Helping wildlife makes sense in Milton

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One of Milton's defining characteristics is its rural nature. It's one of the few places in the metro Atlanta area where, just a few miles off the main roads, you feel like you could be driving in the wilderness. Forests close in around narrow, winding roads, and in between, farms and pastures dot the landscape. It really is a picturesque place. And the residents push hard to keep it that way – the community is one of the most active I have come across, with dozens of committees of citizens and events geared toward protecting streams, preserving history and helping maintain the equestrian feel of the town.

It should come as no surprise that some residents are now hoping to help the city cultivate its wildlife. Everything from deer and birds to butterflies and bees are the subject of the new wildlife conservation effort through the National Wildlife Federation.

The NWF is devoted to helping wildlife thrive in the face of ever-encroaching sprawl and human development. To help with their mission, they started a nationwide program aimed at getting communities on board. A designation of “Community Wildlife Habitat” can be given to cities and towns that meet requirements for encouraging animals of all kinds to live within their borders.

It really is a simple and a bottom-up effort. Governments only have a limited role. The real efforts come from individual homes and businesses. Do you have a bird bath in your back yard? Get a bird feeder and you're halfway to having a backyard habitat. Stick in some local plant species that bear fruit or berries to entice little critters to nest in your back yard. Because, really, who doesn't like seeing chipmunks and squirrels running around? Or birds bathing in a water feature. Or deer wandering past your window.

The whole point of creating Milton was to preserve its natural beauty, control the growth and enhance its assets. This new effort to become the third city in the state named a community wildlife habitat only adds to an already great track record of naturalism and preservation.

The organizers of the effort have the ambitious goal of achieving the designation within a year. Milton has the right mentality and all the building blocks in place to make it happen.