Thursday, September 27, 2012

Milton gets closer to green certification with wildlife habitat initiative.

by Betsy Rhame-Minor / The Milton Herald

To turn your backyard into a wildlife habitat, provide: • Food sources like native plants, seeds, fruits, nuts, berries and nectar • Water sources such as a birdbath, pond, water garden or stream • Places for cover: thickets, rock piles, birdhouses, shrubs and trees • Places for animals to raise their young such as nesting boxes, ponds, trees, shrubs or other vegetation • Sustainable gardening using organic compost, pesticides and fertilizers, as well as native plants

MILTON, Ga. — The city of Milton held its third committee meeting for becoming certified as a National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Habitat Community on Wednesday, Sept. 19.

This is part of a larger project by the Atlanta Regional Commission called the Green Communities Certification. Milton Grows Green is also taking an active role in this project.

To be certified, the city must reach 450 points, which are awarded based on over 60 different environmental criteria. Milton was well on its way at the beginning, having already met just over half of the needed points. Now, the city is working to complete the rest of the requirements, one of which is the NWF Habitat Community.

As part of this initiative, Milton staff encourages homes, businesses, schools, churches and other organizations to sign up and take part.

As a result, awareness and preservation of wildlife areas will increase. When the project began in July, 88 homes had signed up to be certified; currently, about 115 homes have volunteered. Since July, a steady five to 10 homes have been added to the project each week.

"It's really great that there's this much [interest]," said Cindy Eade, sustainability coordinator for Milton.

Boy Scout Troop 3000 will also soon be taking part in the project by building a NWF demonstration garden at the Thompson Road fire station, which will guide residents on how to set up their own habitats. The Master Gardeners of North Fulton will also assist with this part of the project.

"We have some plans already drawn up," Eade explained.

Johns Creek was the second city in Georgia to become certified as a NWF Community Habitat. Roswell is also currently working toward this distinction along with Milton, and one of the two cities will become the third to achieve this distinction.

Malcolm Barnard, a tenth-grader at Johns Creek High School, was at the helm of the certification in Johns Creek, which took two years to complete.

He is assisting Eade and the city of Milton in obtaining the same certification.

Barnard made a presentation at Wednesday's Habitat Community meeting on creating a habitat in one's own backyard.

He offered the following tips to Milton residents:

• Be organized from day one. • Communicate your cause with city residents. • Work with local schools. • Partner with local organizations. • Utilize media to publicize your cause. • Stay in contact with National Wildlife Federation. • Generate enthusiasm. • Do whatever it takes.

"He just has a real passion for this project," Eade said.

City of Milton summer intern William Check has also been hands-on with the project.

"He did quite a bit over the summer," said Eade. "[It's] exciting to have young people involved."

Eade encourages Milton residents to certify their homes and businesses, and encourage neighbors to do the same.

Visit for more information on how to make your yard qualify for NWF Habitat Certification.

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