It’s for the Birds! Certifying Baltimore as a Community Habitat
For years Baltimore has been known as Birdland and now, we can make it official. Baltimore plans to B’More Wild, and bird-friendly, by becoming certified as an NWF Community Wildlife Habitat®- the largest along the Chesapeake Bay. So what does this mean? It means Baltimore is committed to greening streets, backyards, schools, businesses and places of worship in a way that’s wildlife friendly.Schools, backyards, community and business sites each certify the same way. All must include the four elements of habitat- food, water, cover and places to raise their young. The Community Wildlife Habitat® program encourages sustainable gardening practices designed to increase native plantings, conserve water and eliminate pesticide use. It also provides a platform for the city to address important challenges like stormwater pollution, pollinator decline and invasive species. Creating inviting urban green spaces brings neighbors together to tackle community projects. This past year, NWF hosted garden installation days at schools and parks to help teach volunteers gardening techniques. Through support from the Abell Foundation and NWF staff, residents from the Reservoir Hill neighborhood installed about 300 native plants to create a Schoolyard Habitat® and rain garden at John Eager Howard Elementary School and planted two pollinator-friendly gardens at Baltimore City Recreation and Park’s Administration Building in Druid Hill Park.
So how can you help? It all starts at home. Certify your backyard and then enjoy the birds and butterflies. Don’t forget to get your neighbors involved, too. One yard certified is great, but it’s even better when several adjacent yards provide the resources wildlife need. Many species need areas larger than a single lot can provide. When communities come together to certify backyards, schools, businesses and places of worship to create an NWF Community Wildlife Habitat®, wildlife and Baltimore residents both win.
Creating Community Habitats with Our Affiliates
Working with our state affiliate, the National Aquarium, we created a new certification unique to Maryland. Now, when you certify your backyard or install a community rain garden to help filter water runoff from city streets, you are recognized for reducing the amount of pesticides and fertilizers and other pollutants that enter the Chesapeake Bay. Such pollution can feed toxic algal blooms that can make humans ill and impair fish, blue crabs and other aquatic wildlife. Baltimore residents can learn how to certify their yards at www.aqua.org/certify.
Help backyard birds and other native wildlife all year long by becoming a wildlife gardener!