First Prison to be Certified as Wildlife Habitat!

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is pleased to recognize the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) in Gig Harbor as an official Certified Wildlife Habitat site. NWF celebrates the efforts of the staff and offenders at WCCW to create garden spaces that improve habitat for birds, butterflies, frogs, and other wildlife. They have provided the essential elements needed by all wildlife – natural food sources, clean water, cover, and places to raise their young.

Paula Andrew displaying the NWF Habitat Certification plaque that can be found at the front entrance of WCCW.

Paula Andrew displaying the NWF Habitat Certification plaque that can be found at the front entrance of WCCW. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

From Paula Andrew, SPP Liaison at WCCW: “I can remember the day it all started – I sat in the back of the room during [NWF’s] Sustainability lecture and kept thinking to myself, ‘We do that! We have that! We qualify as a wildlife habitat!’ I read through the application to become certified, and each category referred to a practice we already had in place at WCCW. I started thinking about what a perfect partnership this would be, with perfect timing to fit in with the sustainable practices we were adopting throughout our facility.”

WCCW joins NWF’s roll of more than 150,000 certified habitats nationwide, but is the first prison to receive that distinction in Washington State, not to mention the whole Northern Rocky and Pacific Regions. Wildlife habitats are important to year-round wildlife residents as well as species that migrate, such as some birds and butterflies. Each habitat is unique for both beauty and function.

A family of bunnies spotted at WCCW, living proof of their wildlife habitat!

A family of bunnies spotted at WCCW, living proof of their wildlife habitat! Photo by DOC staff.

The WCCW habitat is a many-faceted gem, sprawling among 65 acres that play home to squirrels, birds, butterflies, and an adopted aging cat. The horticulture program has saturated the grounds with 28 varieties of food crops that are used to feed the 900-plus offenders that can be seen daily, diligently working the flower beds and fruit & vegetable growing areas with an admirable sense of pride.

Gardens at WCCW.

Gardens at WCCW. Photo by Benj Drummond and Sarah Joy Steele.

WCCW has recently reaffirmed its commitment to sustainable practices throughout the facility. Proof of that can be witnessed in the just-completed composting project; it is turning out rich soil to be used to in the many food and ornamental gardens.

For more information on gardening for wildlife and details on how an entire community can become certified, visit www.nwf.org/habitat or call 1-800-822-9919. The mission of the National Wildlife Federation is to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.

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