• Native Plant Garden at Columbia Elementary School

    Leaving the Legacy of Habitat. On a blustery spring April Fool’s Day, 41 students from Mrs. Wiederhold and Mrs. Sampson 5th grade classes joined staff from the Whatcom Conservation District (WCD)  to improve habitat, beautify their playground and “help mother earth”, according to one of the excited students.  This group of 10 and 11 year olds along with the Columbia Parent Association has dedicated a portion of their school yard for wildlife habitat.

    The Whatcom Conservation District was thrilled to provide expertise and 85 native plants to enhance the soil health, clean surface storm water and provide food and shelter for native wildlife.  The experience began in the classroom where WCD Education Coordinator Aneka Sweeney led the group through an afternoon of exploration and activities to draft a plan for the planting project.  Students considered what animals need to survive, what types of animals might want use their garden, what plants provide the best habitat during all times of the year, and what would grow best in the very sunny area of the playground.

    The project was timed perfectly around WCD 22nd Annual Native Plant Sale aligning planting time and availability of species.  On April 1st, with the garden plan in place, students arrived enthusiastic to make a difference and leave a legacy at their school.  The large group was divided into teams:  the Townsend’s Chipmunks, the Rufus Hummingbirds and the American Goldfinches, all native wildlife species with different habitat requirements.  These teams of students then rotated through three stations of; interpretive sign making, native plant and wildlife games and getting their hands dirty as each student was able to plant at least 2 species in the ground.  They created layers of habitat from a ground cover of Salal, Oregon Grape and Kinnicknick leading to understory shrubs of Mock Orange, Vine Maple, Spirea and Red Flowering Current.  The students were proud of their efforts and hope their legacy will live on at Columbia Elementary as a place where urban schoolyards can be a safe place for kids and wildlife to thrive.



    This page was last modified on 05/13/15 - 11:28
  • Birders Building Habitat with Chums of Terrell Creek

    Birders love company, regardless of the weather.  On March 15, 2015, a soggy,raining Sunday, a group of enthusiastic bird lovers shared stories over bottomless cups of coffee and pan fried bacon at C.J.’s Beach House overlooking Birch Bay.  The group enjoyed their delicious breakfast while delighting in a presentation and showing of the film “Birds, Back Yard Habitat and Beyond”, an incredible documentary on the diversity and wonder of our own neighborhood wildlife by featured speakers Craig and Joy Johnson.  Invigorated by the sights and sounds of the video and powered by an ample breakfast much of the group joined renowned bird expert Paul Woodcock for a stroll around the local Birch Bay and Terrell Creek wetlands, forests and marshes looking, listening and observing birds of all kinds.

    Many of these hardy bird enthusiasts came in from the weather and joined Whatcom Conservation Districts Education Coordinator, Aneka Sweeney, at the new BP Heron Center in Birch Bay State Park for a workshop on “Inviting Nature into your Backyard”.  The group reflected on the weekends activities, recounted the diversity of people and wildlife they encountered, described lessons learned, then explored their own relationship with the protection and enhancement of wildlife habitat.  Aneka motivated the group with stories of success by the Chums of Terrell Creek, with over 60 landowners making habitat improvements on their property including over 35 acres of newly planted riparian habitat, 3,900 feet of instream habitat restored and thousands of native tree and shrub species planted to provide shelter, food and to restore ecosystem function.  The group shared what sort of habitat they currently live in so they could explore all the different ways bird and wildlife needs could be enhanced regardless of the space they have in their backyard.  The workshop guided attendees through a step-by-step site analysis and action plan for creating and sustaining habitat in small and large spaces.  The Whatcom Conservation District can help in many ways and with the 22nd Annual Native Plant Sale in just a few weeks the timing couldn’t have been better.

    This page was last modified on 04/06/15 - 13:41