Create Wildlife Habitat Anytime, Anywhere

Although humanity seems bent on dedicating every square inch of the earth's resources to its own use, as individuals we can help insure the survival of wildlife by creating wildlife habitat.

| January/February 1981

067 wildlife habitat - old growth trees

Old trees provide essential wildlife habitat.


Like most MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers, I've always enjoyed watching wild animals and birds, and I've done my part to support wilderness areas in which such creatures can live in relative safety. However, I knew little about the actual needs of wildlife. I thought that, as long as there were pine trees, there would be deer, and that the mere existence of shade trees and insects would guarantee a nearly infinite variety of birds. Then I married a wildlife biologist and my naive notions were shattered!

I learned, for instance, that while pine forests do provide shelter for deer, such habitats offer almost nothing in the way of food: Grazing animals need meadows to support the kinds of plants they eat. I also found out that a number of birds don't nest in trees or eat bugs ... and that many wildlife species simply can't survive in the high alpine regions that make up most of our wilderness areas. Such creatures may require grasslands, wetlands, shrublands, or young or old forests instead. And, the loss of these diverse environments often contributes to wildlife extinction.

In today's world, society seems bent on dedicating every square inch of the planet's resources to human use ... but we can, as individuals, help insure the survival of some of our wild friends by making sure that we each preserve and provide some wildlife habitat, no matter how small, in which the birds and beasts can "feel at home".

My husband and I have lived—at different times—on five acres in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon, on a small city lot in Missoula, Montana, and now on 20 acres of farmland in western Montana. And, in each place, we've been successful in saving, or recreating, some habitat for wildlife.

I'd like to share the things I've learned while working with my "mini-parks," so that—no matter what the size, type, use, or location of your land—you can do your bit to help preserve the numbers and varieties of untamed creatures.

In the Woodlands

When the pilgrims arrived, the entire eastern one-third of this continent, as well as many of its western regions, was covered with dense forests. Fish and other aquatic creatures were abundant, and the banks of the gushing streams and rivers were overgrown with vegetation. Pools, created by boulders and dead logs, provided spawning grounds for trout and salmon, while the virgin forests served as winter cover for deer, elk, and moose ... as well as nesting places for such winged predators as barred owls and goshawks.

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