Building a Backyard Habitat

Prairie by Natalie Cypher

Prairie by Natalie Cypher

Rayna Skiver of the Great Lakes Echo has an article on the benefits of building a backyard habitat for Michigan wildlife that says in part:

A habitat can be as simple as a place that provides food, water and shelter for wildlife, said Natalie Cypher, naturalist and educator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Adventure Center.

Building a habitat in your backyard can require as much or as little space as you want, Cypher said. It depends on what type of wildlife you want to attract.

Research is the first step.

“If you’re looking to provide a habitat for monarch butterflies, you have to use milkweed,” Cypher said. “Monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed plants and it’s the only food that their caterpillars will eat.”

…Backyard habitats benefit both wildlife and the people making them. For wildlife, they provide food and a safe place to nest. People benefit because of the positive feelings associated with added greenery and the presence of wildlife.

In a suburban neighborhood, a lot of land doesn’t provide habitat, Cypher said. One million acres of wildlife habitat are lost every year due to suburban development, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

“Providing a small patch of habitat can be high impact,” Cypher said.

The National Wildlife Federation reports benefits like higher percentages of native plants, indicator species, tree coverage, water conservation and wildlife presence.

Native plants use less water and sequester carbon, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

Home gardeners benefit from native pollinators such as bees and butterflies because they can increase fruit and vegetable production and help with pest control, Cypher said.

Read on for much more at the Echo. You can learn more about the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Adventure Center & even apply for a job on their website!

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