In the Fall of 2016, a group of residents partnered with Delaware Nature Society, Wild Birds Unlimited – Hockessin, National Wildlife Federation, Mt Cuba Center, and Auburn Heights Preserve of Delaware State Parks to begin the process of certifying the Red Clay Valley Scenic Byway (Red Clay Valley) as an NWF (National Wildlife Federation) Community Wildlife Habitat™. The requirements for a Community Wildlife Habitat certification include accumulation of points for community outreach and education, as well as a certain number of Certified Wildlife Habitats™ based on the population. As of April 24, 2018, nearly 70 properties in the area bounded by routes 52, 141, 48, 41 and the DE/PA state line have been certified for a total of 117 certifications points (schools and public places earn more points). Thirty-three points are still needed to complete the certification.
Certified Wildlife Habitats are properties that provide food, water, cover and places to raise babies for birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife, coupled with using wildlife and water-friendly gardening practices. Any public or private property can be certified including homes, businesses, schools, churches, and parks. Many properties could be eligible without any changes.
The Red Clay Valley Scenic Byway is based on a watershed and helps to protect and preserve the important ecological and natural features in the byway — especially the water quality and quantity of the Red Clay Creek. It is also an Important Bird Area (IBA) recognized for its high density of nesting Wood Thrush, nesting American Kestrel, and high migration numbers of raptors in the fall, and has biological land management enacted on many of the nature reserves in the IBA. The Red Clay Valley was chosen as the focus area for this project because of these unique qualities. This group’s goal is to get the word out about how wonderful the Red Clay Valley is and encourage people to attract and take care of wildlife such as butterflies, birds and bullfrogs. For more information on the Red Clay Valley and a map of the certification area, visit DelNature.org/RedClayValleyScenicByway.
Residents can help with this effort by planting native plants that support wildlife, using wildlife and water-friendly gardening practices, and getting their yards certified as a wildlife habitat! To get your certification, complete the application process at DelNature.org/CWH. Delaware residents can request a free visit by a trained volunteer to answer your gardening for wildlife questions and get ideas.