To achieve annual certification as a "Bird City," communities need to demonstrate in a written application that they have met at least seven of 22 criteria, including three from Category 1 and one from each of the other four categories:
Highlights of Spring Green's Bird Conservation Efforts
Category 1: Creation and Protection of Habitat
1A. Spring Green’s website contains a link: http://www.tn.springgreen.wi.gov/docview.asp?docid=11897&locid=165 to the Town of Spring Green Comprehensive Plan, approved in 2005, and an excerpt on the town’s natural resource objectives which is in compliance with Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” law. The Town of Spring Green’s community vision statement includes this excerpt: In the year 2025, the Town of Spring Green is envisioned as a largely rural community with residential areas carefully placed amid farmlands, riverside, woodlands and hills. Town government, local citizens and landowners have proactively collaborated to provide leadership and commitment to create a green community — grass, parks, conservancy, woods — that preserves its productive farmland and productive woodlands.
1C. The Town of Spring Green contains a 2,678-acre section of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway as well as the 1,112-acre Spring Green Preserve (a Nature Conservancy property) and the 663-acre Sauk County Community Forest.
Much of the town is in the Lower Wisconsin Riverway (http://dnr.wi.gov/maps/WR/SCR/7925bakkenpondwyomingblu.pdf ), whose mission is “to protect and preserve the scenic beauty and natural values of the riverway through the administration of a permit program to control land use and development”.
The Spring Green Preserve, a rare piece of “Wisconsin’s Desert”, was designated a State Natural Area in 1972: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Lands/naturalareas/index.asp?SNA=102.
The Sauk County Community Forest has as its goal: “Preserve as open space with a variety of recreational uses consistent with current land uses and forestry management objectives.” The town of Spring Green is a part of the Sauk County Land and Water Resource Plan. Here is the link to the county’s Outdoor Recreation Plan: https://www.co.sauk.wi.us/sites/default/files/fileattachments/OutdoorRecPlan_0.pdf
1G. Much of the town is in the Lower Wisconsin Riverway Important Bird Area, which encompasses most of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. Additionally, the township has two official stops along the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail-Southern Savanna Region: Bakken’s Pond and the Spring Green Preserve.
The Town of Spring Green is blessed to be located in the driftless area of southwest Wisconsin, on the southern edge of the Baraboo Range, and composed mostly of productive farmland and woodland. The town contains three formally protected properties, comprising nearly 14% of the township land, that provide excellent bird habitat: the Lower Wisconsin Riverway, the Sauk County Community Forest and the Nature Conservancy’s Spring Green Preserve.
1H. The Spring Green Area Chamber of Commerce has given their complete support to the town’s goal of becoming a Bird City and efforts to protect their existing bird habitat through public information and planning of bird events. In 2012, the Chamber approved a Bird City Spring Green representation in the community’s Country Christmas, an annual festival sponsored by the Chamber. They added Bird City to the publicity for the December festival. The Chamber has also agreed to link a planned future Bird City Spring Green website to the popular Chamber site so visitors may find information on birding areas in the Town of Spring Green. Bird City will also be included in a future Chamber publication, “The Spring Green Visitor’s Guide”, which not only provides visitors with information about lodging and restaurants but also includes guidance on outdoor recreation. The Chamber will include birding sites and habitat protection information in the publication. The Chamber is also including the Bird City brochure among its offerings.
Category 2: Promoting Effective Community Forest Management
2B. The township itself owns only a few acres of land, none of it forested. Forest management is conducted by the DNR on the Lower Wisconsin Riverway, by the Nature Conservancy at the Spring Green Preserve and by Sauk County in the Community Forest.
Category 3: Limiting or Removing Hazard to Birds
3A. Brochures on the American Bird Conservancy’s “Cats Indoors!” program are distributed at the Spring Green IMBD event and at the local veterinary clinic. They also have a link on our Bird City Spring Green Facebook page and will have information eventually on the town website.
3B. The Spring Green Town Board has approved a Bird City page on the town website, plus they hope to have their own Bird City Spring Green website in the future. Both sites would contain information and links to external websites about preventing window strikes, including suggestions regarding feeder placement, using blinds and shades for windows and where decals and screening can be obtained. For now, they have information on their Bird City Spring Green Facebook page.
Category 4: Public Education
4D. Members of the Spring Green community join in the annual Midwest Crane Count, with a site at Bakken’s Pond, and the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council’s winter roost counts along the Wisconsin River, with township roost sites at Jones Slough and off Big Hollow Road. A heavily used early winter roost, the Lone Rock roost, is just across the Wisconsin River from the township and community members also count at that site.
4E. Spring Green’s big event is their Wings Over River Valley Bird Festival that coincides with International Migratory Bird Day. The event includes bird walks (Bakken’s Pond), artwork opportunities for kids, prize drawings, and lots of informational handouts.
In 2013, their DNR partners collaborated on providing bluebird houses, made by students at Pecatonica High School, and river birch suet logs, which they offered for a donation. Art students from River Valley High School created bird paintings and sculptures, which they displayed at the library. More than a dozen retailers and others in Spring Green donated prize offerings, ranging from gifts to gift certificates. Their local optometrist, a birder himself, donated $100 toward a lovely standup banner they had made for use at their ongoing events. The banner contains their local Bird City logo, which features a Sandhill Crane and was designed by another high school student, as well as the official Bird City Wisconsin logo.
Spring Green also celebrates a Country Christmas in December, and in 2013 their Bird City committee decorated three Christmas trees in a visible downtown location with nature/bird themed ornaments and had a booth at a local store on Dec. 7th, 2013. Bluebird houses and suet logs were handed out for donations, and maps of their local birding hotspots were provided, along with winter bird feeding tips (and suet recipes). They received hearty thanks for being a new participant in Country Christmas in a letter to the editor in their local paper written by the Country Christmas coordinator.
4F. As mentioned above in the above category students at Pecatonica High School are involved in providing bluebird houses to the community and art students from River Valley High School have created bird paintings and sculptures for the local library. Students have also had a hand in designing the community’s local Bird City banner.
In addition, the Bird City Committee is discussing ways to involve more community members in their efforts. They are keeping a growing email list of area residents interested in bird information and they send out periodic emails about migration, feeding, rare bird sightings, etc. They are thinking of creating a Bird City club – for a small membership donation, people would get things like a yard plant inventory or other assistance from knowledgeable friends relating to making their property more bird-friendly.
Category 5: Celebration of International Migratory Bird Day
In 2013, Spring Green’s big event was their inaugural Wings Over River Valley Bird Festival, held on May 11, coinciding with International Migratory Bird Day. With two bird walks, artwork opportunities for the kids, prize drawings and lots of informational handouts, they estimated about 50-60 people partook in the events. Their morning bird walk at Bakken’s Pond, led by the DNR’s Mike Mossman, attracted about 30 people, who delighted in Mike’s great eye for spotting warblers. The afternoon walk at the Nature Conservancy’s Spring Green Preserve drew about 12 people (the weather had deteriorated, with the wind increasing) who learned a lot from TNC’s Steve Richter about the fragile preserve ecosystem.
Their DNR partners collaborated on providing bluebird houses, made by students at Pecatonica High School, and river birch suet logs, which they offered for a donation. Art students from River Valley High School created bird paintings and sculptures, which they displayed at the library. More than a dozen retailers and others in Spring Green donated prize offerings, ranging from gifts to gift certificates. Their local optometrist, a birder himself, donated $100 toward a lovely standup banner they had made for use at their ongoing events. The banner contains their local Bird City logo, featuring a Sandhill Crane and was designed by another high school student, as well as the official Bird City Wisconsin logo. Plans for the 2014 IMBD event are currently in progress.