Together, we can–
At the Backyard Habitat Certification Program, we are dedicated to creating a program that welcomes everyone, no matter who they are. Our goal is to provide everyone opportunities to participate in sustainable gardening and wildlife habitat creation regardless of their backgrounds, skin color, origin, abilities, gender, age, social status, or who they love. Together, we can work towards a greener, more inclusive and just world.
2006: Program launches as a pilot project.
A local collaborative of individuals and groups associated with the West Willamette Restoration Partnership (WWRP) launch a pilot program to help address ivy overgrowth at Marquam Nature Park and Terwilliger Parkway in southwest Portland.
They had a modest goal: to enroll 25 homeowners adjacent to the parks and encourage and incentivize them to remove ivy and plant native plants in their yards. The program was one piece of a larger effort by WWRP to create a 300 acre corridor south of Forest Park, one of the region’s most important remaining wildlife habitats.
The program recognized that residents whose yards adjoined this natural area had to be part of the effort to keep the native habitat healthy and thriving. In a developed area, people had to be part of the solution.
It wasn’t clear that the Backyard Habitat pilot would even work. After all, it asked participating homeowners to spend their own time, money, and resources to restore their yards. Marketing for the program consisted of yard signs and word-of-mouth. Would they even be interested?
There was enthusiasm for the program and its goal of creating wildlife corridors through the urban area from the start. As participants removed ivy they noticed native plants growing in on their own. More birds showed up to forage. Word spread. Others wanted to join from throughout the region.
2009: Program launches city-wide in Portland.
Local agencies take notice of the success of the program and seek to expand it throughout the City of Portland. Three Rivers Land Conservancy (now joined with Columbia Land Trust) and the Audubon Society of Portland (now Bird Alliance of Oregon) are chosen as co-managers for the program and join forces to launch the program city-wide.
2015: Program grows into Gresham, Fairview, and Lake Oswego.
The Cities of Gresham and Lake Oswego sign contracts with the program to build on their clean river and sustainability initiatives. In the same year, support from the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District allows Backyard Habitat staff to start a plan for growing the program into the remaining parts of urban Clackamas County.
2017-2018: Program grows further into urban Clackamas County.
In spring of 2017, program launches Phase I of a two-phased expansion. Milwaukie, Oak Grove, Jennings Lodge, and West Linn are added to its service area. Phase II is completed in 2018 and ads Gladstone, Oregon City, Happy Valley, Damascus, and Wilsonville. Also in 2018, support from the Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District allows Backyard Habitat staff to start planning for growth into Washington County, and the program is approached by the Watershed Alliance of Southwest Washington about growing the program into Clark County.
2019-2021: Program grows into Washington and Clark Counties.
Starting in summer of 2019, Backyard Habitat launches into all of Clark County as well as Phase I of a two-part expansion into Washington County. Beaverton, Tigard, and Tualatin are added to the program’s service area. In the summer of 2020, Cornelius, Forest Grove, and Hillsboro in Washington County are added to the program’s service area.
The program now has over 11,000 participants, over 28 partners and funders, and has developed deep roots in communities throughout the region. For more, take a look at our Impact Map!