Garden for Wildlife

Certified Wildlife Habitats


What are Certified Wildlife Habitats?

A certified wildlife habitat uses sustainable gardening practices to provide food, water, cover, and places to raise young for local wildlife.

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. Sustainable gardens = healthy water = happy fish!

Certify Your Outdoor Space

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 certification in Oregon, 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 this 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.

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 us at with any questions.

NWF Resources and Related Programs

- Garden for Wildlife Origami Chatterbox (kids fortune teller)
- Marine West Coast Forests - Commercially Available Host Plants for Butterflies and Moths
- Create a Schoolyard Habitat for Monarchs and Other Pollinators
- Monarch Mission Curriculum (PK-12, English and Spanish)
- Maritime NW Monarch Plant List
- Butterfly Heroes Campaign
- Mayors Monarch Pledge
- Beesponsible
- Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
- Trees for Wildlife

Wildlife Crafts

- Wildlife Salt Painting
- A Cauldron of Bats

Partner Resources


- A Guide to Priority Plant and Animal Species in Oregon Forests – The Oregon Forest Research Institute
- Wildlife Viewing – Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
- How to be a Salmon Friendly Gardener – Snohomish County Public Works
- Living With Wildlife – Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
- Pollinator Syndromes – North American Pollinator Protection Campaign
- Bees of Portland Pocket Guide – Xerces Society
- Beneficial Insect Plants of the Pacific Northwest – Beyond Toxics

Native Plants

- Bosky Dell Natives – Native Plant Nursery in West Linn
- Native Plants Gardening – Oregon State University Extension Service
- USDA Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden Using Native Plants – US Forest Service
- Invasive Plants of the Portland Area – Environmental Services, City of Portland
- Local Sources of Native Plants – East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District
- Portland Plant List - Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
- Native Plants for Willamette Valley Yards – Oregon Metro
- Recommended Native Plants for Home Gardens in Western Oregon – Oregon State University Extension Service
- Oregon Milkweed Guide – Xerces Society
- Gardening with Oregon Native Plants West of the Cascades - OSU Extension Service
- Maritime NW Pollinator Plant List - Xerces Society
- Oregon Flora

Sustainable Gardening Practices

- Backyard Habitat Certification Program – Audubon Society of Portland
- Parting with Pesticides – Clackamas River Basin Council
- Water Conservation Tips – East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District
- Working Near Water – East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District
- Water-wise Gardening in Central Oregon – Oregon State University Extension Service
- Xeriscaping in the High Desert – Oregon State University Extension Service
- The Oregon Rain Garden Guide – Sea Grant Oregon


- From Salmonberry to Sagebrush – Institute for Applied Ecology


- Garden Signs (Made in Oregon) – Victory Garden of Tomorrow