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New Mexico Church Goes "Wild"

December 8, 2008

Albuquerque, NM - You might say there are two sanctuaries at one Albuquerque church. Its members are taking part in a conservation program that has made their church grounds part of a growing national trend, by creating a habitat to help shelter and sustain local wildlife.

The First Unitarian Church is the first place of worship in New Mexico to have a nationally recognized and certified wildlife habitat. Nancy Cushman is a congregation member and one of the volunteers who maintains the habitat. She explains they used sustainable gardening techniques to create a space that provides the required food, water, shelter and nesting spots for birds, small animals and insects.

"We wanted to use the native plants and use things that are low water, and to make it a place for the birds and the animals - but it's also a place for human beings."

Dr. Kim Winter, Habitats Program manager for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), says these types of efforts are becoming essential, as thousands of acres of open space are being lost daily to urbanization and development.

"As the areas where people are living become tighter and tighter spaces, we really need to be able to reserve little habitats, little islands of refuge for wildlife, within that urban landscape."

Winter says there are tens of thousands of "certified wildlife habitats" in the U.S., as communities and individuals create havens for wildlife in their neighborhoods and backyards. More information is available on the NWF Web site, at www.nwf.org/backyard.

Bruce Kennedy/Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM