Conservation in Your Own Back Yard

conservation own back yard

The phrase “soil and water conservation” tends to conjure mental images of wide open spaces: fields, pastures, lakes, streams. Just as important, though, are urban conservation efforts at the scale of your own back yard.

As awareness of this fact grows, programs are popping up to promote conservation efforts in towns and cities – and to recognize the individuals who take them on.

KOTV featured one such program, the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts’ Yard-by-Yard program, in a recent news segment. To qualify for the program, residents implement at least five practices from at least three of four categories: soil health, water conservation, home food production, and wildlife habitat.

For soil health, practices such as composting, mulch mowing, and organic mulches qualify. Water conservation includes efficient irrigation, rain barrels, and xeriscaping. A vegetable or herb garden, fruit trees, chickens or goats, and honeybees all check boxes in the home food production category, while native plants, water sources, and houses for bats, native bees, or birds, are just a few of the many options for wildlife conservation.

Many people may already be doing enough of these things to certify their yards in the program, without even realizing it. For many others, the steps required would be few and simple. Certified yards receive an attractive sign to recognize the resident’s efforts and raise awareness of the program.

In addition to the Yard by Yard program, there are several other initiatives to promote yard-scale urban conservation around the state and across the nation. Okies for Monarchs maintains an online list of these, which include Monarch Watch’s Monarch Waystation program, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife’s Wildscapes, and the National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat.

The practices required to qualify for these programs, and the impact of their adoption in a single yard, may seem small in the face of the challenges they’re meant to address. As the Yard by Yard website points out, though, the principle of strength in numbers is very much in effect. These “individual stewardship efforts contribute to a greater movement reclaiming our connection to the Earth one yard at a time.”

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