USU–Moab permaculture garden receives wildlife habitat certification
by Molly Marcello
Contributing Writer
Dec 11, 2014 | 3958 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jeremy Lynch, a sustainability intern, plants native trees in USU–Moab’s new permaculture garden. The plantings will secure the water harvesting swales while providing habitat for wildlife. Photo courtesy of Roslynn Brain
Jeremy Lynch, a sustainability intern, plants native trees in USU–Moab’s new permaculture garden. The plantings will secure the water harvesting swales while providing habitat for wildlife. Photo courtesy of Roslynn Brain
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Utah State University–Moab’s on campus permaculture garden has been officially certified by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) as a wildlife habitat.

The campus garden is also one of several “Bee Inspired Gardens” throughout Moab, which typically incorporate pollinator and edible plantings with water conservation.

By mimicking nature with permaculture techniques such as native plantings and water harvesting, the garden encourages wildlife use, according to Roslynn Brain, USU assistant professor in sustainable communities.

Brain hopes the garden’s NWF certification will make the Moab community more aware of practicing sustainable behaviors.

“Sometimes behaviors like composting, recycling and recreating new wildlife habitat aren’t very visible for the community. What’s great about the NWF certification is that it brings more of a public view to what we’re doing and why it’s important,” Brain said. “It can get the message out that this is a way to create beautiful landscapes that are beneficial to wildlife in addition to humans.”

In a news release announcing the certification, NWF applauded USU’s permaculture garden for using perennial edible and pollinator plant species, in addition to rainwater harvesting practices.

“Providing a home for wildlife in our communities — whether it’s at home, or in schools, businesses or parks — is the demonstration of a healthy and active eco-system,” David Mizejewski, a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation, said in the news release. “There is no more rewarding way to stay connected to nature right outside your door.”

NWF said it “celebrates the efforts of the university to create a garden space that improves habitat for birds, butterflies, bees, and other wildlife by providing essential elements needed by all wildlife — natural food sources, clean water, cover, and places to raise young.”

By extending the riparian area of Pack Creek, the campus garden is linking wildlife habitat across the lesser-developed areas of Moab, USU sustainability intern Jeremy Lynch said.

“The purpose of this project outside of the human aspect is to extend the riparian area around Pack Creek. It’s creating links between the less developed areas of town and helping those areas to flourish,” Lynch said.

Beyond the occasional deer, the garden encourages less visible wildlife like insects and pollinators to use the garden, especially in the face of any future development that might threaten their current habitat, according to Lynch.

“The important thing about certification is creating habitat and food for birds and insects and pollinators like bees, bats, and hummingbirds,” said Lynch. “You draw these less noticeable species to have a place to extend into if something happens near the creek like a new development. So we’re countering that impact through these spaces.”

As the garden grows, Brain expects more wildlife to take advantage of the trees and native plants. Since its installation, she has seen a noticeable increase in wildlife from her office window.

“It’s been really fascinating to watch,” Brain said. “There used to be no wildlife outside the window, now there are songbirds in the trees.”

In addition to wildlife, Lynch says the garden will encourage human use as well. USU plans to install pathways and bridges, an outdoor classroom, and a few signs to explain the permaculture elements of the garden.

In the future, Brain imagines USU–Moab will host low- or no-cost sustainability workshops, potentially with community instructors who are well versed in certain aspects of sustainability.

“The goal in the future is to host low- to no-cost workshops, especially when we can start harvesting [fruit],” Brain said. “I want to bring in community members that are well versed in seed saving, in permaculture.”

Although it is still in the seedling phase, Brain and Lynch encourage community members to visit the garden at 125 West 200 South and learn more about permaculture and sustainability.

For more information, contact Brain at Roslynn.brain@usu.edu.

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