Community conservation and education organization Bird City Wisconsin recently reached a major milestone for the program with the recognition of its 100th (Osceola) and 101st (Sturgeon Bay) Bird City communities.
Osceola and Sturgeon Bay achieved Bird City status with some impressive accomplishments. Among the highlights of the two applications are Osceola’s Grow Osceola program and Sturgeon Bay’s Crossroads at Big Creek. These programs focus on using bird-friendly native plants and bringing together schools, garden clubs, and other organizations to involve them in bird conservation. Actions like these benefit wildlife and help build a connection to nature that will show current and future decision makers just how important it is to protect the natural world.
As is the case in many Bird City communities, the organization is hopeful that initial recognition as a Bird City will serve as a springboard for Osceola and Sturgeon Bay to develop new, and often non-traditional, partnerships as they expand local conservation and education efforts. The amount of conservation activity in Bird City communities is astounding: With the recognition of Osceola and Sturgeon Bay, over 1,200 actions are taken across Wisconsin each year to maintain Bird City status.
“The success that Bird City Wisconsin has achieved is a testament not only to the program itself but especially to the hundreds of people who are responsible for local Bird City programs in each community,” says Bryan Lenz, the program’s director. “The tireless dedication of community members truly makes the Bird City model work.”
Bird City Wisconsin, a program of the Milwaukee Audubon Society, was created in 2009 and began recognizing communities the following year. The program recognizes municipalities for the conservation and education activities that they undertake to make their communities healthy for birds and people.
To be recognized as a Bird City, a community must meet at least 7 of 22 criteria spread across five categories: habitat creation and protection, community forest management, limiting threats to birds, education, and the official recognition and celebration of International Migratory Bird Day. Bird City also offers High Flyer recognition for those communities that truly go above and beyond in their conservation and education programs. To become a High Flyer, a community must meet the requirements to become a Bird City plus at least 5 of an additional 17 criteria.
In the coming weeks, Bird City will announce the first revision to its recognition criteria. The new criteria build on those currently in place, seeking to do more around several issues that are important to the organization, including keeping cats indoors, reducing window collisions, and addressing greenhouse gas emissions while encouraging people to spend more time outdoors.
The organization will also continue to foster programs in other states. Thus far Bird City Wisconsin has helped launch Bird City Minnesota and Bird Town Indiana and is helping in the planning process with Bird-friendly Iowa and a yet-to-be named program in Texas. A national/international organization also remains high on Bird City Wisconsin’s wish list.
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