There’s a lot of wildlife in the Beaver Creek watershed! Many animals spend most of their time in forest patches, parks, natural areas, and along the creek. These habitat patches can be pretty isolated from each other where roads, houses, farms, yards, nurseries, and parking lots make it difficult for animals to move between them. Fortunately, there are many easy things that you can do in your yard, on your farm, or in your community to make life a little easier for these animals.
Leave the Leaves
One of the easiest things you can do to help animals is to be a “lazy landscaper”. Most animals in our area don’t like to live in manicured lawns. They love piles of leaves, sticks, logs, tall grass, and whatever else you and your neighbors are willing to leave for them. If you prefer to keep most of your yard “clean” you can choose a corner to leave a little “messier” where you leave some leaves and sticks. Salamanders especially love to hide and eat bugs under leaves and logs. Older residents in the watershed have talked about how they used to see a lot of salamanders and now they see very few. They often ask: “Where did all of the salamanders go?”. For the most part, they are still around in very low numbers, but they are having a hard time because their habitat has become so fragmented by lawns and fields. However, we have found salamanders living in yards and on farms in the Beaver Creek watershed when some leaves and logs are left for them.
Many animals need a safe place to raise their family. Many of the birds and bees that live in the Beaver Creek watershed used to make their nests in large dead trees. Most of these trees have been cut down, so these animals have a hard time finding a good hole to nest in. Putting up bird nest boxes in your yard or on your farm can give them a place to nest while they eat extra bugs for you. Here are some ideas from: Audubon and Oregon State.
You can also make nest boxes for bees by drilling holes into pieces of wood or using bamboo.
Did you know we have flying squirrels in the Beaver Creek watershed? They will also use next boxes like the one here. If you put them up you may be lucky enough to see these amazing animals gliding around at night.
Choosing plants that animals like is a great way to support wildlife. They can provide fruit, nectar, and shelter for birds, butterflies, and many other animals. Ideas of plants for birds can be found here and for pollinators (like bees and butterflies) can be found here.
Backyard Habitat Certification
If you are interested in having your yard be habitat for local wildlife you can become part of the Backyard Habitat Program. A technician will visit your yard to conduct and assessment, help you create a plan that is tailored for you interests and needs, and provide discounts on plants and materials. If you live in Gresham the City of Gresham will pay the $35 fee for the visit: https://greshamoregon.gov/Backyard-Habitat-Certification/.
Don’t have a yard or a farm? No problem! You can help build habitat in our local parks and natural areas by volunteering with the Sandy River Watershed Council:
Guest blog post written by Katie Holzer, Watershed Scientist, Department of Environmental Services, City of Gresham