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"Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, waterbugs, tadpoles, frogs & turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, hickory nuts, trees to climb, animals to pet, hayfields, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets – and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education." -Luther Burbank 1849 - 1926
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Wildlife and Your Lawn

We think in terms of how important wildlife is to us -- but it takes a bit of effort to grasp how important our actions and our lawn and garden spaces are to wildlife, especially when we live in urban communities. Here are a few facts about wildlife and their need for habitat conservation -- even if it is a tiny container garden and birdbath on a deck!

Importance of residential landscapes to wildlife conservation

  • An average 2.1 million acres of land (3,282.6 square miles) is converted to residential use every year. [REF 1]

  • Sixty three (63) million U.S. adults watch wildlife around their home, according to the Department of Interior national survey in 2001. NOTE: Nurturing habitat that includes food, water, shelter and spaces to raise a family in peace are essential elements for wildlife to enjoy your backyard.

  • Based on data through 1996, 15% of U.S. households hired professionals for yard care (chemical treatments, lawn mowing, and other services) and spent $6.6 billion. [REF 2] NOTE: Wildlife benefit most, and are most protected by lawns and gardens that use NO CHEMICALS such as fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. All these chemicals pollute the ground water and should be used only as a last resort. Natural alternatives such as composted organic materials and planting a diversity of compatible plants are a better option for health and sustainability.

Impacts of invasive exotic plants

It's hard to know if a favorite plant is a "non-native" that is wrecking havoc on our wildlife habitat and agricultural lands. Getting to know your local plants is a wonderful way to involve your family in an exciting adventure -- learn to recognize and nurture helpful plants -- and to eradicate harmful plants. You will be rewarded by a healthier wildlife and palnt ecosystem!
    Non-indigenous invasive plants infest 100 million acres in the U.S. and spread 14% per year. [REF 3]
  • Non-indigenous invasive plants consume 4,600 acres of wildlife habitat on public land in the U.S. per day. [REF 3]
  • An estimated 500 introduced plant species have become weed pests in agriculture and forage, causing an estimated $23.4 billion/yr. in crop losses and incurring $3 billion/yr. in costs for herbicides used for control. [REF 4]


[1] Vesterby, M. & Krupa, K.S. (2001). Major uses of land in the United States, 1997. Resource Economics Division, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Statistical Bulletin No. 973. [Electronic version]. Retrieved January 21, 2003, from:

[2] Templeton, S.R., Zilberman, D., & Yoo, S.J. (1998). An economic perspective on outdoor residential pesticide use. Environmental Science & Technology, 2, 416A – 423A.

[3] Babbit, B. (1998). Statement by Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbit on Invasive Alien Species. Proceeding, National Weed Symposium, BLM Weed Page. April 8-10, 1998. Retrieved January 21, 2003, from:

[4] Pimentel, D., Lach, L., Zuniga, R., & Morrison, D. (2000). Environmental and economic costs of nonindigenous species in the United States. BioScience 50 (1), 53-65.

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