The Audubon Society of Portland and Columbia Land Trust, in partnership with Friends of Tryon Creek (FOTC), launched the expansion of the Backyard Habitat Certification Program (BHCP) into Lake Oswego on August 1st, 2011. The program provides assistance and incentives to residents with small lots (an acre or smaller) who seek to restore native wildlife habitat to their backyards. At that time, the program had already operated successfully in Portland since its city-wide launch in 2009. Today, there are nearly 3,861 enrolled properties, spanning about 931 acres, region-wide.
We are moving into our seventh year of implementing the BHCP within Lake Oswego. With each year, the program continues to sustain its growth at a consistent rate, meeting and then exceeding deliverables. Overall, the Backyard Habitat Certification Program has enrolled and provided our high-quality technical assistance and educational services to 348 sites within the City of Lake Oswego. These sites are mostly single family residential lots, but also include several multi-family dwellings, and other public demonstrations sites like schools and religious institutions. Cumulatively, backyard habitats now span over 100 acres of the City of Lake Oswego.
Backyard staff are excited to announce that the program has officially launched into new parts of Clackamas County, including West Linn, Milwaukie, Oak Grove and Jennings Lodge. Our first site certification happened on March 28th when the yard of Lisa Batey, Milwaukie City Council President, was certified Gold. Following the event a press release was sent out and picked up by the Clackamas Review and KGW News, both of which will be highlighting, in the near future, the expansion of the program into these new areas of Clackamas County. A Habitat Technician was hired in March to work with program participants in this new service area.
Narrative – Success toward 2016-17 Program Deliverables
Site Assessments and Certifications – During Q3 Friends of Tryon Creek, with support from Portland Audubon and Columbia Land Trust, conducted 7 Site Assessments on newly enrolled properties, and certified 5 additional properties. There are an additional 9 new sites where the visit is being scheduled. With one quarter remaining in the fiscal year, we are confident we will achieve the additional 20 site assessments and 6 certifications needed to meet our deliverables.
Community Demonstration Projects – One new demonstration site, Hallinan Open Space, was added during this quarter and received Gold certification. Also, one of the previously listed demonstration sites, Campbell Native Garden, was certified Silver. FOTC continued to develop relationships and support the ongoing habitat restoration site at the community demonstration sites listed below. FOTC maintains ongoing relationships with community demonstration site stewards, offering guidance and leadership in a unified effort to reach the shared goal of certification.
The Lake Oswego program has 17 community demonstration sites (*Certified):
- Friends of Rogerson Clematis Garden (2014-2015)*
- Brighton HOA – Fosberg Rd (2014-2015)
- 3930 Lake Grove HOA (2014-2015)
- 4340 Botticelli (2014-2015)
- Leslie Commons Home Owners Association (2014-2015)
- Westlake Fire Station (2014-2015)
- Tryon Pool Corp (2014-2015)*
- Lake Oswego United Church of Christ (2013-2014)
- River Grove Elementary (2013-2014)
- Lakeridge Junior High (2013 -2014)*
- Lake Oswego United Methodist Church (2012-2013)*
- Forest Hills Elementary (2012-2013)*
- Oak Creek Elementary (2015 – 2016)
- Weatherstone HOA – Mountain Park (2015-2016)
- Campbell Native Garden (2015-2016)*
- Oswego Bay Condominiums (2015-2016)
- Dennis’ 7 Dees Garden Center (2016-2017)
- Hallinan Open Space (2016-2017)*
Community outreach – During Q3, FOTC promoted the Backyard Habitat Certification Program through a myriad of new and creative ways. FOTC Education Director, Gabe Sheoships, hosted a BHCP table at the Science Friday event at the Tryon Creek State Natural Area. On February 25th, Gabe answered questions and provided support at the Watershed Wide Event, hosted by the Tryon Creek Watershed Council, at St. Mark’s Church. This event organized neighborhood stewards towards restoration projects on three sites across Southwest Portland and Lake Oswego. At the annual Owl Fest event, March 11th, at the Tryon Creek State Natural Area, Gabe Sheoships and FOTC Site Technician Cindy Ellison hosted a BHCP table.
Social and Electronic Media – The Backyard Habitat Facebook page, managed by Portland Audubon and Columbia Land Trust, now has about 2,755 “followers” and very high traffic volumes. In addition to our official program Facebook presence, a program volunteer has started a spin off public Facebook group of “Friends of Backyard Habitats”. This unofficial program page is a fan club of sorts, with over 891 members that are using the online community as a tool for crowd sourcing plant identification, sharing plants, and getting their gardening questions answered by each other. This Facebook group has proven to be an extraordinarily effective tool for building community and support around participants working toward certification. Lastly, the Backyard Habitat Certification website, www.backyardhabitats.org, was launched in Aug 2014 and has become a widely-used community resource for Backyard Habitat Program participants in Lake Oswego, as well as the other cities we serve, and even residents outside of our service areas that are working to make a difference.
In-Kind Incentives to BHCP Participants – In-kind incentives help drive changes in backyards by reducing barriers to restoration activities and creating motivation. Each of the 7 new participants in Q3 of FY16-17 received discounts on native plants at three regional nurseries. Additionally, the participant who became certified at any level received free memberships to Columbia Land Trust and Portland Audubon, a gift card to the Backyard Bird Shop, and coupons to One Green World Nursery and Timber Press publishing house. These incentives are also designed to drive the green economy by directing consumers to local businesses that support the values of the Backyard Habitat Program.
Native Plant Sales – Each spring and fall, Columbia Land Trust and Portland Audubon make discounted native plants available as an exclusive perk for BHCP participants, through our popular sales. The fall sale is led by Portland Audubon, while Columbia Land Trust leads the spring sale, in partnership with Echo Valley Nursery. For the spring 2017 sale, Backyard will be partnering with Echo Valley Natives for a third year. Program participants will have access to steeply discounted native plants from the nursery for the entire month of April. For the first two days of the sale (April 7th and 8th), Backyard staff and volunteers will be present to support participants in selecting the right plant for their garden. FOTC’s annual native plant sale, the Trillium Festival, is scheduled for April 1st and 2nd at the Tryon Creek State Natural Area. As in 2016, the focus of this year’s festival is the BHCP. These sales are designed to increase access to native plants, reduce financial barriers to creating habitat at home, while supporting our local green economy.
BHCP E-Newsletter – Columbia Land Trust and Portland Audubon collaborated and distributed the Winter 2017 edition of the Backyard Habitat E-News in February 2017. More than 4,661 individuals received this Enews and see it as an invaluable resource for their projects; brimming with resources, information about region-wide workshops, plant sales, presentations and other habitat-friendly programming and encouragement.
Volunteer Component – There are currently about 119 Backyard Habitat Program volunteers. Overall, in Q3, Backyard Habitat volunteers dedicated over 89 hours to the program. Their activities include time conducting follow-up certification visits, follow-up calls to program participants, stuffing resource packets, data entry, and planning a multi-month Backyard open garden tour. This spring, in March and April, Portland Audubon will be hosting a series of trainings to prepare new volunteers for service, while deepening the existing knowledge of returning volunteers. On March 6th we hosted a Returning Volunteer Meeting and Appreciation. Three additional trainings: an invasive weeds program, a wildlife enhancements program, a certification field training, and a program focused on pesticides reduction and stormwater management are scheduled for April and May. A total of 8 new volunteers signed up for the trainings. One of the trainees lives in Lake Oswego and will be supporting Lake Oswego properties in the upcoming year.