Butterfly pollinator

The City of Evanston received Wildlife Habitat certifications for 14 of its parks through the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Garden for Wildlife program. These 14 properties bring the total number of City-owned properties certified to 19, which brings Evanston 90 percent of the way to full certification.

Natural Habitat Evanston, a program of Citizens’ Greener Evanston, is spearheading the effort to get properties around Evanston certified as Natural Wildlife Habitats, with the ultimate goal of having Evanston designated as a Community Wildlife Habitat through NWF. The City of Evanston is supporting this effort by encouraging business owners and residents to consider pursuing certification for their properties.

Evanston now just needs about 25 homes, schools and community properties to achieve citywide certification. The number is approximate because NWF provides different certification “points” to homes, schools and community properties. Any Evanston property is eligible to become certified. The steps to take as well as the requirements for certifying a property can be found online at www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/Certify.

In order to become certified, an individual property must provide sources of food, water, cover and places to raise young for wildlife, such as migratory birds, butterflies, and bees. These areas also must be maintained in a sustainable way. Examples of sustainable practices at City-owned properties are the use of native plants at Lovelace Park, removal of invasive species at Harbert Park, elimination of chemical pesticides at Centennial Park, and the use integrated pest management practices at Burnham Shores Park.

Non-traditional gardens can also be certified. Some City properties were certified using primarily trees to satisfy the requirements; oak trees provide outstanding forage for wildlife, supporting 534 caterpillar species, which in turn feed birds and other wildlife.

Seven schools, four places of worship, a business (Integrated Design and Graphics), Canal Shores Golf Course (Hole 6), and the Garden Club of Evanston Butterfly Garden at the Lighthouse are certified. Certified schools are Washington, Children’s Quest, Orrington, Chiaravalle, Dawes, Oakton and Evanston Township High School. Certified places of worship are Lake Street Church, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, St. Nicholas Parish, and Sheil Catholic Center.

Certified City properties are Lovelace Park, Harbert Park, Lighthouse Landing, Butler Park, Centennial Park, Isabella Woods, Patriots Park, Lawrence O Lawson Park, Burnham Shores Park, Garden Park, Elliott Park, Clark Square Park, Dawes Park and South Boulevard Beach.

To learn more about the certification process and how to certify your property, visit www.nwf.org/garden or call 800-822-9919. Details on Natural Habitat Evanston’s campaign are online at http://greenerevanston.org/community-habitat-certification-program and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/naturalhabitatevanston/.

NWF was founded in 1936 and is the nation’s largest conservation organization. NWF has recognized more than 217,000 properties as Certified Wildlife Habitat nationally, encompassing more than 2.5 million acres. In addition to parks, other property types can be recognized, including backyards, school grounds, businesses, places of worship, campuses, farms and zoos.