Concord teams up with NC Wildlife Federation
Sunday, Jul. 27, 2014

Concord teams up with NC Wildlife Federation

    Concord residents Carol and Richard Schmidt’s yard is a certified wildlife habitat. The couple, relaxing here by their koi pond, has gradually created their sanctuary after moving here in 2000. “Mainly, we created our sanctuary, because we love sitting there and observing our creation and nature’s creations … ,” Richard Schmidt said.
    Richard and Carol Schmidt are among some of Concord’s first residents that have a “certified wildlife habitat” from the N.C. Wildlife Federation. The couple applied for a wildlife habitat certification because it “just seemed like a useful thing to do,” Richard Schmidt said.

The city of Concord earlier this month established one of the N.C. Wildlife Federation’s newest chapters.

Called the Concord Wildlife Alliance, its focus will be to help the city earn its wildlife habitat certification. The group is looking for members, and people who want to learn more about gardening to attract wildlife.

Board members will host their first public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 5 at McGill Baptist Church, on the corner of George W. Lyles Parkway and Poplar Tent Road. There will be a presentation about backyard certification and a representative from the federation will attend. The key requirements for certification are that you have sources of food and water, and some protected areas where critters can protect their young.

If the CWA gets the most new members out of the 13 North Carolina chapters by the end of August, the federation will get a financial reward.

CWA President Jeff Fink said Concord Mayor Scott Padgett started the effort to preserve natural habitats in Concord. Padgett and council members met with federation representatives in the fall of 2013 and later formed the Concord chapter based on the organization’s recommendations.

“The N.C. Wildlife Federation gave us the guidelines and requirements for this project,” Fink said. “We already have many businesses, schools, churches and homes certified but still need around 100 individuals to certify their yards.

“One of our planned projects is a stewardship committee that will contain people trained to help people in certifying their own properties. These individuals will have 24 hours of training and be experts on local species of plants that help provide food, shelter and places for local animal species to raise their young.”

Richard Schmidt and his wife, Carol, moved to Concord in 2000. The couple applied for a wildlife habitat certification because it “just seemed like a useful thing to do,” Richard Schmidt said.

The couple invested some of their retirement money to create an elaborate backyard with a koi pond and dozens of native plants and shrubs.

“Creating our garden was a labor of love and has taken many years,” he said. “We created the gardens with no design in mind. We simply worked at it a plant or two – or 30 or 40 – at a time. Mainly, we created our sanctuary, because we love sitting there and observing our creation and nature’s creations. … ”

Schmidt said certification isn’t complicated, and the effort to get citywide certification would make the community more attractive to businesses, families and nature lovers.

Rose Rummel-Eury serves as the secretary of the Concord Wildlife Alliance. She has lived in Concord since 2007.

“I got involved because I love my birds, and once I learned what it took to get certified, I realized that our yard qualified,” she said. “I also felt compelled to work with a group that cared about wildlife. The members and others who are getting involved with the CWA are passionate about the cause. We have business leaders, churches, schools and individual households who want to be a part of this effort.”

Rummel-Eury also said certification is easy.

“We just have to provide the things that animals need most,” she said. “Well, I have a hummingbird feeder, seed feeder, ground birdseed and squirrel food. We have some flowers and native plants that attract bees and butterflies. We have a birdbath and tall trees, shrubs and ground cover. Unlike many of my neighbors and others in the CWA, (my husband) and I are not master gardeners, so we are looking forward to learning more from experts at each monthly meeting. Small yards – even apartment decks –can qualify.”

Economic development is a good thing for our community, said Rummel-Eury, but it sometimes comes at a price of loss of habitat. Concord also has been identified as a community that has water- and air-quality issues.

“So anything residents can do – yard by yard, office by office, school by school – will not only help the existing wildlife, but our overall air and water, too,” she said.

“As our membership grows, we have a lot of plans for programs involving the entire community, whether it is activities for children, hikes, picnics, adopting a stream, hosting expert speakers, habitat repairs along greenways, or educational signage in parks – the opportunities are endless, but we will need members.”

Johnson: 704-786-2185

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