Environmental Preservation in a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary, Part 2

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ILLUSTRATION: ANDREWGENN/FOTOLIA
The Brooks Bird Club was swamped with responses to the first article about environmental preservation and backyard wildlife sanctuaries.

If 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:

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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!