"Inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future."
Congratulations to Colchester for being the first town in Connecticut to be certified with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) as a Community Wildlife Habitat, and only the 36th in the country. Read the press release.
“It is now within the power of individual[s] … to do something that we all dream of doing: to ‘make a difference.’ Chances are, you have never thought of your garden - - indeed, of all of the space on your property - - as a wildlife preserve that represents the last chance we have for sustaining plants and animals that were once common throughout the U.S. But that is exactly the role our suburban landscapes are now playing and will play even more in the near future.”
-- Dr. Douglas W. Tallamy, author of “Bringing Nature Home”
What is a Community Wildlife Habitat?
A Community Wildlife Habitat is a community that provides habitat for wildlife throughout the community—in individual backyards, on school grounds, businesses, places of worship, farms and in public areas such as parks, and community gardens. It is a place where the residents make it a priority to provide habitat for wildlife by providing the four basic elements that all wildlife need: food, water, cover and places to raise young. The community also educates its residents about sustainable gardening practices such as reducing or eliminating chemical fertilizers and pesticides, conserving water, planting native plants, removing invasive plants and composting.
“Today’s challenges to our natural world are outpacing wildlife’s natural ability to adapt. Global warming, the loss of habitats and the increasing disconnect of people from nature are creating a perfect storm of weakened natural systems, human-caused climatic disruptions and growing public apathy. National Wildlife’s Federations vision is to restore the balance of nature and protect wildlife for our children’s future.”
Why pursue certification as a Community Wildlife Habitat?
Recognizing the importance and value of Colchester’s natural surroundings, several residents came together to form the Community Wildlife Habitat of Colchester (CWHoC) Team to pursue the nationally-recognized Community Wildlife Habitat certification through the National Wildlife Federation. ~This pursuit is further affirmation that Colchester is a desirable and healthy community for people and the wildlife. ~It is important for our townspeople to know what we have, understand its importance on our community and beyond our boundaries, and serve as knowledgeable and caring stewards. ~Decisions each of us makes every day have an impact on our local environment and lives, and will affect the people and wildlife now and for future generations. ~It is also important for people of all ages to
rediscover and reconnect with nature for their good health, and especially children for their development. (see Additional Links for more details, and Activities to get children and you out in Nature below)
The Community Wildlife Habitat of Colchester (CWHoC) Team received early endorsement by the Colchester Board of Selectmen, Colchester Conservation Commission, Colchester Land Trust, Colchester Garden Club, and Colchester Business Association (CBA). These organizations and others contributed to the success of the endeavor:
- Colchester Garden Club and Cragin Memorial Library organized and sponsored numerous presentations on wildlife and gardening; Friends of Cragin Memorial Library certified the library property.
- Colchester Land Trust organized numerous local walks and hikes, and certified four Land Trust properties.
- The Connecticut Audubon Society hosted “Colchester Day” at its glastonbury location.
- All four Colchester schools completed property assessment and certification process to become Wildlife Habitats. ~
- Colchester Parks & Recreation certified eight town-owned properties as Wildlife Habitats.
- Over 20 businesses, farms, churches, civic organizations, condo associations and daycare providers certified their properties, and
- Over 100 families and individuals certified their properties.
We thank all of you who have taken this journey with us towards achieving the Community Wildlife Habitat certification for Colchester, participating and learning along the way. We are happy to acknowledge the many good stewards of the land who continue to affirm that Colchester is a very special place to live.
Community Wildlife Habitat of Colchester Team
Please note that due to the size of the file, the map takes several moments to open
What you can do?
- Assess and certify your own property as a wildlife habitat through the National Wildlife Federation. ~~
Properties eligible to be certified include homes, apartments with balconies, townhouses, businesses, farms, schoolyards, places of worship, and public spaces. NWF applications are available at the Cragin Memorial Library or at https://secure.nwf.org/backyardwildlifehabitat/certify/page1.cfm.~~Follow the steps for self-assessment of your property and either mail the completed application to NWF or complete the application process online. In return for the $20 application fee there are numerous benefits
including a subscription to NWF’s monthly wildlife magazine. ~~~ ~
- Learn more about nature, wildlife and the environment.
Check the links on this website. ~Look for activities offered locally by the Community Wildlife Habitat of Colchester and its partner organizations, including the Colchester Garden Club, Colchester Land Trust, Cragin Memorial Library, Colchester Parks & Recreation, and Connecticut Audubon Society. Take yourself, your family, and your friends outside to walk, garden, take pictures, or just enjoy the bounty of nature.
- Enjoy Colchester nature photography.
- Contact the Community Wildlife Habitat of Colchester team.
You can help by creating a NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat in your own yard
It's fun! Watching wildlife in action can be fun and relaxing for everyone. Your habitat may attract beautiful songbirds, butterflies, frogs, and other interesting wildlife for viewing from your very own window.
Curb appeal! Replacing grass lawns with native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees will increase the beauty of your property and provide a nurturing refuge for wildlife.
Bring wildlife home! Restoring habitats where commercial and residential development have degraded natural ecosystems can be your way of giving back to wildlife.
Eco-friendly! Gardening practices that help wildlife, like reducing the use of chemicals, conserving energy and water, and composting also help to improve air, water and soil quality.
Community! Gardening for wildlife can help you share your love of wildlife with your neighbors and help them get involved in creating a home for wildlife.
Assess your yard as a Wildlife Habitat to provide elements from each of the following areas:
Food Sources. For example: Native plants producing seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, nectar. Bird feeder is supplemental to natural sources
Water Sources. For example: Birdbath, pond, water garden, stream
Places for Cover. For example: Thicket, rockpile, birdhouse
Places to Raise Young. For example: Dense shrubs, vegetation, nesting box, pond
Sustainable Gardening and Good Environmental Practices: ~For example: Mulch, compost, rain garden, chemical-free fertilizer, follow Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices, recycle, dispose of litter and cigarette butts properly, pick up your dog’s poop.
Frequently Asked Questions about Certifying Your Property:
Q: If I certify my property, what kinds of restrictions might there be?
A: Certification places NO restrictions on your property. You can still do whatever local ordinances allow, including cut trees, build or sell.
Q: Does certification mean I can't remove or discourage moles, woodchucks, deer and other pests?
A: No. The NWF motto is “Inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.” It does not mean you must allow or encourage every kind of wildlife on your property.
Q: Is NWF opposed to hunting?
Q: If I certify my property, does that mean I can't use chemical pesticides or fertilizers?
A: No. Certification requires that property owners follow at least two from a list of fifteen recommended sustainable gardening practices. Most people find they are already doing this. However, before using pesticides or fertilizers it is important to consider health and environmental impacts and to use the safest effective product. Always follow printed instructions for usage. The UConn Home & Garden Education Center (877-486-6271 or www.ladybug.uconn.edu) offers free assistance on when, which and how to use pesticides and
Q: I don't compost. Can I still certify?
A: Yes. If you follow at least two sustainable gardening practices and provide food, water, shelter and places for raising young, you can certify. Details are in the application.
Q: Does anyone come to check what's on my property?
A: No. The application process is a self-checklist.
Q: Do I have to re-certify every year?
A: No. Certification lasts as long as you own your property.
Q: I am already doing everything required for certification. Why should I bother certifying? The animals won't know the difference.
A: Individual certification acknowledges that individuals care about preserving the soil, air, water and habitat for native wildlife as well as for the human community. Community certification affirms that residents throughout our town make it a priority to preserve a healthy community for wildlife and for ourselves. Colchester residents who certify their properties are making a public statement about Colchester's commitment to creating and maintaining a place where people and wildlife can co-exist and thrive.