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"Concrete Jungles" Can Be Haven for Wildlife in NC

PHOTO: Charlotte recently was recognized as a Certified Community Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Photo courtesy: Chris North/NCWF
PHOTO: Charlotte recently was recognized as a Certified Community Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Photo courtesy: Chris North/NCWF
May 6, 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Six North Carolina cities now are designated as Wildlife Friendly Communities by the National Wildlife Federation.

Charlotte is the most recent to make the list and the largest city east of the Mississippi to receive the recognition, said Tim Gestwicki, chief executive of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation.

"This is a huge accomplishment," he said, "and it kind of sets the stage that any city and municipality can do this and be part of the solution in a nonregulatory manner to really make a difference for local wildlife."

As a recognized community by the federation, Charlotte has 850 certified wildlife habitats found in homes, schools, businesses and places of worship in the city limits which help promote bird populations, pollinating insects and other aspects of wildlife. Concord, Lake Norman, Matthews, Montreat and Weaverville also are on the list of 78 Certified Community Wildlife Habitats across the nation.

While many cities initially plant flowers to increase their aesthetics, said Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, they soon realize that there is much more to gain.

"It's a secondary benefit that your city will be more beautiful, that folks will be happier and that there will be this aesthetic value," he said, "but the primary benefits really are the incredible value that communities like Charlotte are providing for wildlife."

While the certification is an accomplishment worth celebrating, said Ernie McLaney, president of Charlotte's North Carolina Wildlife Federation chapter, Charlotte Reconnecting Ourselves With Nature (CROWN), there is more work to be done.

"It doesn't in any way mean that Charlotte is in the place it needs to be and that everyone can go about their business and think that the environment and our future is all well and taken care of," he said.

McLaney and others hope this designation encourages people in Charlotte and the rest of the state to increase their plantings of flowers and other native vegetation that enhances wildlife habitat and increases the availability of food for pollinating insects.

More information is online at nwf.org.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC