Landscaping for Wildlife – A Closer Look at the Upgaard Reserve
This month is Lakes Appreciation Month and (besides delving into how awesome our area’s beaches are) we wanted to showcase some methods that may help you keep your lakes the best they can be.
So, first things first: It’s important to understand that healthy lakes will be able to support all kinds of wildlife, including fish, waterfowl, insects, amphibians, and even larger creatures such as deer and other large mammals.
According to the US Forest Service, wildlife have four thing necessary to thrive:
Food – Flowers, nectar, nuts, acorns, berries, grains, or any sort of food you think a critter would like. Animals got to eat, right?
Water – This doesn’t have to be a huge pond or stream added to your land. You can easily add something as simple as a bird bath. Animals got to drink, right?
Cover – This is basically protection from the elements, such as shrubs, bushes, trees, tall grass, or anything else that provide safety from predators and a place to nest.
Space – Animals can be territorial. If you don’t have the space for larger critters, focus on what you can do for the smaller ones. Bluebirds need only 300 feet before they start fighting for area.
If you can provide these four elements on your land, you’ll have a thriving environment for critters in no time, PLUS you’ll have a healthier environment for yourself to boot!
You see, in ecosystems (and in all life) diversity means stability and a better ability to withstand major events. You’ll find out that if you have an area that provides these four things, you’ll inadvertently create a diverse ecosystem, as well.
A diverse use of plants (for animal food and cover) will help any water systems in your area keep clean. The roots will will filter many particulates that would make their way into the watershed, much more than a lawn of simple grass.
But, as Lavar Burton has said so many times, “You don’t have to take my word for it.”:
Let’s take a look at the Upgaard Wildlife Management Area. Back in 1987, Bob and Barb Upgaard donated over 100 acres of pristine forested wetland to be taken care of by the state of Minnesota. Over time, this place has become a destination for hikers and walkers of all levels. It’s open year-round and even its trails are available for cross-country skiing in the winter.
It’s gorgeous. It peaceful. It’s maintained extremely well.
It’s a great example of providing the four elements mentioned above. It provides all the elements necessary for proper habitat of local creatures, which, in turn, provides clean water.