Bird City Wisconsin recognized New London for the city’s efforts to make the community a better place for birds and other wildlife.
A total of 15 communities were recognized in the inaugural group of Bird Cities.
To win the designation, New London Park and Recreation Director Chad Hoerth documented how a partnership between his department, Mosquito Hill Nature Center, and the New London Public Museum improve bird habitat, manage woodlands, limit hazards to birds, and educates citizens about birds and environmental health.
Within the criteria, there needed to be proof that New London has followed Wisconsin’s Smart Growth Law for land use planning and resource management. In 2007 the city adopted the “Year 2030 Comprehensive Plan”, a 227 page document that outlines planning and management.
Bird monitoring results from six separate studies included citizen volunteer counts, Mosquito Hill Nature Center staff, student service and learning opportunities.
“If birding is your pastime, then you’re lucky to be in New London, said Hoerth. “I truly didn’t realize it until I had it all down on paper for this application all the bird related resources and opportunities provided this past year by Mosquito Hill Nature Center and the New London Public Museum. Without the collaboration between our three organizations we would not have received this inaugural award.”
New London Park and Recreation Department offers information regarding the removal and control of Invasive Species and each year, on Earth Science Day, middle school students learn about the large impact invasive species have on the environment. A hike to New London’s Hatten Park gets Mosquito Hill experts and students together to remove invasive Honey Suckle plants.
The New London Access channel runs public service announcements covering the invasive species “Tug’A’Suckle” day.
Mosquito Hill also holds annual workshops including Backyard Invasives. Bird Hikes and building bird shelters and rain gardens are other ways the nature center focuses on birds.
Also involved in winning the designation, Hoerth documented the efforts of Mosquito Hill and City of New London to educate the public as a booth at Fall Family Fest demonstrated window strike prevention.
Several newsletters produced by Mosquito Hill outline educational opportunities for the public.
The city’s public museum was host to a birding seminar as part of their “Curiosity Series.”
Also in 2010, the museum presented an exposition on the life of John James Audubon and his “Birds of America”. The museum brought in world renowned character actor Brian Ellis, who portrays Audubon. He visited area elementary schools and appeared at Mosquito Hill Nature Center, sharing his impressions of Audubon with over 1,000 school children and adults.
The Bird City Wisconsin partnership is one of 43 award winners across the country that will use TogetherGreen funding to achieve conservation results and engage more people in conservation. Milwaukee Audubon Society’s grant will reward towns, villages, cities and counties across Wisconsin that create healthier habitats for birds and people by awarding them “Bird City” status.
Bird City Wisconsin spent the past year developing the idea for the program using money from a TogetherGreen planning grant; with a $31,700 TogetherGreen Innovation Grant, the Milwaukee Audubon Society and its partner organizations will be able to reach other communities in the year ahead.
Modeled on the “Tree City USA” program, Bird City Wisconsin developed 22 criteria across five categories, including habitat creation and protection, community forest management, limiting hazards, public education, and recognizing International Migratory Bird Day. If a community meets at least seven criteria, it becomes an official “Bird City,” receiving two street signs, a flag and plaque, and publicity to recognize its efforts.
Many of the chosen communities are planning their own local events to accept the special Bird City Wisconsin plaque, flag and street signs that will be installed at their boundaries. The Bird City logo was designed by Wisconsin’s nationally-known landscape painter Tom Uttech and his wife, designer Mary Uttech.
Hoerth said, “The nature center, museum and park and rec department are planning next year’s International Migratory Bird Day celebration for Saturday, May 14. At this celebration we will also promote the city’s new recognition.”
“Recognition as a Bird City will be a feather in the cap of any Wisconsin community,” said Andrew Struck, president of the Milwaukee Audubon Society. “This unique program is not only recognizing existing efforts but is building partnerships among local governments, community groups and conservation groups that will spur other cities, counties, towns and villages to adopt the best practices we will spotlight,” added Struck, who also is director of the Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department.
Struck also said the project’s web site, www.birdcitywisconsin.org, was playing a critical role in sharing and implementing new conservation strategies.
In addition to Milwaukee Audubon, the Bird City partnership includes the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, Madison Audubon Society, Wisconsin Audubon Council, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin, Friends of the Mead/McMillan Association, Riveredge Bird Club, and Aldo Leopold Audubon Society.
“The conservation solutions pioneered by TogetherGreen Innovation Grant winners are inspiring models of both ingenuity and conservation commitment,” said Audubon President David Yarnold. “Each project represents an investment in our shared environment and future – and an opportunity for many of our nation’s most creative and dedicated individuals and communities to transform their dreams into effective conservation action.”
For complete details about the 2010 TogetherGreen Innovation Grants projects, please visit: www.togethergreen.org/grants.