ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ – The borough is launching a new partnership with New Jersey Audubon and the National Wildlife Federation’s Community Wildlife Habitat™ program to become healthier, greener, and more wildlife-friendly, the continuing efforts by local residents and the governing body to continue the community’s commitment to natural beauty and a friendly environment.
The partnership notices the borough’s commitment to creating wildlife habitats throughout the community, while also educating and creating awareness with its residents.
“By joining the National Wildlife Federation’s Community Wildlife Habitat program, Atlantic Highlands is sending a clear and powerful message to communities all over America that people working together can create healthy habitats and healthy communities, and make a difference in their own community and beyond,” said Patrick Fitzgerald, Senior Director of Community Wildlife.
Healthy habitats and healthy communities go hand-in-hand, he said. Too often communities suffer from pollution, disinvestment, or other challenges that separate people from the natural world. When human communities suffer, wildlife suffers as well.
At Thursday’s Borough council Meeting, Council member, Lori Hohenleitner introduced a resolution which received unanimous approval that lends official support to the project.
Begun by local residents and headed by Elaine Egidio, Atlantic Highlands Gardening for Wildlife hopes to bring together diverse community organizations and individuals to work toward a sustainable environment. Meant to provide habitat and resources at a community level, so that wildlife, including birds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinating insects can flourish, the program encourages residents, businesses, and organizations to participate by certifying their properties: from private gardens to public parks; from schoolyards to churchyards; from a container garden to vast acreage.
Ms. Egidio pointed out that “Nature gifts us with our existence. We are provided food, shelter, items in our homes, our schools and our places of employment. We are gifted weathers, seasons, air to breathe. This project is my way of giving back in appreciation. I look forward to meeting more of our Atlantic Highlands’ community, as we become a community that co-creates our natural world.”
Since 1973, the National Wildlife has provided millions of people with the basic guidelines for making their landscapes more hospitable for wildlife. To date, through this program, the Federation has certified more than 250,000 sites including yards, schools, businesses, community gardens, parks, and places of worship. Each of these sites provides the basic elements all wildlife needs to thrive: food, water, cover and places to raise young, while integrating sustainable gardening and landscaping practices.
In 2012, New Jersey Audubon joined the National Wildlife Federation’s state affiliate and the two organizations work closely together toward the goal of wildlife conservation and habitat restoration.
At present only five communities in New Jersey have reached certification, and another 13 are working towards that goal.
Gena and Ted Loud have already had their garden at their Third Avenue home certified was a National Wildlife Federation Community Wildlife Habitat™ and the reasons why are evident in these photos from last season. The Louds raised the Monarch butterfly, a hobby also enjoyed by Ms. Egidio.
Any outdoor space can become certified, even an apartment balcony! By certifying, the resident is helping pollinators and songbirds, with the added benefit of enjoyment watching native plants bloom and the visitors who come to sip the nectar and munch on the leaves.
To become certified as a National Wildlife Federation Community Wildlife Habitat™ Atlantic Highlands is calling on its residents to certify their own property at NWF.org/Certify and join education and outreach efforts to learn how residents can create a healthier wildlife-friendly community. For upcoming events or more information about Atlantic Highlands Gardening for Wildlife, visit ahnj.com (Open Space) and Facebook. For more information about the National Wildlife Federation’s Community Wildlife Habitat network, visit www.nwf.org/community.
For information on the local program and how residents and businesses, as well as churches, clubs and organizations can become involved, contact Marilyn Scherfen at [email protected] or by calling 732-291-8053.