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Old 04-09-2009, 11:04 PM   #1
midwesternerr's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2009
Default What can I do to preserve habitat?

No matter if you live on a 500 acre ranch or a high rise apartment in NYC, there is a lot you can do to help preserve, restore, and protect wildlife and their habitat. This is just a small sample, but gives 12 steps to habitat improvement/creation.

Things you can do even if you live in an apartment:

  1. Join organizations that preserve habitat, monitor wildlife/streams/etc, and lobby for regulations that benefit wildlife. Organizations I believe do this successfully: Nature Conservancy (The Nature Conservancy - Protecting Nature, Preserving Life), Audubon (National Audubon Society), and Sierra Club ( and many more!
  2. Volunteer for trash pickup, water monitoring, invasive species removal, and monitoring park systems for abuse. Example from my area (but similar opportunities are available nearly everywhere. Sierra Club Volunteering (EMG Committees and Volunteer Opportunities), removing invasive species (St. Louis County Parks - Honeysuckle Project), and monitoring trails (St. Louis County Parks Volunteers - Trail Watch)
  3. Educate yourself, your grand kids, your neighbors, and anyone you can by joining your local department of conservation or audubon events. Often these are free and a good way to learn about local habitat management. Example programs from my area (St. Louis Region) (St. Louis Audubon Society).
  4. Monitor a nest in your backyard or a local park by joining nestwatch (NestWatch), monitor frogs (FrogwatchUSA Homepage - USGS/National Wildlife Federation - FrogwatchUSA - National Wildlife Federation), nightjars (Center for Conservation Biology | United States Nightjar Survey Network), or birds (Christmas Bird Count).
  5. Reduce, Reuse, and recycle. Purchase responsibly manufactured products. By using recycled paper TP, using cloth bags instead of paper sacks at the grocery store, and refusing to buy bagged veggies, you can do a lot to save habitat. Also while shopping ask if they have a donation benefits card where you can select a wildlife friendly organization to support just by swiping a card.
  6. Join a gardening club, volunteer to erect or maintain nest boxes through your local Audubon society, join Wild Ones (Native Plants, Natural Landscapes), ask your workplace or place of worship about creating a native plant garden. Get as much education as you can about native plants. Here's an example of such a class near me (Native Plant School).
Additional steps landowners can take:

  1. Enroll land in conservation programs. You may even be able to earn money or obtain expert assistance at little to no cost. At the very least you should have access to the state nursery which offers a bargain on small, bare root plants. If family members object to this use of the land, it may be possible to use the land to benefit wildlife while still earning money. Consider sustainable forestry techniques.
  2. Consider planting a grassy border or hedgerow even if you can't create habitat in the middle of the land for whatever reason. The grasses, forbs, or shrubs will provide habitat. Additionally, you can add old chunks of concrete, brick piles, sheets of tin, and log/rock piles to provide even more diverse habitat. The vegetation should conceal most of the objects once grown in. Vines can be used to conceal larger objects/piles if desired.
  3. Add a pond that offers or fix an existing pond to include a gentle slope down into the water so animals can't drown. Ponds with fish will provide prey for birds and mammals but ponds without fish are even better as they provide breeding areas for amphibians which also serve as food sources for mammals, snakes, birds, etc.
  4. In more formal settings, a stone wall, mulched native plant garden, pond, or vine arbor can be combined with "human friendly" elements such as benches, borders, and signs to show the area is being "maintained" intentionally.
  5. Consider land trust options. There are a lot of options and you should carefully consider which best protects your land. An example of how such a land trust (Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust | The Humane Society of the United States).
  6. Survey the land carefully before making changes. You never know what secretive species may be under logs, rocks, or in mammal borrows. Be weary of making radical changes to existing land before first determing what the land is currently being used by and what changes would most benefit the species that are present or likely to occur.
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