These days plants and wildlife face many obstacles to their survival such as habitat loss, competition with invasive species, disease, and many more. In Columbia, urban and suburban sprawl is the greatest contributor to habitat loss and fragmentation. In cooperation with other local conservation organizations the City of Columbia has been actively engaged in conserving natural habitats by helping to identify, establish, and manage crucial habitats for native species in public parks and other City properties. Examples of these efforts can be seen at the 3M Flatbranch-Hinkson Creek Wetland along the MKT trail and the many natural parks and nature areas scattered across Columbia.
Since 2012, the City of Columbia has become more involved with the active restoration of habitats at selected natural parks and greenways through volunteer projects like Treekeepers, Columbia Aquatic Restoration Project (CARP) and other native tree planting and bush honeysuckle removal efforts along trails and parks. These efforts on public land are important, but are not sufficient to curtail the decline of native plants and animals in our community.
Research on urban biodiversity shows that habitat restoration on private lands may be the key to saving our native wildlife. However, these spaces are often assumed to have little or no value as wildlife habitat due to their small size. Yet, research shows if managed properly, private lands collectively managed for conservation can bridge the habitat gap that urban development has created. The City of Columbia, in conjunction with the St. Louis Audubon Society and other partners has created the CoMo Wild Yards Program to address this opportunity.
Bring Nature Home
The CoMo Wild Yards Program provides peer-to-peer assistance to landowners within the City limits of Columbia for the restoration of native plant and animal habitat on their property. CoMo Wild Yards offers advice in landscaping with environmentally sound and sustainable management practices including the use of native plants, invasive vegetation management, water conservation, wildlife habitat development and other stewardship practices that promote a healthy ecosystem for wildlife and people. The main goal of CoMo Wild Yards is to promote sustainable land stewardship practices and create a native habitat network that allows wildlife to flourish in an urbanized landscape.
Upon receipt of your CoMo Wild Yards Request, we will contact you to schedule a visit by our trained habitat advisors. They will perform a landscape assessment using the program criteria and provide you with a written plan with simple steps to improve the conservation value of your property. A follow-up visit will be performed in six months, and with compliance to the initial recommendations, you will be awarded one of three different levels of achievement (silver, gold or platinum). Once certified, you will be given a yard sign that highlights your accomplishment and designates your yard as certified wildlife habitat. To maintain your certification you must continue managing your yard at the certification level you were awarded. Follow this link to find the criteria for silver, gold, and platinum level yards.
We are currently accepting applications for volunteer habitat advisors (Habitat Advisor Description-Application).
If you have questions about being a Habitat Advisor, please contact the Program Coordinator at Danielle.Fox@COMO.gov or via phone (573) 441-5526.