Homeowners turn backyards into wildlife sanctuaries
January 15, 2011
NEW — 8 a.m. Jan. 15, 2011
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has reached a milestone in the effort to turn backyards into urban wildlife sanctuaries.
The agency’s Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary Program has celebrated 25 years — and exceeded a goal to turn 10,000 properties into sanctuaries in the year leading to 2010. The program had enrolled 11,454 properties across the state in time for the Dec. 31, 2010, deadline.
The program emphasizes urban and suburban properties — areas in need of habitat development and restoration. The largest chunk of properties — 89 percent, or 10,238 — is in Western Washington, from Bellingham to Vancouver.
The agency launched the 10,000 by 2010 campaign in summer 2009 and enrolled the 10,000th property in April 2010.
The backyard sanctuary program started in 1985 in the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Mill Creek office and then caught on elsewhere.
The basic idea of the program is simple: wildlife stewardship starts at home, even in urban settings.
The program is designed to help offset the loss of wildlife habitat to growth by encouraging backyard landscaping to provide food and cover for wildlife.
In addition to changes to the urban environment to benefit wildlife, the program helps to increase opportunities for people to enjoy and learn about wildlife.