award.
Susan Haug, the bird club's treasurer, reports that the Wausau Bird Club had received the blessing of the Wausau/Marathon County Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department in 2019 to undertake a long-term restoration of bird habitat on Barker-Stewart Island, the wooded 15-acre island located in the Wisconsin River in the center of Wausau.
In April of that year, volunteers from the bird club removed invasive species and installed two bur oak and three red maple trees, as well as five nannyberry viburnum and five gray dogwood shrubs on the island. "The hard part of the project was keeping the plantings watered," Susan says, "as the Wisconsin River was drawn down last summer for dam maintenance. It was hard to draw buckets of water."
In May 2020, the club assembled a masked volunteer work crew and planted even more native plants: five Valley Forge elm trees and 10 American hazelnut shrubs.
"Many members of the Wausau Bird Club volunteered weekly throughout the summer and fall to take turns to water the plantings," Susan reports. The dedicated crew either carried buckets filled from the Wisconsin River or used a pump to fill the buckets with river water.
Using grant money awarded by Bird City Wisconsin, along with member dues and money raised by the bird club’s successful Great Wisconsin Birdathon team, the bird club plans to purchase additional native materials for planting in the spring of 2021.
In addition, Susan says, the grant money enabled the club to begin the process of creating an educational sign that explains the importance of using native species, showcases the benefit of native plants to birds, and explains that planting natives is something everyone can do in their own yard. The sign will be erected on Barker-Stewart Island in spring 2021.
Bird City Wisconsin’s small grants are intended to kickstart local projects that help Bird City communities create and protect bird habitat, educate residents about the many positive interactions between birds and people, and reduce threats to birds.
Bird City will award similar grants again in 2021, and applications for them are being accepted now. The deadline for applying is March 31, 2021.