Gardening for Wildlife forum→Habitat certifications, signs, etc...

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Name: UrbanWild
Kentucky (Zone 6b)
Kentucky - borderline of 6a & 6b
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Critters Allowed Native Plants and Wildflowers Miniature Gardening Organic Gardener Frogs and Toads
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UrbanWild
Aug 23, 2019 1:59 PM CST
So I telegraphed my intent to certify habitat in a different thread. It never really mattered to me and since each one has a fee, I didn't see a reason to divert money from improvements into signage. Wasn't really crazy about signage either. That said, I had a change of heart. I had three occasions while out where I saw people react to signs, all with questions to property owners and seemingly interested in doing something for wildlife on their own properties. This all happened in the space of a month. It occurred to me that these were conversations that might not have happened without signage.

So I started looking into certifications. There seems to be five main certifications available to all, and several smaller or regional certifications. I'll outline below though the list probably isn't complete. Maybe that's where this thread comes in.

We've completed three and have one currently pending. We've been doing it little by little as there are costs involved

The big five seem to be:

Monarch Watch (MW)
https://www.monarchwatch.org/w...

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)
https://www.nwf.org/CertifiedW...

North American Butterfly Association (NABA)
http://nababutterfly.com/butte...

Wild Ones (WO)
https://wildones.org/wild-ones...

Xerxes Society (XS)
https://xerces.org/pollinatorp...

Thumb of 2019-08-23/UrbanWild/b122b7

Those shown in the pic above are the three we completed (NWF, MW, and XS). We had done far more than required prior to going through these certifications. We are awaiting word back from WildOnes.

The signs are aluminum for MW and NWF. The XS sign is a bit heavier because it is a plastic core sandwiched between outer aluminum surfaces.

We did not pursue NABA as the signs are plastic and we have hot and sunny summers that are harsh on plastic so we don't think the longevity of plastic signage is of benefit.

In the thread:

The thread "TX: Well THAT was unfortunate... backyard habitat" in Gardening for Wildlife forum

in the Gardening for Wildlife forum we noted the Texas program was essentially shut down.

The Audubon Society doesn't certify at the national level but several state and local chapters do have programs.

Saving Birds Through Habitat has a certification:
http://www.savingbirds.org/hab...

Additionally, while not certifications, several online sellers have garden signs for things like pesticides, pollinators, etc. They can still be conversation starters.

https://www.seattleseed.com/po...


More to follow...


Always looking for interesting plants for pollinators and food! Bonus points for highly, and pleasantly scented plants.

"Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, nihil deerit." [“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”] -- Marcus Tullius Cicero in Ad Familiares IX, 4, to Varro. 46 BCE
[Last edited by UrbanWild - Aug 23, 2019 2:07 PM (+)]
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Portland, Oregon (Zone 7b)
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Sallymander
Aug 24, 2019 7:25 AM CST
My sister and her husband were the first people to get their yard certified in their city, in fact, I believe they may have gotten the ball rolling there. The harassment of their neighbors who expected "perfection" ceased, and they actually gained some well earned respect. I do not believe they have signage at this point, but it was vital the first few years.
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
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gardenfish
Sep 24, 2019 1:00 AM CST
@UrbanWild, just found this thread... thanks for the sites for certification, was certified by NWF years ago, another yard, need to do this one! I don't get any flack from the neighbors for my wild and woolly yard, I live in an older section of town and on my street are mostly renters, including me.. they rarely even mow! I do have many regular garden plants interspersed with my natives and I do mow, so most people tell me my garden looks " pretty". I also grow tomatoes, hot peppers and many herbs, annual and perennIal, mostly for the pollinators because they love the flowers on herbs, especially bees.

