Wanted: your backyard - Sammamish homeowners join wildlife habitat project
By JAKE LYNCH
Sammamish Reporter Editor
April 5, 2010 · 12:12 PM
In the beginning of 2009, Sammamish's Elaine McEnery had a vision of Sammamish as a city that lives in harmony with the bears, birds and other wildlife with which it shares the Plateau.
Inspired the efforts of a handful of other communities across America to make their neighborhoods and businesses supportive of the local native animal populations, McEnery launched the Sammamish Community Wildlife Habitat Project.
The general idea - to make our backyards and green spaces places that don't threaten the health and well-being of critters and creatures but encourage them, and allow them to move around the city, to breed, to care for their young, and to continue to live off the land as they have done since time eternal.
“I’m no environmental extremist. I just believe in trying to pass on an environment to our children in a better condition than when we found it,” McEnery told The Reporter 12 months ago. “And I’m not naive about development. The population is always growing, and the people have got to live somewhere, but I don’t think that necessarily means we have to keep having a negative impact on the wildlife and nature around us.”
A year later and McEnery has built the wildlife habitat project into an expansive movement that is inspiring homeowners, schools and businesses to make Sammamish an officially certified Community Wildlife Habitat.
So far, 94 homes have been certified as backyard wildlife habitats, three quarters of the way to a goal of 150.
In addition, five schools, six of the nine City of Sammamish parks, and the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District have turned their grounds and open spaces into wildlife habitats, by encouraging the right kinds of plants and trees, using organic fertilizers, and making sure there is ample clean water and shelter. Certified wildlife habitats must also practice sustainable gardening practices, such as capturing and reusing rain water, and providing vegetation buffers to protect water sources from runoff pollution.
There are 31 communities currently certified as Community Wildlife Habitats in the United States, and five of them are here in Washington state: Tukwila, Camano Island, Fidalgo Island/Anacortes, Lake Forest Park and Alki. With just 56 more homes, Sammamish could be next, a proud distinction for a city marketed on its environment and access to relatively untouched forests, parklands and trails.
The goal of the Sammamish Community Wildlife Habitat Project is to eventually extend and connect the wildlife corridors that currently splash randomly across the city map. Another of the goals is help locals understand what wildlife habitats are all about - what are the issues, what is at stake, and what we can do around our own homes.
To that end, in April the Sammamish Community Wildlife Habitat Project will host a series of seminars, to teach homeowners how to create a healthy wildlife habitat in their own backyard.
On Wednesday, April 21, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Biologist Chris Anderson will present "Living with Wildlife," followed on April 28 by a seminar on "Invasive Noxious Weeds in Sammamish" by King County Noxious Weed Control Educational Specialist Sasha Shaw.
On May 5, King County Environmental Program Manager Greg Rabourn will lead a discussion on "Naturescaping in Sammamish."
All seminars are free to the public, and will be held at Beaver Lake Lodge in Sammamish from 7 - 8 p.m.
For more about the seminars, and on the Sammamish Community Wildlife Habitat Project, including information about native plants, conserving water, rain gardens, and attracting and living with wildlife, visit their Web site at www.sammamishwildlifehabitatproject.blogspot.com. www.sammamishwildlifehabitatproject.blogspot.com.
Or e-mail McEnery at Elaine@Parexis.com.Contact Sammamish Reporter Editor Jake Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org.