Cary Garden for Wildlife Program

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(Pictured above is The Pollinator Garden at the Page-Walker, a community collaboration between the Town of Cary's Adopt-a-Spot Program, the Cary Woman's Club, the Cary Garden Club, and the Friends of the Page-Walker. It is a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat. Stop by for a visit and look for their informative brochure!)

Cary is partnering with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) to ask citizens, businesses, and organizations to certify their outdoor spaces as Certified Wildlife Habitats. By providing food, water, cover, and a place for wildlife to raise their young in a healthy habitat, you not only help wildlife, but you also qualify to become an official Certified Wildlife Habitat, joining an active community of over 400,000 wildlife gardeners across the country. The Town of Cary is a nationally-recognized Community Wildlife Habitat thanks to our community's efforts to work together to support birds and pollinators, like bees and butterflies, in our yards, schools, and community spaces.

How can Cary residents support this effort?

It’s easy! We are asking homeowners, businesses, and community areas like churches, to sign up on the NWF website to commit to easy actions to support wildlife, like birds and pollinators (bees and butterflies), in their area. The actions are simple, like putting up a bird feeder and a bird bath. When you sign up for this certification you are helping Cary show the world that we are a community that supports a healthy environment for our citizens and wildlife. Each individual participant (homeowner, apartment-dweller, school, common area, business etc.) who plans to get certified will need to register online on the NWF website. The registration is a very simple process and guides you through each step. It has a nominal one-time fee of $20. Click on the “get started” button below to register and look at this brochure that outlines the steps.

GetStartedCaryCommunityHabitatProgram

How will my certification help the Town of Cary be recognized?

To earn standing as a Community Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation, a minimum of 300 homes, five schools and three common areas (like churches) in Cary must be individually certified as wildlife habitats. These areas will join the 160,000 sites already certified by the National Wildlife Federation.

To reach these levels as a community typically takes two to five years, but given the commitment to environmental stewardship in our community, we achieved it in next two years, in the summer of 2017.

Cary joins other certified communities in North Carolina including Lake NormanMatthews, Montreat, Weaverville, Concord, and Charlotte.

Program Background

Conservation of natural resources is important to the Town of Cary. In fact, one of the Town value statements is: “We will preserve and protect our environment. We will be good stewards of our finite natural resources.” In keeping with this spirit, the Town Council, at its January 28, 2015 meeting, unanimously approved a new and exciting program called the Cary Garden for Wildlife Program. This program is a partnership with the National Wildlife Federation's Community Wildlife Habitat Program. Over 75 communities across the county are certified as Community Habitats. 50 additional communities are registered and working towards their certification.

Cary’s participation in this program will link the citizens with our Town’s long-standing conservation programs as well as regional resources and will provide recognition to individuals as well as the Town for its conservation efforts.

Find out more at NWF's Website or by reviewing our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document.

Resources

Located in the middle of Cary, Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve is one the few state nature preserves in NC. It is home to several species of reptiles, amphibians, mammals, insects and arachnids. Due its location it also serves as a key corridor for different migratory birds. Stevens Nature Center at the preserve offers nature programs for all ages throughout the year, interactive and educational nature exhibits, and its staff is happy to answer questions related to wildlife.

Block Leader Program, Town of Cary

The program is an effort to educate residents about the Town’s conservation and environmental stewardship programs and initiatives. Citizens, who volunteer to be Block Leaders, distribute promotional materials on these efforts and initiatives once a year to their neighbors. This helps promote the programs and increase citizen participation. Currently, about 100 volunteers serve over 7,000 homes in the Town.

Water Conservation Program, Town of Cary

Water conservation in Cary is more than a "feel good" endeavor. The Town's comprehensive program provides solutions for maximizing use of a crucial natural resource. Demand for water during the hottest, driest days can be more than twice the daily average. Reducing this spike in usage lengthens the time before costly treatment plant expansion is required.

Additional Resources Related to Plants and Trees

Stevens Nature Center at Hemlock Bluffs, Town of Cary

Environmental Program Specialist Mark Johns is happy to answer questions you have about plants and trees. Contact him at mark.johns@townofcary.org.

