Certify your own yard/garden a “Wildlife Habitat”

Above: Breakneck Hill is certified as a Wildlife Habitat. You can get your own garden certified as one while helping the Community reach certification status.

The Town is encouraging residents to help make our Town a “Certified Community Wildlife Habitat”. Individual residents/property owners can help by certifying their yards as habitats.

An announcement from Southborough’s OSPC explains:

Community Wildlife HabitatSouthborough’s Open Space Preservation Commission is excited to announce that, in collaboration with the Southborough Open Land Foundation and the Conservation Commission, we are working with the National Wildlife Federation to enhance backyard wildlife habitats throughout town and to become a certified Community Wildlife Habitat. This is an amazing opportunity for our community to take significant action to help wildlife, address many conservation issues, and restore and enhance wildlife habitat.

Communities earn community-wide certification by certifying individual properties (homes, parks, schools, businesses, and others) in their community as Certified Wildlife Habitats and by doing education and outreach in their community. With a population of approximately 10,000, Southborough must earn 170 total points in categories such as education, community projects, and habitat certifications. We joined as the 6th community in Massachusetts that works towards creating a wildlife-friendly town for residents and visitors to enjoy. . .

How Can You Help

We need the help of the community to join our efforts by participating in environmental projects!

You can certify your property as well as participate in tree plantings, trail clean-ups, and other wildlife/native plant workshops. We currently have 37 properties in town certified, 17 private homes and 20 common areas around town!

So, what’s involved in getting your property certified?

National Wildlife Federation’s checklist for certification includes providing specified resources for wildlife:

  • 3 food sources (types of plants/feeders)
  • A clean water source
  • 2 areas of cover (to shelter from weather/predators – wide range of options include wooded areas, ground cover, and rock walls)
  • Places To Raise Young (these include a range of options including mature trees, dense shrubs, and host plants for Caterpillars)

[Note: If you are looking to do some more habitat friendly planting in your yard to meet above criteria, you can check out NWF’s Native Plants by zipcode.]

Participants also need to commit to using some “Sustainable Practices” for Soil and Water Conservation, Controlling Exotic Species, and/or Organic Practices.

The checklist requires using a practice from at least two of those three Sustainable categories. (Though, NWF encourages going even further – “to better help wildlife, we advocate employing one or more practices from each category.”)

There is a $20 processing fee for registration and another fee for the optional signs. Through the end of June, NWF is offering a 20% discount on signs recognizing your certified habitat. NWF pledges that funds “directly support the National Wildlife Federation’s programs to protect wildlife and its habitat”.

Why do it?

As OSPC explained, you can help the Town reach its certified status. But the Commission also touts benefits for individuals. Each certified property owner will receive:

  • A personalized certificate for your wildlife habitat
  • A free one-year membership for NWF and subscription to National Wildlife magazine
  • A subscription to the Wildlife Online – Habitats Edition e-newsletter
  • Inclusion in NWF’s National Registry of Habitats
  • Eligibility to order and post a “Certified Wildlife Habitat” yard sign to display your commitment to wildlife conservation and the environment

For more information on Southborough’s program, visit facebook.com/SouthboroughWildlifeHabitat or contact Sarah Rositano at srositano@southboroughma.com. You can also look at Southborough’s community status here.

To learn more about registering your property, click here.

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