Annapolis Launches Habitat Campaign

Maryland's First Lady Katie O'Malley

Great news out of Annapolis – First Lady Katie O’Malley wants to make Annapolis friendlier for wildlife – and for the Chesapeake Bay, too.  She announced plans to get the entire city of Annapolis certified as a National Wildlife Federation Community Habitat – the first such community on the Chesapeake Bay.

“Our Bay is one of our State’s most precious natural treasures,” First Lady  O’Malley said. “Martin and I have a garden at home, and we use it to demonstrate what each of us can do to improve our health and protect our environment by growing fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs. I am very proud of our communities, schools and businesses for coming together to encourage environmental stewardship and realizing the importance of saving our Bay.”  Kudos!

In fact, the governor’s garden now houses a bee hive for honey, a water fountain to attract birds and bees, three water barrels, a natural setting of trees, brush and shrubs to provide shelter for animals and insects, a food garden, and natural landscape to reduce water usage and maintenance costs.  Here’s the Homestead blog story about that terrific garden – a model for executive mansion gardens across the U.S.
So what’s a Wildlife Habitat Community?
It’s a region that provides habitat for wildlife and practices sustainable gardening ─ in individual backyards, on school grounds and in public areas such as parks, community gardens, places of worship and businesses. The campaign will make the city of Annapolis more hospitable for wildlife but also raise citizen awareness about watershed challenges, with the ultimate goal of engaging more individuals and organizations in good watershed stewardship practices.  To become certified, communities need a certain number of wildlife-certified backyards, public spaces and schools, depending on population, plus a public education campaign of some kind.

I was part of the team in Takoma Park that worked for years to finally get our town certified as a habitat – the first in Maryland!!  (I bragged about it in this blog story.) With our population of 17,000, we needed 100 wildlife-certified back yards, plus 4 certified common areas and 3 certified schools.  Takoma Park joined just 52 other towns in the U.S. that have achieved this certification – here’s a list of the certified communities in the U.S., plus another 42 that are registered, meaning they’re working on it.The NWF’s community campaign goes a long way toward not just creating pockets of habitat in our overdeveloped world, but educating homeowners about wildlife-friendly ways to treat their property.  It’s well designed and run, with great help given to each community – like detailed, step by step organizing help.

If you live in Annapolis – or anywhere – you can help by turning YOUR garden into a wildlife habitat.  Here’s how to garden for wildlife but in a nutshell it means:

  • Providing food, water and shelter for wildlife.
  • Gardening in an environmentally friendly way – by mulching, composting, reducing lawn areas, growing drought-tolerant plants that require very little supplemental watering, planting more native plants and removing all invasive ones, practicing Integrated Pest Management, eliminating chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and using some of these water management techniques:  capturing rainwater from roof, using drip or soaker hose for irrigation, reducing erosion, and installing a rain garden.

 

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