Master Gardeners Program, Wake County, NCSU Extension 

Under this program, run by the Extension services of North Carolina State University, trained Master Gardeners offer a wide range of free services to citizens, schools and communities. They provide unbiased and research-based answers to questions on sustainable landscaping and gardening, identifying garden pests and plant diseases, controlling bugs, plant care etc. They do this in multiple ways: over the phone, in person and via email. They can also train and mentor community gardeners, lead workshops in school classrooms, direct youth garden programs, mentor teachers, and provide assistance with designing outdoor learning laboratories.

Department of Forestry, NCSU Extension  

The Department has a strong and diverse outreach program for NC residents. It offers workshops, webinars, conferences and seminars for citizens. It also sponsors a variety of educational programs for adults as well as kids.

Prairie Ridge EcoStation, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh  

The Prairie Ridge at NC Museum provides a wonderful outdoor learning environment for anyone interested in enhancing his/her understanding and appreciation of our natural environment. It offers wide ranging public programs for kids, adults, families, and large groups, has demonstration sites about rain water harvesting and nature neighborhood garden, and assists with educational programs. The nature neighborhood garden is a multipurpose site and serves as a demonstration, experimentation and learning area for students/homeowners about native plants and wildlife. 

Native Plant Society, North Carolina 

The mission of this Society is to conserve and promote the native plants of North Carolina in its natural habitat through education, cultivation and advocacy. The Society is one of the best resources for information on native plants. It has excellent information on several aspects of native plants: list of native plants, as well as a list of invasive plants in NC, local nurseries selling native plants, lists of specific plants for bee forage and hummingbirds, links to handouts on butterflies, landscaping tips, recommended species for planting in NC, etc. It also offers a Native Plants Garden Certification for anyone interested.

NC Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill 

The Botanical Garden is a part of UNC-Chapel Hill and aims to promote a sustainable connection between nature and people through plants, especially the native ones. It offers a variety of educational and hands-on programs about gardening, nature, and conservation, for children as well as adults, summer camps, hikes, certification programs, field trips etc. Its trained volunteers also help with gardening/plant related questions over phone, in person and via an online form.

JC Raulston Arboretum, NCSU

The JC Raulston Arboretum is a nationally acclaimed garden with one of the largest and most diverse collections of landscape plants adapted for landscape use in the Southeast. Look at the "Education" tab to find out about opportunities to learn. For example, on May 16th they are offering a Pollinator Gardening Workshop.

Educational Programs at NC State Parks

The North Carolina State Parks System, besides providing recreation to citizens and visitors, also provides environmental education opportunities to all ages. Different parks offer varying programs related to studying ecosystems and exploring wildlife in its natural habitat. 

Additional Resources Related to Wildlife

Stevens Nature Center at Hemlock Bluffs, Town of Cary

Environmental Program Specialist Mark Johns is happy to answer questions you have about wildlife. Contact him at mark.johns@townofcary.org.

NC Audubon Society's Bird Friendly Communities

The NC Audubon Society provides useful information about priority bird species in NC, like the brown-headed nuthatch, and how to care for them.

NC State Parks--Butterflies of North Carolina

This website provides information about all of the 177 butterfly species that have been recorded in North Carolina.

Educational Programs at NC State Parks

The North Carolina State Parks System besides providing recreation to citizens and visitors, also provide environmental education opportunities to all ages. Different parks offer varying  programs related to studying ecosystems and exploring wildlife in its natural habitat. 

"How to Attract Birds to Your Yard" by Cornell Lab or Ornithology

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers many informational resources for those wishing to attract birds to their yards and learn more about our feathered friends.

NC Wildlife Resources Commission

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission is a NC State agency and one of its goals is to conserve and support wildlife in NC. The commission offers courses, seminars, workshops for general public at its four education centers across NC. The local education center is at the Centennial Campus in Raleigh. It also has videos and publications on NC wildlife. Personnel also answer questions pertaining to wildlife issues.

Social Media

We would love to see pictures of your wildlife habitat! Post them to our Cary It Green Facebook Page or post them on Twitter and hashtag them #CaryGFW. 

Contact

For more information contact Environmental Outreach Program Coordinator Sarah Justice at 919-469-4301 or sarah.justice@townofcary.org.

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