Backyard Habitat Program Off to a Successful Start!

In March 2016, the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District formally partnered with the Audubon Society of Portland and Columbia Land Trust to expand the Backyard Habitat Certification Program to additional urban areas of Clackamas County. This popular program provides assistance and incentives to urban residents to restore native wildlife habitat in their backyards.

In the past, the Backyard Habitat Certification Program has serviced landowners throughout Portland, Gresham, and Fairview, within Multnomah County, and the City of Lake Oswego. With support from the District, however, a Phase 1 expansion allowed landowners in Milwaukie, Oak Grove, Jennings Lodge, Johnson City, and West Linn to participate in the program.

The Phase 2 expansion of the program will begin in March 2018 and will cover all of the zip codes within the urban growth boundary. This includes the cities of Gladstone, Happy Valley, Oregon City, Damascus, Tualatin/Stafford, and Wilsonville.

Landowners Love the Program

Demand for the service this program provides has been high for the past several years. Immediately upon hearing of the expansion into Clackamas County, many interested landowners signed up to participate. Since March 2017, 120 properties have been evaluated and many of these have already received certification.

While there was a significant waiting list last spring, there is currently no wait for people in the Phase 1 region. Susie Peterson, coordinator of the program in Clackamas County, notes that this is an ideal time to sign up at the Backyard Habitat Certification Program website. Clackamas County landowners located in the Phase 2 target areas are also encouraged to enroll in the program now. These landowners will be placed on a waiting list for services beginning March 2018.

To be eligible for the program, properties must be less than one acre in size, and occur within those targeted areas. Program participants receive a full suite of program services; from site assessments and high-quality technical assistance, discounts on native plants and books, to eventually earning one’s very own Backyard Habitat Certification plaque. There is a one-time $35 enrollment fee, but all services, assessments, inspections, and certifications are FREE.

Interested in viewing successfully certified yards? Each year the program offers an open garden tour which attracts over 1000 visitors. This event gives prospective participants an opportunity to gather great ideas and certified gardeners an opportunity to showcase their backyard habitats.

Purpose of the Backyard Habitat Program

The Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District has long been interested in the habitat connectivity between existing natural areas in our urban centers with those in our rural communities for the movement of wildlife, including pollinators. By supporting the Backyard Wildlife Habitat Certification Program’s expansion into more of Clackamas County, landowners have the technical assistance they need to make their yards inviting to wildlife.

Three levels of certification are offered: Silver, Gold, and Platinum. A qualified technician will come out for a site visit and help determine which elements are right for individuals and their yards. Landowners can work toward higher certification levels in years to come and enjoy the array of wildlife their yard supports. Certification criteria address five program elements which reflect District concerns and values:

  • Invasive Weeds
  • Native Plants
  • Pesticide Reduction
  • Stormwater Management
  • Wildlife Stewardship

Join the happy faces below by enrolling in the in the Backyard Habitat Certification Program today!

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