SOUTH KING COUNTY—You don't need to leave your backyard to help Washington wildlife, as the Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary Festival and Garden Tour demonstrates June 19.
Four gardens in the South King area will be open for public visits from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to show home gardeners how they can turn their yards into havens for birds and other wildlife.
"With an estimated 30,000 acres of Washington wildlife habitat disappearing to development every year, backyard wildlife sanctuaries are a way to re-establish a little of what's been lost," said Michelle Tirhi, urban biologist for the Washington Department of Fish an Wildlife (WDFW). "Landowners—even those living in urban and suburban areas—can give something back to wildlife."
The fourth annual event is jointly sponsored by the Rainier Audubon Society and WDFW.
Besides the gardens themselves, the self-guided event also features experts on wildlife, composting and other topics, as well as vendors selling native plants, bird feeders and books with information on gardening for wildlife.
Gardens on the tour include a property at 29009 46th Place S. in Auburn, where Russell Link, head of the WDFW Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary Program will be on hand to answer questions. The Congdon garden features ways to re-landscape an established yard with native plants to encourage wildlife.
Also in Auburn is a garden at 4426 S. 318th St., which features a large yard planted to encourage wild birds and other wildlife. This location also will feature information on worm bins and other composting methods; bats; environmentally friendly gardening methods, and bird feeding.
In Federal Way, a garden at 33102 13th Ave. SW., features gardening ideas to encourage wildlife on a smaller lot. Tips on helping injured wildlife will be offered at Mays property.
A Maple Valley garden at 25306 SE 184th St. features a five-acre property which accommodates family and play areas as well as four acres of plantings for wildlife. Information will be offered at this site on open space property tax relief .
Green "Backyard Tour" signs will be posted near the gardens the day of the tour and directions to each of the locations are available on the Internet at http://rainier.wa.audubon.org/bwsf/99directions.htm
For more information contact the Rainier Audubon Society at (253)852-7766.
Gardeners who wish to receive information on creating backyard wildlife sanctuaries may send $5 to the Backyard Sanctuary Program, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek WA 98012.