America has a long history of protecting its wildlife heritage. For instance, the National Wildlife Federation has been spearheading conservation on local and national levels for the past 75 years. • On a local level, there are many things you can do in your back yard to help local wildlife like birds, butterflies, squirrels and others. Here are some ideas. StatePoint
Food sources: Planting native plants and hanging feeders for butterflies, hummingbirds and squirrels are easy ways to make your habitat a five-star restaurant for wildlife. You can also stock feeders and incorporate plants with nuts, berries, nectar, suet or fruits, depending on the wildlife native to your area.
Water source: Wildlife need sources of clean water for drinking, bathing and reproduction. You will need one water source in your wildlife habitat, such as a natural pond, lake, river or spring, or a human-made feature such as a birdbath, butterfly puddling area or rain garden.
Cover: Wildlife need places to hide to feel safe from people, predators and weather. Native vegetation is a perfect cover for terrestrial wildlife, while structures such as birdhouses can attract specific bird species. A pond can double as a water source and home for fish and amphibians.
Places to raise young: Creating a wildlife habitat is about creating a place for the entire life cycle of a species, from courtship to mating to raising offspring. Many habitat features that serve as cover can double as locations where wildlife can raise their young.
Sustainable gardening: Use natural mulch, which can conserve water and cut down on weeds. Reduce chemical fertilizers and pesticides. These and other environmentally friendly practices will be more welcoming to wildlife and better for the planet.
Other tips: Once you've created your habitat, you can have it certified by the National Wildlife Federation at www.nwf.org/ GardenForWildlife, which offers tips to create habitats that will welcome local wildlife.
And in honor of the organization's 75th anniversary, NWF will plant a tree for every yard certified in 2011.