Thumb of 2019-09-24/gardenfish/3a0dfb
Thumb of 2019-09-24/gardenfish/a7a359
Thumb of 2019-09-24/gardenfish/e51569

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
Name: Moggs
Lilburn, GA (Zone 7b)
Bookworm Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Georgia Birds Butterflies Bee Lover
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mmolyson
Nov 23, 2019 1:37 PM CST
We moved to a new area two years ago and we are very fortunate to be on 2.5 acres in an old growth oak-hickory forest on a river bank in the piedmont of Georgia. So all I had to do was look around the property and we qualified for the NWF certification, but I have been reluctant to put up the sign. We are members of the local and state Native Plant Society and their certification is much stricter. You cannot have more than 50% of your land cultivated with non-native plants (think lawn and foundation plants that were already here) and that is just for the bronze level. For silver or gold levels it gets even stricter. For the last two years we have been working hard to remove invasive plants such as private, English ivy and Japanese wisteria to name a few so that the plants that feed the wildlife can have a place to grow. Maybe I should go ahead and put up the one I have for starters.
Honestly I have been very disappointed with the NGA website in that, with the exception of this discussion thread and a couple of others, it seems to be oblivious to the environmental issues that gardeners could impact in a big way. I used the term "invasives" in the search box and came up with nothing! Really? Invasives are still being sold, gardeners should know not to buy them. I realize they will be different in each state or region, but references can be given for this. This organization has it's environmental head in the sand as though it is 1950!
Sorry about the rant, but not really. Grumbling
When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth! Psalm 104:30
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Container Gardener Lilies Cat Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Zinnias
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gardenfish
Nov 23, 2019 2:31 PM CST
I agree @mmolyson,I agree with you about the invasives. I remember posting on a thread about invasives one time and got shot down. Of course, since this is a national website, and we have gardeners posting from all over the country (and the world) , invasives differ from area to area. I still think there are some that should be on a general nationwide list, such as callery pear, nandinas, Japanese wisteria, Japanese honeysuckle, and Chinese privet, as these seem to be invasive where ever they grow. Why don't you start a thread on them? I am sure a lot of gardeners on this website are as concerned as you are.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Bonehead
Nov 23, 2019 2:54 PM CST
Moggs, I mostly agree with you, but found your post slightly offensive on a couple points.

You claim 'this organization has it's environmental head in the sand as though it is 1950,' which rather surprises me. On what do you base this? The forum discussions are driven by the interests of the membership. All you need do is open up a thread in an appropriate forum (natives, wildlife, your specific region, etc.) to begin a discussion about using natives v. ornamentals. Most discussions remain cordial and respectful.

While it is apparently your choice to certify your property, not everyone is on that train. I live in a rural area and maintain a diverse landscape, leaning more toward natives in recent years. That said, I have absolutely no desire to clutter up my personal living space with (to me) unsightly signage, nor do I feel a need to be 'in compliance' with any particular agency's ideation of what qualifies for proper habitat restoration. I don't think that takes anything away from my efforts to provide more habitat for wildlife. In my region (the Pacific NW), I have been happy to see most new housing developments are establishing Native Growth Protection Areas, which over the years indeed do develop into nice little pockets of naturalized habitat. I applaud these efforts, likely driven as development requirements, but certainly a welcome sight.

Thank you for your information re certifications, and I wish you good luck with whatever choices you take on your own property. And please do open up threads to discuss whatever certification efforts you do undertake. I think you may be surprised at the response. I recently completed a small forest practice class in my area and was pleased to find a rather loose but large group of landowners who were cooperatively working to establish a connected fly-way to facilitate insect and bird migration. Great project.

Invasives can certainly be tricky. As you note, what may be invasive in one region can simply be an ornamental in another. I do my best to research plants before introducing them, but we all make mistakes now and again. I am currently rueing the introduction of yellow iris to my farm pond years ago. This was not done in bad faith, and I continue to try to correct this error. I have never used poisons so eradication is a slow process of hand or machine digging. I am also plagued with reed canary grass (planted by the birds I presume) but am told if I overplant with native willows and shrubs, eventually the grass will lose vigor due to lack of adequate sunshine. Some efforts take many years to see a significant change. In the database itself, we have a box to check for invasiveness, and I believe one can further note in which areas a particular plant might have overstepped its bounds.

