BALTIMORE — The National Wildlife Federation (NWF), National Aquarium, Blue Water Baltimore and Maryland officials planted a 5,000 sq. ft. pollinator garden with students and staff at Green Street Academy on Friday, May 11, 2018. The native plant garden will provide vital habitat for Baltimore’s iconic orioles, other local birds, bees and butterflies.
“Together with our many partners, we are working to create a cleaner, greener Baltimore,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of NWF. “Establishing wildlife-friendly habitat across Baltimore, like Green Street Academy is doing today, is good for everyone, from families who will breathe cleaner air and enjoy cleaner water to wildlife that will have more places to thrive. These spaces also benefit kids in our current era of electronic overload helping them enjoy greater connections with nature, more time outdoors and safer places to play.”
The Green Street Academy pollinator meadow will serve as an outdoor learning laboratory, where students can experience the wonder of monarch butterfly metamorphosis and discover how to help pollinators thrive. These backyard gardens and green spaces also help improve water quality by reducing polluted stormwater runoff going into the Baltimore Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.
“Among the many invaluable assets of our City and region is the access we enjoy to the Chesapeake Bay and the diverse wildlife that we have an obligation to protect,” said Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. “We’re so honored, to be designated as a Community Wildlife Habitat, a result of the tireless work of our partners at the National Wildlife Federation, the National Aquarium and schools such as Green Street Academy, which is committed to enhancing student appreciation for our rich natural resources. With this designation, we accept our responsibility to increase our efforts to protect our natural world, even while we pledge our continued efforts to make Baltimore cleaner, greener and safer for all our residents.”
At the event, Baltimore City received official certification as the largest Community Wildlife Habitat™ in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
“Marylanders know the value of the Chesapeake Bay, and that Baltimore plays a critical role in the overall Chesapeake Bay restoration effort. That’s why I am tremendously proud that Baltimore City is now the largest Community Wildlife Habitat in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “When we create new green spaces, we help waterways, provide educational opportunities and build communities. I applaud the National Aquarium, National Wildlife Federation and the diverse array of other partners who have combined their efforts to help make such success possible, both in Baltimore and beyond.”
“I’m excited to join the National Wildlife Federation and the National Aquarium as well as their partners, Baltimore City and Green Street Academy, to recognize the city’s certification as the largest Community Wildlife Habitat in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen. “This recognition highlights Baltimore’s success in creating community green spaces and wildlife habitats and in promoting sustainability. These efforts ultimately support a healthy Bay, healthy communities, and a healthy economy in Maryland.”
NWF’s Community Wildlife Habitat program empowers citizen leaders to take action for wildlife in their communities and provide habitat where people live, work, learn, play, and worship. In Baltimore, NWF has certified more than 500 homes, community spaces, schools and other educational centers. Each certified site uses sustainable gardening practices and provides the four basic elements that all wildlife need to survive: shelter, food, a water source and places to raise young, such as a flower bed or shrub.
“Baltimore’s new certification as the largest Community Wildlife Habitat in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed underscores the city’s environmental leadership,” said Congressman John Sarbanes, who co-chairs the Chesapeake Bay Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives. “As a prime example of our city’s deep commitment to the environment, look no further than Green Street Academy’s pollinator garden, which provides our students with hands-on outdoor learning experiences, instills a sense of environmental stewardship in the next generation and makes a lasting and meaningful impact on Bay health.”
Heavily developed, metropolitan areas such as Baltimore are home to two-thirds of all North American species of wildlife and contain valuable habitat in the form of local parks and open spaces that support both year-round and migratory wildlife.
Green Street Academy is located within the Gwynns Falls watershed of the Bay where NWF is working to create a network of wildlife habitat on school grounds. The new garden is one of several large-scale stormwater best management practices NWF is developing with the school. This work complements the existing environmental projects at the school, including installing a solar array and a greenhouse.