Certified Wildlife Habitats

Garden for Wildlife: Certified Wildlife Habitats

The Association of Northwest Steelheaders is teaming up with National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife program to transform backyards, school grounds, places of worship, businesses, and community spaces into Certified Wildlife Habitats. Since 1973, the Garden for Wildlife program has empowered people to invite wildlife back into their neighborhoods by converting their gardens, both large and small, urban and rural, into habitat for local pollinators, birds, and other wildlife. Every habitat garden is a step toward replenishing resources for wildlife throughout Oregon’s watersheds, forests, and urban areas.

The Northwest Steelheaders recognize that in order to ensure thriving populations of fish for future generations, we need to protect the habitat conditions upon which these species depend. In spending our free time along rivers and lakes, anglers are able to clearly witness the adverse effects of pollution, runoff, and high water temperatures. Strong salmon and steelhead runs rely on cold and clean water flowing through healthy riparian areas. By creating wildlife gardens and cultivating native plants in our communities, we are helping to prevent soil erosion, reduce runoff, and ultimately provide healthy salmon habitat conditions downstream.

What is a Certified Wildlife Habitat?

A certified wildlife habitat uses sustainable gardening practices to provide food, water, cover, and places to raise young for local wildlife. There are currently over 3,000 Certified Wildlife Habitats in Oregon, and the list keeps on growing!

Animals aren’t the only ones who benefit from the Garden for Wildlife Program. When you certify your outdoor space, you become a member of NWF’s Garden for Wildlife community and receive various benefits, including a personalized certificate, a subscription to National Wildlife Magazine, and 10% off the magazine catalog’s merchandise.

A portion of your $20 application processing fee (waived for schools) goes to supporting programs that educate children and adults on how to make a difference for salmon and wildlife. We also encourage you to purchase and proudly display a Certified Wildlife Habitat sign, which now sports an Association of Northwest Steelheaders logo. For every sign purchased, the Steelheaders receive $5. By displaying this sign in your beautiful garden, you may inspire your friends and neighbors to create their own Gardens for Wildlife.

Creating your Wildlife Habitat

To certify, your wildlife habitat must provide food, water, cover, and places to raise young while using sustainable gardening practices. Use this easy checklist to determine which components your garden already provides. When you are ready to certify, you can do so online or download the brochure application and mail it in.

  • Food: Grow native plants to provide sources of food year round for birds, butterflies, other pollinators, and wildlife species.
  • Water: All animals need water to survive, and some need it for bathing or breeding. Try providing a bird bath, shallow water dish, pond, or rain garden.
  • Cover: Wildlife need places to find shelter from bad weather and to hide from predators. Your garden habitat might include a rock pile, roosting box, or logs.
  • Places to Raise Young: Wildlife require secure places to raise their young, such as nests, nooks and crannies in rocks, or brush piles.
  • Sustainable Practices: The gardening practices you use at home, in your garage, and in your yard can affect the health of the soil, air, water, and habitat.

For more information and ideas on how to incorporate these 5 key elements into your habitat, check out these resources.

Does your outdoor space already provide these wildlife-friendly elements? Certify your garden today!

If you are creating a new garden, design it with wildlife in mind. For more information on creating your habitat garden, go to the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife website, or use the resources listed below.

Contact Allison Dobscha at ORHabitat@NWF.org with any questions.

Upcoming Events:

January 7th or 14th – West Linn, OR

Recycle your Christmas tree by turning it into salmon habitat! After the holidays, join Christmas for Coho and Trout Unlimited in this fun volunteer event, placing your old Christmas trees in local streams and rivers to provide prime habitat for juvenile salmon. Find more information here.

January 17th – Online

East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District is hosting a native plant sale. Order your plants online here and pick them up on February 17th at the EMSWCD Office

February 3rd – Damascus, OR

Recycle your Christmas tree on the Clackamas river. More information here.

Additional Local Resources

Need support creating your wildlife habitat? Ash Creek Forest Management specializes in Salmon Safe projects, offering design, installation, and management of native plant landscapes for homeowners, businesses, and public lands. Ash Creek can design your garden, plant it, and help you manage it. With their detailed site plans, you get a good look into the future of your landscape, and with careful botanical surveys, they can help you identify and manage invasive species before they become a problem. Learn more about Ash Creek Forest Management on their website.



Native Plants

Sustainable Gardening Practices