Thomas J. Story
Established by the National Wildlife Federation in 1973, the Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program helps birds and other creatures who are losing their home turf to urban sprawl by encouraging the development of habitats in home gardens.
To date, NWF has certified more than 33,000 habitats, ranging from small urban balconies to thousand-acre plots. Most of the gardens are residential, but school campuses and workplace landscapes also can be wildlife habitats. Whole communities can get involved too.
In Alpine, California, so many residents and businesses created wildlife habitats that the NWF gave a certification to the entire community ― a first for the program.
How to certify your garden
For details about backyard wildlife habitats and the certification process, order the National Wildlife Federation's booklet, Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide for Backyards and Beyond ($14.95, including shipping. NWF, Backyard Wildlife Habitat, 11100 Wildlife Center Dr., Reston, VA 20190; 585/461-3092). To apply for certification, request an application by mail from the NWF, or download one here. To help the certification process, include the following with your application:
Snapshots, which allow the naturalist-reviewers to see what's described in the application
Common names of plants and animals in your garden
The wildlife food and water that your garden supplies in each season