Bethlehem, PA Celebrates Community Wildlife Habitat Certification

Who would have thought that a city like Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, known in former years as a hub of industry (most notably, for Bethlehem Steel), would rally its citizens to preserve wildlife habitat in the city?  But, this is exactly what happened when the group Bethlehem Backyards for Wildlife decided to register its Community Wildlife Habitat project with the National Wildlife Federation in 2009 and three years later had completed all the requirements for certification.  Bethlehem became the 62nd Certified Community Wildlife Habitat in the country and is the second community in Pennsylvania to achieve this honor.

Team leader and teacher Martha Christine stands near Calypso Elementary’s Certified Schoolyard Habitat
The Bethlehem Backyards for Wildlife team coordinated habitat restoration projects around the city in places like the Sand Island Native Plant Reserve, on schoolgrounds, at churches, on college campuses and in parks and preserves around the city.  They also held an annual Gardening for Wildlife contest in the city to inspire residents to create National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat gardens in their yards.

As NWF’s Senior Coordinator for Community and Volunteer Outreach, I have traveled to many certified communities, but when I spoke at Bethlehem’s certification celebration, I commented  that like many certified communities, Bethlehem has become “green” in many different ways.  They are creating a Greenway through the city and have a robust recycling program.  Mayor John Callahan remarked, after accepting NWF’s Certificate of Exceptional Merit, that Bethlehem has also achieved the Arbor Day Foundations Tree City USA Growth Award.

Way to go, Bethlehem!  Keep up the good work for our wildlife and our planet!