The author's original MOTHER EARTH NEWS article about environmental preservation and the backyard wildlife sanctuary concept created an unexpected problem.
The Brooks Bird Club was swamped with responses to the first article about environmental preservation and backyard wildlife sanctuaries.
ILLUSTRATION: ANDREWGENN/FOTOLIAIf you read Environmental Preservation in a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary, you know about the worthy work being done by the Brooks Bird Club in Wheeling, West Virginia. And if you didn't read that article, you should know that the good folks at the organization have come up with one of the slickest and easiest ways imaginable for turning your property (farm, woodlot, even back yard) into a backyard wildlife sanctuary. In short:
Thanks to the work of the Brooks Bird Club, all you have to do to register any piece of land as a wildlife sanctuary is sign a pledge that you'll manage the property—no matter how big or small (the tiniest so far is a 30 X 100-foot lot in New York City and the largest encompasses 2,200 acres in Virginia)—in a manner that protects and improves its natural flora and fauna.
That's it. And the signing of the statement in no way compromises your ownership or personal rights to your land. All —I repeat—all it does is put you on record as being a concerned property owner who is dedicated to the preservation of your land's native flora and fauna.
That simple act (the signing of the pledge), however, can have a great deal of value to you. Because it registers your property with the 45-year-old, non-profit, internationally active Brooks Bird Club and entitles you to assistance with any environmental preservation problems or questions you may have. (Typical queried that the sponsoring organization has answered: How can I improve my land's habitat for squirrels and rabbits? What trees should we plant to provide food and shelter for birds?)
In addition, for a very small fee (the only expense you'll incur in the whole program), you'll be furnished with as many attractive metal signs as you want stating that your property is a registered wildlife sanctuary. Just send $1.25 for each placard plus $1.00 postage for one, $1.25 for two, and $1.75 for three to five signs (please allow six to eight weeks for delivery).
At no time will you receive a dun for registration fees, hidden costs of any kind, reports to fill out, legal commitments of any nature, or any other obligation to do anything. This is an entirely voluntary, do-it-yourself environmental program. You're always completely free to oversee and manage your personal sanctuary in the way that you think best. And if, for any reason, you ever decide you want out of the whole operation ... no problem. Simply take down your signs. It's that easy.
As I mentioned in my first article, I've had my small acreage registered for about three and a half years now, and I've enjoyed every minute of it. During that time I've improved the place's habitat for small mammals by building a couple of large brush piles and planting native food plants. I've also improved the property for me (and me for it!) by cultivating native wildflowers and becoming far more aware of the wildlife around me.
Furthermore, I've been highly pleased by the effectiveness of the "wildlife sanctuary" signs posted along my land's borders. On the one hand, they've materially reduced the trespassing that "no hunting" and "no trespassing" signs seemed unable to stop. And on the other, they've attracted interested (and interesting!) people who've looked me up to learn more about "what's going on." (I've become something of a local wildlife "expert" to these folks, thanks to the bird identification information I've received from the organization that sponsors sanctuaries like mine.)
This whole grand program, in short, is a lot of fun and very worthwhile. It has given me a good, warm, solid feeling to know that I'm actually doing something constructive to preserve the natural environment, instead of just sitting around wringing my hands and hoping that things get better. I also enjoy knowing that my little piece of land is part of something much bigger (well over 16,000 acres now) which is devoted to reversing the degradation of our beautiful planet.
And that's why I wrote the article extolling the Brooks Bird Club and its program. I just wanted to let all of MOTHER EARTH NEWS' other readers in on the Good Thing I've found. And, unfortunately—in my original piece—I told you that the club's wildlife sanctuary program information packet was free.
I say "unfortunately" because never in the whole 45-year history of the Brooks Bird Club has the organization received the response that my article generated! Three weeks after that issue went on sale, the group was already swamped by over 1,000 letters. A week and a half after that, the count was up to more than 2,300 responses. And I'm afraid to even call and ask the harried folks at the club how many pieces of mail they've received to date!
What this boils down to is that the Brooks Bird Club is an absolutely first-rate and dedicated organization. But it's small, its members are all volunteers, and it is a completely non-profit operation that never in its wildest dreams expected the avalanche of mail that my article generated. And that avalanche, plus the recent increases in the cost of postage and other materials that the club uses in its program, now threatens to put an end to any further expansion of the Wildlife Sanctuary idea unless you extend a very small (but very important) helping hand to the Brooks Bird Club. Here are the new ground rules:
 All the kind folks who wrote to the club as a result of my original article and who included a stamped, self-addressed long envelope or a donation for their reply have already received (or will soon receive) the requested information.
 If, however, you wrote to the club and did not include a stamped, self-addressed long envelope or a donation, you did not (and will not ) receive the information you requested. The Brooks Bird Club—through no fault of its own (It's my fault. I wrote the article!)—simply does not have the resources to handle that many free requests. But you still can get the information you wanted. Just write again, only this time enclose a stamped, self-addressed long envelope and/or a donation of a dollar or two to cover the cost of sending you the material.
 If you haven't written to the club at all, do so! There's still plenty of time to get in on this magnificent Wildlife Sanctuary program. So write and ask for details but do enclose a stamped, self-addressed long envelope and/or a donation of at least one dollar (and as much more as you can spare).
Thank you so much for your consideration in this matter. The Brooks Bird Club is made up of some of the nicest and most dedicated people you'll ever meet anywhere, the group's Wildlife Sanctuary program is simply one of the best conservation and ecology efforts that I've ever run across... and MOTHER EARTH NEWS does a far better job of "getting the word out" than any publication that I've ever worked with. I'm only sorry that these three pluses may have added up—at least temporarily—to make you wonder why you never received an answer to your query about the club's wildlife program. Try again!
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