As evidenced by the huge rose/daylily/dahlia/etc. forums, some folks are much more keyed in to a specific plant than to creating native habitat. Personal choice.

I wish you the best of luck with your efforts to restore native habitat. Please do start threads for further discussion.

I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Container Gardener Lilies Cat Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Zinnias
Organic Gardener Heirlooms Bee Lover Hummingbirder Echinacea Tomato Heads
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gardenfish
Nov 23, 2019 4:56 PM CST
Deb, Thank you for your informative and thought provoking discussion. Some very good points made. I am organic, I do have a lot of natives, and I mix them with established garden plants. I don't use chemicals, so I am hacking out my invasives by hand, as you say, a slow process. I think that gardeners can be both concerned about native habitat and keyed in to growing specific plants; I am. I think it is alright to be certified, if that is your thing. I would rather concentrate on removing invasives; there are a lot of choices for replanting these areas, and not just with native plants. There are many garden plants that happily co-exist with native plants; my garden is proof of that.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
Name: Moggs
Lilburn, GA (Zone 7b)
Bookworm Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Georgia Birds Butterflies Bee Lover
Ponds Hummingbirder Seed Starter Plant and/or Seed Trader Ferns Garden Photography
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mmolyson
Nov 24, 2019 4:25 PM CST
Deb,
Your point is well taken in that forum discussions are driven by the interests of the members. I know I come off a bit strong and am probably more "intense" about the topic then most. As a retired biology teacher and living in an area in which the U.S. Forest Service found up to 80% of our forest plots to have at least one of their top 30 invasive plants I do have strong feelings on the subject. In the piedmont things grow well, but invasives grow better here than anything else. The Pacific Northwest has 19% of its forested plots tainted by the same 30 invasive plants as the Southeast. Not as bad as my county in the Southeast, but still not great. (I don't know why they didn't use the dominant invasives for each area in the study, perhaps the numbers would be different.)
My comment was really intending to reflect the materials available under the "Learning Library" tab. The potential of such a large organization as this is being wasted. We could have links to other organizational websites; The Audubon Society is the first to come to mind. There you can type in your zip code and they will give you a list of plants to support the birds in your area. We have lost over 3 billion birds over the last 50 years in North America. As you know the fly-way project you and your fellow landowners worked on is important in preventing further decline and I admire your work. We cannot feed the birds without insects because even seed eating birds (96%) feed their babies insects NOT seeds. The parent birds can only get insects, mostly caterpillars, from native, insecticide free, plants. These plants only have a chance to grow if we can keep the invasives out.
So, I guess you can say I'm a bird nut, I want the birds to survive, and gardeners can help make that happen if they have the information this organization could provide. They could be putting out the right plants for their area and letting nature take its course. These plants don't have to be by your front door, or even your patio, but somewhere, preferably several places where you can just let them be.
When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth! Psalm 104:30
Name: UrbanWild
Kentucky (Zone 6b)
Kentucky - borderline of 6a & 6b
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Critters Allowed Native Plants and Wildflowers Miniature Gardening Organic Gardener Frogs and Toads
Dog Lover Birds Vegetable Grower Spiders! Hummingbirder Butterflies
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UrbanWild
Nov 25, 2019 8:15 AM CST
mmolyson:

It may be a search issue. I know I've written about the near impenetrable jungle of invasives that we started off with and have been battling by hand for the last three years.
Always looking for interesting plants for pollinators and food! Bonus points for highly, and pleasantly scented plants.

"Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, nihil deerit." [“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”] -- Marcus Tullius Cicero in Ad Familiares IX, 4, to Varro. 46 BCE
Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Bonehead
Nov 25, 2019 1:32 PM CST
I applaud all efforts to create or restore native habitat. I don't ever look at the "Learning Library" because the articles are undated, purposely per the owners. That makes them next to useless for me, so not in my universe. I do agree that links to beneficial garden-related web sites would be well received. Maybe that will happen, likely not.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.

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