Group certifies Oakland County as wildlife-friendly

Members of the Wildlife Habitats of Oakland at a Detroit Zoo event.

Oakland County is home to a variety of organizations who, collectively, form the “WHO’s” who of wildlife conservation efforts around the county.

Those efforts by the group forming the Wildlife Habitats of Oakland (WHO) have led Oakland County to officially be designated as a Community Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.

Oakland is the third largest designated county (by population) in the country and the fourth community in Michigan – Washtenaw County, Ann Arbor and Belding are the others — to receive the honor.

New Oakland County Executive David Coulter accepted the award recently at the Wixom Community Center during the fall celebration of the Trail, Water & Land Alliance.

“We are delighted to join with the National Wildlife Federation and our partner organizations to earn the Community Wildlife Habitat designation for Oakland County,” Coulter said. “This program highlights the importance of being stewards of our natural environment and encourages residents and businesses to enhance their properties to improve the quality of life.”

Oakland County Executive David Coulter accepts the county’s designation as a Community Wildlife Habitat.

A Community Wildlife Habitat project creates multiple habitat areas in backyards, schoolyards, corporate properties, community gardens, parkland and other spaces.

Dedicated residents help

NWF officials commended the “dedicated residents of Oakland County and the Wildlife Habitats of Oakland” for their “wildlife conservation efforts and for coming together for a common purpose.” That purpose, the NWF said, was to “create a community where people and wildlife can flourish.”

“At a time when communities are faced with the problems of losing critical habitat, Oakland County stands out as a model for other communities to emulate,” officials said in a release. “The knowledge and inspiration that this project has generated will lead Oakland County residents and visitors to take better care of their natural world.”

Wildlife Habitats of Oakland is a collaborative effort among the Detroit Zoo, Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office, Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs, Huron River Watershed Council, Six Rivers Land Conservancy, Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve, MSU Extension and the city of Novi.

“Creating native plant gardens – whether it’s at home, or in schools, businesses, parks, and places of worship – supports both healthier wildlife habitats and healthier communities,” said Manja Holland, Habitat & Education manager with the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center in Ann Arbor. “The Wildlife Habitats of Oakland team has done an outstanding job of expanding opportunities for people to connect to nature throughout the county. During a time when wildlife face unprecedented threats as a result of habitat loss, toxic chemicals and pesticides, and climate change it’s important for local communities to step up to do their part to protect and restore habitats.”

Taking action for 40-plus years

NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitat program has been helping people take personal action on behalf of wildlife for more than 40 years. The program engages homeowners, businesses, schools, churches, parks and other institutions that want to make their communities wildlife friendly.

The Community Wildlife Habitat project is part of NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program. These projects benefit the entire community of plants, wildlife and people through the creation of sustainable landscapes that require little or no pesticides, fertilizers and excess watering.

These landscapes help keep water and air resources clean. They are healthier for people and the environment and are less resource-dependent than conventional landscapes. Habitat landscapes can serve to beautify urban areas and give residents pride in their neighborhoods.

To date, 127 communities have been recognized with Community Wildlife Habitat certification. Since 1973, NWF has provided millions of people with the basic guidelines for making their landscapes more wildlife friendly. There are more than 200,000 certified habitats nationwide. For more information, go to www.nwf.org/garden.