Retirees Go Green in Maryland CommunityIn the summer of 2011, resident George Walter submitted an application to the National Wildlife Federation to designate his retirement community, Oak Crest, as a Certified Wildlife Habitat®.
Oak Crest is the largest retirement community in Baltimore, Maryland with over 2,100 residents and sits on an 87-acre campus amongst a flourishing ecosystem. In November, residents and staff came together to celebrate the receipt of that designation at a ceremony, appropriately held by the pond on campus.
The pond is used to encourage wildlife and recreation, individual garden areas and a greenhouse for residents, a nature trail and forest buffer zones. In the fall of 2009, a “green roof” was installed on the assisted living and skilled nursing buildings that comprise Renaissance Gardens.
A Flourishing Eco-System
Oak Crest supports numerous species of wildlife on the grounds of its campus, including deer, squirrels, foxes, geese, ducks, hawks, bluebirds, woodpeckers and catfish. There is a nature trail that is maintained by residents and staff.The grounds team provides shelter for habitat including fencing for geese nests and houses for bluebirds. The trees planted in the Memory Forest have a wildlife benefit. The crabapple, cherry and viburnum trees offer food for birds; the oak and hickory trees do the same for squirrels. Additionally, there are feeders for fish, ducks and geese at the pond.
Brian Dorsey, facilities manager for grounds and transportation, noted that the National Wildlife Federation has “strict guidelines on the habitat elements that must be in place to receive the award. A property must provide food sources for wildlife. These can be supplied naturally through plants or supplemented through feeding. Also, there must be water sources, cover and places to raise young established on the property.”
A Resident-Driven Effort
Many of Oak Crest’s initiatives are resident-driven. The “green” approach is a collaborative effort between the residents and staff of Oak Crest. Resident groups such as the Garden Club (consisting of Garden Plots, Greenhouse & Nature Trail committees), Recycling Plus Group, For the Birds, Earth Day and the Blue Heron Yacht Club provide input regarding campus environmental policies.
“These requirements have been intrinsically satisfied for years through the ‘green’ approach to operations to which our residents and staff have been so diligently committed,” continued Mr. Dorsey. “I’m most proud that this is a grass-roots effort. The fact that we supply all of these elements implies good stewardship by Oak Crest to the air we breathe, water that we shed and the plants that support a healthy ecosystem.”
If you would like to certify your own backyard, go to www.nwf.org/gardenforwildlife to learn more. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a certified Community Wildlife Habitat, go to www.nwf.org/community.
Contribution of blog content and photos: Jeff Getek, Public Affairs Manager, Oak Crest