National Wildlife Federation certifies new wildlife habitat in Portola

The National Wildlife Federation, America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, recognized Sierra Nevada Journeys’ campus at Grizzly Creek Ranch in Portola for successfully creating a Certified Wildlife Habitat through its Garden for Wildlife program.

The Wildlife Federation celebrated the efforts of Sierra Nevada Journeys to create a garden space that improves habitat for birds, butterflies, frogs and other wildlife by providing essential elements needed by all wildlife — natural food sources, clean water, cover and places to raise young.

Certification also makes this Certified Wildlife Habitat part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a national effort to restore critical habitat for pollinators.

“We are so excited to have another passionate wildlife gardener join us and create a Certified Wildlife Habitat. Over the last 40 years, nearly 200,000 wildlife gardeners have joined NWF’s Garden for Wildlife movement and helped restore wildlife habitat right in their own yards and neighborhoods,” said Dave, naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation.

“Whether you garden is in a suburban yard, an apartment balcony or a 10-acre farm, a schoolyard or a business park, or anything in between, everyone can create a home for local wildlife. Turning your space into a Certified Wildlife Habitat is fun, easy and makes a big difference for neighborhood wildlife,” Mizejewski added.

“We have a terrific campus and work to preserve and enhance the wildlife whose home we share,” said Mark Owen, campus executive director of Grizzly Creek Ranch.

Sierra Nevada Journeys’ 1,500-acre campus at Grizzly Creek Ranch is home to many plants and animals such as a black bear, bobcats, whooping crane, osprey, bald eagles, rainbow trout, leopard frogs, hawks, a multitude of song birds and water fowl such as coots, mallards, blue heron and grebes. The campus is vegetated primarily by Jefferson or yellow pine trees as well as incense-cedars and sugar pines. The forest floor blossoms yellow and blue with mullein, mule’s ear and lupine.

Sierra Nevada Journeys takes particular care to conserve and preserve this habitat for visiting youth.

“The objective for them is to see nature and its inhabitants in their original, pristine condition,” said Owen. “Through observation, youth are then introduced to scientific principles and methods to transform what they see, smell and touch into ways to understand, communicate and engage with the world around them.”

The Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife program encourages responsible gardening that helps pollinators and other wildlife thrive. It encourages planting with native species like milkweed and discouraging chemical pesticide use.

With nearly 200,000 locations and growing, The Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitats and Community Wildlife Habitats recognize individuals, schools, groups and whole communities committed to providing habitat for wildlife, including pollinators. Each of the nearly 200,000 certified locations provides food, water, cover and places to raise young. This makes yards, schools, businesses, places of worship, campuses, parks, farms and other community-based landscapes into wildlife sanctuaries.

For more information on gardening for wildlife and details on how an entire community can become certified, visit nwf.org/habitat or call 800-822-9919.

Sierra Nevada Journeys is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that delivers innovative outdoor, science-based education programs for youth to develop critical thinking skills and to inspire natural resource stewardship. For more information about its programs or to donate, visit sierranevadajourneys.org or call 775-355-1688.

Click here to submit a letter to the editor about this post that will be published in our newspaper.