3 Steps to Certify Your Wildlife Habitat
Recently while my mom was enjoying her morning bike ride, she saw signs designating properties as Certified Wildlife Habitats. She bikes through a residential area, albeit in a natural setting. But it's important to note that she didn't see these signs far off in a remote wilderness area.
She shared a link with me to the National Wildlife Federation's website. Within 30 minutes I had certified my five acres of wooded rollings hills. The plaque is on the way. In the meantime, here are the criteria:
Food & water for wildlife: I have cultivated a native plant garden that attracts birds and butterflies, dragonflies, and bees. The oak trees produce what seems like thousands of nuts for deer and squirrels. At the bottom of the hill is a spring-fed creek that always has water for all the animals who live here, including the elusive blue crayfish that burrow into their mud tunnels along the creekbed.
Cover & places to raise young: I think the Black Vulture saga proves this! But in addition to that success story, thriving trees and hollow logs provide nesting sites and protective cover for everyone from Eastern Bluebirds to raccoons. A couple of years ago, I stepped out my front door to leave for work...actually, I stepped one foot outside then immediately backed inside the door keeping it open just an inch to discern what I was seeing. Two baby raccoons snuggled together on the first step.
A wildlife specialist advised that I leave them be and give the mother 24 hours to return for them. The babies remained on the deck, exploring but never leaving until the mother returned for them in the wee hours that night.
What a gift that so many animals find my home a safe space for their babies.
Sustainable practices to safeguard land, soil, water: I use minimal spray outside to mitigate bugs. Instead, I mostly spray myself in an attempt to stave off no-see-um and tick bites. This is a forest and the bugs feed so many other animals. It would be so detrimental to the entire system if I regularly sprayed the property. I have a gray-water pipe that drains the clothes washer, dishwasher, and kitchen sink. This keeps the septic tank functioning optimally but also requires that I carefully choose soaps that drain into the soil. To keep this place healthy and thriving for all the wildlife who live here is my priority. And quite often I'm rewarded with special moments like this Cardinal couple feasting outside my window.
Now it's your turn! Does your backyard space or property (no matter the size) satisfy those three criteria? If so, visit NWF's site and complete the certification process. The beautiful opportunity is to nurture habitats in urban, suburban, and rural environments. See below for a link to simple steps to cultivate your own wildlife habitat.
Once certified, choose a sign, yard flag, or plaque and make your purchase which also helps support the conservation efforts of the National Wildlife Federation.