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Volume 17, Issue 9
September 2019


Backyard Habitat Certification Program Comes to Washington County
by Tualatin Soil & Water Conservation District (TWSCD) staff

If you’ve spent time in urban neighborhoods in Multnomah or Clackamas County, you may have seen small metal signs proclaiming, “Certified Backyard Habitat.” This sign is a token of recognition, provided by the Backyard Habitat Certification Program (BHCP), of the steps a homeowner has taken to create quality habitat around their home. This includes planting native species, controlling invasive weed species, managing stormwater, reducing pesticide use, and providing habitat features. All of these steps help provide important resources to urban wildlife.

backyard habitat

The BHCP is co-managed by Portland Audubon and Columbia Land Trust. Since 2009, this program has provided interested homeowners with technical assistance, educational resources, and recognition for transforming their urban yards into spaces where native plants and wildlife can thrive. Over 5,600 properties in Multnomah and Clackamas counties have enrolled in the program. Each of those properties is contributing to the larger community-based conservation effort.

Residents of Washington County have been expressing interest in this program for several years and a wait list has been steadily building in anticipation of the program’s expansion. As of June 2019, the Backyard Habitat Certification Program has officially expanded to include Washington County! And this expansion couldn’t come soon enough—there are already over 400 people on the wait list ready to enroll.

Residents who enroll in the BHCP have a variety of goals. Some are interested in attracting more birds and pollinators to their yards, while others are excited to transform their yards into spaces that require less water and fewer chemicals to maintain. Many express an appreciation for the community aspect of the program—their small-scale actions are contributing to a larger effort to create quality habitat in urbanized areas.


Certification is a process that occurs over time. After a homeowner enrolls in the program, a habitat technician from BHCP visits them on their property to conduct an initial assessment of the entire yard. The technician looks for any troublesome weeds, identifies quality habitat that already exists, and works with the homeowner to determine goals for improving habitat. Following the initial visit, homeowners receive a full site report with recommendations for how to achieve their conservation goals and earn certification. Then it’s time to get to work! With the help of resources from the BHCP, including discounts at native plant sales, and recommendations for program-approved landscape professionals, homeowners can get rolling on implementing the recommendations from their site report.

Habitat technicians are currently scheduling their first visits in Washington County and are beginning to visit with residents who are eager to get their yard improvements underway. Tualatin SWCD is excited to support the growth of the Backyard Habitat Certification Program and provide Washington County residents with the resources they need to take conservation actions at their homes.

To add your name to the waitlist, or to learn more about the Backyard Habitat Certification Program visit www.backyardhabitats.org.



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Published monthly by Cedar Mill News LLC
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
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Portland, Oregon 97291
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