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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : DNREC releases new video on creating Certified Wildlife Habitats

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Contact: Phil Miller, Marketing Specialist, Division of Watershed Stewardship, 302-739-9939 or Melanie Rapp, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

DNREC releases new video on creating Certified Wildlife Habitats
Video highlights sustainable gardening practices that improve water quality, increase biodiversity and provide wildlife habitat

DOVER (Sept. 6, 2013) – DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship has released a new
video on creating Certified Wildlife Habitats. The video explains efforts taken by the Delaware Nature Society and the National Wildlife Federation to provide official certification for properties that meet four criteria necessary for a wildlife habitat: food, water, cover, and places for wildlife to raise young. The video highlights sustainable gardening practices that homeowners can use in their own backyards that will improve water quality, increase biodiversity and provide wildlife habitat.

The Certified Wildlife Habitats video is available on DNREC’s website, and can be viewed on YouTube at

Only a small percentage of Delaware’s waterways fully support standards for swimmable waters and for fish and aquatic life. Currently, the biggest threat to our waters is not pollution from industry, but stormwater runoff from individual yards, farms, roadways, and construction sites, known as nonpoint source pollution. Most of the region's drinking water supply in the northern part of Delaware comes from surface waters, which means that what is done on the land directly affects the quality of our water. Certified Wildlife Habitats can help to ensure clean, safe drinking water for people and wildlife by creating a habitat-friendly environment using native plants, limiting the use of lawn chemicals, and reducing stormwater runoff.

As most of Delaware land is privately owned, backyard conservation efforts are fundamental to biodiversity conservation. Currently, in the United States there are 20 million acres of lawn. Composed primarily of three non-native species, lawns compete with and often exclude native plants, resulting in the loss of habitat for many animals. Compared to natural habitats such as meadows, lawns are virtually void of biological diversity. Certified Wildlife Habitats can help provide more natural habitats and encourage a greater variety of wildlife species.

Of the 3 percent of the Earth's fresh water, less than 1 percent is available as drinking water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 30 - 60 percent of urban fresh water is used each year to water lawns. Reducing the size of turf areas and replacing them with native plant gardens is a great place to start. Because native plants are adapted to local climatic conditions, they require less water than non-natives. Homeowners can also collect roof runoff in rain barrels attached to their downspouts to water lawn and garden areas or create rain gardens comprised of water loving plants to collect runoff and allow it to slowly infiltrate. Conservation landscaping through the Certified Wildlife Habitat program can help to reduce the water requirements for home landscapes.

Lawnmowers create far more air pollution than automobiles. By reducing lawn areas and the associated mowing, homeowners can help reduce air pollution. Property owners can also protect air quality by reducing their reliance on fossil fuels for heating and cooling. Deciduous trees planted around a home can save significant amounts on summer cooling costs while evergreen trees block winter winds and can save money on winter heating needs. 

For more information about statewide water quality initiatives, visit or contact Phillip Miller, Marketing Specialist, DNREC Watershed Assessment and Management Section at (302) 739-9939.

For more information about the Certified Wildlife Habitat program, please contact Greg Gagliano, Certified Wildlife Habitat Coordinator with the Delaware Nature Society at (302) 239-2334.

Vol. 43, No. 345

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