sustainable gardening

Utah State University Moab Campus Receives Wildlife Habitat Certification

Summertime garden
The permaculture garden found on Utah State University-Moab’s campus was recently officially certified by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) as a wildlife habitat.

The self-sustaining campus garden is also one of many “bee-inspired gardens” found throughout Moab. These gardens combine pollinator and edible landscaping alongside water conservation.

“Sustainable landscaping includes designing and installing drought resistant and native plants; permeable paver surfaces for patios, driveways, and walkways; and drainage that keeps water on the property; and irrigation that utilizes the existing rain water to support the plant life on the property,” says Matt Johnson, owner of Johnsons Landscaping. “We are seeing more and more homeowners request this type of landscape design and more and more jurisdictions requiring this type of design and installation. It is no longer the wave of the future. It is the present day reality, and it is here to stay.”

By closely imitating nature with integrative permaculture techniques such as native plants, and water harvesting and conservation, the garden provides an environment that is conducive to wildlife use, according to Roslynn Brain, USU assistant professor in sustainable communities. Brain is hopeful that garden’s new NWF certification will raise sustainability awareness in the Moab community.

“Sometimes behaviors like composting, recycling and recreating new wildlife habitat aren’t very visible for the community. What’s great about the NWF certification is that it brings more of a public view to what we’re doing and why it’s important,” Brain said. “It can get the message out that this is a way to create beautiful landscapes that are beneficial to wildlife in addition to humans.”

In a recent news release announcing the certification, The NWF praised the USU’s permaculture garden’s incorporation of perennial edible and pollinator plants, as well as its rainwater harvesting techniques.

David Mizejewski, a naturalist with the NWF, feels it’s important to provide a home for wildlife in developed communities, and that doing so is a reflective of a healthy, active, and balanced ecosystem.

The campus garden was able to link the wildlife habitat across the lesser-developed areas of Moab by increasing the river bank areas of Pack Creek. Aside from the obvious human element, the purpose of the project was to connect both areas in order to create an environment that would encourage life to flourish.

Though deer are often spotted, the garden has encouraged less visible — yet equally important — wildlife such as pollinators and insects to thrive, which is especially significant considering future development of the area threatens their current habitats, according to USU sustainability intern Jeremy Lynch.

“The important thing about certification is creating habitat and food for birds and insects and pollinators like bees, bats, and hummingbirds,” said Lynch. “You draw these less noticeable species to have a place to extend into if something happens near the creek like a new development. So we’re countering that impact through these spaces.”

As the garden continues to grow, Brain expects it to attract even more wildlife, and has already seen an increase since its installation.