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Wild at Heart

Annapolis is a wild place to live.    
        That’s the conclusion of the National Wildlife Federation, which has certified our capital city as a Community Wildlife Habitat. In such a place, the human population of roughly 38,000 is dwarfed by legions of creatures that crawl, hop, slither, fly, dart and lope as they did when the world was young, before humans took over.
    Getting back to nature took work, not neglect.
    To join America’s 70 other cities and towns that are already Community Wildlife Habitats, citizens, school children and city planners had to provide water, food and cover for wild creatures.
    Five public common areas that contribute to wildlife habitat — the first requirement — Annapolis exceeds, with Greenscaped public places, growing tree canopy and adding plenty of city parks in sizes from tiny to great. In addition, Amos Garrett Park, City Hall, the Ellen Moyer Backcreek Nature Park and Truxton Park have National Wildlife Federation certification.
    But that’s not enough. School kids must pitch in. At least five schools must have schoolyard habitats certified as outdoor classrooms where students learn about ecosystems and local wildlife. All the Annapolis schools have joined in Greenscape, beautifying school grounds with trees and flowers. Eastport, West Annapolis and Green Street Elementary, Tyler Heights and Adams Park have received green certification from the state or other recognition for protecting their greenspaces by planting trees and gardens for flowers and vegetables and fruit. The U.S. Naval Academy and Calvery Center School also have National Wildlife Federation certification. So our schools are carrying their part of the load.
    The last standard is higher. A city the size of Annapolis needs 150 home gardens certified as habitats helping to sustain native wildlife and the three Bs: bees, butterflies and birds. Two years ago, only 33 were certified, though many more lacked only the paperwork, which is relatively simple, as you nominate and certify yourself.
    With 159 homes now certified — plus the SPCA — we’re wild, following Takoma Park as the second city in Maryland to be certified. So when you visit your capital city, look past the historic brick, the rush of traffic, the human throng. Nature lives here too.
    Learn how to increase nature’s presence no matter where you live — and get a sign proclaiming your yard a Certified Wildlife Habitat — at www.nwf.org/community.