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Backyard Habitat Certification Program offers support in creating a sustainable sanctuary

FILE PHOTO - The certification program is conducted and supported by the Audubon Society of Portland Turn your backyard into a natural sanctuary — with native plants, water features, eco-friendly planning and spaces for diverse wildlife. By joining the Backyard Habitat Certification Program, property owners of less than one acre in Gresham, Portland, Fairview (Multnomah County only) and Lake Oswego can create their own personal habitat.

The certification program is conducted and supported by the Audubon Society of Portland and the Columbia Land Trust. It is an attempt to support urban gardeners in their efforts to create natural backyard habitats. The goal is to revitalize urban landscapes and make positive changes in the community.

After registering with the program, a technician will visit your home to perform a site assessment, which will help determine what elements are right for your yard. These can include bird and bat boxes, nesting habitat, raingarden or eco-roofs. There are three levels of certification — silver, gold and platinum. All three require removal of invasive species, growing native plants, reducing pesticides, wildlife stewardship and stormwater management. Platinum certification also requires volunteer hours.

Participating in the program and working through the certification levels leads to awards and benefits, including discounts or garden supplies. There are currently more than 6,000 people certified through the program.

Anyone who lives outside the service area can still access the quarterly electronic reports that give tips to maintaining a beautiful backyard and get on the waiting list for upcoming program expansion news. Visit www.backyardhabitats.org to learn more and sign up.

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