Through the efforts of many individuals and local organizations, the county has become the first National Wildlife Federation-certified Community Wildlife Habitat in Oregon
CORVALLIS — Since July 2013, individuals and groups coming together under the umbrella of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition have worked toward making Benton County a National Wildlife Federation-certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat Community.
Early last month, the coalition received word from the Wildlife Federation that it had met the criteria for certification.
“We’re the first community habitat in Oregon,” said Molly Monroe, a wildlife biologist with Finley National Wildlife Refuge and an organizer for the certification effort. “There are only 77 in the country.”
“We are pleased that the community stepped up to make this happen,” added Jeff Picton, a fellow organizer and executive director of Chintimini Wildlife Center. “They (representatives from the National Wildlife Federation) were impressed with the speed with which we got certified. Most communities take three to five years to get certified.“
The National Wildlife Federation requires four criteria in its backyard wildlife habitat certification program: food sources, water sources, creating cover for wildlife and places to raise young.
For a county to qualify, 200 individual property owners or renters must meet the standards. Six common areas, such as Chintimini and Finley NWR, and five schools also must be certified.
As of Aug. 24, 228 individual Benton County property owners and renters had been certified, as had 93 common areas, including 16 farms.
Jefferson Elementary School, Waldorf School, Cheldelin Middle School, Crescent Valley High School and College Hill High School all became certified.
Stacy Moore, director of ecological education for the Institute for Applied Ecology and another certification organizer, brought songbird nest box kits to a number of Benton County schools last winter.
“Kids constructed over 100 bird boxes,” she said. Most were placed on the Greenbelt Land Trust’s Evergreen property south of Philomath, and some were installed at the Jackson-
The Coalition publicized the certification effort through its website and others’, as well as on Facebook and Twitter, with fliers spread around the county and through word of mouth.
“We put a goal out to the community,” Monroe said. “The first responders were people already doing this (meeting the criteria).”
The hardest requirement for people to meet proved to be the water source, she added.
And the work is not done.
“Once certified, you have to continue,” said Esther McEvoy, owner of Willamette Gardens Native Plant Nursey, vice president of the Corvallis chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon and a certification organizer. “People can still get certified. You’re required to add points on an annual basis.”
Benton County needed 500 points to get certified. It received 612.
Anyone who wants to participate and earn backyard wildlife habitat certification through the National Wildlife Federation is encouraged to see http://sustainablecorvallis.org/backyard-wildlife-connections.
Another organizer was Beth Young, landscape designer, instructor and author of “Naturescaping Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide for Bringing Nature to Your Backyard. She thinks the next goal should be to strive for Benton County to be highest per-capita community number in the certification program.
“We want these surburban yards to get back to serving nature in a small way,” she said. “Let’s give back a little to nature.”
Young plans to offer a “Naturescape Your Yard” class at 7 p.m. Tuesdays, Oct. 7, 14 and 21 in the CoHo Ecovillage Common House, 1975 S.E. Crystal Lake Road, Corvallis. Fee is $45 per person, $35 for the second person from the same household and $10 for residents of CoHo Ecovillage. Those interested in taking the classes should send their name, email address or phone number and a check to: BYGD, 1720 N.W. Beca Ave., Corvallis OR 97330. Please write “Class” in the memo line.
The following businesses and organizations supported the effort to get the county certified: Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, Benton Soil & Water Conservation District, Chintimini Wildlife Center, Willamette Gardens Native Plant Nursery, Institute for Applied Ecology, Audubon Society of Corvallis, Greenbelt Land Trust, Corvallis Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon, Neighborhood Naturalist, OSU Extension Service, Benton County Natural Areas, Shonnards Nursery, Beth Young Garden Design and Schmidt’s Garden Center.
A public celebration of Benton County’s becoming a certified National Wildlife Federation Community Wildlife Habitat is scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, at Chintimini Wildlife Center, 311 N.W. Lewisburg Ave., Corvallis.