Centerra earns wildlife habitat designation

LOVELAND — The National Wildlife Federation has named Centerra the state’s first Community Wildlife Habitat.

Centerra is the 3,000‐acre master‐planned community located in Loveland. Within it is the High Plains Environmental Center, which applied for the designation.

To celebrate the designation, the city of Loveland, Centerra and the environmental center will host an event from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 20 at the environmental center, 2698 Bluestem Willow Drive.

Centerra joins a select group of communities across the nation to share in this designation. A Community Wildlife Habitat project creates multiple habitat areas in backyards, schoolyards, corporate properties, community gardens, parkland and other spaces.

The celebration will feature Loveland Mayor Jackie Marsh and other speakers along with food trucks, music, bird banding, habitat tours and a plant sale. The program will recognize resident founding members and unveil a NWF community sign.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this celebration and to be the first community in Colorado to receive this designation because it recognizes our own deep commitment to creating sustainable communities that are environmentally aware,” said David Crowder, McWhinney’s vice president of community development and general manager of Centerra.

In 2014, the High Plains Environmental Center applied to register Centerra as a Community Wildlife Habitat. HPEC staff spent four years attaining the certification and designation, leading various projects focused on wetland restoration, planting and promoting landscaping for pollinators and native plant propagation.

“We are excited to be hosting this community celebration because these projects benefit native plants, wildlife, and people through the creation of sustainable landscapes that require little or no pesticides, fertilizers, or excess watering,” said Jim Tolstrup of High Plains Environmental Center.

The wildlife federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat program has been helping people take personal action on behalf of wildlife for more than 40 years. The program engages homeowners, businesses, schools, churches, parks and other institutions that want to make their communities wildlife-friendly. The Community Wildlife Habitat project is part of NWF’s Garden for Wildlife program.

“The Gardens at Centerra are unique in so many ways: incorporating what is essentially a botanical garden and native plant nursery as an integral part of a housing and business development represents a profoundly sensitive statement,” said Panayoti Kelaidis, senior curator and director of outreach of Denver Botanic Gardens. “This is nothing short of revolutionary. I congratulate the parties involved in this fantastic experiment.”

Since 1973, the wildlife federation has provided millions of people with the basic guidelines for making their landscapes more wildlife-friendly. There are more than 200,000 certified habitats nationwide.

“Providing a home for wildlife in our cities — whether it’s in neighborhoods or in schools, businesses or parks — is the demonstration of a healthy and active eco-system,” said Patrick Fitzgerald, senior director of community wildlife with the National Wildlife Federation. “There is no more rewarding way to stay connected to nature than to have it right outside your door.”