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Denver Pursuing National Wildlife Federation’s Community Wildlife Habitat Certification

Today, the City and County of Denver announced its intention to certify as a Community Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) by the end of 2019.  The process of certifying as an NWF Community Wildlife Habitat will result in the creation of habitat gardens throughout the city while elevating citizens’ awareness of their multiple benefits for Denver’s people, wildlife and water.  Spearheaded by Denver Parks and Recreation, these efforts are in partnership with NWF, Denver Water, Denver Public Schools, Denver Botanic Gardens and the Colorado Wildlife Federation.  This coalition will collectively engage and collaborate with residents, businesses, schools and other stakeholders to beautify and enhance the places where Denverites spend most of their time. 

“The Denver Park system is a diverse compilation of landscapes totaling approximately 6,000 acres of urban parkland and over 14,000 acres of mountain parks, forming one of the most expansive and unique park systems in the country,” said Happy Haynes, Executive Director of Parks and Recreation.  “It only makes sense for Denver Parks to lead this important community engagement endeavor that will result in Denver being the largest Western city to be designated as a Community Wildlife Habitat.”

To successfully certify the city, partners will encourage and support the creation of water-friendly habitat gardens in yards, businesses, schools, universities, places of worship, parks and other community spaces.  The Community Wildlife Habitat program empowers citizen leaders to act on behalf of wildlife throughout their communities. The program provides these leaders with a framework to create and restore high-quality wildlife habitat.  This program also educates and engages community members while working to attain NWF’s esteemed certification as a wildlife-friendly community.  The City and County of Denver and its partners have chosen this framework to advance their collective goals of improving the city’s livability, enhancing habitats for wildlife and improving water quality and quantity. 

“As a resident of Denver, I know that this city is special.  By seeking to certify the city as a Community Wildlife Habitat, once again, Denver is demonstrating its leadership in sustainable practices and its commitment to improve the city’s habitat for both wildlife and people alike,” said Brian Kurzel, NWF’s Regional Executive Director.  “Through the creation of habitat gardens in the spaces in-between, Denverites can beautify the places where they live, study, work, play and worship to the betterment of the whole City.”

Denver seeks to become the largest Community Wildlife Habitat in the West with this endeavor, hoping to join such large cities as Houston and Baltimore that have achieved full certification.  In total, 116 other communities have been certified across the nation. 

“Denver Public Schools welcomes the exciting move to certify our city as a Community Wildlife Habitat,” said Dr. Ron Cabrera, Denver Public Schools Interim Superintendent. “This move presents both an engaging learning opportunity for our students and community and an intentional move to protect our environment for their futures.”

“Denver Botanic Gardens is thrilled to join with project partners to certify the City and County of Denver as a Community Wildlife Habitat. Having already certified both our York Street and Chatfield Farms locations, the Gardens is invested in providing wildlife-friendly, sustainable habitats within our urban matrix. Our horticultural outreach and urban food initiatives complement the goals of the program,” said Jennifer Neale, PhD. Director of Research & Conservation at Denver Botanic Gardens.  “Certification will provide community engagement opportunities for promoting sustainable landscape practices such as water-smart gardening and planting for wildlife. We look forward to assisting in certifying Denver as the largest Community Wildlife Habitat in the West.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Denver residents to contribute to the community process by certifying their own gardens,” noted Suzanne O’Neill, Colorado Wildlife Federation’s Executive Director. “It’s as simple as providing a source of food such as for hummingbirds and butterflies, a birdbath or other water source, shade, and a sheltered place to raise young.”

NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitat program has been helping people take personal action on behalf of wildlife for more than 40 years. The program engages homeowners, businesses, schools, churches, parks and other institutions that want to make their communities wildlife-friendly. The Community Wildlife Habitat project is part of NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program. Since 1973, NWF has provided millions of people with the basic guidelines for making their landscapes more wildlife-friendly. There are more than 200,000 certified habitats nationwide. For more information, please go to: www.nwf.org/garden.  Learn more at NWF.org/Community and get more updates from the National Wildlife Federation at NWF.org/News