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April 30th, 2011

Beyond your Backyard

So, you’ve gotten your own yard certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat. Now what? The SC Wildlife Federation has many additional programs which move beyond the backyard to create wildlife habitat throughout the community. Here is some brief information about these programs. More info about each one will follow in additional posts.

Backyard Habitats in the Community:

Even though the word “backyard” is in the name of the Backyard Wildlife Habitat program, it really just refers to creating wildlife habitat in any space in your community. Habitat gardens have been certified at libraries, churches, parks, government offices, and places of business. In the Columbia area, you can visit certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat gardens at the Irmo Branch Library on St. Andrews Road, Saluda Shoals Park Environmental Center, Harbison State Forest Environmental Education Building, and the Department of Transportation main office on Park Street – just to name a few!

Schoolyard Habitats:

When schools are built, the land is often cleared in a large area around the actual building. This leaves very little reason for wildlife to be on school grounds. However, the educational potential of habitat gardens is just endless! Teachers around SC are taking students outside to Schoolyard Habitat gardens to learn about how plants grow, to see the lifecycle of a butterfly with their own eyes, and much more! Teachers, parents, administrators, maintenance crews, and community volunteers work together to install and maintain these outdoor laboratories for children to use in any subject.

Wildlife And Industry Together (WAIT):

WAIT is a program that encourages corporate landowners to keep wildlife needs in mind when making their land management decisions. WAIT projects typically involve large areas of land around an industrial facility. Employees work together to create wildlife habitat and educate other associates and employees about nature. WAIT industries also must partner with a group in the community – this may be a scout troop, a garden club, a school class, etc. There are certified WAIT industries all across SC – BMW, Michelin, Square D, and Duke Energy – just to name a few.

Community Wildlife Habitats:

Community Wildlife Habitats combine all of the above programs. These communities are challenged to educate their entire community about the needs of wildlife. To get certified, a community must have a certain number of Backyard Wildlife Habitats certified, including some public places such as parks or common areas. They also need to participate in community projects such as litter pickups, recycling projects, etc. Communities of all sizes are eligible, and the requirements vary based on the size and population of the area. South Carolina currently has three certified Community Wildlife Habitats at Callawassie Island in Beaufort County, Briarcliffe Acres in the Myrtle Beach area, and Kiawah Island in Charleston county.

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