Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Diamond in the Rough

As I aspire to leave my mark on VINS and with the summer quickly coming to an end, I am using the time I have left here to help lay the foundation for what will be VINS' newest exhibit: a model backyard habitat which will be located at the site pictured below.

This project will benefit both the environment and local community in a number of ways. For local wildlife it will provide cover and food sources in the form of native flora that will occupy the entire strata of this habitat; from the canopy trees of the forest edge, to the stands of dogwoods and hawthorns, to the edible shrubs like raspberry and blueberry, right down to the wildflowers, forbs, grasses, and sedges. As tracts of forest are cleared or wetlands drained in the name of development, coupled with the relentless push of invasive species, an oasis such as the one being proposed are critical to the survival and propagation of our region's native flora and fauna alike. 

With 30,000 annual visitors to VINS, this backyard habitat exhibit has the opportunity to expose a large number of people to the benefits of reducing the size of their lawns and planting native species that are aesthetically pleasing while serving to sustain local wildlife and native plant populations. If each of those visitors where to convert only 10 sq ft of their suburban lawn to a wildflower bed or native shrub thicket that would amount to 300,000 sq ft of suburban lawn conversion annually! Knowledge is contagious and VINS is hoping to spread the bug about the importance and obtainable goal of increasing biodiversity in one's own backyard by simply choosing native plants to their region over exotic ornamentals.

Intrigued by what you can do?  Check out these helpful links.

Educated Homeowners blog on natives in your backyard -
Step by step instructions from the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) -
Publication from NRCS -

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