Monte Sano, Huntsville, Alabama celebrates Community Wildlife Habitat Certification
It seemed only appropriate that the community of Monte Sano in Huntsville, Alabama chose Earth Day to celebrate their recent certification as the first National Wildlife Federation Community Wildlife Habitat® in the state.Monte Sano is a community of 1600 people named after the 1600 foot mountain on which it sits. Monte Sano is Spanish for “Mountain of Health.” Since the 1820s, people have been coming to Monte Sano for its clean air and pristine springs.
The “mountaineers,” as they are often called, decided to make it a priority in their community to provide wildlife habitat in home gardens and community sites. A team of volunteers led by Susan “Soos” Weber gave workshops on how to garden for wildlife by supplying food, water, cover and places to raise young for wildlife in over 100 sites around the community. At a time when towns and cities across the country are losing green spaces and wildlife habitat to development, Monte Sano stands out as an example of reversing the trend. In all, 84 homes, the elementary school, the fire station, a museum, two churches, a community garden, the local TV station and the community center became NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat® sites.
The Community Wildlife Habitat team also offered numerous nature hikes and programs for adults and children. Again, they were reversing the trend of an “indoor childhood” that is so common for the younger wired-in generation.
The celebration was held at the recently renovated CCC-built Gatehouse to Monte Sano State Park. The Gatehouse had been closed since the 1950s, but volunteers applied for and received a grant for nearly $10,000 to renovate and restore the stone and wood structure. It will now serve as a nature center, full of interpretive exhibits on the local natural history.
Clearly, the residents of Monte Sano steer their own course, and it is not the usual one that we see across the country. As a Certified Community Wildlife Habitat, Monte Sano is a healthier and more pleasant place to live for humans and wildlife alike.