Free celebration to be held May 2 in Marshall Park
The National Wildlife Federation has designated Charlotte as an official Community Wildlife Habitat. On Saturday, May 2, a celebration will be held in Marshall Park to commemorate the city’s milestone.
Dubbed Charlotte Naturally, the free festival will host Mayor Dan Clodfelter, National Wildlife Federation CEO Collin O’Mara and more than a dozen environmental groups. There will be family-friendly entertainment, games, music, food and more.
Charlotte is the third largest city in the U.S. to receive this designation, and the largest east of the Mississippi.
According to the Federation, these projects benefit the entire community of plants, wildlife and people through the creation of sustainable landscapes that require little or no pesticides, fertilizers or excess watering. These landscapes help keep water and air resources clean, and also serve to beautify urban areas and give residents pride in their neighborhoods.
In Charlotte, it all began 28 years ago, when Wan and Edwin Marsh decided to have their backyard certified. They had shrubs to provide cover for birds and tasty berries for food. They set out bird baths for water, and whimsical houses for nesting spots. The Marshes were one of the first in the city to have their yard certified. They did not know they were beginning a local movement.
Today the Marsh’s one-third-acre urban wildlife magnet is one of more than 900 habitat certifications in Charlotte, including nearly 40 schools, nine parks, business, places of worship and residential spaces.
Coordination of the community certification process and the May 2 event was carried out by volunteers of CROWN, an acronym for "Charlotte: Reconnecting Ourselves With Nature." The group is a local chapter of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, an affiliate of the national organization. In addition to individual certifications, CROWN has also hosted more than two-dozen educational programs to help residents understand their local wildlife and establish areas to protect them.
"We’ve long been dedicated to conserving our state’s wildlife and habitat, so to see what the Charlotte community has accomplished is incredible," says North Carolina Wildlife Federation CEO Tim Gestwicki. "We’re so fortunate to have groups like CROWN working to help achieve our mission, and are humbled by the amount of support this initiative has received. This is the culmination of hundreds of people taking simple steps to better the community. It’s proof that if we all do a little, it truly adds up to a lot."
The Charlotte Naturally celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Marshall Park, located at 800 East 3rd Street in Charlotte. The free event is open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend. For more information, visit crowncharlotte.org/charlotte-naturally.
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